понедельник, 7 мая 2018 г.

Wrecks of three mystery 19th century trading ships found off east Australian coast

A team of researchers from the Australian National Maritime Museum and the Silentworld Foundation have discovered three shipwrecks in the Coral Sea.

Wrecks of three mystery 19th century trading ships found off east Australian coast
Dr James Hunter dives with an anchor from one of the wrecks at Kenn Reefs 

[Credit: Julia Sumerling/Silentworld Foundation]

The wrecks, estimated to be at least 150 years old, were discovered during a week-long expedition to Kenn Reefs, 520 kilometres north-east of Bundaberg.

James Hunter is the curator of maritime archaeology at Sydney’s Australian National Maritime Museum, and was one of 11 people who undertook the expedition.

Notorious reef caused many wrecks

“To look down at the seabed and to see an anchor sitting [there] and to see something someone hasn’t seen probably since that shipwreck occurred, it’s magic, it’s an amazing thing,” Dr Hunter said.

The Kenn Reefs are a 42-square-kilometre string of submerged coral atolls located about half way between the Queensland coast and New Caledonia.

The reefs were notorious among 19th century sailors; a previous expedition undertaken by the Queensland Museum in 1987 found nine other wrecks in the same area.

A map printed in 1859 even describes the southern end of the reef as being “strewed with wrecks”.

“During the 19th century [Kenn Reefs] weren’t very well charted and people were out sailing, and depending on the conditions, would end up running into them,” Dr Hunter said.

“In some instances [sailors] never even saw them before it was almost too late.”

Wrecks of three mystery 19th century trading ships found off east Australian coast
Divers at Kenn Reefs, 520 kilometres north-east of Bundaberg, found this wreck between six 

to 10 metres of water [Credit: Julia Sumerling/Silentworld Foundation]

Most of the shipwrecks found along the reef are from 19th century trading vessels on their way north to Jakarta, India and as far away as England.

The expedition also attempted to find the brig Bona Vista, which was wrecked while travelling from Sydney to Mauritius in 1828, but was unsuccessful.

Like many ships wrecked on Kenn Reef, Bona Vista’s crew had to wait weeks before being rescued by a passing vessel.

Paul Hundley is director of the Silentworld Foundation, which supplied the yacht used in the expedition, along with several volunteers.

“It’s almost a tabletop on the reef top and then it drops away into about four to five metres of water and then slowly shelves off into deeper water,” Mr Hundley said of the undersea landscape.

“But once you’re 300 metres off shore, it drops rapidly into the abyss.”

Shipwrecks provide insight into early trade with Asia

Dr Hunter hopes data retrieved from the expedition will provide more information about Australia’s pre-Federation trade with other colonies.

“Trade between Australia and India for example was critical to Australia’s commercial interests,” he said.

“Despite the fact that this was going on for an expanse of time, we know very little about the ships that were involved in this trade.”

Wrecks of three mystery 19th century trading ships found off east Australian coast
Silentworld Foundation volunteers Renee Malarios, Peter Illidge, Jacqui Mullen and John Mullen, with one

of the newly discovered wrecks [Credit: Julia Sumerling/Silentworld Foundation]

Determining the identity of the three unknown ships will involve a careful comparison of the archaeological discoveries with historical records.

“Most of them wrecked around the same time and because of the articles that they were carrying — the anchors and other things, are very similar — we’re going to have to really look at what objects we’re finding [and compare them] with [the] site and do a very, very close analysis,” Dr Hunter said.

“Then we can tease out which shipwreck belongs to what particular ship.”

Costs well worth historical benefit says researcher

However, this presents certain difficulties.

The wrecks were discovered using equipment which detects changes in Earth’s electromagnetic fields caused by large metallic objects underwater, such as cannons or anchors.

After more than 150 years, not much else is left of the ships and Dr Hunter does not expect a full report on the expedition until next year.

The total cost of the expedition ranges between $150,000 and $200,000 and was funded by the Silentworld Foundation.

Under the Commonwealth Historic Shipwrecks Act, relics or parts of a wreck more than 75 years old can not be removed or disturbed unless a permit has been obtained.

For Mr Hundley, the cost of the expedition and the exclusion zones around these wrecks is well worth the historical benefit.

“If people, unaware of the significance of these sites, come through and start moving things around or removing objects, it lessens the significance from an archaeological perspective,” Mr Hundley said.

“The public awareness that we generate around maritime history and archaeology is well beyond the financial cost of the project.”

Author: Dominic Cansdale | Source: ABC News Website [January 23, 2017]

Source TheArchaeologyNewsNetwork

80 million year old dinosaur collagen confirmed

Utilizing the most rigorous testing methods to date, researchers from North Carolina State University have isolated additional collagen peptides from an 80-million-year-old Brachylophosaurus. The work lends further support to the idea that organic molecules can persist in specimens tens of millions of years longer than originally believed and has implications for our ability to study the fossil record on the molecular level.

