воскресенье, 7 апреля 2019 г.

Sea turtles struggle years after unexplained die-off

New research is detailing how environmental stressors, including heavy metals, brought on by human activity are harming coastal green sea turtle populations – work that researchers hope will inform conservation efforts going forward.

Sea turtles struggle years after unexplained die-off
Green sea turtle in Hawaii [Credit: Ohio State]

In a study that appears in the journal Science of the Total Environment, a multidisciplinary group of researchers set about evaluating turtle health, water quality and other factors in the aftermath of a catastrophic mass death of green turtles in Australia.

“We found evidence of heavy metals – particularly cobalt – in sea turtle populations where we also saw signs of illness,” said lead author Mark Flint, program head of Zoo and Wildlife Conservation Medicine and Ecosystem Health in the College of Veterinary Medicine at The Ohio State University.

“Though we can’t be sure what caused this, there were cyclones and major flooding in this part of Australia two years prior to the start of our study, and that could have drawn out sediment rich in heavy metals that had been lying in rivers and streams benign for the past 50 years,” Flint said.

Green turtles, Chelonia mydas, are an endangered species, and one of the largest sea turtles, weighing in at as much as 400 pounds in adulthood. Green turtles are named for the greenish color of their fat, not their shells, and are found mainly in tropical and subtropical waters, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia (WWF). The WWF provided funding for this research, and led the Rivers to Reef to Turtles project under which it was conducted.

Large populations live, feed and nest on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, favoring the bays and protected shores near the coast and around islands.

The Rivers to Reef to Turtles project, which ran from 2014 to 2017, examined health of green turtles at two northern Queensland bays – Cleveland and Upstart – known to be impacted by urban and agricultural human activities and at a third remote “pristine” area, the Howick Group of islands.

Following up on a high number of turtle deaths in 2012 and 2013 that conservationists were attributing to a “whole kit and caboodle of reasons” including runoff from agriculture, industrial toxins and climate change, the team conducted physical exams and tested the turtles’ blood over time, looking for signs of contaminants and illness, Flint said.

They also counted barnacles on the turtles. Flint’s previous work has shown that high barnacle counts on turtles’ undersides correspond to poor health. The theory behind that? When healthy and feeding normally, a turtle’s trips to the sea floor for seagrass meals effectively scrape away barnacles. When the green turtles aren’t eating well, the barnacles build up.

“An unhealthy turtle often has trapped air in its shell and is buoyant, meaning it can’t dive down for food. It’s almost like a balloon,” Flint said. “Also, a turtle that can’t dive sits on the surface of the water where algae and barnacles can grow better.”

In cases where the researchers found dead turtles, they conducted in-depth necropsies.

Sea turtles struggle years after unexplained die-off
Mark Flint of The Ohio State University examines a green sea turtle in Australia
[Credit: Ohio State]

The research team found elevated levels of an enzyme called creatinine kinase in turtles at Cleveland Bay. That enzyme typically increases after muscle injury or illness. And they found elevated white cell counts in turtles at Upstart Bay. White cells proliferate when an animal is fighting infection.

One in five of the juveniles examined at Cleveland Bay had high barnacle levels (16 or more) and one in 10 of the young turtles at Upstart Bay had excessive barnacle growth. This level of barnacle growth was not seen in any of the turtles at the “pristine” control site.

By the end of the study, the researchers saw some evidence that the population in Cleveland Bay was returning to normal, but the problem still remains for turtles in Upstart Bay.

This multidisciplinary approach is the first effort to look with this depth at this population of turtles and the potential links between environmental toxins and their well-being, Flint said.

The researchers suspect that the unhealthy measures seen in the turtles that live in areas affected by urbanization, farming and industry are connected to contaminants in their ecosystem. In particular, the study team found evidence of heavy metals, primarily cobalt, in the turtles’ blood.

Green turtles migrate long distances between feeding grounds and from the beaches on which they hatched. The reptiles are threatened by overharvesting of their eggs, hunting of adults, being caught in fishing gear and loss of nesting beach sites, according to the WWF.

