четверг, 20 июня 2019 г.

Planetary Rings of Uranus ‘Glow’ in Cold Light

Artist impression of the planet Uranus and its dark ring system. Rather than observing the reflected sunlight from these rings, astronomers have imaged the millimeter and mid-infrared “glow” naturally emitted by the frigidly cold particles of the rings themselves. Credit: NRAO/AUI/NSF; S. Dagnello

Fig. 1: Composite image of Uranus’s atmosphere and rings at radio wavelengths, taken with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in December 2017. The image shows thermal emission, or heat, from the rings of Uranus for the first time, enabling scientists to determine their temperature is a frigid 77 K (-320 F). Dark bands in Uranus’s atmosphere at these wavelengths show the presence of radiolight-absorbing molecules, in particular hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas, whereas bright regions like the north polar spot contain very few of these molecules.Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO); Edward M. Molter and Imke de Pater)

The rings of Uranus are invisible to all but the largest telescopes — they weren’t even discovered until 1977 — and they stand out as surprisingly bright in new thermal images of the planet taken by two large telescopes in Chile.

The thermal glow gives astronomers another window onto the rings, which have been seen only because they reflect a little light in the visible, or optical, range and in the near-infrared. The new images taken by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and the Very Large Telescope (VLT) allowed the team for the first time to measure the temperature of the rings: a cool 77 Kelvin, or 77 degrees above absolute zero — the boiling temperature of liquid nitrogen and equivalent to 320 degrees below zero Fahrenheit.

The observations also confirm that Uranus’s brightest and densest ring, called the epsilon ring, differs from the other known ring systems within our solar system, in particular the spectacularly beautiful rings of Saturn.

“Saturn’s mainly icy rings are broad, bright and have a range of particle sizes, from micron-sized dust in the innermost D ring, to tens of meters in size in the main rings,” said Imke de Pater, a UC Berkeley professor of astronomy. “The small end is missing in the main rings of Uranus; the brightest ring, epsilon, is composed of golf ball-sized and larger rocks.”

By comparison, Jupiter’s rings contain mostly small, micron-sized particles (a micron is a thousandth of a millimeter). Neptune’s rings are also mostly dust, and even Uranus has broad sheets of dust between its narrow main rings.

“We already know that the epsilon ring is a bit weird, because we don’t see the smaller stuff,” said graduate student Edward Molter. “Something has been sweeping the smaller stuff out, or it’s all glomming together. We just don’t know. This is a step toward understanding their composition and whether all of the rings came from the same source material, or are different for each ring.”

Rings could be former asteroids captured by the planet’s gravity, remnants of moons that crashed into one another and shattered, the remains of moons torn apart when they got too close to Uranus, or debris remaining from the time of formation 4.5 billion years ago.

The new data were published this week in The Astronomical Journal. De Pater and Molter led the ALMA observations, while Michael Roman and Leigh Fletcher from the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom led the VLT observations.

“The rings of Uranus are compositionally different from Saturn’s main ring, in the sense that in optical and infrared, the albedo is much lower: they are really dark, like charcoal,” Molter said. “They are also extremely narrow compared to the rings of Saturn. The widest, the epsilon ring, varies from 20 to 100 kilometers wide, whereas Saturn’s are hundreds or tens of thousands of kilometers wide.”

The lack of dust-sized particles in Uranus’s main rings was first noted when Voyager 2 flew by the planet in 1986 and photographed them. The spacecraft was unable to measure the temperature of the rings, however.

To date, astronomers have counted a total of 13 rings around the planet, with some bands of dust between the rings. The rings differ in other ways from those of Saturn.

“It’s cool that we can even do this with the instruments we have,” Molter said. “I was just trying to image the planet as best I could and I saw the rings. It was amazing.”

Both the VLT and ALMA observations were designed to explore the temperature structure of Uranus’ atmosphere, with VLT probing shorter wavelengths than ALMA.

“We were astonished to see the rings jump out clearly when we reduced the data for the first time,” Fletcher said.

This presents an exciting opportunity for the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope, which will be able provide vastly improved spectroscopic constraints on the Uranian rings in the coming decade.
The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation, operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc.


Charles E. Blue
Public Information Officer

Reference: “Thermal emission from the Uranian ring system,” E.M. Molter, et al., the Astrophysical Journal. Preprint: https://arxiv.org/abs/1905.12566

The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), an international astronomy facility, is a partnership of the European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO), the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) of Japan in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. ALMA is funded by ESO on behalf of its Member States, by NSF in cooperation with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) and by NINS in cooperation with the Academia Sinica (AS) in Taiwan and the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI).

ALMA construction and operations are led by ESO on behalf of its Member States; by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), managed by Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI), on behalf of North America; and by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) on behalf of East Asia. The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) provides the unified leadership and management of the construction, commissioning and operation of ALMA.

The Berkeley research was funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NNX16AK14G). Work at the University of Leicester was supported by the European Research Council (GIANTCLIMES) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (723890).

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2019 June 20 A View Toward M106 Image Credit: Phil…

2019 June 20

A View Toward M106
Image Credit: Phil Keyser

Explanation: Big, bright, beautiful spiral, Messier 106 dominates this cosmic vista. The nearly two degree wide telescopic field of view looks toward the well-trained constellation Canes Venatici, near the handle of the Big Dipper. Also known as NGC 4258, M106 is about 80,000 light-years across and 23.5 million light-years away, the largest member of the Canes II galaxy group. For a far away galaxy, the distance to M106 is well-known in part because it can be directly measured by tracking this galaxy’s remarkable maser, or microwave laser emission. Very rare but naturally occurring, the maser emission is produced by water molecules in molecular clouds orbiting its active galactic nucleus. Another prominent spiral galaxy on the scene, viewed nearly edge-on, is NGC 4217 below and right of M106. The distance to NGC 4217 is much less well-known, estimated to be about 60 million light-years.

∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190620.html

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The hidden structure of the periodic system

The periodic table of elements that most chemistry books depict is only one special case. This tabular overview of the chemical elements, which goes back to Dmitri Mendeleev and Lothar Meyer and the approaches of other chemists to organize the elements, involve different forms of representation of a hidden structure of the chemical elements. This is the conclusion reached by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences in Leipzig and the University of Leipzig in a recent paper. The mathematical approach of the Leipzig scientists is very general and can provide many different periodic systems depending on the principle of order and classification—not only for chemistry, but also for many other fields of knowledge.