80-million-year-old dinosaur collagen confirmed
A Brachylophosaur canadensis fossil femur (MOR 2598) in field jacket, showing area of sampling 

for molecular analyses [Credit: Mary Schweitzer]

Elena Schroeter, NC State postdoctoral researcher, and Mary Schweitzer, professor of biological sciences with a joint appointment at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, wanted to confirm earlier findings of original dinosaur collagen first reported in 2009 from Brachylophosaurus canadensis, a type of hadrosaur, or duck-billed dinosaur, that roamed what is now Montana around 80 million years ago.

“Mass spectrometry technology and protein databases have improved since the first findings were published, and we wanted to not only address questions concerning the original findings, but also demonstrate that it is possible to repeatedly obtain informative peptide sequences from ancient fossils,” Schroeter says.

Collagen is a protein and peptides are the building blocks of proteins. Recovering peptides allows researchers to determine evolutionary relationships between dinosaurs and modern animals, as well as investigate other questions, such as which characteristics of collagen protein allow it to preserve over geological time (or millions of years).

“We collected B. canadensis with molecular investigation in mind,” Schweitzer says. “We left a full meter of sediment around the fossil, used no glues or preservatives, and only exposed the bone in a clean, or aseptic, environment. The mass spectrometer that we used was cleared of contaminants prior to running the sample as well.”

The sample material came from the specimen’s femur, or thigh bone. Using mass spectrometry, the team recovered eight peptide sequences of collagen I, including two that are identical to those recovered in 2009, and six that are new. The sequences show that the collagen I in B. canadensis has similarities with collagen I in both crocodylians and birds, a result we would expect for a hadrosaur, based on predictions made from previous skeletal studies.

“We are confident that the results we obtained are not contamination and that this collagen is original to the specimen,” Schroeter says. “Not only did we replicate part of the 2009 results, thanks to improved methods and technology we did it with a smaller sample and over a shorter period of time.”

“Our purpose here is to build a solid scientific foundation for other scientists to use to ask larger questions of the fossil record,” Schweitzer adds. “We’ve shown that it is possible for these molecules to preserve. Now, we can ask questions that go beyond dinosaur characteristics. For example, other researchers in other disciplines may find that asking why they preserve is important.”

The research appears in the Journal of Proteome Research.

Author: Tracey Peake | Source: North Carolina State University [January 23, 2017]

Source TheArchaeologyNewsNetwork

Pakistan’s Moenjodaro is crumbling away

The walk through Moenjodaro is lonely. Apart from the three accompanying officials, and workers helping with preservation, there are no other people in sight. The wind picks up at intervals, blowing sand around. Stray dogs meander on to the path.

Pakistan's Moenjodaro is crumbling away
The Great Bath, an image printed on the Rs 20 banknote in Pakistan 

[Credit: Faras Ghani/Al Jazeera]

It is hot, nearly 51 degrees Celsius on this early summer day. But locals say even the cooler months do not attract the crowds that once used to visit this archaeological site dating back to 2,500BCE in Pakistan’s  Sind province.

The word Moenjodaro means mound of the dead. But the remains tell the story of a bustling and civilised, planned-out city. Walls made of baked bricks are all that remain of double-storey houses. A well-planned drainage system is visible along the narrow streets as a witness to the skilled architects who once lived here.

The “great bath” ruins in the centre of the city which, experts believe, people once visited for religious purification, speak to the complex social traditions of this ancient society. A tall Buddhist stupa overlooks the city as the highest structure on the site, the image of which can also be found on Pakistan’s Rs 20 banknote.

The Indus river flows nearby. It is known to be the reason for the establishment of Moenjodaro at this location, as well as, some historians believe, the reason for its demise. But the vestiges of this ancient city are crumbling, and not just because the walls are 4,500 years old.

Local officials are unable to provide an annual figure on visiting tourists, but everyone is affected by the trickle of visitors. They say an accumulation of factors has contributed to this deteriorating situation.

Travelling to Moenjodaro is not easy. There is an airport within walking distance, almost adjacent to the site, where the national carrier once operated two flights a day, but the airline cut this schedule by half and incoming flights are often delayed.

There is only one guest house on site for visitors, but problems with the electricity supply make it unattractive to tourists – in the summer, daily power cuts limit electricity in the area and adjoining Larkana for up to 21 hours at a time, which is a common issue in Pakistan. But the situation is not solely nature’s fault. Nor is it only rooted in financial and infrastructural deficiency.

Sharmila Faruqi, the province’s minister for culture and tourism, explained to Al Jazeera  that the number of visitors has dropped due to external factors as well.

“A lot of foreigners don’t come here due to the security situation in Pakistan. We need to get a hold of that. Accessibility is another issue. A lot of things are out of our control,” she said.

History neglected

Preservation of the ancient ruins is another concern for those charged with caring for the site. Closer to sunset, a family and a few other tourists enter through the gates, children run along the excavated walls, adults pose for selfies with their feet propped against the historic ruins.

Pakistan's Moenjodaro is crumbling away
The reminder to stay off the remains is often disregarded by the visitors 

[Credit: Faras Ghani/Al Jazeera]

A protective layer of liquid sprayed over the structures, which dries and hardens in order to preserve them,  ensures that damage to the site is limited.

