вторник, 21 января 2020 г.

Fins and limbs tell evolutionary tale


About 400 million years ago, our early ancestors took their first hesitant steps out of the primordial seas on to land. But did they really step? Or did they crawl? Or wiggle?

Fins and limbs tell evolutionary tale
A model of an early tetrapod from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History
[Credit: Cleveland Museum of Natural History]
Those are some of the questions George Washington University Assistant Professor of Biology Sandy Kawano asks in her Fins and Limbs Lab, a new addition to Science and Engineering Hall that explores the biodiversity of animals through their anatomy and movements.

Using state-of-the-art technology like high-speed digital cameras, 3-D modeling and even robots, Dr. Kawano studies how animals move in different environments—their steps, strokes and slithers. Her research is unlocking evolutionary mysteries—such as how our ancestors found their way on to land—that hold hints to modern-day problems from human health to climate change.

"Scientists often act as detectives for the past," said Dr. Kawano, who joined the biology faculty in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences in fall 2019. "We're looking at clues and trying to reconstruct what happened a long time ago."


Drawing on expertise in biology, engineering and mathematics, Dr. Kawano and her collaborators use robots and computer models to reverse-engineer the movements of the four-legged vertebrates called tetrapods and their fish ancestors. Many of these early tetrapods and tetrapod-like fishes were "nature's misfits," she said, with part-aquatic, part-terrestrial bodies. And while no one questions their giant evolutionary leap, how exactly they pulled themselves up on the prehistoric shoreline isn't settled science.

For decades, the prevailing theory was that tetrapods essentially crawled out of the surf, wiggling their front and hind legs like salamanders. However, "paleontology has undergone a digital revolution and is revealing much more" about their sea-to-land transition, Dr. Kawano said. "We're now starting to incorporate cutting-edge technology and animation to really get a sense of how these long-extinct fish potentially moved."

Using these new techniques, Dr. Kawano has drawn on the findings of colleagues who re-analyzed fossils chiseled from frozen rock in Greenland as well as observations of similar modern-day creatures like mudskippers. Their conclusion? "Some of the earliest tetrapods could not have pushed themselves up on land with their hind legs like a salamander," she said.

In other words, early terrestrial pioneers obviously made it on to land. But how?

Fins and limbs tell evolutionary tale
The mudskipper fish (left) and tiger salamander have been used as models to study
the movements of prehistoric tetrapods [Credit: Sandy Kawano]
"One of the great things about being a scientific researcher is that you always have new mysteries to explore," Dr. Kawano said. "We are at the tip of the iceberg in understanding how we took those first steps—and what it means to us today."

For ancient animals adapted to living in the water, the first moves to land were dangerous undertakings. True, they were leaving behind shark-like predators. But swapping their fins for limbs left them stuck in muddy shores, baking under the unfamiliar sun. "It wasn't paradise," Dr. Kawano said.

Although their limbs had evolved to the point where they may have walked along the sea floor, "they still were very much aquatic animals—they were very fishy. They had to worry about drying out, they had to worry about gravity. It was not necessarily a quick switch over to a terrestrial life."


For clues on how they adapted, Dr. Kawano points to the African mudskipper. A fish that both swims in the water and crawls on the land, it's one of the few living species believed to move in a similar way to those first land vertebrates. Using two front appendages, which resemble a cross between fins and limbs, mudskippers don't walk or waddle as much as they drag themselves across tidal floors and rocky beaches—not with the boost of their back legs but by pulling their bodies with their front limbs.

Dr. Kawano, a self-described "fish person," has explored ancient anatomy and movement with a team of physicists and engineers from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon University and Clemson University. "I represented the biologists in the group," she said. Together, the team first built a robot to replicate the mudskipper movements—a "muddy bot," as they dubbed it. She also uses high-speed video to take slow motion recordings of live mudskippers and salamanders and fine tune ideas about the motion of the fish and their prehistoric counterparts.

The results of her research will not only solve an evolutionary mystery. The riddle of the tetrapod steps has implications for determining how animals overcome shifting environments, including landscapes altered by climate change. And her focus on anatomy and movement may offer insights to the human body's ailments from knee joint pain to back aches.

"The really exciting part of science is that the more new evidence we find, the more new questions we open up," Dr. Kawano said. "Even though we are working with these extinct animals that are really, really old, they're still bringing up new questions about what we can understand about and learn from our past."

Source: George Washington University [January 17, 2020]



* This article was originally published here

Basingstoke Canal

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The drawbacks of the modern face of 'Homo antecessor'


A study led by the University of Bordeaux and the Dental Anthropology Group of the Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana (CENIEH), which has been published this week in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, reveals that the species Homo antecessor, found in level TD6 of the Gran Dolina site in the Sierra de Atapuerca (Burgos), already endured the drawbacks of having insufficient space for the third molar or wisdom tooth to erupt.