The hidden structure of the periodic system
A slightly different periodic table: The table of chemical elements, which goes back to Dmitri Mendeleev and Lothar
Meyer, is just one example of how objects – in this case the chemical elements – can be organized in such a system.
The researchers from Leipzig illustrate the general structure of a periodic table with this example: The black dots
 represent the objects ordered by the green arrows. Using a suitable criterion, the objects can be classified
 into groups (dashed lines) in which the red arrows create a sub-order [Credit: Guillermo Restrepo,
MPI for Mathematics in the Sciences]

It is an icon of natural science and hangs in most chemistry classrooms: the periodic table of elements, which is celebrating its 150th birthday this year. The tabular overview is closely linked to Dmitri Mendeleev and Lothar Meyer—two researchers who, in the 1860s, created an arrangement of elements based on their atomic masses and similarities. Today they are sorted by atomic number (which indicates the number of protons in the atomic nucleus) from the light hydrogen (one proton) to the synthetic oganesson (118 protons). The elements are also classified into groups: Atoms in the same column usually have the same number of electrons in their outer shell.

Periodic table in different variants

At first glance, the periodic table seems to have brought an unambiguous and final order to the currently known 118 elements. But appearances can be deceptive because many things still remain controversial: Scientists do not agree on exactly which elements belong in the third group below scandium and yttrium. For example, the correct position of lanthanum and actinium is debated. If one takes a closer look, one will discover slightly different variants of the periodic table in classrooms, lecture halls, and textbooks.

Guillermo Restrepo and Wilmer Leal from the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences and the University of Leipzig are not surprised. For them, there is no unambiguously correct arrangement of the elements; depending on the criterion applied for classification, a different periodic table results. The atoms can be subdivided according to the electron configuration (i.e. the number and arrangement of their electrons), their chemical behavior, their solubility, or their occurrence in geological deposits.

It is now widely accepted that the chemical elements should be arranged according to their atomic number and divided into groups according to their electron configuration. But even for this periodic table, there are numerous different forms of representation. For example: as a spiral with various bulges, pyramid-shaped, or as a three-dimensional flower.

A common structure behind the periodic tables

Guillermo Restrepo and Wilmer Leal have now systematically investigated the ambiguity of the periodic table. This has led to findings that are also of considerable importance beyond chemistry. Accordingly, all forms of representation of the chemical elements are based on a common structure, which mathematicians refer to as an ordered hypergraph.

The venerable periodic table of Mendeleev and Meyer thus offers only a representation of the general structure, which Guillermo Restrepo and Wilmer Leal now postulate. New arrangements can also be derived from this at any time. Guillermo Restrepo therefore compares the order of the chemical elements with a sculpture on which light falls from different directions. «The various shadows that the figure casts are the periodic tables. That’s why there are so many ways to create these tables. In a way, the period tables are projections. Projections of the internal structure of the periodic table.»

The hidden structure of the periodic system
A periodic table of chemical bonds: Each of the 94 circles with chemical element symbols represents the bond
that the respective element forms with an organic residue. The bonds are ordered according to how strongly
they are polarized. Where there is a direct arrow connection, the order is clear: Bonds of hydrogen, for example,
are more polarized than bonds of boron, phosphorus, and palladium. The same applies to rubidium in
comparison to caesium, which has particularly low polarized bonds and is therefore at the bottom of the new
periodic table. If there is no direct arrow between two elements, they may still be comparable – if there is
a chain of arrows between them. For example, the bonds of oxygen are more polarized than the bonds
of bromine. Bonds represented by the same colour have the same binding behaviour and belong
to one of the 44 classes [Credit: Guillermo Restrepo, MPI for Mathematics in the Sciences]

The scientists from Leipzig are now trying to determine the hidden mathematical structure on which the known periodic tables of chemistry are based. For the time being, they have defined three conditions that must be met in order to establish a periodic table. First, one needs objects that are to be ordered. For Mendeleev, Meyer and the creators of the other known periodic tables of chemistry, these are the chemical elements. These objects must be arranged according to some properties such as the atomic mass or the atomic number (i.e. the number of protons). Finally, one criterion is required to group the objects in classes. Mendeleev and Meyer used the chemical similarity for this.

Periodic table of chemical bonds

«If these three conditions are met, periodic tables can also be created for other chemical objects and even for objects outside chemistry,» says Guillermo Restrepo. He and Wilmer Leal show this by looking at the chemical bonds between atoms of 94 elements and different conjugates.

The polarizability of 94 single-covalent bonds, where bonds are arranged according to the electronegativity and atomic radius of one of the bonded atoms. For example, fluorine, chlorine, or oxygen are highly electronegative and assume relatively small atomic radii in compounds. The bonds are then classified based on how much they resemble each other.

«We have investigated almost 5,000 substances consisting of two elements in different proportions,» explains Guillermo Restrepo. «We then looked for similarities within this data. For example, sodium and lithium are similar because they combine with the same elements in the same proportions (e.g. with oxygen or chlorine, bromine, and iodine). We thus found patterns we can use to classify the elements.»

A periodic table as a network instead of a matrix

In the 44 classes of chemical elements, there are some similarities with the main groups of Mendeleev’s and Meyer’s periodic table. For example, the alkali metals sodium and lithium are found in one group because they form the same simple salts with halogens such as chlorine or fluorine. Like the elements themselves, the bonds of the four halogens (fluorine, chlorine bromine, and iodine) are also found in the same group. However, there are also classifications that differ significantly from those in the conventional periodic table. For example, carbon and silicon are no longer in the same class because they form very different compounds.

The representation of the periodic table of chemical bonds also has nothing to do with the familiar matrix-like arrangement of the classical periodic tables of the elements. Instead, the 94 covalent bonds are represented in a network of differently colored circles. Each circle represents a chemical bond, and the colou symbolizes belonging to one of the 44 groups. Because now two criteria are used for the sorting, there is no longer any clear order of the atoms (like in the tables of Mendeleev and Meyer)—mathematicians speak of a partial order. The circles are therefore connected to other circles by one or more arrows, thereby creating an ordered hypergraph.