Qasim Ali Qasim, Moenjodaro’s former project director, is concerned by the neglect and continued damage to the ruins and thinks visitors bear some responsibility for this.

There are signs posted throughout the site, informing visitors of the rules of conduct and asking them to refrain from touching and damaging the artefacts, but there is not sufficient staff to impose the rules upon those who would break them.

Qasim has been associated with the Moenjodaro archaeological site since 1988 and feels a strong emotional and professional connection with its legacy.

“Local visitors need to be educated about heritage sites. Pakistanis are very curious. Unless they touch something, they are not satisfied. The Sheesh Mahal [glass palace] in Lahore has a beautiful marble window and once a man kicked it to check how strong it was.”

Moenjodaro is even losing its place in the education curriculum, Qasim said. “It used to be part of the school curriculum which is not the case any more. We are losing our history and it’s our fault.”

The site has a post office, a bank, an archaeological laboratory, a police station, a museum and a souvenir shop where Ilyas, the site attendant, lines up replicas that he and his wife make at home.

“Sales aren’t that amazing because we don’t have a lot of people coming through,” he says with a smile. “But whoever comes through the gates, we are happy to give stuff, even if they don’t want to buy, because it helps promote our history and culture.”

Ilyas lives 10 minutes away from the site. Inside their small house, he and his wife make not only the replicas, but also traditional clothes and other souvenirs that he proudly lays out on his charpai [string bed]. There are not many customers, he says, but sometimes they get large orders for exhibitions taking place in the cities, which helps them to survive and make ends meet.

Preservation is key

Back on the site, the temperature is unbearable in the summer heat. “This is one of the hottest areas of the country and, in May, the temperatures can reach up to 54C,” Qasim says.

Pakistan's Moenjodaro is crumbling away
The number of people visiting the ancient site is falling, officials say 

[Faras Ghani/Al Jazeera]

But there is no respite indoors either, because of the electricity shortage. Solar panels are used in Larkana and the rest of the province but provide limited relief as they are not sufficient to power large appliances like air conditioners for the duration of the power cuts.

Petrol generators are another solution, but m ost residents cannot afford them. Even on the government funded Moenjodaro site, the budget is insufficient for the fuel necessary to run the generators at all times.

“If you have electricity for just three hours a day, it gets very difficult to live here. There’s no wind, so keeping the windows open doesn’t make a difference,” explains Qasim who thinks that the drop in tourist numbers has a lot to do with the electricity problems.

What is visible today represents only 10 percent of the entire site. The rest remains buried. Officials are reluctant to unearth any more than the 225 hectares they already have.

Limited manpower and funding, and lack of awareness among visitors, make it difficult to justify the unearthing of more of the ancient city, said Qasim, who retired from his role in June.

“If our estimates are proven correct, Moenjodaro was probably a cosmopolitan city of its times. I have said it time and again that, 5,000 years ago, when people in Europe and other places lived in caves and jungles, people in Moenjodaro lived in brick houses in a civilised and planned city,” Qasim says.

The downside

This “civilised city” has witnessed its fair share of “interest” and controversies. The Sindh Festival, organised by the provincial government in 2014, reportedly resulted in some damage to the archaeological site, “alarming” UNESCO experts. But Qasim and Faruqi both said that no such damage occurred.

[embedded content]

In another major incident, in 2002, robbers stole a set of seals from the on-site museum. While the alleged culprits were caught, the seals were never recovered.

The government is planning to build a new museum to house the vast collection of relics from the site, but in the meantime, after the robbery, archaeologists are no longer digging for new items. New material recovered randomly from the site is in the care of the federal treasury with no public access.

Limited funding, falling numbers and electricity issues do little to motivate the staff who spend their days and nights in what once was a “hustling and bustling” city.

“In a country like ours, we don’t talk about culture and tourism, unfortunately … It’s not easy to get funds for this, especially when your federal and provincial budgets are in deficit, and arts and culture are considered last,” says Faruqi.

“Despite that, I’m very hopeful for Moenjodaro.”

Author: Faras Ghani | Source: Al Jazeera [January 23, 2017]

Source TheArchaeologyNewsNetwork

Archaeologists uncover new clues to Maya collapse

Using the largest set of radiocarbon dates ever obtained from a single Maya site, archaeologists have developed a high-precision chronology that sheds new light on patterns leading up to the two major collapses of the ancient civilization.

Archaeologists uncover new clues to Maya collapse
University of Arizona anthropology professor Daniela Triadan excavates the collapsed facade of the royal palace

 of Ceibal, which which was burned during the Classic Maya collapse in the ninth century 

[Credit: Takeshi Inomata/University of Arizona]

Archaeologists have long puzzled over what caused what is known as the Classic Maya collapse in the ninth century A.D., when many of the ancient civilization’s cities were abandoned. More recent investigations have revealed that the Maya also experienced an earlier collapse in the second century A.D. — now called the Preclassic collapse — that is even more poorly understood.

University of Arizona archaeologist Takeshi Inomata and his colleagues suggest in a new paper, to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, that both collapses followed similar trajectories, with multiple waves of social instability, warfare and political crises leading to the rapid fall of many city centers.

