вторник, 14 января 2020 г.

Binary star V Sagittae will explode as a very bright 'nova' by century's end


Currently, the faint star V Sagittae, V Sge, in the constellation Sagitta, is barely visible, even in mid-sized telescopes. However, around the year 2083, this innocent star will explode, becoming as bright as Sirius, the brightest star visible in the night sky. During this time of eruption, V Sge will be the most luminous star in the Milky Way galaxy.

Binary star V Sagittae will explode as a very bright 'nova' by century's end
The white dwarf (right) stripping the material from its neighbouring star. When it takes too much, it finally collapses
and explodes under its own weight, releasing a supernova [Credit: NASA/JPL-CALTECH]
This prediction was presented for the first time at the 235th American Astronomical Society meeting in Honolulu, by astronomers Bradley E. Schaefer, Juhan Frank and Manos Chatzopoulos, with the LSU Department of Physics & Astronomy.

"We now have a strong prediction for the future of V Sge," Schaefer said. "Over the next few decades, the star will brighten rapidly. Around the year 2083, its accretion rate will rise catastrophically, spilling mass at incredibly high rates onto the white dwarf, with this material blazing away. In the final days of this death-spiral, all of the mass from the companion star will fall onto the white dwarf, creating a super-massive wind from the merging star, appearing as bright as Sirius, possibly even as bright as Venus."

V Sge is a star system in a large and diverse class called Cataclysmic Variables, or CVs, consisting of an ordinary star in a binary orbit around a white dwarf star, where the normal star's mass is slowly falling onto the white dwarf. CVs include multiple types of binary stars, often with spectacular behavior. V Sge is the most extreme of all the CVs, approximately 100 times more luminous than all other known CVs, and is powering a massive stellar wind, equal to the winds of the most massive stars prior to their deaths. These two extreme properties are caused by the fact that the normal star is 3.9 times more massive than the white dwarf.


"In all other known CVs the white dwarf is more massive than the orbiting normal star, so V Sge is utterly unique," said Schaefer.

"Previously, astronomers have studied V Sge, realizing that it is an unusual system with extreme properties," said Frank. "However, no one had realized that the binary orbit was in-spiraling very fast."

This realization came from routine measures of V Sge's brightness on old sky photos now archived at the Harvard College Observatory, providing a detailed history going back to the year 1890.

Startlingly, V Sge has been systematically brightening by a factor of 10X, 2.5 magnitudes, from the early 1890s up until the last decade. This unprecedented behavior was confirmed with archival data collected from the database of the American Association of Variable Star Observers, AAVSO, showing V Sge brightening by nearly a factor of 10X, 2.4 magnitudes, from 1907 until the last few years.

"V Sge is exponentially gaining luminosity with a doubling time scale of 89 years," said Frank. "This brightening can only result with the rate of mass falling off the normal companion star increasing exponentially, ultimately because the binary orbit is in-spiraling rapidly."


Schaefer said, "In anticipation of this fast decaying of the orbit, the fate of V Sge is sealed. The critical and simple physics are derived from V Sge having the companion star being much more massive than the white dwarf star, so forcing the rate of mass transfer to rise exponentially. Anticipating the next few decades, V Sge will in-spiral at a rapid pace with increasing brightness. Inevitably, this in-spiral will climax with the majority of the gas in the normal star falling onto the white dwarf, all within the final weeks and days. This falling mass will release a tremendous amount of gravitational potential energy, driving a stellar wind as never before seen, and raise the system luminosity to just short of that of supernovae at peak."

This explosive event will have peak brightness over a month, with two stars merging into one star. The end result of the merger will produce a single star with a degenerate white dwarf core, a hydrogen-burning layer, surrounded by a vast gas envelope mostly of hydrogen.

"From this critical new input of the doubling time scale of 89 years, it becomes possible to directly calculate the future evolution of V Sge, all using standard equations describing the many physical mechanisms involved," said Schaefer.


The calculations give a robust answer to the brightness with the in-spiral merger happen for the final merge event will be around the year 2083.

"The uncertainty in this date is ±16 years, arising mostly from not having a perfect measure of the doubling time scale due to the large intrinsic jitter of the brightness in the historical record," said Frank. "Therefore, the merge will be approximately between 2067 and 2099, most likely near the middle of this range."