The green turtle is the only “vegetarian” sea turtle, eating mostly seagrass and algae, which relates to its ecological importance. When green turtles graze on seagrass beds, that vegetation remains productive – something the WWF compares to mowing the lawn. The turtles also recycle nutrients they digest, making them available to other animals and plants, which ultimately is important for the survival of invertebrates and fish, some of which people eat.

The monitoring of sea turtle health also is important because with their long lifespans and tendency to stay in one place, they can potentially serve as proxies for the broader environment, Flint said. The trouble is, their physical responses to environmental assaults and disease are slow-moving, complicating conservationists’ ability to draw connections between the environment and sickness and death.

This research gives conservationists and marine biologists a baseline understanding of sea turtle health and response to environmental stressors, he said, which will better enable them to assess turtle health after an insult and over time. It will also provide tools to help decision makers develop environmental mitigation strategies, Flint said.

Author: Misti Crane | Source: The Ohio State University [April 04, 2019]



Evolutionary changes played a crucial role in industrialization, study finds

A recent study of centuries-old French-Canadian genealogical data by a Brown University economist revealed evidence that supports his own 17-year-old theory that natural selection played a pivotal role in the emergence of economic growth and industrialization.

Evolutionary changes played a crucial role in industrialization, study finds
Credit: Brown University

Oded Galor, a professor of economics at Brown, and Marc Klemp, a visiting scholar in Brown’s Population Studies and Training Center, together studied genealogical records from Quebec’s Saint Lawrence Valley dating from 1608 to 1800. Focusing on changes in families’ fecundity, or predisposition toward fertility, they found that in those centuries, those who were able to conceive a child shortly after marriage — a measure of fecundity — had more surviving children.

However, the study found, those who conceived months after marriage — a measure of more moderate fecundity — had fewer children but a larger number of surviving descendants in future generations, giving them the evolutionary upper hand. The researchers also noted that the population they studied became increasingly less predisposed toward high fertility over the course of those two centuries.

Galor says the study results, published this week in Nature Ecology & Evolution, lend credence to what he and a colleague had surmised in a highly influential 2002 paper — that during the pre-industrial era, the natural selection of those who were genetically predisposed toward having fewer children was instrumental in spurring industrialization and sustained economic growth.

“The data suggest that over time, nature selected individuals who had a predisposition to invest in their children,” Galor said. “This contributed to the transition from an epoch of stagnation to an era of sustained economic growth.”

Before the Industrial Revolution began in North America in the mid-1700s, Galor explained, humanity lived in what he calls the Malthusian epoch. For thousands of years, humanity had a predisposition toward high fertility. Galor and Kemp’s study shows that the pattern began to change in the pre-industrial era, when those with more moderate levels of fecundity began to gain an evolutionary advantage. By the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, their advantage had grown so large that the high-fecundity population became the minority, while those with moderate fecundity started to dominate the population.

Galor argues that this change created ideal conditions for economic growth during the Industrial Revolution. As evolution began to favor families who were less fertile and thus had fewer children, those families had more resources to devote to each child. Children who came from these families became more educated — an important trait, he says, in an era that demanded greater cognitive ability and creativity for technological advances. The population gradually became more educated, creating a “positive feedback loop” between education and technology and generating sustained economic growth.

“The fundamental building block in our hypothesis, that natural selection was critical for the emergence of economic growth, is now supported by the evidence,” Galor said of the 2002 paper. “We show that although higher fecundity maximized the number of surviving children someone would have after one generation, moderate fecundity — and therefore greater predisposition toward child quality — generated higher reproductive success in the long run and was selected by nature in the pre-industrial period.”

To reach their conclusion, the researchers chose to focus on an extensive genealogical record of nearly half a million individuals in a particular area of Quebec, where nearly every citizen’s birth, marriage and death was recorded in Catholic parish registers between 1608 and 1800. Given the time period and the region’s religious uniformity, the researchers could safely assume that for most, marriage signaled a deliberate attempt to conceive children. They ensured their findings weren’t driven by stray exceptions in the dataset — for example, those who married much later in life or whose genetics predisposed them to infertility.