The findings are based on a highly refined chronology developed by Inomata and his colleagues using an unprecedented 154 radiocarbon dates from the archaeological site of Ceibal in Guatemala, where the team has worked for over a decade.

Archaeologists uncover new clues to Maya collapse
Archaeologists excavate the royal palace of Ceibal, which was burned during the Classic Maya collapse 

in the ninth century [Credit: Takeshi Inomata/University of Arizona]

While more general chronologies might suggest that the Maya collapses occurred gradually, this new, more precise chronology indicates more complex patterns of political crises and recoveries leading up to each collapse.

“What we found out is that those two cases of collapse (Classic and Preclassic) follow similar patterns,” said Inomata, the paper’s lead author and a professor in the School of Anthropology in the UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. “It’s not just a simple collapse, but there are waves of collapse. First, there are smaller waves, tied to warfare and some political instability, then comes the major collapse, in which many centers got abandoned. Then there was some recovery in some places, then another collapse.”

Using radiocarbon dating and data from ceramics and highly controlled archaeological excavations, the researchers were able to establish the refined chronology of when population sizes and building construction increased and decreased at Ceibal.

Archaeologists uncover new clues to Maya collapse
UA graduate student Melissa Burham works at a stone monument placed just before the Preclassic collapse

in the second century [Credit: Takeshi Inomata]

While the findings may not solve the mystery of why exactly the Maya collapses occurred, they are an important step toward better understanding how they unfolded.

“It’s really, really interesting that these collapses both look very similar, at very different time periods,” said Melissa Burham, one of three UA anthropology graduate students who co-authored the paper. “We now have a good understanding of what the process looked like, that potentially can serve as a template for other people to try to see if they have a similar pattern at their (archaeological) sites in the same area.”

Inomata and his UA colleagues — anthropology professor Daniela Triadan and students Burham, Jessica MacLellan and Juan Manuel Palomo — worked with collaborators at Ibaraki University, Naruto University of Education and the Graduate University for Advanced Studies in Japan, and with Guatemalan archaeologists and students.

Archaeologists uncover new clues to Maya collapse
Inomata and his team have worked at the Ceibal site in Guatemala for more than a decade

[Credit: Takeshi Inomata]

Radiocarbon dating was done at Paleo Laboratory Company in Japan and at the Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Laboratory in the UA Department of Physics.

“Radiocarbon dating has been used for a long time, but now we’re getting to an interesting period because it’s getting more and more precise,” said Inomata, who also is an Agnese Nelms Haury Chair in Environment and Social Justice at the UA. “We’re getting to the point where we can get to the interesting social patterns because the chronology is refined enough, and the dating is precise enough.”

Author: Alexis Blue | Source: University of Arizona [January 23, 2017]

Source TheArchaeologyNewsNetwork

Ancient figures reveal trading routes of prehistoric African civilisation

Researchers from The University of Manchester have completed the very first biological analysis of ancient terracotta figurines found in Ghana, which were created by an unknown civilisation and have become iconic representations of prehistoric African art.

Ancient figures reveal trading routes of prehistoric African civilisation
Figurine from Northern Ghana [Credit: University of Manchester]

The items were found in Northern Ghana’s Koma Land region by Prof. Ben Kankpeyeng and Dr. Samuel Nkumbaan (The University of Ghana). Prof. Timothy Insoll, (formerly at The University of Manchester, now at The University of Exeter), and Dr. Natalie J. Swanepoel of the University of South Africa joined the research in 2010 and 2011 during which some of the figurines were recovered. Many of the figurines are thought to represent ancestral figures or animals, and they reveal the clothing, hairstyles and weapons favoured by the ancient culture.

The hundreds of figurines excavated so far suggest a high level of ritual activity at the site. Some of the figurines contain hollow cavities, which the researchers believe substances were poured into during these rituals.

Ancient figures reveal trading routes of prehistoric African civilisation
Figurine from Northern Ghana [Credit: University of Manchester]

The figurines were exhibited in 2014 at Manchester Museum’s ‘Fragmentary Ancestors’ exhibition. Despite the fact that high temperatures typically accelerate DNA damage, and there are only a few previous reports of the recovery of ancient DNA from exposed sites in Sub-Saharan Africa as a result, Professor Terry Brown and PhD student Heather Robinson managed to recover ancient DNA from inside three of the figurines using forensic-style swabs and a magnetic extraction method.

The findings of the researchers suggest that exotic plants such as banana and pine, which are not native to Ghana, were prized by the unknown ancient culture for use in religious rituals as well as other West African plants. Banana and pine could only have been obtained via trade with North Africa, and suggest that the prehistoric inhabitants of the Yikpabongo archaeological site were connected to other parts of the World via trade, because banana is an east Asian cultigen.

“This has been an excellent example of the way in which archaeologists and DNA scientists can work together,” said Professor Brown. “We were invited to sample the figurines when they were exhibited at the Manchester Museum in 2013, and the interpretation of the DNA results with our collaborators in Ghana has been very exciting.”

It is hoped that the findings, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, will boost local and international efforts to protect the figurines which have been subject to illegal excavation and trade in the past.