Schaefer said, "Thus, V Sge will appear startlingly bright in the night sky. This is substantially brighter than the all-time brightest known nova (at -0.5) just over a century ago, and the last time any 'guest star' appeared brighter was Kepler's Supernova in the year 1604.

"Now people the world over can know that they will see a wondrous guest star shining as the brightest in the sky for a month or so, being pointed at by the Arrow just below Cygnus, the Swan."

Author: Mimi Lavalle | Source: Louisiana State University [January 07, 2020]



* This article was originally published here

Llanaber Stones, Llanaber, Barmouth, North Wales 4.1.20.5th to 6th century Romano-British Stones are...

Llanaber Stones, Llanaber, Barmouth, North Wales 4.1.20.

5th to 6th century Romano-British Stones are shown here. One states ‘Aetern(us) et Aeter(ni)’ or 'the stone of Aeternus and Aeterna’; a possible grave slab for a brother and sister.

The other states 'Caelexti Monedo Rigi’, 'the stone of Caelestis Monedorix’, a mythical king of Mona (Anglesey).



* This article was originally published here

Greening at high latitudes may inhibit the expansion of midlatitude deserts


Desertification has always been a serious challenge for human beings, especially in arid and semi-arid regions. Projections from CMIP5 support the expansion of arid and semi-arid regions with increasing greenhouse gas concentrations. Interestingly, besides inducing a stronger greenhouse effect, increasing carbon dioxide is also leading to global vegetation greening, especially in high latitudes, by the fertilization effect. However, it is still unknown whether greening in high latitudes could affect midlatitude deserts.

Greening at high latitudes may inhibit the expansion of midlatitude deserts
Schematic diagram of the remote effect of high-latitude greening
on midlatitude deserts [Credit: CAS]
In a paper recently published in Atmospheric and Oceanic Science Letters, Dr. Yongli He from the department of Atmospheric Science, Lanzhou University, and his coauthors, try to address this question based on their work on the remote effect of greening in high latitudes.


"We investigated the remote effects of greening at high latitudes by using a two-dimensional energy balance model. We decreased the albedo in high latitudes to represent the greening phenomenon, and then investigated the changes in the boundaries of midlatitude deserts. We found that the midlatitude deserts retreated significantly at the southern boundary, while the polar ice belts and low-latitude vegetation belts expanded," says Dr. He.

According to this study, high-latitude vegetation greening may inhibit the expansion of midlatitude deserts. "However, due to the simplification of the two-dimensional energy balance model, the impact of high-latitude vegetation greening on the climate of midlatitude desert regions still needs further study," adds Dr. He.

Source: Chinese Academy of Sciences [January 08, 2020]



* This article was originally published here

Moel Goedog 7 Prehistoric Standing Stone, Moel Goedog, Harlech, North Wales, 4.1.20.

Moel Goedog 7 Prehistoric Standing Stone, Moel Goedog, Harlech, North Wales, 4.1.20.



* This article was originally published here

Plant life expanding in the Everest region


Plant life is expanding in the area around Mount Everest, and across the Himalayan region, new research shows.

Plant life expanding in the Everest region
View towards Khumbu and Cholatse from below Ama Dablam at about 4,900 m showing typical
subnival vegetation in the foreground [Credit: Karen Anderson]
Scientists used satellite data to measure the extent of subnival vegetation - plants growing between the treeline and snowline - in this vast area.

Little is known about these remote, hard-to-reach ecosystems, made up of short-stature plants (predominantly grasses and shrubs) and seasonal snow, but the study reveals they cover between 5 and 15 times the area of permanent glaciers and snow.


Using data from 1993 to 2018 from NASA's Landsat satellites, University of Exeter researchers measured small but significant increases in subnival vegetation cover across four height brackets from 4,150-6,000 metres above sea level.

Results varied at different heights and locations, with the strongest trend in increased vegetation cover in the bracket 5,000-5,500m.

Around Mount Everest, the team found a significant increase in vegetation in all four height brackets. Conditions at the top of this height range have generally been considered to be close to the limit of where plants can grow.