The results of the analysis — that those who successfully conceived a few months after marriage, rather than immediately afterward, had more surviving descendants in the long term — mirror preliminary results from another analysis Galor and Klemp conducted using records in Britain between 1541 and 1871. Galor says this suggests the phenomenon may have extended beyond Quebec and Britain, as he posited in 2002.

“My hope,” he said, “is that this study will spur further interest in exploring the role of evolutionary processes in economic development.”

Sources: Brown University [April 04, 2019]



2000-year-old Jewish settlement uncovered in southern Israel

Archaeological excavations conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority and Ben-Gurion University in the Negev, underwritten by the Ministry of Housing to facilitate the construction of a new neighborhood, have revealed among other things, the sherd of a rare oil lamp depicting a menorah with nine branches. This is one of the earliest artistic depictions of a Jewish menorah ever discovered.

2000-year-old Jewish settlement uncovered in southern Israel
The sherd of the rare oil lamp depicting a menorah [Credit: Anat Rasiuk, Israel Antiquities Authority]

For the first time, the remains of a Jewish settlement of the Second Temple period have been discovered in Beer Sheva. The archaeological excavation carried out to facilitate a new neighborhood near the northern entrance to Beer Sheba has revealed evidence of Jewish day-to-day life there, including part of an oil lamp decorated with a nine-branched menorah – one of the earliest yet discovered by researchers – as well as limestone vessels used by Jews for reasons of ritual purity, a watchtower and more. The site, dated from the 1st century CE until the Bar-Kokhba Revolt in 135 CE, also appears to contain underground hidden passageways used by the Jewish rebels.
According to the excavators, Dr. Peter Fabian of the Ben-Gurion University in the Negev and Dr. Daniel Varga of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “Remains of the settlement cover an area of c. 2 dunams and include several structures and installations, such as the foundations of a large watchtower, baking facilities, ancient trash pits and an underground system that was probably used as a Jewish ritual bath (mikveh).  Signs of a conflagration discovered in some of the structures evince a crisis that the settlement experienced, probably that of the First Jewish Revolt in c. 70 CE.”

2000-year-old Jewish settlement uncovered in southern Israel

2000-year-old Jewish settlement uncovered in southern Israel
Typical Second Temple period Jewish vessels uncovered in the excavation near Tel Beer Sheva
[Credit: Anat Rasiuk, Israel Antiquities Authority]

The site is located along the southern border of the ancient kingdom of Judah next to a road that led from Tel Beer Sheva to the southern coastal plain. The site’s strategic value along the road was probably the reason for the construction of a 10 x 10 m. watchtower, the foundations of which were uncovered in the excavation. The remains of a staircase would have led upwards to the two upper levels that are no longer extant. During the Late Roman period, the stones of the tower were used to construct other nearby buildings.
The special finds uncovered in the excavation included a sherd of an oil lamp of a type known as a Jewish “Southern lamp”. There was great excitement when the sherd was cleaned and its decoration revealed: a nine-branched menorah.

2000-year-old Jewish settlement uncovered in southern Israel
Archaeologist Shira Bloch holding a 2000-year old vessel discovered in the excavation
[Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority]

According to Dr. Fabian and Dr. Varga, “This is probably one of the earliest artistic depictions of a nine-branched menorah yet discovered.”  It is interesting to note that of the few lamps found depicting a menorah, these are never seven-branched. This was in accordance with a ruling in the Babylonian Talmud stating that only the menorah in the Temple could have seven branches and thus lamps used in domestic contexts commonly had eight to eleven branches.

Dozens of bronze coins discovered at the site belong to the period of Roman provincial rule. Some were minted in Ashqelon and others were minted in cities from throughout the Roman Empire.

Source: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs [April 05, 2019]



Digging ancient signals out of modern human genomes

With new genome analysis tools, scientists have made significant advances in our understanding of modern humans’ origins and ancient migrations.

Digging ancient signals out of modern human genomes
Credit: World Record Academy

But trying to find ancient DNA, let alone prove that the ancient DNA is ancestral to a population living today is extremely challenging.