Source: University of Manchester [Janaury 24, 2017]

Source TheArchaeologyNewsNetwork

25 January 2017 Orion Nebula


Image credit & copyright: Raul Villaverde | Click image to enlarge


Image Data

  • Date: January 2017

  • Location: Guadalajara, Spain

  • Camera: Canon 550D cooled By XAP

  • Optics: Takahashi FSQ 106ED

The Orion Nebula (also known as Messier 42 or NGC 1976) is a diffuse emission and reflection nebula of about 24 light-years across, located 1,344 ± 20 light-years away from Earth in the constellation of Orion (the Hunter), south of Orion’s Belt. It is receding from us at approximately 17.5 kilometes per second.

The nebula which is estimated to be some 300,000 years old, forms a roughly spherical cloud that peaks in density near the core. It has a mass of about 2,000 times the mass of the Sun, and it is one of the brightest nebulae in the night sky. The cloud has a temperature ranging up to 10,000 degrees Celcius, but this temperature falls dramatically near the edge of the nebula. Stars are forming throughout the Orion Nebula, and due to this heat-intensive process the region is particularly prominent in the infrared.

In the heart of the Orion Nebula lies a tight open star cluster, known as the Trapezium, or Orion Trapezium Cluster. It is among the very youngest open clusters known, where new stars are still being born. Observations have revealed approximately 700 stars in various stages of formation within the cluster. The Trapezium may be a component of the much larger Orion Nebula Cluster, an association of about 2,000 stars within a diameter of 20 light-years. Other protostars are being formed in molecular clouds associated with the nebula. These clouds contain enough gas to produce several thousands more new stars.

Detailed images have revealed at least 150 young stars surrounded by protoplanetary disks that are believed to be embryonic solar systems that will eventually form planets. The abundance of such objects in the Orion nebula strengthens the argument that planet formation is a common occurrence in the Universe. Additionally, astronomers have directly observed brown dwarfs, more than 50 variable stars, intense and turbulent motions of the gas, and the photo-ionizing effects of massive nearby stars in the nebula.

It is very easy to find the Orion Nebula, seen to the naked eye in the middle of the sword of Orion. Under fairly good conditions, the nebula itself can also be glimpsed with the naked eye as a faint nebulosity around this star. It is one of the most photographed objects in the night sky.

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Flat Stone Found in the Mouth of a Roman-Period Skeleton

England Skeleton Stone

NORTHAMPTONSHIRE, ENGLAND—The Guardian reports that researchers from Historic England recently examined bones removed from a Roman-period cemetery in a soil block in 1991 and determined they were the remains of a man who had been buried face down with a flat stone in his mouth. Marks on the bones around the mouth suggest that he suffered from an infection, perhaps from the removal of his tongue. “The fact that he’s buried face down in the grave is consistent with somebody whose behavior marked them out as odd or threatening within a community,” said skeletal biologist Simon Mays. The man may have suffered from mental health issues and severed his own tongue, or it may have been cut out as a form of punishment, but no records of such a punishment have been found in Roman Britain. Other burials in Roman Britain have contained stones or objects in place of missing body parts, however. “It could be an attempt to complete an incomplete body,” Mays said. “Or it could be an attempt to replace part of a body with something obviously inanimate, like a stone or a pot, to prevent the corpse from being complete.” For more on archaeology of Roman Britain, go to “A Villa under the Garden.”

Source Archaeology Magazine

Precise Chronology Helps Scientists Study Maya Collapse

Guatemala Maya collapse


TUCSON, ARIZONA—The International Business Times reports that Ceibal-Petexbatun Archaeological Project scientists, led by Takeshi Inomata of the University of Arizona, are studying possible processes behind the two collapses of Maya civilization at Guatemala’s Maya site of Ceibal, which was occupied for about 2,000 years, between approximately 1000 B.C. and A.D. 950. The researchers obtained more than 150 radiocarbon dates from charcoal samples, and conducted a detailed study of ceramics from the site, in order to assemble a precise chronology of events. Population sizes over time were determined through carefully controlled excavations. The researchers found similar patterns preceding the collapse of Maya civilization during the Preclassic period, sometime between A.D. 150 and 300, and during the Classic Period, around A.D. 800 to 950, including violent warfare, social unrest, and political crises in multiple cities in the Maya lowlands. They also found that smaller waves of collapse were followed by major collapse and the abandonment of Maya population centers. For more, go to “Letter from Guatemala: Maya Metropolis.”

Source Archaeology Magazine

Habenaria yookuaaensis: A new species of Bog Orchid from Oaxaca State, Mexico.

Bog Orchids, Habenaria spp., are an extremely large group of Orchids found in temperate and tropical regions on all continents except Antarctica. They are perennials, producing a plant 20-80 cm in height, with white, yellow or green flowers during the growing season, that dies back to an underground tuberous root during the non-growing season.

The new species is named Habenaria yookuaaensis, which means ‘place of red soil’ the Mixtec name for San Juan Colorado, the municipality where the Orchid was discovered. It forms erect plants 35-42 cm in height, with 8-11 leaves and green flowers produced in September.

Habenaria yookuaaensis, growing plant. Mejía-Marín et al. (2017).

