понедельник, 12 ноября 2018 г.

Touch and Go Athletes work hard to tune their muscles to work…

Touch and Go

Athletes work hard to tune their muscles to work efficiently. Yet technique is just as important as fitness to their overall performance. From sprinters to dancers, golfers to javelin throwers – a vital part of training is re-watching hours of their own events – looking for the slightest area for improvement. Here, computer science and biomechanics combine to turn a 2-dimensional video of a sprinter into a 3D-printed ‘motion sculpture’, tracing graceful movements between frames as red waves. Handling these objects may give sportsmen and women a fresh perspective on their own performance, but also help to prevent injury – avoiding habits that might eventually cause orthopaedic injury to muscles and bones. Medical professionals are also interested in applying the techniques to videos captured inside the body – printing sculptures of beating hearts, or bending spines to guide future surgery.

Written by John Ankers

You can also follow BPoD on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook

Archive link

2018 November 12 The Lagoon Nebula is Stars, Gas, and Dust…

2018 November 12

The Lagoon Nebula is Stars, Gas, and Dust
Image Credit & Copyright: Nelson Ortega

Explanation: The majestic Lagoon Nebula is filled with hot gas and the home for many young stars. Spanning 100 light years across while lying only about 5000 light years distant, the Lagoon Nebula is so big and bright that it can be seen without a telescope toward the constellation of the Archer (Sagittarius). Many bright stars are visible from NGC 6530, an open cluster that formed in the nebula only several million years ago. The greater nebula, also known as M8 and NGC 6523, is named “Lagoon” for the band of dust seen to the left of the open cluster’s center. The featured image was taken in three colors with details are brought out by light emitted by Hydrogen Star formation continues in the Lagoon Nebula as witnessed by the many dark dust-laden globules that exist there.

∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap181112.html

Oww! My Brain Hurts. Image of the Week – November 12,…

Oww! My Brain Hurts. Image of the Week – November 12, 2018


Description: Confocal micrograph of the anterior region of the developing zebrafish brain (consisting of the telencephalon, part of diencephalon and the optic tectum). Some of the neurons (shown in green) express the green fluorescent protein (GFP) under the control of specific gene expression. Axons, tracts and neuropils have been labeled using antibodies that mark tubulin (in red) and synaptic vesicles (in blue). Tubulin is important for microtubule formation and cell structure, whereas synaptic vesicles are important for neuronal signaling. CIL 39025 is the dorsal view.

Authors: Monica Folgueira and Steve Wilson

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

Archive link

Replaying the tape of life: Is it possible?

How predictable is evolution? The answer has long been debated by biologists grappling with the extent to which history affects the repeatability of evolution.

Replaying the tape of life: Is it possible?
Researchers have investigated how similar features can independently evolve in multiple species
 — such as anole lizards of the Caribbean [Credit: Colin Donihue/Harvard University]

A review published in Science explores the complexity of evolution’s predictability in extraordinary detail. In it, researchers at Kenyon College, Michigan State University and Washington University in St. Louis closely examine evidence from a number of empirical studies of evolutionary repeatability and contingency in an effort to fully interrogate ideas about contingency’s role in evolution.

The question of evolution’s predictability was notably raised by the late paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould, who advocated the view that evolution is contingent and unrepeatable in his 1989 book Wonderful Life. “Replay the tape a million times … and I doubt that anything like Homo sapiens would ever evolve again,” Gould mused, noting that being able to “replay the tape” and give history a do-over would be impossible. Yet since the publication of Wonderful Life, many evolutionary biologists have taken up this challenge and conducted their own versions of Gould’s experiment, albeit on smaller scales. In doing so, they have reached different conclusions about the interplay between randomness of mutations, chance historical events, and directionality imparted by natural selection.

“How history plays out isn’t really predictable. Historical outcomes are contingent on long chains of events loaded with tiny little details. A dropped packet of cigars wrapped with the Confederate army’s marching orders was found by a Union soldier, which led to the Battle of Antietam, which led to Lincoln announcing the Emancipation Proclamation. What if those cigars hadn’t been dropped, or if they hadn’t been found by a Union soldier? Evolution is similar, in that it plays out over vast periods of time with long, unique chains of events involving a lot of chance. Unlike history, though, evolution has the deterministic force of natural selection, but that determinism is always in tension with the chanciness. How does that tension affect what evolves? Which is more important: contingency on details of history, or determinism?” said Zachary Blount, a senior research associate at MSU and visiting assistant professor of biology at Kenyon College who served as lead author of the review.

Blount was joined in his work by Richard Lenski, the Hannah Distinguished Professor of Microbial Ecology at MSU, and Jonathan Losos, the William H. Danforth Distinguished University Professor at Washington University in St. Louis.

“The idea of replaying life’s tape — having a fresh start — is something almost everyone has thought about at some point in their own lives. It’s also something that has long interested biologists, but on the grand scale of the history of life on Earth,” Lenski said. “Since Gould introduced the metaphor of replaying life’s tape, many studies have tried to characterize the repeatability of evolution. What our review shows is that there’s no easy answer: Sometimes evolution produces strikingly similar solutions, and other times evolving lineages take very different paths even under the same circumstances. I think that’s part of the fascination and beauty of evolution, that it produces both the expected and unexpected, perhaps like in our individual lives, but on a vastly larger scale.”

Gould’s thought experiment still stimulates robust debate, in part due to inconsistencies Gould introduced in how he described his replay metaphor, as well as confusion around the concept of contingency. Gould often conflated two common meanings of “contingency”: as dependence on something else, and as a chance event.

“There are multiple, different literatures on Gould’s idea, and these literatures are not talking to each other,” Losos said. “There are microbial evolution studies. There are all the studies of convergent evolution, or lack of convergent evolution. And there’s also a philosophical literature on what Gould meant when he said, ‘replay the tape.’ That is, more generally, when you talk about the role of contingency — which is the term Gould used – what does that actually mean?”

Their review of existing empirical studies focused on primarily on three types of “replay studies”: laboratory evolution experiments with fast-evolving organisms; experiments carried out in nature; and natural experiments that compare lineages that evolved under similar conditions. The comprehensive analysis revealed a complex picture of evolutionary change in which both contingency and determinism are evident.

Blount, Lenski and Losos examined a number of different types of laboratory experiments, including parallel replay experiments, in which identical populations of an organism are separately evolved under identical conditions, and analytic replay experiments, in which specimens are frozen from a parallel replay experiment and then resurrected and re-evolved from different points in time. This review included study of the long-term evolution experiment with Escherichia coli (LTEE), started by Lenski in 1988. The LTEE has followed 12 populations of E. coli, founded from a single clone, for more than 70,000 generations. Samples of each population were frozen every 500 generations, allowing researchers to directly compare the evolving bacteria with their ancestors.