A new study in Molecular Biology and Evolution adds to this understanding by reconstructing artificial genomes with the analyses of the genome of 565 contemporary South Asian individuals to extract ancient signals that recapitulate the long history of human migration and admixture in the region.

“All in all, our results provide a proof-of-principle for the feasibility of retrieving ancient genetic signals from contemporary human subjects, as if they were genomes from the past embedded in amber,” said Luca Pagani, the research coordinator of the study.

The study was led by Burak Yelmen and Mayukh Mondal from the Institute of Genomics of the University of Tartu, Estonia and coordinated by Luca Pagani from the same institution and from the University of Padova, Italy.

“The genetic components we managed to extract from modern genomes are invaluable, given the shortage of ancient DNA available from South Asian human remains, and allow us to elucidate the genetic composition of the ancient populations that inhabited the area,” said Burak Yelmen, co-first author of the study.

While studying the mixing events that brought ancient human populations to form contemporary South Asians, the researchers also noted that some portion of the genomes had not mixed as expected, as if the genetic variants that evolved in South Asia or the ones that arrived from West Eurasia were important for adapting to the local lifestyle through admixture.

“Among these variants, we found genes important for immunity and for dietary changes, as one may expect for human populations adapting to new sets of pathogens or food,” said Mayukh Mondal, joint first author of this work.

The human evolution of skin pigmentation also revealed many genetic variants for the population studied.

“Intriguingly we also noted that some genetic variants implicated in the skin pigmentation of West Eurasians were under opposite selective forces, some becoming highly frequent and others being almost lost after the admixture events. Skin pigmentation is surely a fascinating and complex subject and we are still trying to understand what, if any, would be the adaptive implications of the signal we detected.”

The study will add to the growing picture of the diversity of South Asians, and future studies of modern human population origins.

“These signals can complement the picture emerging from the booming field of ancient DNA by providing high quality genomic sequences especially for areas of the world where archaeological human remains are scarce or poorly preserved.”

Source: Oxford University Press [April 05, 2019]



Sewerage construction unearths vast necropolis in Larnaca

The Cypriot Ministry of Transport, Communications and Works, Department of Antiquities has announced the results of the salvage excavations conducted in conjunction with the construction of the sewerage network of Larnaka in the period of 27th June 2016 to 31st October 2018. Throughout this period more than 110 tombs have been excavated and recorded, in a wide area of several kilometres, testifying to the presence of a vast necropolis, as well as to the architectural evidence for the city-kingdom of Kition. The dating of the tombs ranges from the Early Bronze Age to the late Roman period (4th century AD).

Sewerage construction unearths vast necropolis in Larnaca
Burial in a mnima-type tomb on Derbis Yusuf Street [Credit: Dept. of Antiquities,
Republic of Cyprus]

The large majority of tombs are subterranean rectangular chamber tombs, carved in the natural bedrock, consisting of one or two adjoining chambers. The entrance to the tomb was via a sloping corridor or a carved staircase. Sometimes, niches were carved on the walls of the corridor, possibly to place offerings for the deceased. Every time a burial was placed inside, the stomion (the point-of-entry into the chamber), was sealed either with a gypsum slab or with stones. These tombs were used for collective burials and in most instances, appear to have been used for centuries. They are characterized by the wealth of the finds consisting of utilitarian/storage vessels and fine wares and also items of personal adornment made of gold, bronze and semi-precious stones.
The excavations in Archbishop Kyrillos II Street brought to light two tombs that date to 2,500 BC. They are of vital importance for the city since they provide evidence for the use of St John’s Quarter in the Early Bronze Age.

Sewerage construction unearths vast necropolis in Larnaca
Detail from the excavation of a tomb on Esperidon Street
[Credit: Dept. of Antiquities, Republic of Cyprus]

Unique finds of Geometric date were unearthed in two chamber tombs in Empress Theodora and Esperidon Streets. The wealth of the finds and the remarkable craftsmanship of the vessels are worth noting.
One type of tomb dating to the Hellenistic period that has been attested for the first time in Kition (a known type in Nea Pafos and Kourion), was excavated in Ali Dede, Sittika Hanoum and Derbis Yusuf Streets and in the Hamit Bey Square. A total of more than 47 ‘mnima’-type tombs were recorded in this area. The cist tombs were used for single inhumations, usually with very few finds or without any at all.

