**IN NEANDERTHAL DNA, SIGNS OF A MYSTERIOUS HUMAN MIGRATION(ARTICLE BELOW)
*SCIENTISTS FIND HUGE ANCIENT CROC WITH T-REX-LIKE TEETH(article below)
*PALEONTOLOGISTS FINALLY KNOW WHAT THIS ANCIENT ARMORED REPTILE LOOKED LIKE (ARTICLE BELOW)
*HAUL OF TREASURE DISCOVERED AT LIBYA’S ANCIENT ROMAN RUINS(article below)
*ANCIENT AZTEC TEMPLE AND BALL COURT FOUND IN MEXICO CITY(Article below)
*ANCIENT NATIVE AMERICAN SITE DISCOVERED ON SANTA ROSA ISLAND(Article below)
*OLDEST HUMAN FOSSILS DISCOVERED IN MOROCCO (Article below)
*T-REX BITE WAS SO STRONG IT COULD MAKE BONES EXPLODE(Article below)
*BONES FOUND IN 2ND CHAMBER OF CAVE SPUR HUGE QUESTIONS MORE BONES UNEARTHED FROM H. NALEDI SPECIES, UPENDING EVOLUTION BELIEFS (Article below)
*Remains of an ancient Egyptian pyramid discovered south of Cairo (ARTICLE BELOW)
*In Australia's 'Jurassic Park,' World's Largest Dino Prints 21 different types of tracks found Down Under—some 6 feet long (article below)
*Prehistoric climate change caused three mass extinction events in a row(ARTICLE BELOW)
*Scientists discover parts of earth’s original crust (article below)
*Fossils from 1.6 billion years ago may be oldest-known plants (article below)
*Egypt archaeologists discover massive statue in Cairo slum (article below)
*Part Human, Part Neanderthal Skulls Found In China Trigger Debate: Did They Belong To The Mysterious Denisovans? (ARTICLE BELOW)
*Fossils show quick rebound of life after ancient mass extinction (article below)
*Drones Find Hundreds of Stonehenge-Like Spots in Amazon(article below)
*Maya Weathered One Collapse; the Second Proved Fatal(article below)
*In fossil rarity, tumor found in 255-million-year-old beast (excerpt below)
*First Dinosaur Tail Found Preserved in Amber The tail of a 99-million-year-old dinosaur, including bones, soft tissue, and even feathers, has been found preserved in amber, according to a report published today in the journal Current Biology.
While individual dinosaur-era feathers have been found in amber, and evidence for feathered dinosaurs is captured in fossil impressions, this is the first time that scientists are able to clearly associate well-preserved feathers with a dinosaur, and in turn gain a better understanding of the evolution and structure of dinosaur feathers.
*Temple to God of Wind Uncovered in Mexico City The 650-year-old temple was found 10 feet below a demolished supermarket(article below) *Mexican pyramid has two more inside, scientists discover Kukulkan pyramid built like ‘Russian nesting doll’ – a second structure had already been found under its exterior and now a third has been revealed(article below)
In Neanderthal DNA, Signs of a Mysterious Human Migration
Carl Zimmer MATTER JULY 4, 2017
From NY Times: With fossils and DNA, scientists are piecing together a picture of humanity’s beginnings, an origin story with more twists than anything you would find at the movie theater.
To Johannes Krause, the director of the Max Planck Institute for Human History in Germany, that gap seems peculiar. “Why did people not leave Africa before?” he asked in an interview. After all, he observed, the continent is physically linked to the Near East. “You could have just walked out.”
In a study published Tuesday in Nature Communications, Dr. Krause and his colleagues report that Africans did indeed walk out — over 270,000 years ago.
Based on newly discovered DNA in fossils, the researchers conclude that a wave of early Homo sapiens, or close relatives of our species, made their way from Africa to Europe. There, they interbred with Neanderthals.
Then the ancient African migrants disappeared. But some of their DNA endured in later generations of Neanderthals.
“This is now a comprehensive picture,” Dr. Krause said. “It brings everything together.”
Since the 1800s, paleontologists have struggled to understand how Neanderthals are related to us. Fossils show that they were anatomically distinct, with a heavy brow, a stout body and a number of subtler features that we lack.
The oldest bones of Neanderthal-like individuals, found in a Spanish cave called Sima de los Huesos, date back 430,000 years. More recent Neanderthal remains, dating to about 100,000 years ago, can be found across Europe and all the way to southern Siberia.
Then, 40,000 years ago, Neanderthals vanish from the fossil record.
As a graduate student in the mid-2000s, Dr. Krause traveled to museums to drill bits of bone from Neanderthal fossils. In some of them, he and his colleagues managed to find fragments of DNA that they could study.
Scientists who study ancient genes search for two kinds of genetic material. The vast majority of our genes are in a pouch in each cell called the nucleus. We inherit so-called nuclear DNA from both parents.
But we also carry a small amount of DNA in the fuel-generating factories of our cells, called mitochondria. We inherit mitochondrial DNA only from our mothers, because a father’s sperm destroys its own mitochondrial DNA during fertilization.
Years ago, Dr. Krause and his colleagues started their search for ancient Neanderthal genes in a fossil by looking for mitochondrial DNA. After discovering mitochondrial DNA in some fossils, they later managed to find nuclear DNA.
The genes held some surprises. For example, bits of DNA in living people of non-African ancestry come from Neanderthals. When modern humans expanded out of Africa, they seem to have interbred several times with Neanderthals.
Those children became part of human society, passing on their genes.
But a finger bone and a tooth from a Siberian cave called Denisova left Dr. Krause and his colleagues with a baffling puzzle.
Inside those fossils, the scientists found sequences of mitochondrial DNA that were not human or Neanderthal, but something else — a distant branch of the family tree. The Neanderthal mitochondrial DNA was much closer to our own.
Later, the researchers managed to recover the nuclear DNA from the Denisovan finger bone, which showed Denisovans and Neanderthals were more closely related to each other.
As scientists found ancient DNA in more fossils, our history has come into sharper focus. Scientists now estimate that the common ancestor of modern humans, Neanderthals and Denisovans, lived between 765,000 and 550,000 years ago.
About 445,000 to 473,000 years ago, that common ancestor’s descendants split into two lineages. One eventually led to modern humans, while the other led to Neanderthals and Denisovans.
After years of investigation, however, Dr. Krause still did not understand why the nuclear DNA and mitochondrial DNA of Neanderthals seemed to have different histories. The former pointed to a link with Denisovans, the latter to humans.
The mystery only deepened in 2013. Another team of researchers retrieved mitochondrial DNA from a Neanderthal-like fossil at Sima de los Huesos, dating back 430,000 years.
The researchers had expected the DNA to resemble that of later Neanderthals in Europe. Instead, the mitochondrial DNA looked like it belonged to Denisovans — even though the Denisova cave was 4,000 miles away in Siberia.
Last year, the researchers announced they had gathered a small fraction of the nuclear DNA from the same Sima de los Huesos fossil. That genetic material looked like it belonged to a Neanderthal, not a Denisovan.