Blount, Lenski and Losos also examined experiments that attempt to replicate evolution in natural settings. Only a few such experiments exist to date, and their review of these experiments indicated a high degree of repeatability in evolutionary responses to different historical conditions.

Their review of comparative studies of “natural experiments” further illuminated evidence of evolution’s predictability. Similar features can independently evolve in multiple species — for example, anole lizards of the Caribbean, which separately evolved traits such as the length of their legs and tails to ease their life in their specific habitats. Yet convergence in evolution does not always occur, as their review shows; contingency can play a strong role in divergent evolution of various traits.

“What we clearly see is that both convergence and lack of convergence occur a lot in the natural world,” Losos said. “It’s not useful just to keep adding to the two lists. The real question that people are now turning to is: Why does convergence occur sometimes and not others? That is where research is now headed. That’s the question we need to focus on.”

Source: Washington University in St. Louis [November 08, 2018]



Culture may explain why brains have become bigger

A theory called the cultural brain hypothesis could explain extraordinary increases in brain size in humans and other animals over the last few million years, according to a study published in PLOS Computational Biology by Michael Muthukrishna of the London School of Economics and Political Science and Harvard University, and colleagues at the University of British Columbia and Harvard University.

Culture may explain why brains have become bigger
Credit – Grant Museum

Humans have extraordinarily large brains, which have tripled in size in the last few million years. Other animals also experienced a significant, though smaller, increase in brain size. These increases are puzzling, because brain tissue is energetically expensive: that is, a smaller brain is easier to maintain in terms of calories. Building on existing research on learning, Muthukrishna and colleagues analytically and computationally modeled the predictions of the cultural brain hypothesis and found that this theory not only explains these increases in brain size, but a variety of other relationships with group size, learning strategies, knowledge and life history.
The theory relies on the idea that brains expand to store and manage more information. Brains expand in response to the availability of information and calories. Information availability is affected by learning strategies, group size, mating structure, and the length of the juvenile period, which co-evolve with brain size. The model captures this co-evolution under different conditions and also describes the specific and narrow conditions that can lead to a take-off in brain size–a possible pathway that led to the extraordinary expansion in our own species. The authors called this set of predictions the cumulative cultural brain hypothesis. These theories were supported by tests using existing empirical data. Taken together, the findings may help explain the rapid expansion of human brains and other aspects of our species’ life history and psychology.
“This is a brand-new theory to explain the evolution of the human brain as well as brains more generally. It shows how various characteristics of a species are actually intrinsically connected through a common evolutionary process,” says Muthukrishna. “The limits to larger brains is our ability to birth them, but as this theory suggests, this process is ongoing – we’re now expanding our juvenile period, hitting a new biological limit in our ability to reproduce at an older age”.

Next, the researchers plan to test the predictions made by the theory that relate to individual, rather than social, learning, as well as developing extensions to the theory.

Source: Public Library of Science [November 08, 2018]



HiPOD (11 November 2018): A Dune Field in Crater Near Iaxartes…

HiPOD (11 November 2018): A Dune Field in Crater Near Iaxartes Tholus 

   – 317 km above the surface, less than 5 km across.

NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Short stature in rainforest hunter-gatherers may be linked to cardiac adaptation

African and Asian rainforest hunter-gatherers share short stature, and now an international team of researchers has shown that this is an example of convergent adaptation that may also be linked to changes in cardiac development pathways.

Short stature in rainforest hunter-gatherers may be linked to cardiac adaptation
A Batwa woman in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, Uganda
[Credit: George Perry/Penn State]

“We know that rainforest populations become small,” said Christina M. Bergey, postdoctoral fellow in anthropology. “The question is did evolution take the same path each time humans got small?”

In adapting to an environment, organisms theoretically have a variety of ways they can change to become more in tune with their surroundings. Often, however, completely separate populations adapt to a similar environment in the same way. This similar but separate path is convergent adaptation.

Small-stature populations, averaging 5 foot in height, exist in the rainforests of Africa, Asia, South America and historically Australia. Why humans in rainforests evolved to have small stature is still up for debate. According to Bergey, there are a variety of suggested reasons, but one in particular has plausibility.

“Rainforests are really rough for human occupation and there aren’t a lot of calories for humans and especially not a lot of protein,” said Bergey.

Smaller stature requires fewer calories and less protein for healthy survival and reproduction.

Short stature in rainforest hunter-gatherers may be linked to cardiac adaptation
A Batwa young man in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, Uganda
[Credit: George Perry/Penn State]

To explore the mechanisms behind this short stature, the researchers compared pairs of populations on two continents. In Africa, they looked at the Batwa, who once lived in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, and the Bakiga, the agriculturalist neighbors of the Batwa. In Asia, they looked at Andaman Islanders—the Jarawa and Onge—who are rainforest hunter-gatherers, and Brahmins in India, who are agriculturalists.

“We analyzed high-coverage sequence data from the protein-coding portion of the genomes of two pairs of populations,” the researchers report in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “We observed signatures of convergent positive selection between the Batwa and Andamanese rainforest hunter-gathers across the set of genes with annotated ‘growth factor binding’ functions.”

Both populations had genetic changes to the same pathway, the one that influences growth factor binding. However, they also found that both populations also had convergent adaptation and population-specific signatures of positive selection for pathways related to cardiac muscle tissue development.

“We know that people of short stature, whether in these populations or in the typical height populations, have a higher risk of cardiac problems,” said Bergey. “While it was unexpected to find certain cardiac development factors, there is a connection between these two things. If natural selection alters growth factor pathways, then maybe there needs to be a compensation in the cardiac development pathways.”

Short stature in rainforest hunter-gatherers may be linked to cardiac adaptation
A Batwa woman and her child in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, Uganda
[Credit: George Perry/Penn State]

The researchers did not see the same patterns of positive selection in either of the two agriculturalist populations for either growth or cardiac development. According to the researchers, this strongly suggests that the changes in the Batwa and Andamanese were adaptation to the rainforest and not the normal progression of human change.
“We performed the study because if we look at a population with non-pathological changes in a trait—in this case height—we might be able to learn more broadly about the fundamental biological basis of human variation for that trait,” said Bergey.

Author: A’ndrea Elyse Messer | Source: Pennsylvania State University [November 08, 2018]



The new face of South American people

The history of the peopling of the Americas has just been interpreted afresh. The largest and most comprehensive study ever conducted on the basis of fossil DNA extracted from ancient human remains found on the continent has confirmed the existence of a single ancestral population for all Amerindian ethnic groups, past and present.