Sewerage construction unearths vast necropolis in Larnaca
Discovery of sarcophagi during excavations on Anagennisis Street
[Credit: Dept. of Antiquities, Republic of Cyprus]

Simultaneously with the excavation of the necropolis of Kition, further work was undertaken in the nucleus of the ancient settlement, the Chrysopolitissa Quarter, which revealed the urban topography of the Hellenistic and Roman periods.
The number of statuettes found at Tefkrou Street, in conjunction with elaborate walls, leads to the conclusion that the foundations belong to a sanctuary spanning the Archaic through to the Hellenistic period.

Sewerage construction unearths vast necropolis in Larnaca
The monastic building discovered on St Francis of Assisi Street [Credit: Dept. of Antiquities,
Republic of Cyprus]

The urban nucleus of Kition was revealed, in Kyriacou Matsi and Kimonos Streets, while walls possibly of public buildings were found in Chrysopolitissa Avenue. Clay pipes of the Hellenistic period, running along the same avenue, must be associated with the water network of the city. Impressive underground water channels, carved on the natural bedrock, were found at Michali Partella Street. These impressive structures, that extend for several kilometres in the Chrysopolitissa Quarter, testify to the importance given to water as a natural resource by the inhabitants of the city.
An extensive part of the Sewerage contract C12 covers the heart of medieval Larnaka. The excavations carried out on St Francis of Assisi Street uncovered a monastery dating to the end of the 15th-16th century. Foundations of small adjoining rooms were found, divided by a single wall running across the north-south axis with a parallel horizontal narrow corridor on the western part of the building and other vertical corridors that secure private access. These rooms may be identified with monastic cells of the Monastery of the Order of the Franciscans, mentioned in travellers’ accounts from 1546, as a stop/hospice for pilgrims on their journey to the Holy Lands.

Sewerage construction unearths vast necropolis in Larnaca
Underground water channel of the Abu Bhekir aqueduct discovered on St. Constantinos Street
[Credit: Dept. of Antiquities, Republic of Cyprus]

During the Ottoman period a water system of clay pipes was installed and regularly maintained in Larnaka. The pipes were inserted into a stone channel and they were protected with gypsum slabs on top. These features constitute  a unique indication for the plan and road networks of the settlement.
A subterranean part of the Bekhir Pasha aqueduct was located at St. Constantinos Street. It consists of a channel carved in the limestone that joins the visible part of the aqueduct.

The above-mentioned excavations provided a unique opportunity to discover and document the development of the history of the city of Larnaka. They have revealed a city inhabited for more than 5000 years, one of the most prominent city-kingdoms in the Iron Age and a stop for pilgrims on their way to the Holy Lands during the Medieval period. The goal of the Department of Antiquities is to enable modern development to co-exist with the rich past of the city and to show that construction works of social importance, despite the short-term inconvenience caused to the inhabitants, has long-term and beneficial results.

Source: Department of Antiquities, Republic of Cyprus [April 05, 2019]



Ptolemaic-era tomb discovered in Upper Egypt’s Sohag

An exceptionally well-painted Ptolemaic-era tomb of a nobleman called Toutou and his wife, a musician, was discovered at Al-Dayabat archaeological site in Sohag governorate on Friday.

Ptolemaic-era tomb discovered in Upper Egypt’s Sohag

Credit. Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities

The tomb was accidentally discovered when the Tourism and Antiquities Police arrested a gang who were carrying out illegal excavations in an area near the Al-Dayabat archaeological mound.

Ptolemaic-era tomb discovered in Upper Egypt’s Sohag

Credit. Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities

After the completion of investigations, the Ministry of Antiquities assigned a scientific archaeological mission, led by Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, to start excavations of the tomb.