Dr. Krause and his colleagues have now discovered new Neanderthal DNA that they believe can solve the mystery of this genetic mismatch.
In 2013, one of Dr. Krause’s graduate students, Cosimo Posth, examined a Neanderthal fossil from a German cave called Hohlenstein-Stadel. He was able to reconstruct all of its mitochondrial DNA.
Dr. Posth estimated that the Neanderthal fossil was 120,000 years old and, more important, that it belonged to a branch of the Neanderthal family tree with a long history. He and his colleagues determined that all known Neanderthals inherited their mitochondrial DNA from an ancestor who lived 270,000 years ago.
All the data pointed to a sequence of events that could solve the puzzle that had bedeviled Dr. Krause for so long.
The common ancestors of Neanderthals and Denisovans spread across Europe and Asia over half a million years ago. Gradually the eastern and western populations parted ways, genetically speaking.
In the east, they became Denisovans. In the west, they became Neanderthals. The 430,000-year-old fossils at Sima de los Huesos — Neanderthals with Denisovanlike genes — capture the early stage of that split.
At some point before 270,000 years ago, African humans closely related to us moved into Europe and interbred with Neanderthals. Their DNA entered the Neanderthal gene pool.
Over many generations, most of that new DNA disappeared. But the mitochondrial DNA survived, passed down from mothers to their children. In fact, eventually all the Neanderthals inherited it, for some reason discarding the mitochondrial DNA that the species once had.
Dr. Posth said it was possible that early members of our own species moved from North Africa into Europe. Supporting this idea was the discovery reported last month of fossils of Homo sapiens in Morocco dating back 300,000 years.
But Dr. Posth said it was too soon to rule out another possibility: that these migrants belonged to another species in Africa closely related to us that scientists have yet to document.
“I feel uncomfortable to give a name to these humans,” Dr. Posth said.
Adam C. Siepel, a geneticist at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island who was not involved in the new study, said the hypothesis fit the evidence. “I think that’s absolutely possible,” he said.
The new study raises a host of tantalizing implications about human history.
It is not possible to know just how many times these early Africans interbred with Neanderthals. But somewhere in prehistory, at least one female human from Africa must have carried the child of a male Neanderthal.
“Now you have this hybrid child, which is probably pretty unusual-looking,” Dr. Siepel said. “One way or another, this hybrid individual was absorbed into Neanderthal society.”
Dr. Siepel warned that the hypothesis hinges on the new DNA found in the Hohlenstein-Stadel fossil. Dr. Krause and his colleagues are now trying to retrieve nuclear DNA from the fossil.
The research at Sima de los Huesos shows just how far back in time scientists can now search for genes. The most revealing DNA might come from the mountains of Morocco.
There, scientists may be able to find genes from the earliest Homo sapiens, which they can then compare to Neanderthals’.
“These are things that I never thought possible five years ago,” Dr. Krause said.
Scientists find huge ancient croc with T-Rex-like teeth Newsweek 04 JUL 2017 AT 08:53 ET
From Raw Story: Scientists have discovered an ancient, giant, crocodile-like creature in Madagascar that had T-Rex-sized teeth it used for crunching bones,. The discovery helps to fill in the evolutionary gaps of a 74 million year long crocodilian “ghost lineage.”
Researchers first discovered fossils of a giant predator on the island over a decade ago. At the time, scientists believed they had discovered a large predator from the Jurassic period and they named the creature Razanandrongobe sakalavae, meaning “giant lizard ancestor from Sakalava region.”
However, while scientists knew they had discovered a new, ancient predatory species, where it sat in the evolutionary tree of life remained unclear—it shared features of crocodylomorphs, a group that includes crocodilians and their extinct relatives, and theropods, the group of dinosaurs to which T-Rex belongs.
Now, scientists from France and Italy have re-examined the fossils, along with five cranial fragments that were found at the same site, which they “tentatively” refer to as coming from the same taxon.
Their findings, published in the journal PeerJ, place the fossils in the suborder Notosuchia. These crocodylomorphs lived during the Cretaceous period and researchers have found fossils in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America.
However, scientists believed Notosuchia's evolutionary lineage started far earlier, during the Middle Jurassic, between 174 to 163 million years ago. But because there was no fossil evidence of it, it was known as a ghost lineage.
Cristiano Dal Sasso, from the Natural History Museum of Milan, Italy, and colleagues have now placed R. sakalavae in the Nortosuchia family tree, calling it the oldest and potentially largest of the suborder ever discovered. It predates other Nortosuchias by 42 million years.
While the scientists are tentative in estimating its exact size due to limited fossil evidence, they say it was likely bigger than Sarcosuchus imperator, which could reach up to 39ft in length, and Purussaurus brasilensis, which was around 34ft long.
"Like these and other gigantic crocs from the Cretaceous, 'Razana' could outcompete even theropod dinosaurs, at the top of the food chain", Dal Sasso said in a statement.
The team says the size of R. sakalavae’s teeth indicate it fed on hard tissues, such as bone, and that it would have been one of the top land predators in the area at the time—the point at which Madagascar began to separate from the supercontinent Gondwana.
Study co-author Simone Maganuco said: "Its geographic position during the period when Madagascar was separating from other landmasses is strongly suggestive of an endemic lineage. At the same time, it represents a further signal that the Notosuchia originated in southern Gondwana.”
Concluding, the team writes that their analysis shows R. sakalavae is a “valid species well-distinct from any other currently known member of Notosuchia.”
“It contributes to filling in a gap in the group’s evolution, which contains a long ghost lineage in the Jurassic,” they continue. “It documents a dramatic, somewhat unexpected, size increase in the early history of the group.”
Paleontologists finally know what this ancient armored reptile looked like Popular Science 01 JUL 2017 AT 10:11 ET
Fossil of the Eusaurosphargis dalsassoi.
From Raw Story: A lot can happen in 241 million years. Dinosaurs can rise and fall, and so can the Earth itself. Take Switzerland: In the past 241 million years it went from being beachfront property to a mountainous skier's heaven dotted with chalets.
In that ground-breaking change, remnants of the past got elevated along with the Alps, stranding seashells and other fossils on mountain peaks and leaving a scattered record for paleontologists trying to piece together what life on Earth used to look like. Not all of those fossils aged well. In one case, some smashed disarticulated skeletons of a strange reptile were found in Italy and the Netherlands. These were classified 14 years ago as a particular species of reptile--Eusaurosphargis dalsassoi—but because the fossils were in such poor shape, researchers still weren’t 100 percent sure what it looked like in its day.
During an excavation at an altitude of 9,000 feet in Duncanfurgga, Switzerland, researchers found an impeccably preserved fossil of Eusaurosphargis dalsassoi mixed in with fish and marine reptile remains. When it was first uncovered 15 years ago, encased in rock, it was initially classified as a boring, run-of-the-mill fish. But after the fossil was carefully prepared and removed from some of its protective stone casing, paleontologists swiftly realized it wasn’t a fish at all. Now, they can finally put a face to the name.