The new face of South American people
Study by 72 researchers from eight countries concludes that the Lagoa Santa people are descendants of Clovis
culture migrants from North America. Distinctly African features attributed to Luzia were wrong
[Credit: André Strauss & Caroline Wilkinson]

Over 17,000 years ago this original contingent crossed the Bering Strait from Siberia to Alaska and began peopling the New World. Fossil DNA shows an affinity between this migratory current and the populations of Siberia and northern China. Contrary to the traditional theory it had no link to Africa or Australasia.

The new study also reveals that once they had settled in North America the descendants of this ancestral migratory flow diversified into two lineages some 16,000 years ago.

The members of one lineage crossed the Isthmus of Panama and peopled South America in three distinct consecutive waves.

The first wave occurred between 15,000 and 11,000 years ago. The second took place at most 9,000 years ago. There are fossil DNA records from both migrations throughout South America. The third wave is much more recent but its influence is limited as it occurred 4,200 years ago. Its members settled in the Central Andes.

An article on the study has just been published in the journal Cell a group of 72 researchers from eight countries, affiliated with the University of São Paulo (USP) in Brazil, Harvard University in the United States, and Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany, among others.

According to the researchers’ findings, the lineage that made the north-south journey between 16,000 and 15,000 years ago belonged to the Clovis culture, named for a group of archeological sites excavated in the western US and dating from 13,500-11,000 years ago.

The Clovis culture was so named when flint spearheads were found in the 1930s at a dig in Clovis, New Mexico. Clovis sites have been identified throughout the US and in Mexico and Central America. In North America, the Clovis people hunted Pleistocene megafaunas such as giant sloth and mammoth. With the decline of the megafauna and its extinction 11,000 years ago, the Clovis culture eventually disappeared. Long before that, however, bands of hunter-gatherers had traveled south to explore new hunting grounds. They ended up settling in Central America, as evidenced by 9,400-year-old human fossil DNA found in Belize and analyzed in the new study.

At a later date, perhaps while pursuing herds of mastodons, Clovis hunter-gatherers crossed the Isthmus of Panama and spread into South America, as evidenced by genetic records from burial sites in Brazil and Chile revealed now. This genetic evidence corroborates well-known archeological finds such as the Monte Verde site in southern Chile, where humans butchered mastodons 14,800 years ago.

Among the many known Clovis sites, the only burial site associated with Clovis tools is in Montana, where the remains of a baby boy (Anzick-1) were found and dated to 12,600 years ago. DNA extracted from these bones has links to DNA from skeletons of people who lived between 10,000 and 9,000 years ago in caves near Lagoa Santa, Minas Gerais State, Brazil. In other words, the Lagoa Santa people were partial descendants of Clovis migrants from North America.

“From the genetic standpoint, the Lagoa Santa people are descendants of the first Amerindians,” said archeologist André Menezes Strauss, who coordinated the Brazilian part of the study. Strauss is affiliated with the University of São Paulo’s Museum of Archeology and Ethnology (MAE-USP).

“Surprisingly, the members of this first lineage of South Americans left no identifiable descendants among today’s Amerindians,” he said. “Some 9,000 years ago their DNA disappears completely from the fossil samples and is replaced by DNA from the first migratory wave, prior to the Clovis culture. All living Amerindians are descendants of this first wave. We don’t yet know why the genetic stock of the Lagoa Santa people disappeared.”

One possible reason for the disappearance of DNA from the second migration is that it was diluted in the DNA of the Amerindians who are descendants of the first wave and cannot be identified by existing methods of genetic analysis.

According to Tábita Hünemeier, a geneticist at the University of São Paulo’s Bioscience Institute (IB-USP) who took part in the research, “one of the main results of the study was the identification of Luzia’s people as genetically related to the Clovis culture, which dismantles the idea of two biological components and the possibility that there were two migrations to the Americas, one with African traits and the other with Asian traits”.

“Luzia’s people must have resulted from a migratory wave originating in Beringia,” she said, referring to the now-submerged Bering land bridge that joined Siberia to Alaska during the glaciations, when sea levels were lower.

“The molecular data suggests population substitution in South America since 9,000 years ago. Luzia’s people disappeared and were replaced by the Amerindians alive today, although both had a common origin in Beringia,” Hünemeier said.

Brazilian contribution

The Brazilian researchers’ contribution to the study was fundamental. Among the 49 individuals from which fossil DNA was taken, seven skeletons dated to between 10,100 and 9,100 years ago came from Lapa do Santo, a rock shelter in Lagoa Santa.

The seven skeletons, alongside dozens of others, were found and exhumed in successive archeological campaigns at the site, led initially by Walter Alves Neves, a physical anthropologist at IB-USP, and since 2011 by Strauss. The archeological campaigns led by Neves between 2002 and 2008 were funded by São Paulo Research Foundation – FAPESP.

Altogether the new study investigated fossil DNA from 49 individuals found at 15 archeological sites in Argentina (two sites, 11 individuals dated to between 8,900 and 6,600 years ago), Belize (one site, three individuals dated to between 9,400 and 7,300 years ago), Brazil (four sites, 15 individuals dated to between 10,100 and 1,000 years ago), Chile (three sites, five individuals dated to between 11,100 and 540 years ago) and Peru (seven sites, 15 individuals dated to between 10,100 and 730 years ago).

The Brazilian skeletons come from the archeological sites Lapa do Santo (seven individuals dated to about 9,600 years ago), Jabuticabeira II in Santa Catarina State (a sambaqui or shell midden with five individuals dated to about 2,000 years ago), as well as from two river middens in the Ribeira Valley, São Paulo State: Laranjal (two individuals dated to about 6,700 years ago), and Moraes (one individual dated to about 5,800 years ago).

Paulo Antônio Dantas de Blasis, an archeologist affiliated with MAE-USP, led the dig at Jabuticabeira II, which was also supported by FAPESP through a Thematic Project.

The digs at the river midden sites in São Paulo State were led by Levy Figuti, also an archeologist at MAE-USP, and were also supported by FAPESP.

“The Moraes skeleton (5,800 years old) and the Laranjal skeleton (6,700 years old) are among the most ancient from the South and Southeast of Brazil,” Figuti said. “These locations are strategically unique because they’re between the highlands of the Atlantic plateau and the coastal plain, contributing significantly to our understanding of how the Southeast of Brazil was peopled.”

These skeletons were found between 2000 and 2005. From the start, they presented a complex mixture of coastal and inland cultural traits, and the results of their analysis generally varied except in the case of one skeleton diagnosed as Paleoindian (analysis of its DNA is not yet complete).