Ptolemaic-era tomb discovered in Upper Egypt’s Sohag

Credit: Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters

“Although it is a very small tomb from the Ptolemaic period, It is exceptionally painted with beautiful scenes,” said Waziri.

The tomb consists of two tiny rooms containing two limestone sarcophagi, as well as a very-well preserved mummy that has not been identified yet.

A number of mummified animals and birds were also found in the tomb, including falcons, eagles, cats, dogs and shrews.

Waziri said that shrews can see very well at night, and ancient Egyptians believed they could cure blindness.

Author: Nevine El-Aref | Source: Ahram Online [April 05, 2019]



Silent Injury Over time, traumatic brain injury (TBI) can…

Silent Injury

Over time, traumatic brain injury (TBI) can leave patients with debilitating chronic conditions. For example, epilepsy isn’t always something an individual is born with; seizures can become a regular part of life after brain injury. Scientists have thought that epilepsy acquired after TBI could be related to astrocytes (spidery shapes in the image), the cells in the brain and spinal cord that perform many functions including repairing damage after brain injury. Neuroscientists have recently demonstrated that when mice experience even mild TBI across a widespread area of their brain, they too can go on to develop spontaneous recurring seizures. Delving deeper, the team found the mice that did develop seizures had more atypical astrocytes. The atypical cells didn’t express certain proteins and lacked characteristics typically seen in healthy astrocytes. In future, scientists could use this mouse model of TBI to study how astrocytes contribute to the gradual development of epilepsy after even mild brain injury.

Written by Gaëlle Coullon

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2019 April 7 A Scorpius Sky Spectacular Image Credit &…

2019 April 7

A Scorpius Sky Spectacular
Image Credit & Copyright: Stéphane Guisard, TWAN

Explanation: If Scorpius looked this good to the unaided eye, humans might remember it better. Scorpius more typically appears as a few bright stars in a well-known but rarely pointed out zodiacal constellation. To get a spectacular image like this, though, one needs a good camera, color filters, and a digital image processor. To bring out detail, the featured image not only involved long duration exposures taken in several colors, but one exposure in a very specific red color emitted by hydrogen. The resulting image shows many breathtaking features. Vertically across the image left is part of the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy. Visible there are vast clouds of bright stars and long filaments of dark dust. Jutting out diagonally from the Milky Way in the image center are dark dust bands known as the Dark River. This river connects to several bright stars on the right that are part of Scorpius’ head and claws, and include the bright star Antares. Above and right of Antares is an even brighter planet: Jupiter. Numerous red emission nebulas and blue reflection nebulas are visible throughout the image. Scorpius appears prominently in southern skies after sunset during the middle of the year.

∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190407.html

cosmos-one: The Yangshan Quarry; 阳山碑材。 The Yangshan Quarry…


The Yangshan Quarry; 阳山碑材。

The Yangshan Quarry in Chinese: 阳山碑材 meaning: ‘

Yangshan Stele Material,’  is an ancient stone quarry near Nanjing, China. What can only be described as a megalithic mystery, used during many centuries as a source of stone for buildings and monuments of Nanjing. It’s now preserved a historic site. 

The quarry, famous for the gigantic unfinished steles, abandoned there during the reign of the Yongle Emperor in the early 15th century, Ming dynasty. In scope and ambition, the steles project is compared to other public work projects of Yongle era, which included the launching of the treasure fleet for Zheng He’s maritime expeditions and the construction of the Forbidden City in Beijing.

There is nothing else like this in China it’s a total standout. It obviously had a working function, supposedly built in the 1400’s as a tomb but now suspected to be much older. Although unique in China this megalith is reminiscent of the structures we find worldwide in Egypt, Peru, Stonehenge and Easter Island.

The three unfinished stele components remain in Yangshan Quarry to this day, only partially separated from the solid rock of the mountain. The present dimensions and the usual weight estimates of the steles are as follow:

  • The heaviest stone being, a stele base of (32°04′03″N 119°00′00″E), 30.35 m. long, 13 m. thick, 16 m. tall and weighing, 16,250 metric tons.