Plant life expanding in the Everest region
View towards Nuptse-Lhotse Ridge from below Ama Dablam at about 4,900 m showing
typical subnival vegetation [Credit: Karen Anderson]
Though the study doesn't examine the causes of the change, the findings are consistent with modelling that shows a decline in "temperature-limited areas" (where temperatures are too low for plants to grow) across the Himalayan region due to global warming.

Other research has suggested Himalayan ecosystems are highly vulnerable to climate-induced vegetation shifts.


"A lot of research has been done on ice melting in the Himalayan region, including a study that showed how the rate of ice loss doubled between 2000 and 2016," said Dr Karen Anderson, of the Environment and Sustainability Institute on Exeter's Penryn Campus in Cornwall.

"It's important to monitor and understand ice loss in major mountain systems, but subnival ecosystems cover a much larger area than permanent snow and ice and we know very little about them and how they moderate water supply.

Plant life expanding in the Everest region
Scrubby vegetation near the Nepalese village of Dingboche about
4,400m above sea level [Credit: Karen Anderson]
"Snow falls and melts here seasonally, and we don't know what impact changing subnival vegetation will have on this aspect of the water cycle - which is vital because this region (known as 'Asia's water towers') feeds the ten largest rivers in Asia."

Dr Anderson said "some really detailed fieldwork" and further validation of these findings is now required to understand how plants in this high-altitude zone interact with soil and snow.


Dominic Fawcett, who coded the image processing, said: "These large-scale studies using decades of satellite data are computationally intensive because the file sizes are huge. We can now do this relatively easily on the cloud by using Google Earth Engine, a new and powerful tool freely available to anyone, anywhere."

The Hindu Kush Himalayan region extends across all or part of eight countries, from Afghanistan in the west to Myanmar in the east. More than 1.4 billion people depend on water from catchments emanating here.

The paper has been published in the journal Global Change Biology.

Source: University of Exeter [January 09, 2020]



* This article was originally published here

2020 January 14 Evidence of an Active Volcano on Venus Image...



2020 January 14

Evidence of an Active Volcano on Venus
Image Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech, ESA, Venus Express: VIRTIS, USRA, LPI

Explanation: Are volcanoes still active on Venus? More volcanoes are known on Venus than Earth, but when Venusian volcanoes last erupted is not directly known. Evidence bolstering very recent volcanism on Venus has recently been uncovered, though, right here on Earth. Lab results showed that images of surface lava would become dim in the infrared in only months in the dense Venusian atmosphere, a dimming not seen in ESA’s Venus Express images. Venus Express entered orbit around Venus in 2006 and remained in contact with Earth until 2014. Therefore, the infrared glow (shown in false-color red) recorded by Venus Express for Idunn Mons and featured here on a NASA Magellan image indicates that this volcano erupted very recently – and is still active today. Understanding the volcanics of Venus might lead to insight about the volcanics on Earth, as well as elsewhere in our Solar System.

∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap200114.html



* This article was originally published here

Mynydd Cefn Amlwch Prehistoric Burial Chamber, Llyn Peninsula, North Wales, 5.1.20.

Mynydd Cefn Amlwch Prehistoric Burial Chamber, Llyn Peninsula, North Wales, 5.1.20.



* This article was originally published here

Australian animals face extinction threat as bushfire toll mounts


When volunteer Sarah Price found a baby kangaroo frightened but miraculously alive in the pouch of its dying mother surrounded by the embers of Australia's bushfires, it seemed fitting to name him Chance.

Australian animals face extinction threat as bushfire toll mounts
An orphaned baby koala being fed by Private Tyler Moseley-Greatwich from the 10th/27th Battalion,
Royal South Australia Regiment, at the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park in Kingscote
[Credit: AFP]
The furry pair had survived flames that have ripped through much of southeastern Australia, but the mother's organs later collapsed from acute stress -- making her one among the more than one billion animals estimated to have died in the crisis so far.


Chance is slowly recovering, getting regular food and water and hiding out in a bag in a darkened room -- a rare success story amid a disaster that has shocked even volunteers accustomed to Australia's frequent bushfires and prolonged droughts.

"We are not seeing the amount of animals coming into care or needing rescuing that we would normally anticipate," Price, who works with wildlife rescue group WIRES, told AFP. "We think a lot perished in the fires."