“The study that’s just been published represents a major step forward in archeological research, exponentially increasing what we knew until only a few years ago about the archaeogenetics of the peopling of the Americas,” Figuti said.

Hünemeier has also recently made a significant contribution to the reconstruction of human history in South America using paleogenomics.

Amerindian genetics

Not all the human remains found at some of the most ancient archeological sites in Central and South America belonged to genetic descendants of the Clovis culture. The inhabitants of several sites did not have Clovis-associated DNA.

“This shows that besides its genetic contribution the second migration wave to South America, which was Clovis-associated, may also have brought with it technological principles that would be expressed in the famous fishtail points that are found in many parts of South America,” Strauss said.

How many human migrations from Asia came to the Americas at the end of the Ice Age more than 16,000 years ago was hitherto unknown. The traditional theory, formulated in the 1980s by Neves and other researchers, was that the first wave had African traits or traits similar to those of the Australian Aboriginals.

The well-known forensic facial reconstruction of Luzia was performed in accordance with this theory. Luzia is the name given to the fossil skull of a woman who lived in the Lagoa Santa region 12,500 years ago and is sometimes referred to as the “first Brazilian”.

The bust of Luzia with African features was built on the basis of the skull’s morphology by British anatomical artist Richard Neave in the 1990s.

“However, skull shape isn’t a reliable marker of ancestrality or geographic origin. Genetics is the best basis for this type of inference,” Strauss explained.

“The genetic results of the new study show categorically that there was no significant connection between the Lagoa Santa people and groups from Africa or Australia. So the hypothesis that Luzia’s people derived from a migratory wave prior to the ancestors of today’s Amerindians has been disproved. On the contrary, the DNA shows that Luzia’s people were entirely Amerindian.”

A new bust has replaced Luzia in the Brazilian scientific pantheon. Caroline Wilkinson, a forensic anthropologist at Liverpool John Moores University in the UK and a disciple of Neave, has produced a facial reconstruction of one of the individuals exhumed at Lapa do Santo. The reconstruction was based on a retrodeformed digital model of the skull.

“Accustomed as we are to the traditional facial reconstruction of Luzia with strongly African features, this new facial reconstruction reflects the physiognomy of the first inhabitants of Brazil far more accurately, displaying the generalized and indistinct features from which the great Amerindian diversity was established over thousands of years,” Strauss said.

The study published in Cell, he added, also presents the first genetic data on Brazilian coastal sambaquis.

“These monumental shell mounds were built some 2,000 years ago by populous societies that lived on the coast of Brazil. Analysis of fossil DNA from shell mound burials in Santa Catarina and São Paulo shows these groups were genetically akin to the Amerindians alive today in the South of Brazil, especially the Kaingang groups,” he said.

According to Strauss, DNA extraction from fossils is technically very challenging, especially if the material was found at a site with a tropical climate. For almost two decades extreme fragmentation and significant contamination prevented different research groups from successfully extracting genetic material from the bones found at Lagoa Santa.

This has now been done thanks to methodological advances developed by the Max Planck Institute. As Strauss enthusiastically explained, much more remains to be discovered.

“Construction of Brazil’s first archaeogenetic laboratory is scheduled to begin in 2019, thanks to a partnership between the University of São Paulo’s Museum of Archeology and Ethnology (MAE) and its Bioscience Institute (IB) with funding from FAPESP. When it’s ready, it will give a new thrust to research on the peopling of South America and Brazil,” Strauss said.

“To some extent, this study not only changes what we know about how the region was peopled but also changes considerably how we study human skeletal remains,” Figuti said.

Human remains were first found in Lagoa Santa in 1844, when Danish naturalist Peter Wilhelm Lund (1801-1880) discovered some 30 skeletons deep in a flooded cave. Almost all these fossils are now at the Natural History Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen. A single skull has stayed in Brazil. It was donated by Lund to the Brazilian History and Geography Institute in Rio de Janeiro.

Colonization by leaps and bounds

On the same day as the Cell article was published, a paper in the journal Science also reported new findings on fossil DNA from the first migrants to the Americas. André Strauss is one of the authors.

Among the 15 ancient skeletons from which genetic material was taken, five belong to the Lund Collection in Copenhagen. They date from between 10,400 and 9,800 years ago. They are the oldest in the sample, alongside an individual from Nevada estimated to be 10,700 years old.

The sample comprised fossilized human remains from Alaska, Canada, Brazil, Chile, and Argentina. The results of its molecular analysis suggested the peopling of the Americas by the first human groups out of Alaska did not come about merely through gradual occupation of territory concomitantly with population growth.

According to the researchers responsible for the study, the molecular data suggests that the first humans to invade Alaska or neighboring Yukon, split into two groups. This happened between 17,500 and 14,600 years ago. One group colonized North and Central America, the other South America.

The peopling of the Americas ensued by leaps and bounds, as small bands of hunter-gatherers traveled far and wide to settle in new areas until they reached Tierra del Fuego in a movement lasting one or at most two millennia.

Among the 15 individuals whose DNA was analyzed, three of the Lagoa Santa five were found to have some genetic material from Australasia, as suggested by the theory proposed by Neves for the occupation of South America. The researchers are unable to explain the origin of this Australasian DNA or how it ended up in only a few of the Lagoa Santa people.

“The fact that the genomic signature of Australasia has been present for 10,400 years in Brazil but is absent in all the genomes tested to date, which are as old or older, and found farther north, is a challenge considering its presence in Lagoa Santa,” they said.

Other fossils collected during the twentieth century include the Luzia skull, found in the 1970s. Almost 100 skulls excavated by Neves and Strauss in the past 15 years are now held at USP. A similar number of fossils are held at the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais (PUC-MG).

But the vast majority of these osteological and archeological treasures, belonging to perhaps more than 100 individuals, were deposited at the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro and were presumably destroyed in the fire that raged through this historic building on September 2, 2018.

The Luzia skull was on display at the National Museum alongside Neave’s facial reconstruction. Scientists feared it had been lost to the fire but fortunately it was one of the first objects to be recovered from the ruins. It had broken up but survived. The fire destroyed the original facial reconstruction (of which there are several copies).

Author: Peter Moon | Source: São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) [November 09, 2018]



Human footprint driving mammal extinction crisis

Human impacts are the biggest risk factor in the possible extinction of a quarter of all land-based mammals, according to a University of Queensland study.

Human footprint driving mammal extinction crisis
The Malay Tapir has moved from Vulnerable to Endangered on the IUCN Red List, due to large-scale
deforestation associated with increased hunting [Credit: Tambako]

Researchers compared a 16-year trend in the global human footprint with the extinction risk of around 4500 land-based mammal species.