The new find is described in a study published Friday in Scientific Reports. It turns out that this ancient reptile was young, only about 20 cm long, and with its scaly armored surface, looked a lot like girdled lizards that live in Africa today.
"This is a case of convergent development as the extinct species is not closely related to today's African lizards," lead author Torsten Scheyer said in a statement.
Scheyer and colleagues think that while the lizard was land-based, it was likely most closely related to reptiles that lived in the oceans around the same time. While it didn’t have flippers or any visible water-based adaptations, it likely lived near the water. It may have been sunning itself on a warm Swiss beach when it died, leaving its remains to get swept into the surrounding sea.
Excavations at Duncanfurgga are still ongoing. So there’s hope that we’ll find even more amazing creatures like this reptile, from a time when Switzerland-to-be wasn’t landlocked.
Haul of treasure discovered at Libya’s ancient Roman ruins Newsweek 09 JUN 2017 AT 14:36 ET
Ancient city of Ptolemais, Libya (Screen Capture)
From Raw Story: Archaeologists have unearthed a cache of ancient Roman silver and bronze coins as well as other treasures in the ruins of a 1,700-year-old villa on the coast of Libya.
The team discovered the haul of 553 silver and bronze coins known as sterercii in the remarkably well-preserved 3rd century building in the ancient city of Ptolemais, Haaretz reported.
The settlement on the North African coast was a key trading port in the Ptolemaic Empire and lies in the eastern corner of modern day Libya just over 60 miles from the city of Benghazi.
Jerzy Zelazoski, an archaeologist from Warsaw University, said the coins were discovered inside a room alongside terracotta lamps, indicating they may have been the profits of local craftsmen.
They also discovered detailed mosaics built around a classical Roman courtyard inside the expansive building complex, which is roughly 600 square meters in size.
They included one depiction of the Greek god Dionysus sleeping with Ariadne, the mythical daughter of King Minos, the ruler of Crete, and another illustrating the adventures of the Greek hero Achilles.
The villa shows signs of centuries of inhabitation in its inscriptions and different frescoes and renovations. The house was most likely destroyed by earthquakes that rocked the region relentlessly between the mid 3rd century up until 356. The horde of coins lay undiscovered for so long because they lay beneath fallen layers of the house.
While the house fell into disrepair, Ptolemais remained the capital of the Roman province of Cyrenaica which succeeded the Ptolemaic Empire, until the year 428.
Ptolemais was sacked by the Vandals as they swept across North Africa and the razed to the ground once again in the 7th century during the Arab conquest of the region.
Libya retains some of the best preserved Greek and Roman ruins because of its dry climate and low population density. However, international antiquities bodies have expressed concern over the future of the sites because of the country’s fractious civil war.
Libya holds five UNESCO world heritage sites covering thousands of years of history. They include: Cyrene, a Greek colony founded in 631 B.C.; Leptis Magna, the Roman seat of power in North Africa; Tadrart Acacus, with prehistoric rock art sites dating from 12,000 B.C. to 100 A.D.; and Ghadames, one of the oldest pre-Saharan cities still in existence.
The greatest fears of possible destruction concern the town of Sabratha, home to an almost perfectly preserved 3rd century Roman theater where the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) made inroads in 2015.
In response to the threat, the International Council of Museums (ICOM), a U.N. body backed by the U.S. state department, issued an emergency catalogue of Libyan cultural items that could fall victim to ISIS’s brand of destructive iconoclasm or be sold on the black market.
Ancient Aztec temple and ball court found in Mexico City Agence France-Presse 09 JUN 2017 AT 08:43 ET
From Raw Story: A giant temple to the Aztec god of the wind and a court where the Aztecs played a deadly ball game have been discovered in the heart of Mexico City.
Archaeologists unveiled the rare finds Wednesday after extensive excavations, giving journalists a tour of the semi-circular temple of Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl and nearby ball court.
Records indicate that Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes first watched the ritual Aztec ball game at the court in 1528, invited by the last Aztec emperor, Montezuma — the man whose empire he went on to conquer.
Historians believe the game involved players using their hips to keep a ball in play — as well as ritual human sacrifices.
Archaeologists uncovered 32 sets of human neck bones at the site, which they said were likely the remains of people who were decapitated as part of the ritual.
Only part of the structure remains — a staircase and a portion of the stands. Archaeologists estimate the original court was about 50 meters (165 feet) long.
The temple, meanwhile, is a giant semi-circle perched atop an even larger rectangular base. The whole thing once measured some 34 meters across and four meters high, archaeologists said.
The ancient structures stand in startling contrast with the sprawling mega-city that now surrounds them, which was built atop the ruins of the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan.
They are just the latest ancient vestiges to be discovered in the historic city center, at what is known as the Great Temple site.
“The discovery we are looking at is a new chance to immerse ourselves in the splendor of the pre-Hispanic city of Tenochtitlan,” Culture Minister Maria Cristina Garcia said.
A hotel formerly stood on the site of the newly discovered ruins until 1985, when it collapsed in a catastrophic earthquake that killed thousands of people.
The hotel’s owners then noticed the ancient remains and alerted the National Institute of Anthropology and History.
Archaeologists believe the temple celebrated the god of the wind and was built between 1486 and 1502.
Ancient Native American site discovered on Santa Rosa Island Two types of stone tools among artifacts found
Oscar Flores Posted: Jun 06, 2017
From KEYT.com: SANTA ROSA ISLAND - Call it a stroke of luck. A crew working on a rehabilitation project of the historic Main Ranch House on Santa Rosa Island discovered an ancient Native American site.
The ancient site was discovered under the Main Ranch House during the process of lifting the building to construct a new foundation.
Two types of stone tools believed to belong to early North American Paleoindians were among the artifacts uncovered. The Channels Island National Park said these tools were made from local island chert and are signatures of a sophisticated technology of early tool making on the Channel Islands. These tools were used for hunting and fishing.
Jon Erlandson, University of Oregon Archeologist and leading expert on Paleocoastal archeology, said the site may be at least 10,000 years old, "with evidence of some of the earliest people on the West Coast, the first Americans."
Scientists say these types of sites serve as evidence of a coastal migration following the North Pacific Rim from the Northeast Asia into the Americas.
Santa Rosa Island is also the location where the "Arlington Man," the oldest known human remains found in North America, was discovered. The "Arlington Man" dated back about 13,000 years.
Work on the Main Ranch House rehabilitation project was suspended after the discovery of the ancient site. A National Parks Service archeological team, in consultation with the Chumash, is conducting an archeological investigation.
“This ancient site is believed to have considerable value and protecting it is part of the core mission of the NPS and the park’s enabling legislation,” said Channel Islands National Park Superintendent Russell Galipeau. “Our goal is to preserve both of these important and irreplaceable cultural resources found in the park.”
The Main House Ranch was constructed sometime after 1869 and served as a sheep and cattle ranch for more than 150 years. It's believed to be one of the oldest wood framed structures in Santa Barbara County.