The drawbacks of the modern face of 'Homo antecessor'
Credit: CENIEH
Analysis of the maxilla ATD6-69, "the face" of Homo antecessor, using high-resolution techniques such as micro-computed tomography carried out at the CENIEH, has enabled the identification of signs matching ectopic development, that is, outside the proper location for the third molar, and the secondary impacting pf the second molar with its retention within the alveolar bone.

"Specifically, the wisdom tooth was undergoing development upon the crown of the second molar," says Laura Martín-Francés, principal author of this study.


In this study, the hypothesis of whether the ectopic molar of this individual, whose approximate age was 10 years, was due to a combination of factors such as the characteristic modern face and the large size of the teeth of this child from Atapuerca, is discussed for the first time.

This peculiarity would have led to the lack of space for the normal development of the wisdom tooth and the consequent retention of the second molar.


"While the particular evolution in this individual is unknown, the prognosis in these cases includes the development of caries, periodontitis and even cysts. Thus, we can be sure that around one million years ago, this person would have suffered from severe toothache," affirms Martín-Francés.

For the moment, evidence of this anomaly is only known from a single individual of this species, although the imminent excavation of the entire surface of level TD6 at Gran Dolina will offer new fossil remains to find out whether this circumstance was typical of Homo antecessor due to its modern face.

Source: CENIEH [January 18, 2020]



* This article was originally published here

Japanese team to re-scan Great Pyramid of Giza to pinpoint hidden chamber


Japanese researchers plan to bombard the Great Pyramid of Giza outside Cairo with cosmic rays to confirm if there is a mysterious internal “chamber” that a previous survey detected.

Japanese team to re-scan Great Pyramid of Giza to pinpoint hidden chamber
The Great Pyramid of Giza outside Cairo
[Credit: Asahi Shimbun]
The team from Kyushu University expects to arrive in Egypt soon to scan the massive structure, built around 2500 B.C. and believed to be the tomb for the pharaoh Khufu.

“The previously discovered cavity is way too large from an archaeological perspective,” said Sakuji Yoshimura, who heads the overall research project involving other universities. “We are very keen to verify the findings.”


Tadahiro Kin, an associate professor of radiation metrology at Kyushu University, and other researchers will scan the pyramid with a method called muon radiography, which is much like X-ray imaging.

Muons are subatomic particles generated when protons and other cosmic rays strike the atmosphere. An area about the size of a person's palm receives a muon per second.

Japanese team to re-scan Great Pyramid of Giza to pinpoint hidden chamber
A muon detector used to scan the inside of the pyramid
[Credit: Tadahiro Kin, Kyushu University]
While muons can pass through even bedrock 1 kilometer thick, the number of muons that penetrate objects can change depending on their density and thickness.

The technology will allow Kin's team to measure the thickness of stone blocks used to construct the pyramid.


A newly developed muon detector will operate for a month inside the Queen's Chamber, which is located in the lower part of the giant structure. The accumulated data will be combined with findings from a drone survey.

The pyramid stands 139 meters tall and has a square base with each side measuring 230 meters. A few other chambers, such as the King's Chamber and the Grand Gallery, are known to exist, but details of the internal construction remains a mystery.

Japanese team to re-scan Great Pyramid of Giza to pinpoint hidden chamber
Credit: Asahi Shimbun
Previously, an international research group including Nagoya University and the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization announced that they found a previously unknown cavity measuring more than 30 meters long at the pyramid's center using muon technology.

The finding was reported in British scientific journal Nature in November 2017.


But some researchers in Egypt are skeptical of the claim, and the Egyptian government asked Yoshimura, president of Higashi Nippon International University in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, to verify the findings as he has long been involved in pyramid research.

In addition to Kyushu University, Tohoku University, the University of Tokyo and the Chiba Institute of Technology will be responsible for other parts of the research project under Yoshimura.

The project is due to end by this summer. The findings will be released around autumn.

Author: Shingo Fukushima | Source: The Asahi Shimbun [January 12, 2020]



* This article was originally published here

Crop Circle Littleton, Winchester 2019

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Crop Circle Littleton, Winchester Reported 02/06/2019
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Soar Prehistoric Standing Stone, Anglesey, North Wales, 19.1.20.

Soar Prehistoric Standing Stone, Anglesey, North Wales, 19.1.20.



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2020 January 21 Parker: Sounds of the Solar Wind Video Credit:...