UQ School of Earth and Environmental Sciences Adjunct Fellow Dr. Moreno Di Marco said the analysis redefined how we looked at mammal extinctions.

“We live in an era when one in every four mammal species is at risk of going extinct,” he said.

“But with more than 5600 mammal species globally, it’s time consuming and expensive to track the changes for every species. To get a clearer idea of what’s systematically leading to these declines, we decided to combine mapping of human pressures with extinction risk assessment data for mammal species.”

The researchers found that human footprint was linked strongly to extinction risk change for land-based mammals – more than any other variable they tested.

Human footprint driving mammal extinction crisis
Anthropogenic modification of natural habitats is the main driver of mammal species decline globally
[Credit: University of Queensland]

“Human impacts in areas originally in a natural or semi-natural state – those with a footprint of only three or below on a zero-to-50 scale – were the main driver of extinction risk change in mammal species,” Dr. Di Marco said.

“In terms of conservation efforts, it makes us look twice at what high-impact human activities really are, since even seemingly low-level impacts are decimating species.”

UQ’s Professor James Watson said the findings were invaluable for future conservation efforts.

“What we’ve created has huge potential to provide rapid assessment of species extinction risk, without having to go through extensive expert consultation every time,” he said.

“It has the potential to change how we assess biodiversity conservation status globally.

“The international community has a mission to prevent the decline of species, and this research will assist in the critical job of prioritising actions for minimising species extinction risk.

“They need to see the big picture, before it’s too late.”

The study has been published in Nature Communications.

Source: University of Queensland [November 09, 2018]



Re-inventing the hook: Orangutans spontaneously bend straight wires into hooks to fish...

The bending of a hook into wire to fish for the handle of a basket is surprisingly challenging for young children under eight years of age. Now cognitive biologists and comparative psychologists from the University of Vienna, the University of St Andrews and the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna around Isabelle Laumer and Alice Auersperg studied hook tool making for the first time in a non-human primate species – the orangutan. To the researchers’ surprise the apes spontaneously manufactured hook tools out of straight wire within the very first trial and in a second task unbent curved wire to make a straight tool.

Re-inventing the hook: Orangutans spontaneously bend straight wires into hooks to fish for food
Wild male orangutan [Credit: © Graham L. Banes]

Human children are already proficient tool-users and tool-makers from an early age on. Nevertheless, when confronted with a task, which required them to innovate a hooked tool out of a straight piece of wire in order to retrieve a basket from the bottom of a vertical tube, the job proved more challenging for children than one might think: Three to five-year-old children rarely succeed and even at the age of seven less than half of them were able to solve the task. Only at the age of eight the majority of children was able to innovate a hook-tool. Interestingly children of all tested age classes succeeded when given demonstrations on how to bend a hook and use it. Thus, although young children apparently understand what kind of tool is required and are skilled enough to make a functional tool, there seems to be a cognitive obstacle in innovating one.
Cognitive biologists and comparative psychologists from the University of Vienna, the University of St Andrews and the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna around Isabelle Laumer now tested for the first time a primate species in the hook-bending task. “We confronted the orangutans with a vertical tube containing a reward basket with a handle and a straight piece of wire. In a second task with a horizontal tube containing a reward at its centre and a piece of wire that was bent at 90°”, explains Isabelle Laumer who conducted the study at the Zoo Leipzig in Germany. “Retrieving the reward from the vertical tube thus required the orangutans to bent a hook into the wire to fish the basket out of the tube. The horizontal tube in turn required the apes to unbent the bent piece of wire in order to make it long enough to push the food out of the tube.”

Re-inventing the hook: Orangutans spontaneously bend straight wires into hooks to fish for food
Male orangutan using a stick tool [Credit: © Alice Auersperg]

Several orangutans mastered the hook bending task and the unbending task. Two orangutans even solved both tasks within the first minutes of the very first trial. “The orangutans mostly bent the hooks directly with their teeth and mouth while keeping the rest of the tool straight. Thereafter they immediately inserted it in correct orientation, hooked the handle and pulled the basket up”, she further explains.
Orangutans share 97% of their DNA with us and are among the most intelligent primates. They have human-like long-term memory, routinely use a variety of sophisticated tools in the wild and construct elaborate sleeping nests each night from foliage and branches. Today orangutans can only be found in the rainforests of Sumatra and Borneo. Like all four great ape species, orangutans are listed as critically endangered (IUCN, Red List). “Habitat loss due to extensive palm-oil production, illegal wildlife trade and poaching are the major threats. Palm oil is the most widely used vegetable oil in the world. As long as there is a demand for palm oil and consumers keep buying products that contain palm oil, the palm industry thrives. According to a 2007 survey by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) orangutans will be extinct in the wild within two decades if current deforestation trends continue”, says Isabelle Laumer.

Re-inventing the hook: Orangutans spontaneously bend straight wires into hooks to fish for food
Orangutans in the wild [Credit: © Graham L. Banes]

“The hook-bending task has become a benchmark paradim to test tool innovation abilities in comparative psychology”, says Alice Auersperg from the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna. “Considering the speed of their hook innovation, it seems that they actively invented a solution to this problem rather than applying routined behaviours.”

“Finding this capacity in one of our closest relatives is astonishing. In human evolution hook tools appear relatively late. Fish hooks and harpoon-like, curved objects date back only approximately 16.000- 60.000 years. Although New Caledonian crows use hooks with regularity, there are a few observations of wild apes, such as chimpanzees and orangutans, that use previously detached branches to catch and retrieve out-of-reach branches for locomotion in the canopy. This branch-hauling tools might represents one of the earliest and simplest raking tools used and made by great apes and our ancestors”, says Josep Call of the University of St Andrews.

So why struggle younger children with this task? “Follow-up studies showed that childrens difficulty with independently finding the solution cannot be explained by fixedness on unmodified tools, impulsivity nor by not being able to change the strategy. The hook bending task represents a complex problem, for which several unrewarded steps must be performed while keeping the final goal in mind”, explains Isabelle Laumer. “Interestingly, complex problem solving has been associated to certain areas of the medial prefrontal cortex, which mature later in the child development. This explanation, besides children´s strong reliance on social learning might explain their success at a later age.”

The study is published in Scientific Reports.

Source: University of Vienna [November 09, 2018]



Limestone stela and wooden sarcophagus unearthed in Luxor

The joint archaeological mission by the Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale (IFAO) and the University of Strasbourg has found a limestone stela and a wooden sarcophagus from the 18th Dynasty near the tomb of Petamenope in the northern area of El-Assasif Necropolis in Luxor.

