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UW Anthropologist to Be Featured on the Discovery Channel

September 26, 2011
Man with artifacts
University of Wyoming Anthropologist Todd Surovell will provide expert commentary on a Discovery Channel Program scheduled to air Sunday, Oct. 2. (UW Photo)

Todd Surovell, associate professor in the University of Wyoming Department of Anthropology, will appear as one of four experts on the Discovery program, "I Caveman," scheduled to air at 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2. Check television listings for local channel information.

The show explores whether people today could successfully make a living as well as prehistoric ancestors did at the height of the last ice age.

Ten "everyday" people volunteered to live as Paleolithic hunter-gatherers from 20,000 years ago. Stripped of all modern comforts and given minimal training, volunteers received Upper Paleolithic clothing (shoes, pants, tunics, and head gear made from tanned animal hides), raw materials such as stone for making tools, animal hides, bones and antlers, wood and herbaceous plant material to make baskets and other containers and technology (general housing, digging implements, weapons and containers).

Author of  "Toward a Behavioral Ecology of Lithic Technology: A Case Study from Paleoindian Archaeology," Surovell explores Paleoindian ways of life, including mobility, colonization, prey choice and technological organization within the framework of behavioral ecology.

His role on the program, he says, was to comment on the authenticity of the experiment and to offer his thoughts on various aspects of their lives from the point of view of an archaeologist with expertise on recent and ancient foraging peoples.

"While I cannot reveal details about the show until it has aired, I will say that the participants gained a healthy respect for the people who actually lived the life they were trying to emulate," says Surovell. "While Paleolithic life may be technologically simple, to successfully live this kind of lifestyle requires an incredible amount of technical skill and natural history knowledge that most people today do not have."

Surovell is not new to television. He appeared in another Discovery program, "MythBusters," when in 2007 it tested the technological advantage of arrowheads in prehistoric cultures. He also appeared in the History Channel's 2008 feature, "Journey to 10,000 B.C."

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