Periodic tables in other scientific fields

The chemical elements and their compounds can also be represented in completely different periodic tables—depending on the underlying order and classification principle. What’s more: The objects of numerous other scientific fields and their applications can also be arranged in periodic tables. For example, ordered hypergraphs are used in information systems and web mining.

Possible periodic systems also emerge when countries are considered; these can be classified according to social or economic indicators as well as geographical proximity or cultural similarity. Other examples can be found in engineering, environmental sciences, sociology, and many other disciplines. The scientists not only study periodic systems because of their importance for chemistry, but, above all, because of their applications in many other disciplines.

The study is published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A.

Source: Max Planck Society [June 15, 2019]



The complex fate of Antarctic species in the face of a changing climate

Oxygen concentrations in both the open ocean and coastal waters have declined by 2-5% since at least the middle of the 20th century.

The complex fate of Antarctic species in the face of a changing climate
The four crustacean amphipod species which were the subject of the study — Paraceradocus miersi,
Shraderia gracilis, Probulisca ovata and Prostebbingia brevicornis
[Credit: John Spicer]

This is one of the most important changes occurring in an ocean becoming increasingly modified by human activities, with raised water temperatures, carbon dioxide content and nutrient inputs.

Through this, humans are altering the abundances and distributions of marine species but the decline in oxygen could pose a new set of threats to marine life.

Writing in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, scientists present support for the theory that marine invertebrates with larger body size are generally more sensitive to reductions in oxygen than smaller animals, and so will be more sensitive to future global climate change.

It is widely believed that the occurrence of gigantic species in polar waters is made possible by the fact that there is more oxygen dissolved in ice cold water than in the warmer waters of temperate and tropic regions.

So as our ocean warms and oxygen decreases, it has been suggested that such oxygen limitation will have a greater effect on larger than smaller marine invertebrates and fish.

The study was conducted by John Spicer, Professor of Marine Zoology at the University of Plymouth, and Dr Simon Morley, an Ecophysiologist with the British Antarctic Survey (BAS).

They investigated how a number of different sized amphipod species — found in abundance in Antarctic waters and relatives of the sandhoppers on temperate beaches) — performed when the oxygen in the water they were in was reduced.

The complex fate of Antarctic species in the face of a changing climate
John Spicer collecting intertidal amphipods from South Cove (Rothera Research Station, British
Antarctic Survey) looking west to Ryder Bay on the Western Antarctic Peninsula
[Credit: Simon Morley]

Overall, there was a reduction in performance with body size supporting the theory that larger species may well be more vulnerable because of oxygen limitation.

However, the picture is a little more complex than this with evolutionary innovation — such as the presence of oxygen binding pigments in their body fluids to enhance oxygen transport, and novel gas exchange structures in some, but not all, species — to some extent offsetting any respiratory disadvantages of large body size.

Professor Spicer, who has spent more than 30 years examining the effect of climate change on marine organisms, said: «Over the last 50 years, the oxygen in our oceans has decreased by around 2-5% and this is already having an effect on species’ ability to function. Unless they adapt, many larger marine invertebrates will either shrink in size of face extinction, which would have a profoundly negative impact on the ecosystems of which they are a part. This is obviously a major cause for concern.

«Our research also shows that some species have evolved mechanisms to compensate for reductions in oxygen, and so it is not always as simple as drawing a link between size and future survival. But it would be foolhardy to pin our hopes on such ‘evolutionary rescue’. Many large species will almost certainly be the first casualties of our warming, oxygen-poor ocean.»

Dr Morley added: «Marine animals thrive in the Southern Ocean but life in these freezing waters has led to the evolution of many distinct characteristics. These ‘strategies’, which allow animals to survive in the cold, are expected to make many Antarctic marine invertebrates and fish vulnerable to the impact of climate change. Understanding these impacts will not only help us to predict the fate of marine biodiversity at the poles but will also teach us much about the mechanisms that will determine the survival of species across the world’s oceans.»

Author: Alan Williams | Source: University of Plymouth [June 17, 2019]



Alzheimer’s Research and Homecoming Packing Aboard Lab Today

ISS — Expedition 59 Mission patch.

June 19, 2019

Three Expedition 59 crewmembers are less than one week away from completing their 204-day mission aboard the International Space Station. In the meantime, space research continues into advanced life support systems and nanoparticle therapies for Alzheimer’s disease.

Astronauts Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques collected and stowed their biological samples for the Probiotics human research experiment this morning. The study from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency is researching the consumption of beneficial bacteria, or probiotics, to promote healthy intestines and immune systems in space.

Image above: The International Space Station was orbiting 269 miles above the Indian Ocean southwest of Australia when this nighttime photograph was taken of the aurora australis, or “southern lights.” Russia’s Soyuz MS-12 crew ship (foreground) and Progress 72 resupply ship are seen in this mesmerizing view. Image Credit: NASA.

The two flight engineers are also packing cargo and personal items for return to Earth inside the Soyuz MS-11 crew craft. Commander Oleg Kononenko will lead the duo home inside the Russian spaceship for a June 24 landing in Kazakhstan. The threesome blasted off Dec. 3 and docked to the station’s Poisk module about six hours later inside the same Soyuz vehicle.

NASA TV will cover all the homecoming activities live beginning Sunday at 3:35 pm. EDT with the Change of Command Ceremony. Monday’s crew farewell and hatch closing will be at 4:10 p.m. with Soyuz undocking at 7:25 p.m. The Soyuz vehicle will fire its engines one last time at 9:55 p.m., followed bya parachute-assisted a landing in Kazakhstan on Monday at 10:48 p.m. EDT (Tuesday 8:48 a.m. Kazakh time).

Aurora’s over International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credits: NASA/JSC/Hirai Mamoru

NASA is evaluating technologies for a lightweight, advanced life support system that can recover water and remove carbon dioxide in space. Flight Engineer Nick Hague is supporting that research today with more Capillary Structures work. Hague is using specialized hardware to demonstrate the flow of fluid and gas mixtures using surface tension and fluid dynamics.