Source Sciency Thoughts

Egg and Sperm! Image of the Week – May 7, 2018CIL:39092 -…

Egg and Sperm! Image of the Week – May 7, 2018


Description: Light micrograph of human ovum (egg) and sperm. The ovum is much larger than the sperm and is surrounded by protective cumulus cells around the outside surface (yellow). The membrane surrounding the ovum (brown) is the zona pellucida. The head of the sperm carries special enzymes to dissolve the zona pellucida, which is required in order to fertilise the egg. 

Author: Spike Walker

Licensing: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 UK: England & Wales (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 UK)

Archive link


Serbian silver seal ring

Massive Medieval Serbian silver seal ring, 14th century, which belonged to nobleman Nikola Kosijer.

Excavated at his grave in church in Krasojevci on Rudnik mountain, central Serbia, one of the most important mining and trade centers of Medieval Serbia.

Collection of Museum in Čačak

Via https://www.facebook.com/archeoserbia/

Masivni srednjovekovni srpski pečatki prsten, 14. vek, pripadao je plemiću Nikoli Kosijeru.

Pronađen je u njegovom grobu u crkvi u Krasojevcima, na Rudniku, jednom od najvažnijih rudarskih i trgovačkih centara srednjovekovne Srbije.

Zbirka muzeja u Čačku

Stunning Light Pillars Captured In Ontario, Canada

Stunning Light Pillars Captured In Ontario, Canada

UFOs not UAP

I’m a “UFO theorist” (in my mind).

And I’m agnostic about the phenomenon, but you know that.

But, for me, the UFOs I’m interested in are Unidentified

Flying Objects not Unidentified Aerial Phenomena.

The latter consists of atmospheric anomalies or other

amorphous entities of a non-intelligent kind.

Then there are the things that are hallucinogenic in nature;

that is, they are products of the mind, real in that sense, and worthy of

neurological and/or psychological study, which I also find fascinating.

Yet, it’s those seemingly tangible artifacts that have shown

up often and sometimes eject “creatures” or beings who act with apparent


Of course the 1964 Socorro sighting by Police Officer Lonnie

Zamora was not an hallucinatory episode or a UAP product.

There are others, which I see as intrusions of AI machines

or insertions from another dimension or time.

These are the sightings, among a few others, that intrigue


They can be “explained away” as UFO buffs used to say but

that is disingenuous and a superficial approach to such UFO events.

The sloth and apathy of “ufologists” have marginalized

intriguing cases that seem to involve tangible (material), intelligently

operated “things” that fly or land on Earth.

One can play around with such sightings but that is not “scientific”

or imaginative.

One can debunk or be skeptical about such sightings or

events but that would be stupid, until such efforts erase all possibilities of

tangibility or apparent intelligence on the part of the “things” experienced.

Spanish UFO researcher Jose Antonio Caravaca’s “Distortion

Theory” like Jacques Vallee’s “Control System” theory could answer some of the

sightings I’ve noted here, except of the fact that there are remnants of

reality (hard evidence) that something solid was involved, something palpable

and corporeal.

Yes, some UFOs are “objects.” They are not Unidentified


Source UFO Conjecture(s)

60 Minutes and Artificial Intelligent Drones

I hope some of you, here in the States, saw CBS’ 60 Minutes segment Sunday night [1/8/17] that provided an in-depth look at MIT’s creation of AI drones for the U.S. military.

The clips above show the drones surrounding military aircraft, without human intervention, and a clip of the drones in the air that mock the 1952 Newhouse/Tremonton , Utah “things’ filmed by Warrart Officer Newhouse.

Now I’m not implying that Newhouse filmed U.S. drones but I am implying that maybe Newhouse filmed drones from “elsewhere” that intruded upon American airspace, and have for many years, even doing so now.

The other point I’m making is that the U.S. military admits that its drones have the ability to kill humans without human direction: the drones make the decision to kill on their own using AI algorithms. And those algorithms are already in place.

The “warnings” about AI, offered by various tech and scientific gurus [Elon Musk, Ray Kurzweil. Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates, Nick Bostrom, et al.], seem particularly prescient.

Source UFO Conjecture(s)

Helmets from the Roman period found in Serbia

Two gold-plated beautifuly decorated Roman helmets, with gems, pearls and glass paste ornaments and Latin and Greek inscriptions on the edges, 4th century AD.

They were discovered in 1955 by a woman in the field in Berkasovo, Srem region, northern Serbia.

One at the right has Greek inscription, and the one at the left Latin inscriptions at the edges saying – “VICIT (LIC)INIANA”.

They probably belonged to cavalry officers of emperor Licinius, who was defeated in Battle of Cibalae, against emperor Constantine I in 314 or 316 AD.

These pieces are considered to be amongst the most beautiful Roman helmets ever found.