Australian animals face extinction threat as bushfire toll mounts
A rescued kangaroo receives treatment after being saved from the fires
on the outskirts of Sydney [Credit: AFP]
Haunting images of koalas with singed fur, possums with burnt paws or countless charred kangaroo carcasses have flashed around the world and have come to symbolise a nation and an environment buckling under the weight of a crisis fuelled by climate change.

The populations of less visible creatures, such as frogs, insects, invertebrates and reptiles, are also expected to have been devastated.

Experts warn that even those animals that survive face a perilous fight to stay alive.

"A lot of the animals die after the fire because they have a lack of food and lack of shelter," Mathew Crowther of the University of Sydney told AFP.

Australian animals face extinction threat as bushfire toll mounts
Thousands of Koalas are believed to have
been killed so far [Credit: AFP]
"They could get eaten by other animals, or they can't get enough food for themselves."


In Victoria state, where the fire season is still in its early stages, veterinary surgeons said they have come across koalas, birds, wallabies and possums suffering from not just burns, but respiratory problems.

"Many are having to be humanely euthanised, but some are able to be saved, with a handful being returned to the remaining habitat, and three brought into care... so far," a spokeswoman for Zoos Victoria said.

Australian animals face extinction threat as bushfire toll mounts
A koala is treated for burns to its paws [Credit: AFP]
Australia's extinction rate for mammals is already the highest in the world, but there are growing fears this year's bushfires could cause localised extinctions.

"The (kangaroo) mobs will generally try and regroup. When they come back, obviously the... grass isn't green anymore, the foliage isn't there, the bushes have gone, the trees are burnt," Price said.

One third of Kangaroo Island, a wildlife haven off the coast of South Australia state, has been razed and there are fears some species unique to the area might have been wiped out.

Australian animals face extinction threat as bushfire toll mounts
Veterinary surgeons said they have come across koalas, birds, wallabies and possums
suffering from not just burns, but respiratory problems [Credit: AFP]
"There's almost no considerable habitat remaining for many species. That leads to local extinction events," John Woinarski of the Threatened Species Recovery Hub told national broadcaster ABC, describing the fires as a "holocaust of destruction" for wildlife.


At least half of Australia's only infection-free koala population on Kangaroo Island, a key "insurance population" for the species' future, is feared dead with more badly hurt.

The Kangaroo Island dunnart, already one of 10 priority threatened mammal species targeted in the national government's Threatened Species Strategy, could face extinction.

Australian animals face extinction threat as bushfire toll mounts
Experts warn that even those animals that survive face
a perilous fight to stay alive [Credit: AFP]
University of Sydney professor Chris Dickman said his estimate of more than one billion animals killed was "highly conservative".

"We're probably looking at what climate change may look like for other parts of the world in the first stages in Australia at the moment."

When the fires abate, Crowther said some populations might become so small they could be taken into captivity to try to save their species.


Some parts of the bush will take decades to recover and experts say substantial investment may be needed to restore habitats if animals like Chance are to have another shot at survival.

Author: Glenda Kwek | Source: AFP [January 10, 2020]



* This article was originally published here

Mynydd Rhiw Neolithic Axe Factory, Rhiw, Llyn Peninsula, North Wales, 5.1.20.The landscape that...

Mynydd Rhiw Neolithic Axe Factory, Rhiw, Llyn Peninsula, North Wales, 5.1.20.

The landscape that faces out from these rocks has been excavated recently and found to be the site of a key Neolithic axe factory.



* This article was originally published here

Scientists find oldest-known fossilized digestive tract at 550 million years


A 550 million-year-old fossilized digestive tract found in the Nevada desert could be a key find in understanding the early history of animals on Earth.

Scientists find oldest-known fossilized digestive tract at 550 million years
A fossilized cloudinomorph from the Montgomery Mountains near Pahrump, Nev. This is representative
of the fossil that was analyzed in the study [Credit: University of Missouri]
Over a half-billion years ago, life on Earth was comprised of simple ocean organisms unlike anything living in today's oceans. Then, beginning about 540 million years ago, animal structures changed dramatically.

During this time, ancestors of many animal groups we know today appeared, such as primitive crustaceans and worms, yet for years scientists did not know how these two seemingly unrelated communities of animals were connected, until now.