OLDEST HUMAN FOSSILS DISCOVERED IN MOROCCO
From Axios: Until now, the story of early modern humans began about 200,000 years ago in East Africa, a cradle where our species was thought to have emerged and evolved. But a pair of studies published today in Nature describing fossilized human remains and stone tools found in Morocco suggests modern humans had moved across the continent at least 100,000 years earlier and continued to evolve.
The find: Fossilized remains of a partial skull and lower jaw were found along with stone tools at a mining site between Marrakech and the Atlantic Coast of Morocco. Hublin and colleagues analyzed the new fossils along with others discovered at the same place in the 1960s and found facial and dental features that suggest they belong to the earliest Homo sapiens. (All together, they found the remains of three young adults, one adolescent and one child.) In a second study, Shannon McPherron and his collaborators dated the stone tools at the site and determined them to be about 300,000 - 350,000 years old.
What it means: Modern humans emerged earlier than we thought and dispersed across the continent, continuing to evolve. The fossils are from people somewhere between Homo sapiens and modern humans - and closer to the latter. The evolution between the two was gradual and researchers want to know where it happened. The newly-found skull fossils indicate their faces were already similar to our's and the brain had reached its final size 300,000 years ago and then continued to evolve.
tyrannosaurus rex (Photo: PIxelBay)
T-Rex bite was so strong it could make bones explode Newsweek 17 MAY 2017 AT 07:01 ET
From Raw Story: Tyrannosaurus Rex was one of the most fearsome dinosaurs that ever lived. And now scientists know why. Using advanced modeling techniques, they have found T-Rex could bite down with a force of 8,000 pounds. That’s equivalent to the weight of three small cars, and twice as strong as the largest crocodiles alive today.
T-Rex, whose name translates to king of the tyrant lizards—or Tyrant King, roamed western America between 68 to 65 million years ago. It is believed to have been an apex predator, measuring up to 40ft in length and weighing up to 18 metric tons.
It is also thought to have had the largest bite forces of all terrestrial animals—but until now scientists did not know just how strong its huge jaws were. The study, by Gregory Erickson, professor of biological science at Florida State University, and Paul Gignac, assistant professor of anatomy and vertebrate paleontology at Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences, was published in Scientific Reports.
Erickson and Gignac used previous research in which they had looked at modern crocodiles—close relatives of dinosaurs—analyzing the arrangement of the muscles that contribute to their bite force. They then compared their findings with birds, which evolved from a group of dinosaurs called theropods, which T-Rex belonged to.
From this, they were able to generate a model for T-Rex’s bite. Findings showed it could crush 8,000 pounds. “We didn't go in our study with any preconceived notions or expectations,” Erickson tells Newsweek in an email interview. “Minimally, we expected forces over 6,800 pounds, since I had worked with Stanford engineers as a grad student replicating T-Rex bites on cow bones, and that value was deduced.”
“The forces we found are prodigious, enough to sink the teeth several inches into bone and shatter them. That is all they needed to do. Natural selection tends not to grossly overbuild. It is not advantageous to waste resources that could be utilized elsewhere for growth, survival or reproduction.”
As T-Rex was also capable of consuming bone, it must have had additional strength in its nine-inch razor sharp teeth. The scientists discovered its teeth could generate 431,000 pounds of pressure per square inch. This allowed it to munch on bones to the point where they would have exploded. And tooth pressure, the scientists say, is key.
“We have modeled bite forces for giant fossil crocs at 23,000 pounds, so Tyrant King was not the king in that regard,” Erickson says. “Its tooth pressures, which are more important than bite forces with regard to feeding capacities are however the highest estimated (to date) for any animal.”
This would have been highly advantageous to T-Rex. “It allowed them to utilize more of the carcasses of giant prey and scavenged individuals than competitors. Bones are composed of phosphatic salts and they house fatty marrow which T-Rex alone could captialize on,” Erickson says.
Explaining what it would be like if a human got bitten by a T-Rex, he adds: “To quote Clubber Lang (Mr T) from Rocky III—‘Pain’—albeit brief.”
Bones Found in 2nd Chamber of Cave Spur Huge Questions More bones unearthed from H. naledi species, upending evolution beliefs
By Jenn Gidman, Newser Staff Posted May 9, 2017 9:01 AM CDT
(Newser) – In 2015 it was a discovery described as "unlike anything we have seen." Now even more so. A second chamber in a South African cave system has produced bones belonging to Homo naledi, a species scientists now believe may have existed around the same time as Homo sapiens and that the Washington Post describes as "an enigma." Per new research published Tuesday in eLIFE, the newly found bones in the Lesedi Chamber of the Rising Star caves belong to at least three individuals but have not been dated. Those of the 15 individuals unearthed in 2013 in the Dinaledi Chamber have now been determined to be 236,000 to 335,000 years old—which shocks some scientists, as that would place the species as existing around the time of early modern humans. The bones reveal so little stress or disease that scientists wonder if H. naledi was the area's dominant species. "They are the healthiest dead things you'll ever see," study author Lee Berger tells the Guardian. And they're raising a lot of questions, like whether H. naledi could have fashioned some of the tools found in the area, and, as the Post puts it, whether "paleoanthropologists shift their focus from East Africa to the continent's less-studied southern regions." The Dinaledi Chamber is so hard to access that an all-female team of tiny spelunkers was used; there's no route from it to the Lesedi Chamber, which is 100 feet underground. Some speculate the bones' presence in two chambers means the species buried its dead. Outside scientists are doubtful; one expresses the possibility that a sinkhole or some undiscovered entrance may still be found. (Did humans live in California 130,000 years ago?)
Remains of an ancient Egyptian pyramid discovered south of Cairo Agence France-Presse 05 APR 2017 AT 10:05 ET
From Raw Story: The remains of an Egyptian pyramid built around 3,700 years ago have been discovered near the well-known “bent pyramid” of King Snefru, the antiquities ministry announced on Monday.
The pyramid from the 13th dynasty was found in Dahshur’s royal necropolis, some 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of Cairo, it said.
“An alabaster… block engraved with 10 vertical hieroglyphic lines” was among the finds, the ministry said, citing Adel Okasha, director general at the necropolis.
It said granite lintel and stone blocks were discovered that would show more “about the internal structure of the pyramid”.
Excavation is still in its early stages and the size of the pyramid has not yet been established.
Blocks of stone and the beginning of a corridor which were discovered can be seen in photos provided by the ministry.
The corridor “leads to the interior of the pyramid, extended by a ramp and the entrance to a room”, the ministry said.
“All the discovered parts of the pyramid are in very good condition and further excavation is to take place to reveal more parts,” it said.
Egypt, home of one of the world’s earliest civilisations, boasts 123 ancient pyramids, Zahi Hawass, former head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, told AFP.
Hawass, who took part in the last discovery of a new pyramid in Egypt in 2008 at Saqqara, just south of Cairo, said the remnants in Dahshur appeared to indicate that the monument belonged to “a queen buried near her husband or her son”.