2020 January 21

Parker: Sounds of the Solar Wind
Video Credit: NASA, JHUAPL, Naval Research Lab, Parker Solar Probe; Processing: Avi Solomon

Explanation: What does the solar wind sound like? A wind of fast moving particles blows out from our Sun, and although space transmits sound poorly, particle impact and variable-field data from NASA’s near-Sun Parker Solar Probe is being translated into sound. The disarming audio track of the featured video recounts several of these reverberations, including spooky-sounding Langmuir Waves (heard first), hurricane-sounding Whistler Mode Waves (heard next), and hard-to-describe Dispersive Chirping Waves (heard last). Also impressive is the video’s time-lapse visual track which shows Parker’s view to the side of its sun shield, and where the planets Earth, Jupiter, Mercury and Venus appear in succession, interspersed with bursts of powerful cosmic rays impacting the imager. The nature of the solar wind near Mercury is surprisingly different from near the Earth, and much study is underway to better understand the differences.

∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap200121.html



* This article was originally published here

Scandinavian warrior graves unearthed in Poland


Archaeologists in Poland were stunned to discover the skeletal remains of four Scandinavian warriors many hundreds of miles from their homeland.

Scandinavian warrior graves unearthed in Poland
Two of the graves containing the remains of Scandinavian warriors
[Credit: Z. Ratajczyk, PAP]
The 11th-century remains were discovered at a peculiar burial site dubbed by the archaeologists a death house. A chemical and genetic analysis of the remains found the four men were from Scandinavia, most likely from Denmark.


According to Dr Sławomir Wadyl of the Gdańsk Archeological Museum, the warriors were buried alongside a plethora of trinkets and armaments.

The archaeologist told the Polish Press Agency (PAP): “In the central part of the cemetery, there were four very well-equipped chamber graves.

Scandinavian warrior graves unearthed in Poland
Artistic reconstruction of one of the graves in the central part of the cemetery
[Credit: K. Patalon, PAP]
"Men, probably warriors, were buried in them as evidenced by weapons and equestrian equipment laid together with them."

The four warriors were unearthed in the village of Ciepłe in Eastern Pomerania or Pomorze Wschodnie, northern Poland.

The Danish warriors would have been buried during the Piast dynasty – the first Polish dynasty to rule from the 10th century to the end of the 14th century.

Scandinavian warrior graves unearthed in Poland
Equipment from one of the graves excavated in 1900.
After La Baume [Credit: PAP]
Dr Wadyl said: "It turned out that all of the dead buried in the central part of the cemetery were not from the Piast State, but from Scandinavia, most likely from Denmark."


The warriors were buried within a larger necropolis, dating back to the Polish King Bolesław Chrobry or Bolesław the Brave I. Alongside them, the archaeologists uncovered a treasure-trove of weapons such as decorative swords and spears.

Evidence suggests the four men were skilled horse riders, due to the buckles, stirrups and spurs found next to their bodies. The archaeologists also uncovered old coins, metal trinkets, combs, pots and even the remains of animals.

Scandinavian warrior graves unearthed in Poland
Z-type sword from the grave in the central part of the cemetery
[Credit: J. Szmit, PAP]
The burial site itself is interesting because it is more typical of Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. The warriors were laid to rest in wooden chambers measuring about 11.5ft by 6.5ft (3.5m by 2m). The chambers were built much like a log cabin, with intersecting planks or logs of wood stacked on top of one another.

Dr Wadyl said: "It was one of the more popular house building methods at the time, so you could say they were a 'death house'."

In another part of the cemetery, the archaeologists found another different but equally intriguing burial method. The archaeologists unearthed two large coffins laid to rest inside of a chamber built from vertical, sharpened poles forced into the ground.

Scandinavian warrior graves unearthed in Poland
Spur found in one of the graves [Credit: K. Odya, PAP]
Dr Wadyl said: |These are the biggest chests of their kind that we know of in Poland’s territories at this time."


The collection of burial sites was likely surrounded by some form of fencing or a wooden palisade.

Dr Wadyl believes the Danish warriors were likely part of the local elite due to their elaborate and flashy burials.

Scandinavian warrior graves unearthed in Poland
Reconstruction of a stirrup found in one of the graves
[Credit: K. Patalon, PAP]
He said:"Those buried in the central part of the cement ray represented the social elite of the time, as evidenced by the monumental character of their graves and rich furnishings. They probably belonged to a group of elite riders but their role was probably was not limited to the function of warriors"

The archaeologist also thinks the men collected taxes from the local populace due to a set of weights found next to two of the dead.