An analysis of tubular fossils by scientists led by Jim Schiffbauer at the University of Missouri provides evidence of a 550 million-year-old digestive tract -- one of the oldest known examples of fossilized internal anatomical structures -- and reveals what scientists believe is a possible answer to the question of how these animals are connected.

"Not only are these structures the oldest guts yet discovered, but they also help to resolve the long-debated evolutionary positioning of this important fossil group," said Schiffbauer, an associate professor of geological sciences in the MU College of Arts and Science and director of the X-ray Microanalysis Core facility.

Scientists find oldest-known fossilized digestive tract at 550 million years
A three-dimensional image of a 550-million-year-old fossilized tube (left, in red) with
internal digestive tract (gold, left and right) [Credit: University of Missouri]
"These fossils fit within a very recognizable group of organisms -- the cloudinids -- that scientists use to identify the last 10 to 15 million years of the Ediacaran Period, or the period of time just before the Cambrian Explosion. We can now say that their anatomical structure appears much more worm-like than coral-like."

The Cambrian Explosion is widely considered by scientists to be the point in history of life on Earth when the ancestors of many animal groups we know today emerged.


In the study, the scientists used MU's X-ray Microanalysis Core facility to take a unique analytical approach for geological science -- micro-CT imaging -- that created a digital 3D image of the fossil. This technique allowed the scientists to view what was inside the fossil structure.

"With CT imaging, we can quickly assess key internal features and then analyze the entire fossil without potentially damaging it," said co-author Tara Selly, a research assistant professor in the Department of Geological Sciences and assistant director of the X-ray Microanalysis Core facility.

The study was published in Nature Communications.

Author: Eric Stann | Source: University of Missouri [January 10, 2020]



* This article was originally published here

Mynydd Rhiw South Bronze Age Burial Cairn, Rhiw, Llyn Peninsula, North Wales, 5.1.20.

Mynydd Rhiw South Bronze Age Burial Cairn, Rhiw, Llyn Peninsula, North Wales, 5.1.20.



* This article was originally published here

The Turbulent Life of Two Supermassive Black Holes Caught in a Galaxy Crash

NGC 6240 as seen with ALMA (top) and the Hubble Space Telescope (bottom). In the ALMA image, the molecular gas is blue and the black holes are the red dots. The ALMA image provides the sharpest view of the molecular gas around the black holes in this merging galaxy. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), E. Treister; NRAO/AUI/NSF, S. Dagnello; NASA/ESA Hubble

Artist impression of the merging galaxy NGC 6240
Credit: NRAO/AUI/NSF, S. Dagnello

An international team of astronomers used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to create the most detailed image yet of the gas surrounding two supermassive black holes in a merging galaxy.

400 million light-years away from Earth, in the constellation of Ophiuchus, two galaxies are crashing into each other and forming a galaxy we know as NGC 6240. This peculiarly-shaped galaxy has been observed many times before, as it is relatively close by. But NGC 6240 is complex and chaotic. The collision between the two galaxies is still ongoing, bringing along in the crash two growing supermassive black holes that will likely merge as one larger black hole.

To understand what is happening within NGC 6240, astronomers want to observe the dust and gas surrounding the black holes in detail, but previous images have not been sharp enough to do that.

New ALMA observations have increased the resolution of the images by a factor of ten – showing for the first time the structure of the cold gas in the galaxy, even within the sphere of influence of the black holes.

“The key to understanding this galaxy system is molecular gas,” explained Ezequiel Treister of the Pontificia Universidad Católica in Santiago, Chile. “This gas is the fuel that is needed to form stars, but it also feeds the supermassive black holes, which allows them to grow.”

Most of the gas is located in a region between the two black holes. Less detailed observations taken previously suggested that this gas might be a rotating disk. “We don’t find any evidence for that,” said Treister. “Instead, we see a chaotic stream of gas with filaments and bubbles between the black holes. Some of this gas is ejected outwards with speeds up to 500 kilometers per second. We don’t know yet what causes these outflows.”