“The hope now is to find any inscription which can reveal the identity of the owner of this pyramid. To find the name of a previously unknown queen would be an addition to history,” the archaeologist said.
Egypt’s ancient treasures include the world-famous Pyramids of Giza, constructed around 4,500 years ago.
The Khufu pyramid, or Great Pyramid, is the largest of the three in Giza, standing at 146 metres (480 feet tall), and the only surviving structure of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
Khufu and Khafre in Giza along with the Bent and Red pyramids in Dahshur are part of Operation ScanPyramids, with teams scanning the structures in search of hidden rooms and cavities.
The project to unearth still hidden secrets of the pyramids applies a mix of infrared thermography, radiographic imaging and 3D simulation — all of which the researchers say are non-invasive and non-destructive.
In October last year, the team announced that two additional cavities had been found in the Great Pyramid after another scan a year earlier found several thermal anomalies.
At a conference in 2015 dedicated to King Tutankhamun and his world-famous golden funerary mask, Egyptian authorities said new technology was needed to determine whether his tomb contains hidden chambers which a British archaeologist believes could contain Queen Nefertiti’s remains.
In Australia's 'Jurassic Park,' World's Largest Dino Prints 21 different types of tracks found Down Under—some 6 feet long
By Jenn Gidman, Newser Staff Posted Mar 27, 2017 1:02 PM CDT
(Newser) – Twenty-one is the lucky number for paleontologists in Australia: That's the "globally unparalleled" number of different varieties of dinosaur prints they appear to have found in a "magical place" they call the country's own "Jurassic Park," per Phys.org. In a study published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, scientists from the University of Queensland and James Cook University report on their findings along the northwestern Dampier Peninsula, just north of Broome, with more than 400 hours of work turning up tracks for what seem to be six each of sauropods and predatory dinosaurs, four ornithopods, and six armored dinosaurs. They're said to be the biggest prints ever found--ABC Australia notes some sauropod tracks are as long as 6 feet—and include the "only confirmed evidence for stegosaurs" on the continent. Ironically, because some of the prints were so huge, researchers think they may not have been recognized as tracks. Industry nearly put the discovery in peril: In 2008, the regional government picked out the area to serve as a natural gas processing site, a move that received pushback from members of the aboriginal Goolarabooloo community, who say the tracks form a "songline" that document how a "creator-being" named Marala once traversed the landscape. The area was eventually deemed a National Heritage site in 2011 and the gas project was nixed. Steven Salisbury, lead author of the study, says most dinosaur fossils have turned up on the eastern side of Australia and were up to 115 million years old, a press release notes. These new prints were found in rocks dating up to 140 million years ago. (One of the "saddest" dino fossils ever unearthed.)
Prehistoric climate change caused three mass extinction events in a row International Business Times 20 MAR 2017 AT 16:54 ET
From Raw Story: They got knocked down, but they got up again. And again. And again.
Every time life on Earth tried to rebound from the largest mass extinction event in the planet’s history, it seemed another mass extinction followed, wiping the slate clean and making the survivors start from scratch. That’s according to a study in PLOS One, published after scientists studied both fossils and evidence of geological changes at a location in northern Italy, in the Dolomites mountain range. The researchers found that after the enormous mass extinction event, often referred to as “the Great Dying,” there were two more extinction events that delayed a full recovery for several million years.
These fossilized snail shells, next to a 20-cent Euro for scale, can be linked to the period after the mass extinction event called the Great Dying. Photo: William Foster/The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences
The study says the huge extinction event in the late Permian Period of our planet’s geologic history, more than 250 million years ago, can be linked to volcanic activity that caused climate and environmental changes, because it released massive amount of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and sulfur into the atmosphere, the University of Texas at Austin said in a statement. The Great Dying took out about 95 percent of marine life and 70 percent of life on land.
After studying layer upon layer of rock, the scientists now say the planet recovered so slowly from the Great Dying because two smaller mass extinction events followed it — one of them perhaps 500,000 years afterward and the second about another million years later.
“After the second extinction event, the fossil record shows an increased ecological diversity,” the university explained. “This is a sign, researchers said, that the environmental stresses that limited recovery from the first extinction event and instigated the second were beginning to lessen.”
Although these prehistoric events represented environmental changes of much greater intensity than we see today in the Earth’s changing climate, the researchers say they hold lessons for us, both in how life can survive something like this and how it can rebound.
Primarily it was tiny mollusks, such as snails a few centimeters long, that survived the mass extinctions.
“The changes in ocean conditions that caused the end-Permian mass extinction — ocean acidification, ocean deoxygenation and increasing temperatures — are issues occurring today, though not at the extreme levels recorded in the late stages of the end-Permian extinction,” according to the university.
Scientists discover parts of earth’s original crust International Business Times 20 MAR 2017 AT 07:34 ET
From Raw Story: Throughout its 4.5 billion-year history, the Earth’s crust — the thin outer layer of the planet — has been recycled several times, and most of the original crust has long been forced deep below the surface. The oldest portions of the crust that exist today are about 2.7 billion years old — much younger than the ancient crust that formed the “ancestors” of the modern-day continents.
A team of researchers from the University of Ottawa and the Carnegie Institution for Science has now discovered samples of Earth’s crust that existed over 4.2 billion years ago, when our planet was still in its formative years. The discovery, made after analysis of samples collected from a large mass of exposed rock in northwestern Quebec known as the Canadian Shield, has been detailed in a study published Friday in the latest edition of the journal Science.
“The Earth is always ‘recycling’ and re-melting its crust, erasing records of its early beginnings. We knew that the craton in northern Quebec had been formed by partial fusion of an ancient precursor crust, but for the first time we have specific information about the age and the nature of this older source,” lead author Jonathan O’Neil from the University of Ottawa’s Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences said in a statement.
Cratons are the oldest portions of Earth’s continents that have remained stable for over a billion years. Cratonic areas are present in every single continent.
In order to date the rocks obtained from near the eastern shore of the Hudson Bay in Northwestern Quebec, the researchers tracked the decay of an isotope called samarium-146. This isotope, which existed only for about 500 million years after the Earth formed, decayed into neodymium-142. By analyzing the amount of this element in the rocks and by comparing it with the amount present in newer rocks, the researchers were able to calculate their true age.
“Our findings suggest that the primordial crust involved in forming our craton was actually more than 4.2 billion years old and similar in composition to oceanic crust, which is very different from continental crust,” O’Neil said. “Re-melting or recycling of this primitive crustal ancestor produced the younger rocks of the Archean craton, which grew and stabilized to form the core of this part of the North American continent.”
Fossils from 1.6 billion years ago may be oldest-known plants Reuters 14 MAR 2017
An X-ray tomographic picture of fossil thread-like red algae, tinted to show detail, unearthed in central India may represent the oldest-known plants on Earth, dating from 1.6 billion years ago, according to research published in the journal PLOS Biology in this image released March 13, 2017. Courtesy Stefan Bengtson/Handout via REUTERS
From Raw Story: Fossils unearthed in India that are 1.6 billion years old and look like red algae may represent the earliest-known plants, a discovery that could force scientists to reassess the timing of when major lineages in the tree of life first appeared on Earth.