Author: Sebastian Kettley | Source: Express [January 20, 2020]



* This article was originally published here

CROPCIRCLE LongWood Road Owslebury Winchester Hampshire 4k

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Crop Circle Longwood Rd Owslebury, Winchester Hampshire Reported 10/06/2019
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Llanfechell Prehistoric Standing Stones, Anglesey, North Wales, 19.1.20.

Llanfechell Prehistoric Standing Stones, Anglesey, North Wales, 19.1.20.



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Human-caused biodiversity decline started millions of years ago


The human-caused biodiversity decline started much earlier than researchers used to believe. According to a new study published in the scientific journal Ecology Letters the process was not started by our own species but by some of our ancestors.

Human-caused biodiversity decline started millions of years ago
Dinofelis, painting by Mauricio Antón. The picture shows a saber-toothed cat Dinofelis eating
while one of our ancestors are watching. Dinofelis has been considered a predator that our
ancestors were greatly fearing. But new research suggests that it was human ancestors that
may have caused the eventual extinction of the species along with other major predators
[Credit: University of Gothenburg]
The work was done by an international team of scientists from Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

The researchers point out in the study that the ongoing biological diversity crisis is not a new phenomenon, but represents an acceleration of a process that human ancestors began millions of years ago.


"The extinctions that we see in the fossils are often explained as the results of climatic changes but the changes in Africa within the last few million years were relative minor and our analyses show that climatic changes were not the main cause of the observed extinctions," explains Søren Faurby, researcher at Gothenburg University and the main author of the study.

"Our analyzes show that the best explanation for the extinction of carnivores in East Africa is instead that they are caused by direct competition for food with our extinct ancestors," adds Daniele Silvestro, computational biologist and co-author of the study.

Carnivores disappeared

Our ancestors have been common throughout eastern Africa for several million years and during this time there were multiple extinctions according to Lars Werdelin, co-author and expert on African fossils.

"By investigating the African fossils, we can see a drastic reduction in the number of large carnivores, a decrease that started about 4 million years ago. About the same time, our ancestors may have started using a new technology to get food called kleptoparasitism," he explains.

Kleptoparasitism means stealing recently killed animals from other predators. For example, when a lion steals a dead antelope from a cheetah.


The researchers are now proposing, based on fossil evidence, that human ancestors stole recently killed animals from other predators. This would lead to starvation of the individual animals and over time to extinction of their entire species.

"This may be the reason why most large carnivores in Africa have developed strategies to defend their prey. For example, by picking up the prey in a tree that we see leopards doing. Other carnivores have instead evolved social behavior as we see in lions, who among other things work together to defend their prey," explains Søren Faurby

Humans today affect the world and the species that live in it more than ever before.

"But this does not mean that we previously lived in harmony with nature. Monopolization of resources is a skill we and our ancestors have had for millions of years, but only now are we able to understand and change our behavior and strive for a sustainable future. 'If you are very strong, you must also be very kind'," concludes Søren Faurby and quotes Astrid Lindgrens book about Pippi Longstocking.

Source: University of Gothenburg [January 17, 2020]



* This article was originally published here

Crop Circle Solstice Sparticles Wood Surrey Reported 21st June 2019

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Crop Circle Solstice Sparticles Wood Surrey Reported 21st June 2019
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Lligwy Prehistoric Burial Chamber, Anglesey, North Wales, 19.1.20.

Lligwy Prehistoric Burial Chamber, Anglesey, North Wales, 19.1.20.



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Ancient tomb group discovered in Shaanxi


Archaeologists in northwest China's Shaanxi Province said Tuesday they have unearthed an ancient tomb group and a large number of cultural relics.

Ancient tomb group discovered in Shaanxi
Credit: China News


An ancient wine vessel dating from the Western Zhou Dynasty (1046 BC - 771 BC) was found in Xuguang Village in November 2018. An investigation indicated that the vessel belonged to a tomb in the village, where seven other tombs were later found, according to Xin Yihua, director of the archaeological research institute of the city of Baoji.

Ancient tomb group discovered in Shaanxi
Credit: China News
Archaeologists said that among the eight tombs unearthed during the excavation, five were in the early period of the Western Zhou Dynasty and three in the Warring States Period (475 B.C.-221 B.C.).

Ancient tomb group discovered in Shaanxi
Credit: China News


A total of 211 sets and pieces of cultural relics, including porcelain, bronze vessels, bronze chariots and horses, gold objects, jade ware and agate ornaments, were excavated from the tombs.

Ancient tomb group discovered in Shaanxi
Credit: China News
Based on the tomb group shape and arrangement, burial objects and inscriptions on the objects, owners of the tombs should be higher-ranking aristocrats, Xin said.