Collection of Museum of Vojvodina in Novi Sad


Two gold-plated beautifuly decorated Roman helmets, with gems, pearls and glass paste ornaments and Latin and Greek…

Posted by ArcheoSerbia on Monday, January 23, 2017

2018 May 7 The Unusual Boulder at Tycho’s Peak Main Image…

2018 May 7

The Unusual Boulder at Tycho’s Peak
Main Image Credit: NASA, Arizona State U., LRO; Upper Inset: NASA, Arizona State U., LRO; Lower Inset: Gregory H. Revera

Explanation: Why is there a large boulder near the center of Tycho’s peak? Tycho crater on the Moon is one of the easiest features to see, visible even to the unaided eye (inset, lower right). But at the center of Tycho (inset, upper left) is a something unusual – a 120-meter boulder. This boulder was imaged at very high resolution at sunrise, over the past decade, by the Moon-circling Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The leading origin hypothesis is that that the boulder was thrown during the tremendous collision that formed Tycho crater about 110 million years ago, and by chance came back down right near the center of the newly-formed central mountain. Over the next billion years meteor impacts and moonquakes should slowly degrade Tycho’s center, likely causing the central boulder to tumble 2000 meters down to the crater floor and disintegrate.

∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap180507.html


Carreg Coetan Arthur Burial Chamber, Pembrokeshire, 5.5.18.These…

Carreg Coetan Arthur Burial Chamber, Pembrokeshire, 5.5.18.

These stones are all that remain of a chambered tomb that was used for the communal burial of people of Pembrokeshire around 6000 years ago. Excavations have revealed cremated bone, fragments of urns and pieces of pottery. It was in use for an extended period before falling into ruin.

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Castell Henllys Iron Age Settlement, Pembrokeshire, South Wales,…

Castell Henllys Iron Age Settlement, Pembrokeshire, South Wales, 5.5.18.

Reconstructed roundhouse community on the site of an original Iron Age settlement. On a sunny Spring day, this was quite magical and you could for a moment or so have slipped back a few thousand years.

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Artificial Intelligent “aliens” — I’m not alone in believing that

UFO Conjecture(s): Artificial Intelligent “aliens”

Artificial Intelligent “aliens” — I’m not alone in believing that

Click HERE


Return to Magonia (and The Anomalist)

I want to thank my pals at Patrick Huyghe’s Anomalist,

especially WM, who regularly provides notices of my ramblings and offers

correctives as needed.

This one’s for them….

I haven’t mentioned, in a while, Chris Aubeck’s and Martin

Shough’s book Return to Magonia: Investigating UFOs in History.

[Anomalist Books, TX, 2015]

While re-reading the book – I’m a Chris Aubeck fan – I was

struck by the passages inside the discourse on the Airship phenomenon of the

late 1800s. [Chapter 15, Strange Mid-air Ships, Page219 ff.],

particularly the passages about the alleged “sightings” and incidents recorded

in Medieval church documents [Page 231 ff.].

My “critical review” appeared here a year ago:

Most of you, I presume, recall the often mentioned (in UFO

literature) the account of Archbishop Agobard [779-840] in the 9th

Century that supposedly related an encounter by parishioners with “people” who

descended from a craft floating in the air like a ship at sea:

“ … many people [were] exhibiting four captives, three men

and a woman, [who] had fallen from these very ships. [The four] were chained up

for some days [and being prepared to be stoned by their captures]” which

Archbishop halted.

A Chinese writing from June 1523 by Qiu Fuzuo is


“Two ships suddenly came out of a cloud and landed in front

of Lu Yu’s school. The five or six pilots of two flying boats were just two

feet tall and wore red hats and held long poles. The students came out of the

school to see the ships. The beings stretched out their hands and the students’

noses and mouths turned black. They found they were unable to speak and fled in


“The ships remained on the ground for a while. Several

people came out … Shortly both ships took off … and flew over a mile away. They

landed in a cemetery … the students’ [sic] regained the ability to speak … Five

days later, Lu Yu died suddenly.” [ibid; Page 234]

Other accounts (from the period] tell of ships from which

“beings” descend from floating ships, many grabbed by people only to be

released when they (the beings) professed to be “drowning” or unable to

breathe, suffocating in the air in which they were sailing.

Many of the church registered episodes tell of “anchors”

being caught on spires or other protuberances and cut away by the crew members

in the ships (to escape) and then saved by church members to adorn some facet

of the church, like a door.

(I haven’t heard or read, anywhere, that some UFO researcher

has checked out the churches mentioned to see if an “anchor” is installed as

part of the church façade. The book glosses over the matter.)

These accounts by Aubeck and Shough supplement their

elaborate renditions of Airship sightings, which provoked a yawn from me, as

noted in my 2016 “review.”

Yet, the tales told (and recorded by church fathers)


Why? Are they true or apocryphal or, perhaps, “deliberate

inventions with a political message” [Page 234], the “water” meant to be read

figuratively, the authors write. [Page 233]

 Sociology and

Science (at the University of California. San Diego, Andrew Schull, writes in

his book Madness in Civilization: A Cultural History of Insanity

from the Bible to Freud, from the Madhouse to Modern Medicine

[Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 2015] this:

“In Europe, medieval societies in the centuries that

followed the breakdown of the Rona imperium were riven by the twin

scourges of poverty and disease, heir depredations exacerbated by endemic

violence and insecurity. This was a world of malnutrition and famine with mass

starvation … And to those largely helpless and dependent victims of misfortune,

we may add the mad – epileptic, frenzied, melancholic, hallucinating, demented.