Another reason to observe the gas in such detail is that it helps to determine the mass of the black holes. “Previous models, based on surrounding stars, indicated that the black holes were much more massive than we expected, around a billion times the mass of our Sun,” said Anne Medling of the University of Toledo in Ohio. “But these new ALMA images for the first time showed us how much gas is caught up inside the black holes’ sphere of influence. This mass is significant, and therefore we now estimate the black hole masses to be lower: around a few hundred million times the mass of our Sun. Based on this, we think that most previous black hole measurements in systems like this could be off by 5-90 percent.”

The gas also turned out to be even closer to the black holes than the astronomers had expected. “It is located in a very extreme environment,” explained Medling. “We think that it will eventually fall into the black hole, or it will be ejected at high speeds.”

The astronomers don’t find evidence for a third black hole in the galaxy, which another team recently claimed to have discovered. “We don’t see molecular gas associated with this claimed third nucleus,” said Treister. “It could be a local star cluster instead of a black hole, but we need to study it much more to say anything about it with certainty.”

ALMA’s high sensitivity and resolution are crucial to learn more about supermassive black holes and the role of gas in interacting galaxies. “This galaxy is so complex, that we could never know what is going on inside it without these detailed radio images,” said Loreto Barcos-Muñoz of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Charlottesville, Virginia. “We now have a better idea of the 3D-structure of the galaxy, which gives us the opportunity to understand how galaxies evolve during the latest stages of an ongoing merger. In a few hundred million years, this galaxy will look completely different.”




Additional Information
  • “The Molecular Gas in the NGC 6240 Merging Galaxy System at the Highest Spatial Resolution,” by E. Treister et al., accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal. Preprint.
  • “How to Fuel an AGN: Mapping Circumnuclear Gas in NGC 6240 with ALMA,” by A. M. Medling et al., The Astrophysical Journal Letters. https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/2041-8213/ab4db7

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.




Contacts

Nicolás Lira
Education and Public Outreach Coordinator
Joint ALMA Observatory, Santiago - Chile
Phone: +56 2 2467 6519
Cell phone: +56 9 9445 7726
Email: nicolas.lira@alma.cl

Iris Nijman
Public Information Officer
National Radio Astronomy Observatory Charlottesville, Virginia - USA
Cell phone: +1 (434) 249 3423
Email: alma-pr@nrao.edu

Bárbara Ferreira
ESO Public Information Officer
Garching bei München, Germany
Phone: +49 89 3200 6670
Email: pio@eso.org

Masaaki Hiramatsu
Education and Public Outreach Officer, NAOJ Chile
Observatory
, Tokyo - Japan
Phone: +81 422 34 3630
Email: hiramatsu.masaaki@nao.ac.jp




* This article was originally published here

Study puts the 'Carib' in 'Caribbean,' boosting credibility of Columbus' cannibal claims


Christopher Columbus' accounts of the Caribbean include harrowing descriptions of fierce raiders who abducted women and cannibalized men - stories long dismissed as myths. But a new study suggests Columbus may have been telling the truth.

Study puts the 'Carib' in 'Caribbean,' boosting credibility of Columbus' cannibal claims
Researchers analyzed the skulls of early Caribbean inhabitants, using 3D facial "landmarks"
as a genetic proxy for determining how closely people groups were related to one another
[Credit: Ann Ross/North Carolina State University]
Using the equivalent of facial recognition technology, researchers analyzed the skulls of early Caribbean inhabitants, uncovering relationships between people groups and upending longstanding hypotheses about how the islands were first colonized.

One surprising finding was that the Caribs, marauders from South America and rumored cannibals, invaded Jamaica, Hispaniola and the Bahamas, overturning half a century of assumptions that they never made it farther north than Guadeloupe.

"I've spent years trying to prove Columbus wrong when he was right: There were Caribs in the northern Caribbean when he arrived," said William Keegan, Florida Museum of Natural History curator of Caribbean archaeology. "We're going to have to reinterpret everything we thought we knew."


Columbus had recounted how peaceful Arawaks in modern-day Bahamas were terrorized by pillagers he mistakenly described as "Caniba," the Asiatic subjects of the Grand Khan. His Spanish successors corrected the name to "Caribe" a few decades later, but the similar-sounding names led most archaeologists to chalk up the references to a mix-up: How could Caribs have been in the Bahamas when their closest outpost was nearly 1,000 miles to the south?

But skulls reveal the Carib presence in the Caribbean was far more prominent than previously thought, giving credence to Columbus' claims.