Limestone stela and wooden sarcophagus unearthed in Luxor
Credit: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities

The stela, measuring 1m x 0,65cm, has three registers depicting offering scenes and the names of two senior officials, Tetiankh and Inenni, of the Theban tomb TT81.

Limestone stela and wooden sarcophagus unearthed in Luxor
Credit: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities

A well preserved sarcophagus made of wood and painted plaster, evidently belonging to a person named Pouia, was also discovered nearby.

Source: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities [November 09, 2018]



Prehistoric teeth give up their secrets

The isotope values of food consumed are reflected in the individual’s tissues. As bone is constantly being turned over by remodelling, analysing the stable isotope ratios of bone collagen can shine a light on the main dietary protein sources consumed over many years. New research uses this factor to analyse diet, migration and society between the Neolithic (6,500 – 4,500 BC) and Iron Age (900—100 BC).

Prehistoric teeth give up their secrets
Credit: iStock/Drbouz

The application of up-to-date, interdisciplinary methodologies with low-cost approaches (such as dental morphology and isotope analyses) in archaeology is revolutionising our understanding of the interactions between ancient human populations and their environment. This interaction could reveal information on the evolution of various socio-cultural systems.

The EU’s ANCIENT TEETH research aimed to characterise, for the first time, changes in dental traits of past European populations and the factors influencing these transitions. Principle researcher Dr. Beatriz Gamarra Rubio considered population movements on the Great Hungarian Plain (GHP) from the onset of agriculture in the Neolithic period, to the Iron Age.

Supported by the Marie Curie programme, she employed microCT technology to obtain the 3-D digital models needed to analyse the shape of the enamel-dentine junction (EDJ) by means of the geometric morphometric technique.

“The results obtained are still preliminary, but they show that at Copper Age (4,500 – 2,700 BC) and Bronze Age (2,700 – 900 BC) peoples who lived in the GHP had different EDJ morphology, which suggests that they have a different population origin,” explains Dr. Gamarra. This aligns with research carried out by her principal supervisor, Prof. Ron Pinhasi, showing the migration patterns of populations from the east to the GHP by the advent of the Bronze Age.

To analyse the population’s diet, Dr. Gamarra looked at the content of carbon and nitrogen isotopes contained in the bone collagen. “This allows us to to infer the amount of animal/plant protein these people were eating, characterising the diet of these past individuals.”

They found that the people who lived in the GHP from Neolithic to Early Bronze Age were consuming cultivated plants, such as wheat and barley, and different amounts of meat as a result of their farming practices. But by the Late Bronze Age people were eating other types of cereal, including millet. “This new crop was most probably brought in by people from the east, as a result of a wave of migration during the Bronze Age.”

The past shows the way for the future

Understanding the effects of diet changes in past populations will help to explain the origin of challenging contemporary dental health problems. In doing so, the project hopes we’ll be able to understand the adaptability of human teeth to current and future dietary changes, which may be of benefit for clinicians to better manage dental health requirements.

“The data produced from high-resolution micro-CT scans of human teeth is an invaluable resource for evidence-based research proposals. The information can be used by those calling for change in health policies of European countries, for instance in nutrition and dietary subsistence management,” says Dr. Gamarra.

She is certain that the key to the project’s success was collaboration. “The use of multiple approaches from different fields to interpret a complex issue such as agriculture transition is vital. Collaboration helps to establish and refine essential research questions, enriches the experience and mentoring of researchers, and gives early researchers the opportunity to develop independent academic skills.”

Source: CORDIS [November 09, 2018]



Stone tools from the Middle Stone Age in South Africa shows that different communities...

The tools – mainly blades and backed knives from the Howiesons Poort – were found in various layers in the Klipdrift Shelter, in the southern Cape in South Africa. They were examined by a group of lithic experts, who found distinct similarities to tools from sites in South Africa’s Western Cape, over 300km away, in particular with the Diepkloof Rock Shelter site.

Stone tools from the Middle Stone Age in South Africa shows that different communities were connected
This is an overview of the Klipdrift Complex from the sea
[Credit: Magnus Haaland]

“While regional specificities in the tools from the various sites exist, the similarities of Klipdrift Shelter with the site of Diepkloof Rock Shelter are astonishing,” says Dr Katja Douze, the corresponding author of the study that was published in PLOS ONE.

The team, under the leadership of Professor Christopher Henshilwood from Wits University and the University of Bergen’s SapienCE Centre for Early Sapiens Behaviour, examined thousands of stone tools that were excavated from seven layers that represent a time period of between 66 000 years ago and 59 000 years ago, to establish the differences in stone tool design over time. They then also compared the stone tools to various other sites in Howiesons Poort.

“The site of Klipdfrift Shelter is one of the few containing a long archaeological sequence that provides data on cultural changes over time during the Howiesons Poort,” says Douze. “This makes it perfect to study the change in culture over time.”

However, what was even more exciting for the researchers was the fact that for the first time they could show closely networked interaction between distant communities through the way they designed stone tools.

Stone tools from the Middle Stone Age in South Africa shows that different communities were connected
These are examples of Howiesons Poort stone tools from Klipdrift
[Credit: Anne Delagnes and Gauthier Devilder]

“There was an almost perfect match between the tools from the Klipdrift and Diepkloof shelters,” says Douze. “This shows us that there was regular interaction between these two communities.”

“This is the first time that we can draw such a parallel between different sites based on robust sets of data, and show that there was mobility between the two sites. This is unique for the Middle Stone Age,” says Douze.

The Middle Stone Age in Africa stretches from 350 000 years ago to 25 000 years ago and is a key period for understanding the development of the first Homo sapiens, their behavioural changes through time and their movements in-and-out of Africa.

Named after Howieson’s Poort Shelter archaeological site near Grahamstown in South Africa, the Howiesons Poort is a specific techno-culture within the Middle Stone Age that evolves in southern Africa after 100 000 years ago at the Diepkloof Shelter, but between 66 000 – 59 000 years at most other Howiesons Poort sites. The characteristics of the Howiesons Poort are strongly distinctive from other Middle Stone Age industries as it is characterised by the production of small blades and backed tools, used as hunting armatures as much as for cutting flesh, while other MSA industries show flake, large blade and point productions.

Stone tools from the Middle Stone Age in South Africa shows that different communities were connected
This is the location of the Klipdrift Shelter and other South African Howiesons Poort sites
[Credit: Katja Douze]

The tools found in the deeper layers of the Klipdrift Shelter that represent the earlier phases of the Howiesons Poort were found to be made from heat-treated silcrete, while those from later phases were made from less homogeneous rocks such as quartz and quartzite. This change happens together with changes in tool production strategies. “The changes over time seems to reflect cultural changes, rather than immediate alterations forced on the designers by changes in climate”, says Douze.