Ancient tomb group discovered in Shaanxi
Credit: China News
"The new findings are of great significance to the study of cultural exchanges and trade between Baoji and its surrounding areas in the Western Zhou Dynasty and the Warring States Period, as well as the local organization structure," Xin added.

Source: Xinhua News Agency [January 14, 2020]



* This article was originally published here

Crop Circle Scrubbs Lane Bishop's Sutton 4K

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Crop Circle Scrubbs Lane Bishop's Sutton Alresford Hampshire Reported 29/06/2019
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Prehistoric Artwork, Holyhead, Holy Island, Anglesey, North Wales, 19.1.20.

Prehistoric Artwork, Holyhead, Holy Island, Anglesey, North Wales, 19.1.20.



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Foundations of pre-Hispanic house unearthed in Mexico City


The foundations of a pre-Hispanic home and other structural remains of an ancient settlement have been uncovered by archaeologists in the Mexico City borough of Azcapotzalco.

Foundations of pre-Hispanic house unearthed in Mexico City
Credit: Mauricio Marat, INAH
The National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) said in a statement that the discoveries in the historic center of the northern borough were part of the ancient altépetl, or city-state, of Mexicapan.


The city came into being when inhabitants of the Aztec, or Mexica, capital of Tenochtitlán conquered the dominion of Azcapotzalco in 1428 and divided it into two autonomous settlements – Mexicapan and Tepanecapan.

The “domestic platform,” as INAH describes the foundations of the home, and the other structural remains are believed to have been part of a residential neighborhood within Mexicapan that was occupied by the city’s elite.

Foundations of pre-Hispanic house unearthed in Mexico City
Foundations of pre-Hispanic house unearthed in Mexico City
Foundations of pre-Hispanic house unearthed in Mexico City
Foundations of pre-Hispanic house unearthed in Mexico City
Credit: Mauricio Marat, INAH
Measuring eight meters by six meters, the stone foundations of the pre-Hispanic house are among the largest ever found in Azcapotzalco, said INAH archaeologist Nancy Domínguez Rosas. The archaeological rescue team she heads also unearthed the remains of stone walls on the perimeter of the platform that measure between 50 and 70 centimeters.


The foundation is well preserved, Domínguez said, although the wall remains show signs of damage from more recent construction.

Archaeologists believe that the platform was built in two separate stages, the first of which corresponds to the late post classic period between 1350 and 1519 AD. When the second phase of construction took place has not yet been determined.

Foundations of pre-Hispanic house unearthed in Mexico City
Foundations of pre-Hispanic house unearthed in Mexico City
Foundations of pre-Hispanic house unearthed in Mexico City
Foundations of pre-Hispanic house unearthed in Mexico City
Credit: Mauricio Marat, INAH
Archaeologists found the platform while working alongside a municipal government team that was installing a tension fabric structure on Paseo de las Hormigas (Promenade of the Ants), which is part of the Azcapotzalco Park.


Domínguez said that 31 holes between one and two meters deep were dug for the slab foundations of the shade structure.

The structural remains of the Mexicapan neighborhood were discovered at a depth of 1.2 to two meters in front of the Azcapotzalco market, she said.

Foundations of pre-Hispanic house unearthed in Mexico City
Foundations of pre-Hispanic house unearthed in Mexico City
Foundations of pre-Hispanic house unearthed in Mexico City
Foundations of pre-Hispanic house unearthed in Mexico City
Credit: Mauricio Marat, INAH
In addition to the domestic platform, archaeologists discovered the remains of other residential structures including one that measures 1.72 by 1.75 meters. All of the structures were made out of high-quality materials, leading archaeologists to conclude that they housed the elite and upper classes of Mexicapan society. The archaeological rescue team has also discovered artifacts made out of both stone and bones.


Domínguez said the presence of the INAH team while the municipal employees are working in the area ensures that archaeological remains are not damaged, adding that archaeologists will continue to work to determine if there are any more pre-Hispanic structures in the area.

After they have been examined, the structures will be covered with geotextile, soil and limestone to avoid their deterioration.


The discovery of such remains allows archaeologists “to recover information and contrast it with information provided by historical sources,” Domínguez said, adding that the aim is to develop a greater understanding of “the way of life” of the residents of Mexicapan.

She also said that there is evidence that there were chinampas, or floating gardens, in the elite neighborhood and that human burials took place there.

The information... helps us to gradually reconstruct the puzzle of the urban configuration of Azcapotzalco in the pre-Hispanic era,” Domínguez said.

Source: Mexico News Daily [January 14, 2020]



* This article was originally published here

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