NASA Flight Engineer Christina Koch is helping doctors on Earth target therapies for diseases such as Alzheimer’s and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). She collected samples from a temperature-controlled experiment facility and stowed them in a science freezer for analysis on Wednesday. The research is exploring manufacturing nanoparticles that target a disease’s underlying cause rather than its symptoms.

Related links:

Expedition 59: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/expedition59/index.html

Probiotics: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=2047

MS-11 crew craft: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/visiting-vehicle-launches-arrivals-and-departures

Poisk module: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/structure/elements/poisk-mini-research-module-2

NASA TV: https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html

Capillary Structures: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7329

Experiment facility: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Facility.html?#id=7389

Manufacturing nanoparticles: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7941

Space Station Research and Technology: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/index.html

International Space Station (ISS): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html

Image (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Mark Garcia.

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Six Things You Need to Know About the Green Propellant Infusion Mission

Next week, we’re launching a new “green” fuel to space for the first time! The Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM)—which consists of a non-toxic liquid, compatible propulsion system and the small satellite it’s riding on—will demonstrate how our technology works so that future missions can take advantage of this safer, more efficient fuel alternative.


Here are six key facts to know about our Green Propellant Infusion Mission:

1) The Air Force Research Lab developed the “green” fuel. 

The AFRL’s hydroxyl ammonium nitrate fuel/oxidizer blend—called AF-M315E—is actually peach in color. This liquid doesn’t require the kind of strict, handling protocols that conventional chemicals currently require. Think shirtsleeves instead of hazmat suits, which could reduce pre-launch ground processing time for a spacecraft from weeks to days!


Image Credit: Air Force Research Lab

2) It’s safer and more efficient.

The non-toxic fuel offers nearly 50% better performance when compared to today’s highly toxic chemical propellant, hydrazine. That’s equivalent to getting 50% more miles per gallon on your car. This means spacecraft can travel farther or operate for longer with less propellant in their fuel tanks. 


3) The fuel can handle extreme temperatures.

Even on missions to extremely cold environments, such as the south pole of Mars – where temperatures can dip as low as -225 degrees Fahrenheit and carbon-dioxide ice “spiders” can form (see below) – AF-M315E won’t freeze, but rather just transforms into a glass transition phase. This means even though it turns into a solid, it won’t cause spacecraft components to stretch or expand, so the spacecraft only has to warm up the fuel when it needs it.


4) Industry is already lining up to use the technology.

Our commercial partners report that there is a lot of interest and potential for this tech. After we successfully prove how it works in space, small satellites to large spacecraft could benefit by using the green propellant system. It’d only be a matter of time before companies begin building the new systems for market.


5) GPIM required a team of talented engineers.

Engineers at Aerojet Rocketdyne in Redmond, Washington developed new, optimized hardware like thrusters, tanks, filters and valves to work with the green fuel. GPIM uses a set of thrusters that fire in different scenarios to test engine performance and reliability. 


Ball Aerospace of Boulder, Colorado designed and built the mini fridge-sized spacecraft bus and pieced it all together.


Before being ready for flight, GPIM components went through rigorous testing at multiple NASA centers including our Glenn Research Center, Goddard Space Flight Center and Kennedy Space Center. The program team at Marshall Space Flight Center manages the mission. Once in orbit, researchers will work together to study how the fuel is performing as they manipulate the spacecraft. The demonstration mission will last about 13 months.

6) GPIM will hitch a ride on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket.

SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket will launch for a third time for the U.S. Department of Defense’s Space Test Program-2 (STP-2) mission targeted for June 24, 2019 at 11:30 p.m. EDT. With nearly two dozen other satellites from government, military and research institutions, GPIM will deploy within a few hours after launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch will be live-streamed here: https://www.nasa.gov/live


Follow @NASA_Technology on Twitter for news about GPIM’s launch.

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com.

Climate change had significant impact on Amazon communities before arrival of Europeans

Climate change had a significant impact on people living in the Amazon rainforest before the arrival of Europeans and the loss of many indigenous groups, a new study shows.

Climate change had significant impact on Amazon communities before arrival of Europeans
This is the megalith site in Amapa, Brazil — often called Amazon Stonehenge
[Credit: Frank Mayle, University of Reading, UK]

Major shifts in temperature and rainfall caused the disappearance of communities long before 1492, researchers have found. In contrast other cultures still flourished just before the Spanish colonisation of the Americas.

New analysis of what the climate was like in the Amazon from 700 to 1300 shows the changing weather led to the end of communities who farmed intensively, and had a strong class structure. Those who lived without political hierarchy, who grew a greater variety of crops, and took more care to look after the land so it remained fertile, were able to adapt and were less affected.

During this period the Amazon was home to dozens of sophisticated communities who lived in flourishing towns and villages. Conflict between these communities, and migration, also contributed to the downfall of some.

Dr Jonas Gregorio de Souza, who led the research while at the University of Exeter and is now based at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, said: «Some Amazon communities were in decline or had changed drastically before 1492. Our research shows climate change was one of the responsible factors, but some groups survived because they had been working with their natural environment rather than against it. Those who farmed intensively, and had more pressure to produce surplus food because of a strong class structure, were less able to cope.»

Climate change had significant impact on Amazon communities before arrival of Europeans
Aerial photograph of Pre-Colombian raised field from Llanos de Moxos, Bolivia
[Credit: Umberto Lombardo, University of Bern, Switzerland]

It is thought the population of indigenous communities declined by 90 per cent to 95 per cent after Europeans came to Amazonia due to epidemics and violence. Before this up to 10 million people had lived in Amazonia, and this loss reshaped landscapes and cultural geographies across the region.

Experts analysed the climate in ancient Amazonia through analysis of pollen and charcoal remains, sediments from lakes and stalagmites. This allowed them to track how much rainfall there was in the region from year-to-year. They also analysed archaeological remains showing crops grown by communities in the past, and the structures they lived in.

In the Eastern Amazon the Marajoara elite lived on large mounds, which each could have been home to around 2,000 people. These chiefdoms disintegrated after 1200. It had been thought this was due to the arrival of Aruã nomadic foragers, but the study suggests decreasing rainfall also played a part. Communities used the mounds to manage water, with the rich monopolising resources. This made them sensitive to prolonged droughts.