  • The second stone being, a stele body of (32°04′07″N 119°00′02″E), 49.4 m. long (this would be the height, if the stele were to be properly installed), 10.7 m. wide, 4.4 m. thick and weighing, 8,799 tons.

  • The third one being, a stele head of (32°04′06″N 119°00′02″E), 10.7 m. tall, 20.3 m. wide, 8.4 m. thick, weighing, 6,118 tons.

If we combine the three stones together, they will form a huge complete stele, which is 78 meters, as high as a building of 28 stories. And the weight of the huge stele would be 31.167 million kilograms. 


mirekulous: Mythical ancestors in the cave paintings of Poro Poro de Udima, Catache...


Mythical ancestors in the cave paintings of Poro Poro de Udima, Catache district, Cajamarca, Peru.

“…archaeological and ethnohistorical data suggest that this was a site of pilgrimage and shamanic practices, which functioned as an oracle and sacred space devoted to the worship of mythical ancestors founders of lineages, represented by an anthropomorphic couple…”


mirekulous: The Burnt Hill Stone Circle, Heath,…


The Burnt Hill Stone Circle, Heath, Massachusetts…

Way off the beaten track, outside the small town of Heath in Franklin County, Massachusetts is a hill. On top of that hill sits an extensive blueberry field and a crumbling, mysterious arrangement of stones. There are 21 of them, some weighing as much as 500 pounds…


On the association between Uralic expansions and Y-haplogroup N

Almost all present-day populations speaking Uralic languages show moderate to high frequencies of Y-chromosome haplogroup N. I reckon there are two likely explanations for this:

– the speakers of Proto-Uralic were rich in N because they lived in an area, probably somewhere around the Ural Mountains, where it was common, and they spread it with them as they expanded from their homeland
– Uralic languages often came to be spoken in areas of North Eurasia where N was already found at moderate to high frequencies

The major exception to this rule are Hungarians, whose language belongs to the Ugric branch of Uralic. Their frequency of N is close to zero and they don’t differ much in terms of overall genetic structure from their Indo-European-speaking neighbors in East Central Europe.
This is an issue that has generated much debate over the years about the nature of Uralic expansions, who the Hungarians really were, and how the Hungarian language came to be spoken in the heart of Europe (for instance, see here).
But I never understood what the fuss was about, because based on historical sources alone it seemed rather obvious that Hungarian was introduced into the Carpathian Basin during the Middle Ages by a relatively small number of invaders from the east, probably from somewhere around the Ural Mountains, who imposed it on local Indo-European-speaking populations.
As far as I can remember, this has always been the academic consensus, and the results from one of the first ancient DNA studies on human remains soundly corroborated it. Back in 2008, Csányi et al. reported that two out of four skeletons from elite Hungarian conqueror graves dating to the 10th century carried the Tat C allele, which meant that they belonged to Y-haplogroup N (see here).
We’ve since had to wait over a decade to get a more comprehensive look at the Y-chromosome haplogroups of medieval Hungarians. The most useful effort to date, a manuscript courtesy of Neparáczki et al., was posted this week at bioRxiv (see here).
The results in the preprint suggest a much more complex picture than simply a migration of an Uralic-speaking population rich in Y-haplogroup N into the medieval Carpathian Basin. But they do confirm the presence of N in Hungarian conqueror elites, and, in fact, of very specific subclades of N that link them to the present-day speakers of Uralic languages from around the Ural Mountains. Here are some pertinent quotes from the prepint:

Three Conqueror samples belonged to Hg N1a1a1a1a2-Z1936, the Finno-Permic N1a branch, being most frequent among northeastern European Saami, Finns, Karelians, as well as Komis, Volga Tatars and Bashkirs of the Volga-Ural region. Nevertheless this Hg is also present with lower frequency among Karanogays, Siberian Nenets, Khantys, Mansis, Dolgans, Nganasans, and Siberian Tatars 23.