Researchers on Tuesday described the tiny, multicellular fossils as two types of red algae, one thread-like and the other bulbous, that lived in a shallow marine environment alongside mats of bacteria. Until now, the oldest-known plants were 1.2-billion-year-old red algae fossils from the Canadian Arctic.
The researchers said cellular structures preserved in the fossils and their overall shape match red algae, a primitive kind of plant that today thrives in marine settings such as coral reefs but also can be found in freshwater environments. A type of red algae known as nori is a common sushi ingredient.
“We almost could have had sushi 1.6 billion years ago,” joked Swedish Museum of Natural History geobiologist Therese Sallstedt, who helped lead the study published in the journal PLOS Biology.
Earth formed about 4.5 billion years ago. There is evidence indicating life first appeared in the form of marine bacteria roughly 3.7 to 4.2 billion years ago. Only much later did plants and subsequently animals appear in the primordial seas.
“Plants have a key role for life on Earth, and we show here that they were considerably older than what we knew, which has a ripple effect on our appreciation of when advanced life forms appeared on the evolutionary scene,” Sallstedt said.
The fossils were found in phosphate-rich sedimentary rocks from Chitrakoot in central India. The thread-like fossils contained internal cellular features including structures that appear to be part of the machinery of photosynthesis, the process used by plants to convert sunlight into chemical energy.
Oxygen is a byproduct of photosynthesis and the advent of plants helped build the atmosphere’s oxygen content.
The fossils also contained structures at the center of each cell wall typical of red algae.
At the time, Earth’s land surfaces were largely barren, life was mainly microbial and atmospheric oxygen was at 1 to 10 percent of current levels, said study co-leader Stefan Bengtson, a Swedish Museum of Natural History paleobiologist.
The fossils also represent the oldest-known advanced multicellular organisms in the broad category called eukaryotes that includes plants, fungi and animals, indicating complex life flourished much earlier than previously assumed, the researchers said.
Egypt archaeologists discover massive statue in Cairo slum Brian Rohan, Associated Press Updated 12:10 am, Saturday, March 11, 2017
From Chrom: CAIRO (AP) — Archaeologists in Egypt discovered a massive statue in a Cairo slum that may be of Ramses II, one of the country's most famous and longest ruling ancient pharaohs.The colossus, a large portion of whose head was pulled from mud and groundwater by a bulldozer and seen by The Associated Press on Friday, is around eight meters (26 feet) high and was discovered by a German-Egyptian archaeological team. "We used the bulldozer to lift it out. We took some precautions, although somewhat primitive, but the part that we retrieved was not harmed," said Khaled Mohamed Abuelela, manager of antiquities at Ain Shams University. Egyptologist Khaled Nabil Osman said the statue was an "impressive find" and the area in the working class neighborhood of Matariya in eastern Cairo is likely full of other buried antiquities... ...Ramses II, who took the throne in his early 20s as the third pharaoh of the 19th Dynasty, ruled Egypt more than 3,000 years ago. He is credited with expanding ancient Egypt's reach as far as modern Syria to the east and modern Sudan to the south. The expansion earned him the title "Ramses the Great." Ramses II ruled Egypt for 60 years — one of the longest stretches in ancient Egypt — and besides his military exploits is known for being a great builder whose image can be seen at a string of sites across the country. Massive statues of the warrior-king can be viewed in Luxor, and his most famous monument is in Abu Simbel, near Sudan. Osman said the massive portion of the head removed from the ground near a street market was made in the style that Ramses was depicted, and was likely him. The site contained parts of both that statue and another. Famed archaeologist Zahi Hawass, Egypt's former antiquities minister, said the area where the head was found is a very important archaeological site containing the remains of temples to Akhenaten and Thutmose III — kings who ruled during the 18th Dynasty — as well as Ramses II.[...]
Part Human, Part Neanderthal Skulls Found In China Trigger Debate: Did They Belong To The Mysterious Denisovans? BY AVANEESH PANDEYON 03/05/17
From IBT: The evolutionary history of modern humans (Homo sapiens) is a messy one. After they first ventured out of Africa roughly 60,000 years ago, our ancestors not only displaced the indigenous populations of Neanderthals in Europe in West Asia, they also mated extensively with them — an activity that has left behind its footprints in our genome.
The hominid fossil record from East Asia, however, is patchier, making the reconstruction of our evolutionary history and population patterns in the region an extremely daunting task.
It is in this backdrop that the discovery of two partial skulls in the China, described in a new study published in the journal Science, assumes special importance. What makes the skulls — discovered between 2007 and 2014 in Lingjing, Xuchang County in Henan Province — even more intriguing is the curious “mosaic” of features they exhibit.
The skulls, estimated to be about 100,000 years old, display traits that have never before been seen in our fossil record — features that are neither pure Neanderthal nor pure human (or any other known hominid species, for that matter).
“Some features are ancestral and similar to those of earlier eastern Eurasian humans, some are derived and shared with contemporaneous or later humans elsewhere, and some are closer to those of Neandertals,” the researchers wrote in the study.
For instance, the cranial remains show that much like early modern humans, the individuals that possessed them had a large brain volume (roughly 1,800 cubic centimetres, which is the upper end for both modern humans and Neanderthals). However, features that were quite pronounced in earlier humans, such as the bony ridges over the eyes and a bony prominence at the back of the skull, are not prominent in these skulls.
Furthermore, the specimen show a configuration of semicircular ear canals and an enlarged section at the rear — structures that have previously been found in Neanderthal skulls.
“The features of these fossils reinforce a pattern of regional population continuity in eastern Eurasia, combined with shared long-terms trends in human biology and populational connections across Eurasia,” study co-author Erik Trinkaus, a professor of anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis, said in a statement. “They reinforce the unity and dynamic nature of human evolution leading up to modern human emergence.”
Many have already begun speculating that the skulls may have belonged to Denisovans — a mysterious group of humans whose existence has only been gleaned from the DNA analysis of a few finger bones and teeth found in a cave in Siberia.
“Unfortunately, the skulls lack teeth so we cannot make direct comparisons with the large teeth known from Denisova Cave, but another similarly-dated fossil from Xujiayao in China does have Neanderthal-like traits in the ear bones, like Xuchang, and does have large teeth, so these may all represent the same population,” Chris Stringer, a professor at London’s Natural History Museum, who was not involved in the study, told BBC News. “We must hope that ancient DNA can be recovered from these fossils in order to test whether they are Denisovans, or a distinct lineage.”
For now, the only thing we know for sure is that the skulls belonged to an “archaic Homo” species that lived in East Asia about 100,000 years ago.
“The biological nature of the immediate predecessors of modern humans in eastern Eurasia has been poorly known from the human fossil record,” Trinkaus said in the statement. “The discovery of these skulls of late archaic humans, from Xuchang, substantially increases our knowledge of these people.”