At the same time Santarém culture, established in around 1100, was flourishing. They grew a variety of crops — maize, sweet potato, squash — and worked to enrich the forest. This meant drier conditions had less impact.

Climate change had significant impact on Amazon communities before arrival of Europeans
Raised fields in the Bolivian Llanos de Moxos region
[Credit: Umberto Lombardo]

Experts have found communities in the Amazon built canals to manage seasonal floods. In the southern Amazon people fortified their ditches, walled plazas, causeways and roads as the climate became more volatile.

Professor Jose Iriarte, from the University of Exeter, said: «This study adds to the growing evidence that the millennium preceding the European encounter was a period of long-distance migrations, conflict, disintegration of complex societies and social re-organisation across lowland South America. It shows the weather had a real impact.»

The research, part of the Pre-Columbian Amazon-Scale Transformations project, funded by the European Research Council, was carried out by academics at the University of Exeter, Pennsylvania State University, Baylor University, Universität Bern, Universidade de São Paulo, Instituto Geofísico del Peru, Northumbria University, Universidade Federal do Pará, French National Centre for Scientific Research, The University of Utah, University of Reading, Reading and the Universiteit van Amsterdam.

The study is published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

Source: University of Exeter [June 17, 2019]



The evolution of puppy dog eyes

New research comparing the anatomy and behavior of dogs and wolves suggests dogs’ facial anatomy has changed over thousands of years specifically to allow them to better communicate with humans.

The evolution of puppy dog eyes
The authors suggest that the inner eyebrow raising movement triggers a nurturing response in humans because it makes
 the dogs’ eyes appear larger, more infant like and also resembles a movement humans produce when they are sad
[Credit: The University of Portsmouth]

In the first detailed analysis comparing the anatomy and behavior of dogs and wolves, researchers found that the facial musculature of both species was similar, except above the eyes. Dogs have a small muscle, which allows them to intensely raise their inner eyebrow, which wolves do not.

The authors suggest that the inner eyebrow raising movement triggers a nurturing response in humans because it makes the dogs’ eyes appear larger, more infant like and also resembles a movement humans produce when they are sad.

The research team, led by comparative psychologist Dr Juliane Kaminski, at the University of Portsmouth, included a team of behavioural and anatomical experts in the UK and USA. It is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr Kaminski said: «The evidence is compelling that dogs developed a muscle to raise the inner eyebrow after they were domesticated from wolves.

«We also studied dogs’ and wolves’ behavior, and when exposed to a human for two minutes, dogs raised their inner eyebrows more and at higher intensities than wolves.

«The findings suggest that expressive eyebrows in dogs may be a result of humans unconscious preferences that influenced selection during domestication. When dogs make the movement, it seems to elicit a strong desire in humans to look after them. This would give dogs, that move their eyebrows more, a selection advantage over others and reinforce the ‘puppy dog eyes’ trait for future generations.»

The evolution of puppy dog eyes
The raised inner eyebrow movement in dogs is driven by a muscle which doesn’t consistently
 exist in their closest living relative, the wolf [Credit: University of Portsmouth]

Dr Kaminski’s previous research showed dogs moved their eyebrows significantly more when humans were looking at them compared to when they were not looking at them.

She said: «The AU101 movement is significant in the human-dog bond because it might elicit a caring response from humans but also might create the illusion of human-like communication.»

Lead anatomist Professor Anne Burrows, at Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, USA, co-author of the paper, said: «To determine whether this eyebrow movement is a result of evolution, we compared the facial anatomy and behaviour of these two species and found the muscle that allows for the eyebrow raise in dogs was, in wolves, a scant, irregular cluster of fibres.

«The raised inner eyebrow movement in dogs is driven by a muscle which doesn’t consistently exist in their closest living relative, the wolf.

«This is a striking difference for species separated only 33,000 years ago and we think that the remarkably fast facial muscular changes can be directly linked to dogs’ enhanced social interaction with humans.»

Dr Kaminski and co-author, evolutionary psychologist Professor Bridget Waller, also at the University of Portsmouth, previously mapped the facial muscular structure of dogs, naming the movement responsible for a raised inner eyebrow the Action Unit (AU) 101.

The evolution of puppy dog eyes
Facial musculature in the dog (left) and wolf (right) with anatomical differences
highlighted in red [Credit: Tim Smith]

Professor Waller said: «This movement makes a dogs’ eyes appear larger, giving them a childlike appearance. It could also mimic the facial movement humans make when they’re sad.

«Our findings show how important faces can be in capturing our attention, and how powerful facial expression can be in social interaction.»

Co-author and anatomist Adam Hartstone-Rose, at North Carolina State University, USA, said: «These muscles are so thin that you can literally see through them — and yet the movement that they allow seems to have such a powerful effect that it appears to have been under substantial evolutionary pressure. It is really remarkable that these simple differences in facial expression may have helped define the relationship between early dogs and humans.»

Co-author Rui Diogo, an anatomist at Howard University, Washington DC, USA, said: «I must admit that I was surprised to see the results myself because the gross anatomy of muscles is normally very slow to change in evolution, and this happened very fast indeed, in just some dozens of thousands of years.»

Soft tissue, including muscle, doesn’t tend to survive in the fossil record, making the study of this type of evolution harder.

The only dog species in the study that did not have the muscle was the Siberian husky, which is among more ancient dog breeds.

An alternative reason for the human-dog bond could be that humans have a preference for other individuals which have whites in the eye and that intense AU 101 movements exposes the white part of the dogs eyes.

It is not known why or precisely when humans first brought wolves in from the cold and the evolution from wolf to dog began, but this research helps us understand some of the likely mechanisms underlying dog domestication.

Source: University of Portsmouth [June 18, 2019]



Lynx in Turkey: Noninvasive sample collection provides insights into genetic diversity

Little is known about the biology and the genetic status of the Caucasian Lynx (Lynx lynx dinniki), a subspecies of the Eurasian lynx distributed across portions of Turkey, the Caucasus region and Iran. To collect baseline genetic, ecological, and behavioural data and assist future conservation efforts, a team of scientists from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) collected data and samples in a region of Anatolian Turkey over several years. They were particularly interested in the question whether non-invasive samples (faeces, hair) were helpful to discern genetic diversity of the study population.