Face to face with the Caribbean's earliest inhabitants

Previous studies relied on artifacts such as tools and pottery to trace the geographical origin and movement of people through the Caribbean over time. Adding a biological component brings the region's history into sharper focus, said Ann Ross, a professor of biological sciences at North Carolina State University and the study's lead author.

Study puts the 'Carib' in 'Caribbean,' boosting credibility of Columbus' cannibal claims
Keegan had been stumped for years by the appearance of a distinct type of pottery in Hispaniola,
Jamaica and the Bahamas. He now believes it is the cultural fingerprint of a Carib invasion
and likely originated in the Carib homeland of South America
[Credit: Florida Museum/William Keegan]
Ross used 3D facial "landmarks," such as the size of an eye socket or length of a nose, to analyze more than 100 skulls dating from about A.D. 800 to 1542. These landmarks can act as a genetic proxy for determining how closely people are related to one another.

The analysis not only revealed three distinct Caribbean people groups, but also their migration routes, which was "really stunning," Ross said.


Looking at ancient faces shows the Caribbean's earliest settlers came from the Yucatan, moving into Cuba and the Northern Antilles, which supports a previous hypothesis based on similarities in stone tools. Arawak speakers from coastal Colombia and Venezuela migrated to Puerto Rico between 800 and 200 B.C., a journey also documented in pottery.

The earliest inhabitants of the Bahamas and Hispaniola, however, were not from Cuba as commonly thought, but the Northwest Amazon - the Caribs. Around A.D. 800, they pushed north into Hispaniola and Jamaica and then the Bahamas where they were well established by the time Columbus arrived.

Study puts the 'Carib' in 'Caribbean,' boosting credibility of Columbus' cannibal claims
Caribs hailed from the Northwest Amazon, and archaeologists long believed they never expanded
north of the Lesser Antilles. Detail from a painting by John Gabriel Stedman
[Credit: North Carolina State University]
"I had been stumped for years because I didn't have this Bahamian component," Ross said. "Those remains were so key. This will change the perspective on the people and peopling of the Caribbean."

For Keegan, the discovery lays to rest a puzzle that pestered him for years: why a type of pottery known as Meillacoid appears in Hispaniola by A.D. 800, Jamaica around 900 and the Bahamas around 1000.


"Why was this pottery so different from everything else we see? That had bothered me," he said. "It makes sense that Meillacoid pottery is associated with the Carib expansion."

The sudden appearance of Meillacoid pottery also corresponds with a general reshuffling of people in the Caribbean after a 1,000-year period of tranquility, further evidence that "Carib invaders were on the move," Keegan said.

Raiders of the lost Arawaks

So, was there any substance to the tales of cannibalism? Possibly, Keegan said. Arawaks and Caribs were enemies, but they often lived side by side with occasional intermarriage before blood feuds erupted, he said.

Study puts the 'Carib' in 'Caribbean,' boosting credibility of Columbus' cannibal claims
For the past 30 years, archaeologists have debated how the Caribbean was settled and by whom. The skull analysis
revealed three distinct people groups and migrations. One previous hypothesis proposed the Caribbean’s
colonizers included people from Florida and Panama, but the researchers did not find biological
evidence to support this line of thinking [Credit: Map by Colleen Yound in Ross et al. 2020]
"It's almost a 'Hatfields and McCoys' kind of situation," Keegan said. "Maybe there was some cannibalism involved. If you need to frighten your enemies, that's a really good way to do it."

Whether or not it was accurate, the European perception that Caribs were cannibals had a tremendous impact on the region's history, he said. The Spanish monarchy initially insisted that indigenous people be paid for work and treated with respect, but reversed its position after receiving reports that they refused to convert to Christianity and ate human flesh.

"The crown said, 'Well, if they're going to behave that way, they can be enslaved,'" Keegan said. "All of a sudden, every native person in the entire Caribbean became a Carib as far as the colonists were concerned."

The study is published in Scientific Reports.

Author: Natalie Van Hoose | Source: Florida Museum of Natural History [January 10, 2020]



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UFO sighting in Odessa UA НЛО шар плазмы UFO sighting in Odessa UA, white orb An unusual-looking object appeared suddenly in the sky at...

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