Drones Find Hundreds of Stonehenge-Like Spots in Amazon
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore, Newser Staff Posted Feb 7, 2017
An aerial image of the newly discovered earthworks. (Jennifer Watling/Phys.org)
(NEWSER) – Scientists flying drones over the Amazon rainforest in Brazil have found more than 450 "geoglyphs" that are similar in size, structure, and possibly purpose to Stonehenge in England. The earthworks were likely used for public gatherings and rituals, researchers report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They've been hidden beneath a thick canopy of trees for about 2,000 years, but modern deforestation has made them easier to spot from above. The earthworks are surrounded by ditches and causeways in a way that history buffs will find familiar. "The earliest phases at Stonehenge consisted of a similarly laid-out enclosure," lead researcher Jennifer Watling, of the University of Sao Paulo, tells the Telegraph.
Researchers say the discovery adds another new wrinkle about the Amazon, refuting the notion that it has been largely untouched by humans until modern times. "The fact that these sites lay hidden for centuries beneath mature rainforest really challenges the idea that Amazonian forests are 'pristine ecosystems,'" Watling says in a news release. But scientists say the indigenous people of the time appeared to manage the land carefully, clearing small tracts of bamboo forest to create the earthworks and encouraging the growth of species they could use and trade, reports UPI. Because few artifacts have been found at the sites, researchers think they were used only for special occasions.
Mexican pyramid has two more inside, scientists discover
Kukulkan pyramid built like ‘Russian nesting doll’ – a second structure had already been found under its exterior and now a third has been revealed
Agence France-Presse in Mexico City
From The Guardian: Experts have discovered a third structure within the Kukulkan pyramid in eastern Mexico, revealing that it was built like a “Russian nesting doll”, experts said on Wednesday.
A 10-metre-tall pyramid was found within another 20metre structure, which itself is enveloped by the 30-metre exterior visible at the Maya archeological complex known as Chichen Itza in Yucatán state.
The smallest pyramid was built between the years 550 and 800, engineers and anthropologists said. The middle structure had already been discovered in the 1930s and dates back to the years 800-1000, while the largest one was finished between 1050 and 1300.
The discovery suggests that the pyramid, also known as El Castillo (The Castle), was built in three phases.
“It’s like a Russian nesting doll. Under the large one we get another and another,” said René Chávez Seguro, project chief and geophysics expert.
Structures were built on top of each other for various reasons, including deterioration or the arrival of new leadership, said Denisse Argote, expert at the National Anthropology and History Institute.
The smallest pyramid was spotted using non-invasive scanning techniques.
The discovery could shed light on the original Maya culture before it was influenced by populations from central Mexico, Argote said.
In 2015 archeologists discovered the Kukulkan pyramid was built atop a cenote, or sinkhole lake, which are common in the region and sacred to the Maya.
A Single Migration From Africa Populated the World, Studies Find
by Carl Zimmer
From NY Times: Modern humans evolved somewhere in Africa roughly 200,000 years ago. But how did our species go on to populate the rest of the globe?
Did humans flood out of Africa in a single diaspora, or did we trickle from the continent in waves spread out over tens of thousands of years? The question, one of the biggest in human evolution, has plagued scientists for decades.
Now they may have found an answer.
In a series of unprecedented genetic analyses published on Wednesday in the journal Nature, three separate teams of researchers conclude that all non-Africans today trace their ancestry to a single population emerging from Africa between 50,000 and 80,000 years ago.
“I think all three studies are basically saying the same thing,” said Joshua M. Akey of the University of Washington, who wrote a commentary accompanying the new work. “We know there were multiple dispersals out of Africa, but we can trace our ancestry back to a single one.”
The three teams sequenced the genomes of 787 people, obtaining highly detailed scans of each. The genomes were drawn from people in hundreds of indigenous populations around the world — Basques, African pygmies, Mayans, Bedouins, Sherpas and Cree Indians, to name just a few.
The DNA of older indigenous populations may be essential to understanding human history, many geneticists believe. Yet until now scientists have sequenced few whole genomes from people outside population centers like Europe and China. The new findings already are altering scientific understanding of what human DNA looks like, experts said, adding a rich diversity of variation to our map of the genome.
Each team of researchers used sets of genomes to tackle different questions about our origins, such as how people spread across Africa and how others populated Australia. But all aimed to settle the question of human expansion from Africa.
In the 1980s, a group of paleoanthropologists and geneticists began championing a hypothesis that modern humans emerged only once from Africa, roughly 50,000 years ago. Skeletons and tools discovered at archaeological sites clearly indicated the existence of modern humans in Europe, Asia and Australia.
Early studies of bits of DNA also supported this scenario. All non-Africans are closely related to one another, the studies found, and they all branch from a genetic tree rooted in Africa.
Yet there are also clues that at least some modern humans lived outside of Africa well before 50,000 years ago, perhaps part of an earlier wave of migration.
In Israel, for example, researchers found a few distinctively modern human skeletons that are between 120,000 and 90,000 years old. In Saudi Arabia and India, they discovered sophisticated tools dating back as far as 100,000 years.
Last October, Chinese scientists reported finding teeth belonging to Homo sapiens that are at least 80,000 years old and perhaps as old as 120,000 years.
Some scientists have argued from these finds that there was a human expansion from Africa earlier than 50,000 years ago. In 2011 Eske Willerslev, a renowned geneticist at the University of Copenhagen, and his colleagues reported evidence that some living people descended from this early wave.
Dr. Willerslev and his colleagues reconstructed the genome of an Aboriginal Australian from a century-old lock of hair kept in a museum — the first reconstruction of its kind. The DNA held a number of peculiar variants not found in Europeans or Asians. He concluded that the ancestors of Aboriginals split off from other non-Africans and moved eastward, eventually arriving in East Asia 62,000 to 75,000 years ago. Tens of thousands of years later, a separate population of Africans spread into Europe and Asia.
It was a big conclusion to draw from a single fragile genome, so Dr. Willerslev decided to contact living Aboriginals to see if they’d participate in a new genetic study. He joined David W. Lambert, a geneticist at Griffith University in Australia, who was already meeting with Aboriginal communities about beginning such a study.
Their new paper also includes DNA from people in Papua New Guinea, thanks to a collaboration with scientists at the University of Oxford. All told, the scientists were able to sequence 83 genomes from Aboriginal Australians and 25 from people in Papua New Guinea, all with far greater accuracy than in Dr. Willerslev’s 2011 study.[...]
Scientists say an ancient Mayan book called the Grolier Codex is the real deal
From PRI: Scholars of pre-Columbian history have been trying to decipher something called the Grolier Codex ever since it was discovered by looters in a cave in Chiapas, Mexico back in the '60s.
It's a 13th century manuscript that may well contain some of the collected wisdom of the Maya people. The question that has nagged archaeologists and social scientists who’ve had the chance to inspect it: Is it authentic?