 Lynx in Turkey: Noninvasive sample collection provides insights into genetic diversity
Caucasian Lynx (Lynx lynx dinniki) [Credit: Deniz Mengulluoglu, Nurten Salikara]

The results of the genetic analyses indicated an unexpectedly high genetic diversity and lack of inbreeding despite the recent isolation of the study population, a result that would not have been obtained with the use of conventional samples.

The data also revealed that females stay near home ranges in which they were born whereas males disperse after separation from their mothers. These insights into the genetics and behaviour of the Caucasian Lynx are published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.

Among lynx species, the Eurasian Lynx has the widest geographical distribution. Previous research has largely focused on European populations, with the result that there is little known about the subspecies in Asia, such as the Caucasian and Himalayan subspecies.

«Scientists still know surprisingly little about their ecological requirements, spatial structure and genetic diversity», says Leibniz-IZW researcher Deniz Mengulluoglu (Department for Evolutionary Ecology). «Our study aimed at collecting baseline genetic, ecological and behavioural data of the lynx population in a mountainous region in north-west Anatolia».

Making use of box trapping and non-invasive faecal sampling allowed Mengulluoglu to extract DNA and conduct genetic analyses on a population scale. The lynx population had also been monitored via camera traps at 54 different stations for nearly a decade.

Looking into family relationships of individual lynx, the data revealed that females stay near the territories in which they were born whereas males disperse after separation from their mothers. Such behaviour is known from many mammals, most likely to avoid inbreeding.

«We can conclude from our analyses that territoriality in lynx and philopatry in female lynx can result in low genetic diversity estimates if sampling is done in small study areas via box trapping alone», says Mengulluoglu. This behaviour — females remaining in close proximity to their mothers’ territory — is called female philopatry, and Mengulluoglu and his team confirmed it for this subspecies.

«Using faecal samples that were non-invasively collected, we were able to sample more non-territorial individuals, gaining information about an additional component of this lynx population.» Unless individuals become used to the presence of box traps within their own range (habituation), and thus are ready to enter them, sampling them by conventional means is unlikely. Hence habituation will bias conventional sample collection in favour of resident territorial individuals and their kittens.

A second important finding is that genetic diversity is unexpectedly high in this population. Lynx in north-west Anatolia are isolated from southern and north-eastern populations by a series of natural and human constructed barriers.

«Population isolation can be harmful and, for example, lead to a loss of genetic variation. But it appears that genetic diversity is in fact substantial at the moment and matches the diversity found in European endogenous populations», states senior author Daniel Foerster from the Leibniz-IZW, Department of Evolutionary Genetics. «Management should therefore focus on maintaining the current level of diversity». As a first step, Mengulluoglu and Foerster recommend identification and conservation of primary lynx habitats and corridors in the region.

«We also need to address threats that can lead to future loss of genetic variation» adds Mengüllüo?lu. Since this study has set a baseline for comparison with future findings, similar work is needed for the other two Turkish populations in order to determine whether the three big populations are currently connected by gene flow at all, Mengulluoglu and Foerster say. Mengulluoglu is currently working on a long-term lynx monitoring project and the development of a «Turkish Lynx Conservation Action Plan» in collaboration with the Wildlife Department of Turkey.

Source: Forschungsverbund Berlin [June 18, 2019]



Fossil teeth reveal ancient hyenas in the Arctic

Modern hyenas are known as hunters and scavengers in Asian and African ecosystems such as the savanna. But in ancient times, these powerful carnivores also roamed a very different landscape, inhabiting the frigid Arctic during the last ice age, according to a new study led by the University at Buffalo.

Fossil teeth reveal ancient hyenas in the Arctic
An artist’s rendering of ancient Arctic hyenas belonging to the genus Chasmaporthetes. A new study reports that two
enigmatic fossil teeth found in Yukon Territory in Canada belonged to Chasmaporthetes, making the teeth
 the first known fossils of hyenas found in the Arctic [Credit: Julius T. Csotonyi]

The research, published in the journal Open Quaternary, reports on the first known fossils of hyenas from the Arctic. The study reveals that two ice age fossil teeth discovered in Yukon Territory in Canada belonged to the so-called «running hyena» Chasmaporthetes. The specimens, recovered in the 1970s, were tentatively thought to be from hyenas by previous paleontologists, but the new paper is the first to confirm the fossils’ identity and report on them in detail, assigning them a genus based on comparisons to a global sample of hyena fossils.
The findings fill an important gap in scientists’ knowledge of how hyenas reached North America. Previously, Chasmaporthetes fossils had been found as far north as Mongolia in Asia and the southern United States in North America, with no sites in between.

«Fossils of this genus of hyenas had been found in Africa, Europe and Asia, and also in the southern United States. But where and how did these animals get to North America? The teeth we studied, even though they were just two teeth, start to answer those questions,» says paleontologist Jack Tseng, PhD, the paper’s first author and an assistant professor of pathology and anatomical sciences in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB.

How hyenas got to North America

Ancient hyenas likely entered North America via Beringia, an area, including Alaska and Yukon Territory, that connects Asia with North America during periods of low sea levels. From there, the animals made their way south all the way to Mexico, scientists say.

Fossil teeth reveal ancient hyenas in the Arctic
This ice age fossil tooth, tucked away for years in the collections of the Canadian Museum of Nature,
belonged to the ‘running hyena’ Chasmaporthetes, according to a new University at Buffalo-led study.
This tooth, found in 1977, and one other are the first known hyena fossils found in the Arctic
[Credit: Grant Zazula/Government of Yukon]

The newly described fossils are important in part because they provide the first proof of ancient hyenas living in Beringia.

«It is amazing to imagine hyenas thriving in the harsh conditions above the Arctic Circle during the ice age,» says study co-author Grant Zazula, PhD, Government of Yukon paleontologist. «Chasmaporthetes probably hunted herds of ice age caribou and horses or scavenged carcasses of mammoths on the vast steppe-tundra that stretched from Siberia to Yukon Territory.»