It is generally accepted that the Hungarian language was brought to the Carpathian Basin by the Conquerors. Uralic speaking populations are characterized by a high frequency of Y-Hg N, which have often been interpreted as a genetic signal of shared ancestry. Indeed, recently a distinct shared ancestry component of likely Siberian origin was identified at the genomic level in these populations, modern Hungarians being a puzzling exception 36. The Conqueror elite had a significant proportion of N Hgs, 7% of them carrying N1a1a1a1a4-M2118 and 10% N1a1a1a1a2-Z1936, both of which are present in Ugric speaking Khantys and Mansis 23.

Population genetic data rather position the Conqueror elite among Turkic groups, Bashkirs and Volga Tatars, in agreement with contemporary historical accounts which denominated the Conquerors as “Turks” 38. This does not exclude the possibility that the Hungarian language could also have been present in the obviously very heterogeneous, probably multiethnic Conqueror tribal alliance.

Indeed, a large proportion of the 44 males from elite Hun, Avar and Hungarian conqueror burials analyzed in the study belonged to Y-haplogroups that can’t be plausibly associated with the earliest Uralic speakers, but rather with those of various Indo-European languages, such as I1 and R1b-U106 (these are Germanic-specific markers), R1a-Z2124 (largely Eastern Iranian), and I2a-L621 and R1a-CTS1211 (obviously Slavic).
If most of these results aren’t due to contamination, then it’s likely that both the early Hungarian commoners and elites were, by and large, derived from Indo-European-speaking populations. No wonder then, that present-day Hungarians are basically indistinguishable genetically from their Indo-European-speaking neighbors and, like them, show hardly any Y-haplogroup N.
At least a couple of ancient DNA papers focusing on the origins and expansions of early Uralic speakers are likely to be published before the year is out. Some of the results from these papers have already been reveled online, but I’ll wait for the preprints and/or papers before I discuss them in detail here. Suffice to say for now that it’s best not to expect a repeat of the outcome from medieval Hungary. That is, in most cases, ancient remains from elsewhere associated with early Uralic speakers are going to be exceptionally rich in Y-haplogroup N.
See also…
On the trail of the Proto-Uralic speakers (work in progress)
Corded Ware people =/= Proto-Uralics (Tambets et al. 2018)
Late PIE ground zero now obvious; location of PIE homeland still uncertain, but…


Super Zoom –  Image of the Week – April 8, 2019CCDB:25 -…

Super Zoom –  Image of the Week – April 8, 2019


Check this one out with zooming.

Project name: Brain Maps

Description: Creation of high resolution large scale brain maps of protein expression. This is a montage of cerebellar cortex triple labeled for Hoescht stain (blue); neurofilament (green) and GFAP (red).

Leader: Tom Deerinck

Collaborators: James Bouwer, Mark Ellisman and Maryann Martone

Attribution Only: This image is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License.

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mirekulous: Rock-cut Cube Romanin the territory of the Forest…


Rock-cut Cube Romanin the territory of the Forest of Malano frequented by humans since the Neolithic Age (This area has the highest concentration of sacred-burial tombs from the Etruscan-Roman period)

The large cube-shaped block is superimposed on a molded frame, has a dimpled face but no steps. On the shelf, however, is engraved a cross orientation (aligned with the faces of the cube)

Its function could be teaching: among ancient peoples the cube, in fact, was the stability and / or the land.

Photo: Luca Storri


knowledgeistreasure: Kitora Tomb Star Chart, Japan. (1st…


Kitora Tomb Star Chart, Japan. (1st century BCE – 5th century CE)


mirekulous: Hundreds of thousands of stone structures that date…


Hundreds of thousands of stone structures that date back thousands of years and dot the deserts and plains of the Middle East and North Africa are, in many cases, so large that only a bird’s-eye view can reveal their intricate archaeological secrets: gorgeous and mysterious geometric shapes resembling a range of objects, from field gates, to kites, to pendants, to wheels.


Achnabreck Prehistoric Rock Art, Argyll, Scotland, 7.4.19.

Achnabreck Prehistoric Rock Art, Argyll, Scotland, 7.4.19.

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cosmicportal: Chakana Geoglyph – Nazca The word “Chakana” can…


Chakana Geoglyph – Nazca

The word “Chakana” can be traslated as portal door or even Bridge



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