[Pages 69-70]

Would that account for the “sightings” and incidents as

recorded by monks and bishops of the Church?

Even Abogard challenges the mind-set of his parishioners:

“Among those so blinded with profound stupidity … they

believe these things … “ [Aubeck /Shough, Page 231]

Michel Foucault in Madness and Civilization: A History of

Insanity in the Age of Reason
[Vintage Books/Random House, NY, 1965] writes:

“Something new appears in the imaginary landscape of the

Renaissance; soon it will occupy a privileged place there: the Ship of Fools, a

strange ‘drunken boat’ …Page 7]

“It is possible that these ships of fools … haunted the

imagination of the entire early Renaissance …”

[Page 9]

“But if the navigation of madmen is linked in the Western

mind with so many immemorial motifs, why, so abruptly, in the [middle ages] is

the theme suddenly formulated in literature and iconography?” [Page 13]

Foucault equates “madness” with “folly,” an innocuous

mind-set that seems more likely to be the “affliction” of those church members

who thought they had seen “ships” and caught some of their crew, “swimming”

down toward them.

But why so many tales from different times and different

locales, some outside Europe as the China account?

No real research or investigation taken by UFO enthusiasts,

as noted in the lack of search for those “anchors” supposedly collected and

added to church facilities.

And is there a kind of collective mind-set that pairs these

early airships to the 1896 Airships, the reports of which are debunked by UFO


Or did some phenomenon show up, created by Vallee’s “control

system” or Caravaca’s “external agent”?

Like Grimm’s fairy tales, the stories may have been generated

for any number of reasons —  liturgical

metaphor, political purpose, or entertainment – and changed by geographic

context or existential context.

Or are the stories actual accounts, a journalistic reprise

of real events?

Madness prevails either way: in a real context or an

hallucinatory context.

Source UFO Conjecture(s)

Ponce de León, The Second Coming, Wish Fulfillment, and UFOs

As you know:

“According to a popular legend, Ponce de León discovered

Florida while searching for the Fountain of Youth. Though stories of

vitality-restoring waters were known on both sides of the Atlantic long before

Ponce de León, …” [From Wikipedia]

“Wish fulfillment is the satisfaction of a desire through an

involuntary thought process.

Wish fulfillment can occur in dreams or in daydreams, in the

symptoms of neurosis, or in the hallucinations of psychosis.” [From Wikipedia]

What have these to do with UFOs?

The desire for something “magical” to happen to we humans

seems endemic, and the hope that UFOs are vanguards from an advanced

extraterrestrial species is akin to such wishes.

It seems to me that many, if not most, UFO buffs have a

deep-rooted need (wish) for salvation from our Earthly woes, much like those

who hate aging and death and those who are suffused by Earthly sufferings,

seeing a returning Jesus Christ as a savior, despite the fact [sic] that His

second coming is long overdue.

And many UFO buffs think that the world’s governments are

privy to information that confirms their wishes.

But the folly of the youth fountain and Jesus’ return are

pathological memes, just as the UFO ETH is.

Jesus is not coming back, there is no Fountain of Youth and

UFOs do not contain beings who will bring answers to this Earth’s problems.

Source UFO Conjecture(s)

CIA releases documents/files on UFOs et cetera (from Google alert)

UFO Conjecture(s): CIA releases documents/files on UFOs et cetera (from Google alert)

CIA releases documents/files on UFOs et cetera (from Google alert)

Click HERE

The Alleged Vilas-Boas Symbol

A few weeks ago, I noted the symbol that Antônio Vilas-Boas,

the Brazilian farmer, who was purportedly kidnapped in 1957, and examined, by

extraterrestrials, said he saw on the wall of the craft to which he was taken

by alien beings.

Here’s the symbol that Boas said he saw aboard the craft:

Bosco Nedelcovic an A,I,D./CIA operative, told me that

the Vilas-Boas “kidnapping” was a military psychology operation (psy-op) he was

privy to, the details of which you may find in Nick Redfern’s Contactees book.

Whether or not Nedelcovic was prevaricating is open to

question, but the alleged symbol comes from Vilas-Boas himself.

A comparison of the Vilas-Boas symbol with common

mathematical symbols shows a similarity that suggests either Vilas-Boas’

kidnappers were aliens [ETs] using universal (as in the cosmos) math symbols,

or military people incorporating math symbols on their craft (said to be a

helicopter by Nedelcovic), or an attempt at creating a faux alien symbol to supplement

a confabulation by farmer Vilas-Boas.

Math Symbols and the Vilas-Boas “alien” markings,


The Vilas-Boas tale has intrigued UFO buffs for a long time. I don’t think it was a hoax concocted by Antônio.

Something rings true in his reported account, but not

necessarily an alien abduction.

Here’s Wikipedia’s take on the Vilas-Boas incident:

Source UFO Conjecture(s)


https://t.co/hvL60wwELQ — XissUFOtoday Space (@xufospace) August 3, 2021 Жаждущий ежик наслаждается пресной водой после нескольких дней в о...