«Our previous understanding of where these far-ranging hyenas lived was based on fossil records in southern North America on one hand, and Asia, Europe and Africa on the other,» Tseng says. «These rare records of hyenas in the Arctic fill in a massive gap in a location where we expected evidence of their crossing between continents, but had no proof until now.»

The fossil teeth are most likely between about 1.4 million and 850,000 years old, with ages more likely closer to the older figure, according to the researchers’ analysis. But the first hyenas crossed into North America long before that, as the earliest known hyena fossils on the continent date back about 5 million years, Tseng says.

Enigmatic fossil teeth identified

The fossil teeth were collected in the 1970s during paleontological expeditions in the remote Old Crow River region in northern Yukon Territory. One tooth was discovered by Richard «Dick» Harington, Gerry Fitzgerald and Charlie Thomas, and the other by Brenda Beebe and William Irving.

Fossil teeth reveal ancient hyenas in the Arctic
This ice age fossil tooth, tucked away for years in the collections of the Canadian Museum of Nature,
 belonged to the ‘running hyena’ Chasmaporthetes, according to a new University at Buffalo-led study.
This tooth, found in 1973, and one other are the first known hyena fossils found in the Arctic
[Credit: Jack Tseng]

The specimens — tucked away in the collections of the Canadian Museum of Nature in the Ottawa, Ontario area — are among 50,000 other fossils recovered from the area over the last century.

The identity of the fossil teeth remained an enigma until they captured Tseng’s attention, sparked by the re-discovery of decades-old notes by study co-author Lars Werdelin, paleontologist in the Swedish Museum of Natural History.

Tseng drove to Ottawa from Buffalo in February 2019 to view the specimens. As an expert on the evolution and fossil record of hyenas, he was able to identify the teeth as belonging to the genus Chasmaporthetes.

Though there are only four living species of hyena today (three bone-crushing species, plus the ant-eating aardwolf), ancient hyenas had a diverse family history, with many dozens of species found in localities spanning the Northern Hemisphere.

Hyenas disappeared from North America before the first people arrived. Although the reasons for this extinction between 1 and 0.5 million years ago remain unclear, it is possible that the animals’ bone-crushing, scavenging niche was replaced by the impressive short-faced bear Arctodus simus, which lived across North America until the end of the ice age about 12,000 years ago.

Source: University of Buffalo [June 18, 2019]



Earthquake swarms reveal missing piece of tectonic plate-volcano puzzle

Deep under the ocean bed, a sinking tectonic plate causes a «swarm» of earthquakes, feeding molten rock into newly forming volcanoes, new research has discovered.

Earthquake swarms reveal missing piece of tectonic plate-volcano puzzle
Deep earthquake swarms show the path of fluids released from the subducted Pacific Plate
[Credit: Lloyd White, University of Wollongong]

Earthquake swarms are when a large number of earthquakes occur close together over a short period. Researchers found two such swarms while studying the Mariana and Izu-Bonin arc system in the Pacific Ocean.

By plotting each earthquake swarm on a three-dimensional map, the researchers found the earthquakes defined a pipe-like structure through which the molten rock travelled, rising from a sinking tectonic plate at depths of around 200km to a magma chamber underneath a volcano.

The discovery solves a missing piece of the tectonic puzzle: revealing the path that fluids and molten rock move through the deep Earth to volcanoes at the surface.

The international team included scientists from the University of Wollongong (UOW), Royal Holloway University of London, University of Cambridge, Australian National University, Columbia University, Cardiff University and Durham University.

The Mariana and Izu-Bonin arc system lies on the ocean bed, stretching 2800 kilometres from Japan south to Guam and beyond. It marks where two tectonic plates—the Philippine Sea Plate and the Pacific Plate—meet.

As the Pacific Plate subducts, sinking into the Earth’s mantle, it carries water deep down into the Earth. The plate gets hotter and experiences more pressure the deeper it goes, until superheated water tries to escape, causing the rock to fracture and melt and creating a pathway for the molten rock to rise.

Earthquake swarms reveal missing piece of tectonic plate-volcano puzzle
Rare earthquake occurrences have recently been documented at the boundary
between the Pacific tectonic plate and the Philippine Sea plate
[Credit: Lloyd White, University of Wollongong]

Lead author Dr. Lloyd White from UOW’s School of Earth, Atmospheric and Life Sciences described the process as a natural hydro-fracking effect.

«In fracking used by the petroleum industry, they drill into the Earth up to a few kilometres deep, and then continue to pump liquid down until the pressure grows and the rocks crack, creating a path for the petroleum or natural gas to flow through the rocks and into a pipe back to the surface,» Dr. White said.

«In this case, the tectonic plate carries the water down very deep into the Earth, down to around 200 kilometres below the surface. As the plate goes down it gets hotter and the pressure gets higher, driving water out of subducted plate.

«It’s ultimately the water that causes those slowly moving rocks to melt as well as to cause these rare earthquakes. The water gets so hot and is under so much pressure that it needs to get away. As it moves upwards it causes the rocks to fracture and melt, forming magma, and that magma is what feeds to volcano at the top of the system.

«It is similar to fracking, but at a much grander scale and completely driven by Earth’s natural processes, rather than being human induced.»

The two earthquake swarms occurred deep in the Earth in a zone that doesn’t usually have any earthquakes. The simplest explanation is they were caused by a process similar to fracking, either by the rock breaking ahead of the superheated fluid, or by the pipe collapsing after the fluid had moved through the system.

Earth’s deepest earthquake swarm video [Credit: Lloyd White, University of Wollongong]

«Geologists have always assumed that the water in this system goes upwards, but we’ve never had a good way of imaging that. These examples—a freak occurrence that we’ve stumbled on—show very clearly where the water must be travelling,» Dr. White said.
Co-author Dr. Dominique Tanner, also from UOW’s School of Earth, Atmospheric and Life Sciences, said: «We can actually use the earthquakes to figure out how quickly these fluids travel. We know exactly when and where the earthquakes occur, so we can estimate how quickly the fluid moves through the deep Earth, which is faster than one kilometre an hour—much faster than we previously thought.»

While a lot more research is needed, the discovery may help scientists in monitoring which volcanoes are being primed with increasing amounts of magma from the deep Earth.