“Absolutely, and having started in the corner of the doubters, I have moved to the opposite side of the ring and I have no doubt of its authenticity,” says Yale University professor of history of art Mary Miller.
She was part of a team of researchers that “wrapped our heads around the Codex and we began to come at it from every possible direction and we built upon really rather remarkable new studies that have come to light.”
Skepticism surrounding the Grolier Codex has to do with the fact that it was first discovered by looters, not scientists, and that its artistic complexity looks a little sketchy compared to the Maya codices.
“Our goal was to see if there was something that was modern that [may] have been put into the paint on the Codex... to confirm that it was a 20th-century fraud," Miller says, "and in fact what we found was that there was not a single thing that you could say about it, in terms of its materiality, that wasn't authentic.”
Miller says the team carefully reviewed recent research, including one study that radiocarbon dated the paper to figure out whether the kind of bark used was historically correct. They also checked into the very rare blue Mayan pigment used on the final page of the Codex that survives, which had not been analyzed and replicated in a laboratory until decades after the manuscript was discovered. And some of the intricate features depicting the Mayan deities, says Miller, weren’t even known back in the '60s and are only now apparent as a result of recent scholarship.
But the Grolier Codex is a just a fragment of its former Maya self. It’s 10 painted pages decorated with ritual Maya iconography and a calendar that charts the movement of the planet Venus, believed to be connected with a warfare deity.
Miller says hundreds of similar Maya codices were destroyed or burned at the time of the Spanish invasion in the 15th century.
So, the Grolier Codex is the real deal, according to this team of researchers. It represents the oldest surviving book from ancient America. And unlike it's pre-Columbian cousins, the Paris Codex and the Dresden Codex, this one will stay in Mexico.
“I'm very happy to say that the Codex is in a very safe place," Miller says. "It is inside the vault of the Museo Nacional de Antropología in Mexico City, where it is completely secure and beautifully cared for, and I hope that others will have the opportunity to examine it."
The beginnings of civilization
The beginnings of civilization
In Egypt, sometime around 40,000 to 15,000 years ago, the rains started to diminish, and the Sahara, which had been a fertile land, started to dry up, and was becoming a desert. Fleeing the advancing desert, many of the people that were living in the area started to migrated closer to the only dependable source of fresh water - the Nile River. Over the following thousands of years, the Sahara became a total desert, completely incapable of supporting human life except for the Oasis'. By then, the people of the area had already moved to the Nile River Valley. And it is here in the Nile Valley, where as these early human groups are forced to live closer and ever closer to each other, they start to cooperate with each other, and to learn from each other.
Over time, they begin to form the first pools of collective knowledge, (as an example of collective knowledge: no one person knows how to build a car by himself - it takes thousands of people, each pooling their individual knowledge and skills to build a car). With this collective knowledge, early man first learns how to make better tools for fishing, hunting and butchering his kill, (in time, this knowledge would grow to the point where they can build the Pyramids). Then the early forms of farming begin to appear. At a few sites, there is evidence that fishing was abandoned by some people, possibly because farmed grains (barley, most likely), together with the large herd animals that they still hunted, created a diet that was more than adequate for their needs.
Maya 'snake dynasty' tomb uncovered holding body, treasure and hieroglyphs Find is ‘one of the largest burial chambers ever discovered in Belize’ Hieroglyphic panels, skeleton and offerings hidden for 1,300 years
From The Guardian: Archaeologists have uncovered what may be the largest royal tomb found in more than a century of work on Maya ruins in Belize, along with a puzzling set of hieroglyphic panels that provide clues to a “snake dynasty” that conquered many of its neighbors some 1,300 years ago.
Liquid mercury found under Mexican pyramid could lead to king's tomb Read more The tomb was unearthed at the ruins of Xunantunich, a city on the Mopan river in western Belize that served as a ceremonial center in the final centuries of Maya dominance around 600 to 800AD. Archaeologists found the chamber 16ft to 26ft below ground, where it had been hidden under more than a millennium of dirt and debris.
Researchers found the tomb as they excavated a central stairway of a large structure: within were the remains of a male adult, somewhere between 20 and 30 years old, lying supine with his head to the south.
The archaeologist Jaime Awe said preliminary analysis by osteologists found the man was athletic and “quite muscular” at his death, and that more analysis should provide clues about his identity, health and cause of death.
In the grave, archaeologists also found jaguar and deer bones, six jade beads, possibly from a necklace, 13 obsidian blades and 36 ceramic vessels. At the base of the stairway, they found two offering caches that had nine obsidian and 28 chert flints and eccentrics – chipped artefacts that resemble flints but are carved into the shapes of animals, leaves or other symbols...
...Many Maya societies ruled through dynastic families. Tombs for male and female rulers have been found, including those of the so-called “snake dynasty”, named for the snake-head emblem associated with its house. The family had a string of conquests in the seventh century, and ruled from two capital cities. Awe said the newly discovered hieroglyphic panels could prove “even more important than the tomb”, by providing clues to the dynasty’s history.[...]
Philistines more sophisticated than given credit for, say reseachers
Discovery of 3,000-year-old cemetery in Ashkelon will dispel many myths and may force rethinking of popular insult
From The Guardian: Philistines were no “philistines”, say archaeologists who have unearthed a 3,000-year-old cemetery in which members of the biblical nation were buried along with jewellery and perfumed oil.
Little was known about the Philistines before the recent excavation in the Israeli port city of Ashkelon. The famed archenemies of the ancient Israelites – Goliath was a Philistine – flourished in this area of the Mediterranean, starting in the 12th century BC, but their way of life and origin have remained a mystery.
That stands to change after what researchers have called the first discovery of a Philistine cemetery. It contains the remains of about 150 people in numerous burial chambers, some containing surprisingly sophisticated items.
The team also found DNA on parts of the skeletons and hope that further testing will determine the origins of the Philistine people.
We may need to rethink today’s derogatory use of the word philistine, which refers to someone averse to culture and the arts, said archaeologist Lawrence Stager, who has led the Leon Levy expedition at Ashkelon since 1985.
“The Philistines have had some bad press, and this will dispel a lot of myths,” he said.
His team dug down about three metres (10ft) to uncover the cemetery, which they found to have been used centuries later as a Roman vineyard. On hands and knees, workers brushed away layers of earth to reveal the brittle bones of entire Philistine skeletons reposed as they were three millennia ago.
Decorated juglets believed to have contained perfumed oil were found in graves. Some bodies were still wearing bracelets and earrings, while others had weapons.
The archaeologists also discovered some cremations, which the team say were rare and expensive for the period, and some larger jugs contained the bones of infants.
“The cosmopolitan life here is so much more elegant and worldly and connected with other parts of the eastern Mediterranean,” Stager said, adding that this was in contrast to the more modest village lifestyle of the Israelites who lived in the hills to the east.
Bones, ceramics and other remains were moved to a tented compound for further study and some artifacts were reconstructed piece by piece. The team mapped the position of every bone removed to produce a digital 3D recreation of the burial site.
Final reports on the finds are being published by the Semitic Museum at Harvard University.