“Our preconceived idea of prehistoric groups is that they just struggled to survive, but in fact they were very adaptable to environmental circumstances. There seem to be no synchrony between modification in design choices and environmental changes. However, the aridification of the area over time might have led to a very gradual change that led to the end of the Howiesons Poort.”

The team also attempted to establish why and how the Howiesons Poort ended, and to see whether it came to a sudden, or gradual end.

“The decline of the Howiesons Poort at Klipdrift Shelter shows a gradual and complex pattern of changes, from which the first “symptoms” can be observed much earlier than the final abandonment of typical Howiesons Poort technology and toolkits,” says Douze.

“This does not support a catastrophic scenario involving alarming demographic drops or massive population replacements. The fact that a similar pattern of gradual change has been described for at least three other southern African Howiesons Poort sites (Rose Cottage Cave, Diepkloof Rock Shelter and Klasies River main site), further ascertains convergent evolutions in cultural trajectories rather than isolated groups promptly reacting to locally determined pressures.”

Source: Wits University [November 09, 2018]



8,000-year-old seal unearthed in Turkey

A circular clay seal, measuring seven centimetres (2.75 inches) across, was found in Yeşilova mound, the oldest human settlement area in the Turkish province of İzmir.

8,000-year-old seal unearthed in Turkey
Credit: AA

Archaeologist Zafer Derin, who heads the excavation team, told Anadolu Agency that the seal is important for both its large size and its design.

“We found one of the largest seals in Anatolia,” he said.

Derin said the large seal was dried and baked in the sun and also symbolizes the sun.

“We know that the person who owned this seal was an administrator, a manager,” Derin said.

He said the seal’s purpose will be better understood after it is examined in detail by a microscope.

Source: Anadolu Agency [November 09, 2018]



Russian archaeologists unearth ancient Greek settlement in Crimea peninsula

Researchers from the Russian Academy of Sciences Archaeology Institute have discovered a previously unknown ancient Greek settlement in eastern Crimea, Chairman of the State Committee for the Protection of Cultural Heritage of the Republic of Crimea, Sergey Yefimov, told TASS on Friday.

Russian archaeologists unearth ancient Greek settlement in Crimea peninsula
Credit: РИА Новости/Артем Креминский

“Researchers from the RAS Institute of Archaeology uncovered a new ancient Greek settlement during their excavation near Kerch, which preliminary dates back to the 4th-3rd century BC, a period when the Bosporan Kingdom was flourishing. This is an important finding not just for Crimea but for all of Russia,” Yefimov added.

Russian archaeologists unearth ancient Greek settlement in Crimea peninsula
Credit: РИА Новости/Артем Креминский

He also noted that the community, called Manitra, occupied an area of roughly 5,000 square metres. The outpost consists of an estate-like residential area and a domestic zone, made up of livestock pens and middens.

Russian archaeologists unearth ancient Greek settlement in Crimea peninsula
Credit: Alexei Pavlishak/TASS

Yefimov also said that a necropolis was found near the settlement, which hadn’t been ransacked, meaning there might be worthy findings.

Source: TASS [November 09, 2018]



Excavation and survey of the ancient port landscape at the Akrotiri-Dreamers Bay

The Department of Antiquities, Ministry of Transport, Communications and Works announced the completion of the 2018 underwater archaeological mission at the Akrotiri- Dreamer’s Bay ancient port, in the Lemesos District. The survey was directed by staff from the University of Southampton, Centre for Maritime Archaeology, as part of an ongoing collaborative research project on the peninsula since 2015 led by the University of Leicester. The work was conducted with the permission of the Republic of Cyprus Department of Antiquities and the UK Sovereign Base Areas Administration, and with the support and assistance of RAF Akrotiri, the Defence Infrastructure Organisation and the Western Sovereign Base Area Archaeological Society. Equipment and assistance was also offered from the University of Cyprus, MARELab, the Cyprus University of Technology, CP Marine Explorations, and Kembali Divers. The project was generously funded by the Honor Frost Foundation.

Excavation and survey of the ancient port landscape at the Akrotiri-Dreamers Bay
View of the excavation site [Credit: University of Leicester]

The excavation and survey was conducted between 10-24 September 2018 by a team of professional diving maritime archaeologists, students of maritime archaeology, divers, surveyors, and terrestrial archaeologists predominantly from Cyprus and the UK who investigated for over two weeks, the remains of an ancient breakwater submerged some 1-1.5 to 5m below the water in Dreamers Bay. The primary objective was to determine its precise function and date and specifically its relationship with the archaeological remains of Roman/early Byzantine date investigated in previous seasons along the western shores of the bay, as well as the ancient cliff-top quarries, which overlook the waters it protected. The overall aim was to build up a more complete picture of the port as part of the ancient settlement of the Akrotiri Peninsula, within the context of the southern coast of Cyprus and the eastern Mediterranean.
The submerged ancient breakwater extends some 120m offshore. The breakwater had been previously been reported by a number of maritime archaeologists and was documented in the 1980s. The objective of this survey was to further define the extent and nature of the ancient harbour and record the detail of its key features using photogrammetry, in order to clarify the method of its original construction and its specific purpose. The survey also examined the breakwater’s northern end in order to determine if it was originally connected to the land as it is now dislocated by some 50m.

Excavation and survey of the ancient port landscape at the Akrotiri-Dreamers Bay
View of the excavation site [Credit: University of Leicester]

The photogrammetry was partially successful but limited by the very shallow and turbulent nature of the water over the breakwater although, a comprehensive plan of the southern portion of the feature was achieved and this data is currently being processed. The breakwater was also located in space using RTK DGPS and aspects of its construction were recorded in detail using photography and sketches. It was noted that the feature was three, maximum four courses deep, along the main body of the feature up to c. 120m, and that the southern end of the breakwater was more dislocated and the width in this section more extensive.  Also the water to the south of the breakwater was deeper and in response to this the courses of construction were more numerous to compensate for increased water depths. This raised the question as to whether the feature was in fact a breakwater with shelter provided along its length in its lee or in fact a jetty that was primarily accessed via deeper waters to the south which facilitated the offloading of goods and people that were then transported via smaller craft to the shore.
Further survey work was also undertaken of the submerged archaeological remains around the breakwater and throughout the entire underwater landscape of Dreamers Bay. All finds were noted, described and photographed underwater and a record of their location taken using GPS. Selected finds were lifted when archaeologists felt they were either in danger of further displacement and erosion on the seafloor or useful as chronological indicators. Distribution and quantities were noted to explore the nature of activities either side of the breakwater in order to help determine its function.