The study is published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

Author: Ben Long | Source: University of Wollongong [June 18, 2019]



Çatalhöyük: A community with modern urban problems 9,000 years ago

Some 9,000 years ago, residents of one of the world’s first large farming communities were also among the first humans to experience some of the perils of modern urban living.

Çatalhöyük: A community with modern urban problems 9,000 years ago
These are excavations in a number of Neolithic buildings at Catalhoyuk
[Credit: Scott Haddow]

Scientists studying the ancient ruins of Çatalhöyük, in modern Turkey, found that its inhabitants — 3,500 to 8,000 people at its peak — experienced overcrowding, infectious diseases, violence and environmental problems.

In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, an international team of bioarchaeologists report new findings built on 25 years of study of human remains unearthed at Çatalhöyük.

The results paint a picture of what it was like for humans to move from a nomadic hunting and gathering lifestyle to a more sedentary life built around agriculture, said Clark Spencer Larsen, lead author of the study, and professor of anthropology at The Ohio State University.

«Çatalhöyük was one of the first proto-urban communities in the world and the residents experienced what happens when you put many people together in a small area for an extended time,» Larsen said.

«It set the stage for where we are today and the challenges we face in urban living.»

Çatalhöyük, in what is now south-central Turkey, was inhabited from about 7100 to 5950 B.C. First excavated in 1958, the site measures 13 hectares (about 32 acres) with nearly 21 meters of deposits spanning 1,150 years of continuous occupation.

Larsen, who began fieldwork at the site in 2004, was one of the leaders of the team that studied human remains as part of the larger Çatalhöyük Research Project, directed by Ian Hodder of Stanford University. A co-author of the PNAS paper, Christopher Knüsel of Université de Bordeaux in France, was co-leader of the bioarchaeology team with Larsen.

Fieldwork at Çatalhöyük ended in 2017 and the PNAS paper represents the culmination of the bioarchaeology work at the site, Larsen said.

Çatalhöyük began as a small settlement about 7100 B.C., likely consisting of a few mud-brick houses in what researchers call the Early period. It grew to its peak in the Middle period of 6700 to 6500 B.C., before the population declined rapidly in the Late period. Çatalhöyük was abandoned about 5950 BC.

Çatalhöyük: A community with modern urban problems 9,000 years ago
This is researcher Nada Elias excavating an adult skeleton at Catalhoyuk
[Credit: Scott Haddow]

Farming was always a major part of life in the community. The researchers analyzed a chemical signature in the bones — called stable carbon isotope ratios — to determine that residents ate a diet heavy on wheat, barley and rye, along with a range of non-domesticated plants.

Stable nitrogen isotope ratios were used to document protein in their diets, which came from sheep, goats and non-domesticated animals. Domesticated cattle were introduced in the Late period, but sheep were always the most important domesticated animal in their diets.

«They were farming and keeping animals as soon as they set up the community, but they were intensifying their efforts as the population expanded,» Larsen said.

The grain-heavy diet meant that some residents soon developed tooth decay — one of the so-called «diseases of civilization,» Larsen said. Results showed that about 10 to 13 percent of teeth of adults found at the site showed evidence of dental cavities.

Changes over time in the shape of leg bone cross-sections showed that community members in the Late period of Çatalhöyük walked significantly more than early residents. That suggests residents had to move farming and grazing further from the community as time went on, Larsen said.

«We believe that environmental degradation and climate change forced community members to move further away from the settlement to farm and to find supplies like firewood,» he said. «That contributed to the ultimate demise of Çatalhöyük.»

Other research suggests that the climate in the Middle East became drier during the course of Çatalhöyük’s history, which made farming more difficult.

Findings from the new study suggest that residents suffered from a high infection rate, most likely due to crowding and poor hygiene. Up to one-third of remains from the Early period show evidence of infections on their bones.

During its peak in population, houses were built like apartments with no space between them — residents came and left through ladders to the roofs of the houses.

Çatalhöyük: A community with modern urban problems 9,000 years ago
Neolithic burial from Catalhoyuk is represented by a headless young adult female
with a fetal skeleton (arrow). Skull removal was a burial custom practiced in number
of instances at this locality [Credit: the Catalhoyuk Research Project/
Jason Quinlan]

Excavations showed that interior walls and floors were re-plastered many times with clay. And while the residents kept their floors mostly debris-free, analysis of house walls and floors showed traces of animal and human fecal matter.

«They are living in very crowded conditions, with trash pits and animal pens right next to some of their homes. So there is a whole host of sanitation issues that could contribute to the spread of infectious diseases,» Larsen said.

The crowded conditions in Çatalhöyük may have also contributed to high levels of violence between residents, according to the researchers.

In a sample of 93 skulls from Çatalhöyük, more than one-fourth — 25 individuals — showed evidence of healed fractures. And 12 of them had been victimized more than once, with two to five injuries over a period of time. The shape of the lesions suggested that blows to the head from hard, round objects caused them — and clay balls of the right size and shape were also found at the site.

More than half of the victims were women (13 women, 10 men). And most of the injuries were on the top or back of their heads, suggesting the victims were not facing their assailants when struck.

«We found an increase in cranial injuries during the Middle period, when the population was largest and most dense,» Larsen said.

«An argument could be made that overcrowding led to elevated stress and conflict within the community.»

Most people were buried in pits that had been dug into the floors of houses, and researchers believe they were interred under the homes in which they lived. That led to an unexpected finding: Most members of a household were not biologically related.

Researchers discovered this when they found that the teeth of individuals buried under the same house weren’t as similar as would be expected if they were kin.

«The morphology of teeth are highly genetically controlled,» Larsen said. «People who are related show similar variations in the crowns of their teeth and we didn’t find that in people buried in the same houses.»

More research is needed to determine the relations of people who lived together in Çatalhöyük, he said. «It is still kind of a mystery.»

Overall, Larsen said the significance of Çatalhöyük is that it was one of the first Neolithic «mega-sites» in the world built around agriculture.

«We can learn about the immediate origins of our lives today, how we are organized into communities. Many of the challenges we have today are the same ones they had in Çatalhöyük — only magnified.»

Author: Jeff Grabmeier | Source: Ohio State University [June 18, 2019]




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