Excavation and survey of the ancient port landscape at the Akrotiri-Dreamers Bay
View of the ancient cliff-top quarries [Credit: University of Leicester]

Of note in terms of finds, was a large concentration of relatively homogenous ceramics, mostly amphorae, of apparent late Roman date concentrated to the east of the breakwater. This material was very broken up and concreted into the seabed but appears on first evaluation, to be the remains of a very fragmented shipwreck. In addition to a number of stone anchors distributed around the breakwater, three short columns of what appears to be Aswan granite, were also found to the east of the breakwater, two on top of the rubble that fell to the east of the structure, and one in association with the shipwreck. The initial interpretation is that the columns were also part of the cargo of the ship that wrecked against the breakwater after it fell into disuse.
During the September 2018 season, a number of sediment cores were also extracted in order to try and determine the nature of the environment either side of the breakwater over the course of its life – sediments deposited in calmer waters indicating that shelter was available, whereas those deposited in more tempestuous seas would indicate that the shelter previously provided by the breakwater was no longer afforded and the area had become exposed to the prevailing maritime conditions. The four cores that were successfully extracted are currently being analysed and assessed for any dating material in the hope that this transition in exposure and hence the date that the breakwater fell out of use, can be determined.

Source: Press and Information Office, Republic of Cyprus [November 09, 2018]



3,000-year-old human skulls from China show traces of early craniotomy

Two human skulls unearthed in Yinxu, or the Ruins of Yin, one of China’s oldest archaeological sites, in central China’s Henan Province, show traces of craniotomy, said Chinese archaeologists.

3,000-year-old human skulls from China show traces of early craniotomy
Skulls unearthed at the Ruins of Yin in Anyang, Henan Province [Credit: IC]

One of the skulls belongs to a 10-year-old boy, showing a circular perforation about 1 cm in diameter on top of his head.

“The skull surface is smooth and even, indicating the traces of artificial drilling. And the cranium shows that it still grew after the perforation, which suggests the surgery was successful,” said Yue Hongbin, researcher with the Institute of Archaeology under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).

The other piece of evidence of early craniotomy was found on the fontanelle of the skull of a male adult. The perforation appears in the front of his skull. The inside diameter of the hole measures 8 mm, while the outside diameter measures 19 mm.

“Such medical achievements dating back to more than 3,000 years ago are beyond our imagination,” said Yue.

Based on the archaeological research of the ruins, people living during the Shang Dynasty (about 1600 BC-1046 BC) had a systematic cognition of diseases in various parts of the human body, and were able to treat different diseases with drugs, surgeries, acupuncture and massages, said Yue.

Inscriptions on bones or tortoises in the period record names of 50 kinds of diseases with descriptions of pathological sensations and disease locations. They also involve therapies with medicine, surgery, orthopedics and neurology, according to Song Zhenhao, one of the oracle bone research leaders at CASS.

China in 1928 began an official excavation of the Ruins of Yin, the last capital of the Shang Dynasty, which is in the current day city of Anyang, marking the start of modern Chinese archaeology. This year coincides with the 90th anniversary of the excavation.

Through years of research, archaeologists have gradually uncovered ancient therapies.

In one of the tombs, a large number of plant leaves were unearthed. Some of the leaves held in bronze pots had been well preserved. They have been identified as oriental bittersweet, a herb used in traditional Chinese medicine for clearing away heat and toxic materials, and used as a snake venom remedy.

In another tomb, the tomb master’s skeleton shows a badly injured left femur. It was found covered with pepper and well preserved, while the rest of the thighbone had completely decayed.

“The ancient Chinese had clearly already understood the functions of pepper in relieving pain, stopping bleeding, and promoting granulation and anticorrosion,” said Yue, adding that they have also found medical tools at the ruins.

Four bone needles measuring between 11.7 and 13.3 cm have also been found inside a bone.

“They were not needles for sewing, since they are sharp at both ends and do not have pinholes. We believe they were for medical use,” said Yue.

Some blunt jade knives unearthed from the ruins were likely used for massages, he added.

“Archaeological findings in the ruins have continued to provide more and more evidence to help recast ancient medical history,” Yue said.

Source: Xinhua [November 10, 2018]



Mummified sacred beetles and cats found in ancient Egyptian tombs

Seven sarcophagi, some dating back more than 6,000 years, have been discovered at a site on the edge of the pyramid complex in Saqqara, south of the Egyptian capital, archaeology officials announced Saturday.

Mummified sacred beetles and cats found in ancient Egyptian tombs
Archaeologists in Egypt have discovered a collection of mummified cats and scarab beetles
 in a series of ancient tombs [Credit: Khaled Desouki/AFP]

Antiquities Minister Khaled el-Enany said the discovery was made by an Egyptian archaeological mission during excavation work started in April.
Three of the tombs had been used for cats, he said, while one of four other sarcophagi discovered at the site belonged to Khufu-Imhat, overseer of the buildings in the royal palace.

Mummified sacred beetles and cats found in ancient Egyptian tombs
The finds, dating back more than 4,000 years, were made at Saqqara, south of Cairo. The vast burial ground served
the city of Memphis – ancient Egypt’s capital for 2,000 years 
[Credit: Khaled Desouki/AFP]

Mummified sacred beetles and cats found in ancient Egyptian tombs
Ancient Egyptians believed cats, and other animals, held a special
position in the afterlife
 [Credit: Khaled Desouki/AFP]

Mostafa Waziri, head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, said the mission had also unearthed the first mummies of scarabs to be found in the area.
Two such mummies were found inside a rectangular limestone sarcophagus with a vaulted lid decorated with three scarabs painted in black, he said.

Mummified sacred beetles and cats found in ancient Egyptian tombs
A mummified scarab inside the tomb of Khufu-Imhat [Credit:Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters]

Mummified sacred beetles and cats found in ancient Egyptian tombs
Some of the artefacts recovered from the tombs [Credit: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities]

Dozens of cat mummies were also unearthed along with 100 wooden, gilded statues of cats and one in bronze dedicated to the cat goddess Bastet.
Cats held a special place in Ancient Egypt and were mummified as religious offerings.

Mummified sacred beetles and cats found in ancient Egyptian tombs
A brilliantly coloured mummy dating back more than 2,300 years seen on its wooden coffin
Khaled Desouki/AFP]

Mummified sacred beetles and cats found in ancient Egyptian tombs
Cat statue found in one of the tombs [Credit: Khaled Desouki/AFP]

A collection of wooden gilded statues of a lion, a cow and a falcon was also unearthed at the Saqqara site.
The antiquities department said wooden sarcophagi of cobras with mummies inside them were also discovered along with two wooden sarcophagi of crocodiles.

Source: AFP [November 11, 2018]




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