Science News

  • Better labor practices could improve archaeological output
    on April 22, 2019 at 12:22 pm

    Archaeological excavation has, historically, operated in a very hierarchical structure, according to archaeologist. The history of the enterprise is deeply entangled with Western colonial and imperial pursuits, she says. Excavations have been, and often still are, led by foreigners from the West, while dependent on the labor of scores of people from the local community to perform the manual labor of the dig. […]

  • A history of the Crusades, as told by crusaders' DNA
    on April 18, 2019 at 5:14 pm

    History can tell us a lot about the Crusades, the series of religious wars fought between 1095 and 1291, in which Christian invaders tried to claim the Near East. But the DNA of nine 13th century Crusaders buried in a pit in Lebanon shows that there's more to learn about who the Crusaders were and their interactions with the populations they encountered. […]

  • Ancient 'Texas Serengeti' had elephant-like animals, rhinos, alligators and more
    on April 11, 2019 at 2:18 pm

    During the Great Depression, Texans were put to work as fossil hunters. The workers retrieved tens of thousands of specimens that have been studied in small bits and pieces while stored in the state collections of The University of Texas at Austin for the past 80 years. Now, decades after they were first collected, a researcher has studied and identified an extensive collection of fossils from dig sites near Beeville, Texas, and found that the fauna make up a veritable 'Texas Serengeti.' […]

  • New species of early human found in the Philippines
    on April 10, 2019 at 6:18 pm

    Researchers have uncovered the remains of a new species of human in the Philippines, proving the region played a key role in hominin evolutionary history. […]

  • Archaeologists identify first prehistoric figurative cave art in Balkans
    on April 10, 2019 at 4:06 pm

    Archaeologist have revealed the first example of Paleolithic figurative cave art found in the Balkan Peninsula. […]

  • Cherokee inscriptions in Alabama cave interpreted
    on April 10, 2019 at 4:00 pm

    For the first time, a team of scholars and archaeologists has recorded and interpreted Cherokee inscriptions in Manitou Cave, Alabama. These inscriptions reveal evidence of secluded ceremonial activities at a time of crisis for the Cherokee, who were displaced from their ancestral lands and sent westward on the Trail of Tears in the 1830s. […]

  • Woolly mammoths and Neanderthals may have shared genetic traits
    on April 8, 2019 at 4:32 pm

    A new study suggests that the genetic profiles of two extinct mammals with African ancestry -- woolly mammoths and Neanderthals -- shared molecular characteristics of adaptation to cold environments. […]

  • Digging ancient signals out of modern human genomes
    on April 5, 2019 at 10:39 pm

    Trying to find ancient DNA, let alone prove that the ancient DNA is ancestral to a population living today, is extremely challenging. A new study adds to this understanding by reconstructing artificial genomes with the analyses of the genome of 565 contemporary South Asian individuals to extract ancient signals that recapitulate the long history of human migration and admixture in the region. […]

  • Jurassic crocodile discovery sheds light on reptiles' family tree
    on April 4, 2019 at 4:47 pm

    A 150 million-year-old fossil has been identified as a previously unseen species of ancient crocodile that developed a tail fin and paddle-like limbs for life in the sea. […]

  • Ancient, four-legged whale with otter-like features found along the coast of Peru
    on April 4, 2019 at 3:44 pm

    Cetaceans, the group including whales and dolphins, originated in south Asia more than 50 million years ago from a small, four-legged, hoofed ancestor. Now, researchers reporting the discovery of an ancient four-legged whale -- found in 42.6-million-year-old marine sediments along the coast of Peru -- have new insight into whales' evolution and their dispersal to other parts of the world. […]

  • Scientists shed light on preservation mystery of Terracotta Army weapons
    on April 4, 2019 at 1:48 pm

    The chrome plating on the Terracotta Army bronze weapons -- once thought to be the earliest form of anti-rust technology -- derives from a decorative varnish rather than a preservation technique, finds a new study. […]

  • A 5,000-year-old barley grain discovered in Finland changes understanding of livelihoods
    on April 3, 2019 at 3:39 pm

    A 5,000-year-old barley grain discovered in Aland, southern Finland, turns researchers' understanding of ancient Northern livelihoods upside down. New findings reveal that hunter-gatherers took to farming already 5,000 years ago in eastern Sweden, and on the Aland Islands, located on the southwest coast of Finland. […]

  • Researchers find ancient Maya farms in Mexican wetlands
    on March 29, 2019 at 5:01 pm

    Archaeologists used the latest technology to find evidence suggesting ancient Maya people grew surplus crops to support an active trade with neighbors up and down the Yucatan Peninsula. The extensive croplands suggest the ancient Maya could grow surplus crops, especially the cotton responsible for the renowned textiles that were traded throughout Mesoamerica. […]

  • Paleontologists report world's biggest Tyrannosaurus rex
    on March 22, 2019 at 8:33 pm

    Paleontologists have just reported the world's biggest Tyrannosaurus rex and the largest dinosaur skeleton ever found in Canada. The 13-metre-long T. rex, nicknamed 'Scotty,' lived in prehistoric Saskatchewan 66 million years ago. […]

  • North Africans were among the first to colonize the Canary Islands
    on March 20, 2019 at 6:10 pm

    People from North Africa are likely the main group that founded the indigenous population on the Canary Islands, arriving by 1000 CE, reports a new study. […]

  • New light on origins of modern humans
    on March 20, 2019 at 2:19 pm

    The work confirms a dispersal of Homo sapiens from southern to eastern Africa immediately preceded the out-of-Africa migration. […]

  • Hepatitis B virus sheds light on ancient human population movements into Australia
    on March 18, 2019 at 5:26 pm

    Australian researchers have used hepatitis B virus genome sequences to deduce that the mainland Aboriginal population separated from other early humans at least 59,000 years ago. […]

  • Unique diversity of the genetic history of the Iberian Peninsula revealed by dual studies
    on March 14, 2019 at 7:15 pm

    Researchers have analyzed ancient DNA from almost 300 individuals from the Iberian Peninsula, spanning more than 12,000 years. The first study looked at hunter-gatherers and early farmers living in Iberia between 13,000 and 6,000 years ago. The second looked at individuals from the region over the last 8000 years. Together, the two papers greatly increase our knowledge about the population history of this unique region. […]

  • Strontium isotope maps are disturbed by agricultural lime
    on March 13, 2019 at 6:32 pm

    Strontium isotopes are frequently used in archaeological studies to establish the provenance and migration history of prehistoric people and artifacts. Many of these studies may be based on incorrect data. A new study shows that agricultural lime can alter the composition of strontium isotopes dramatically, so that the modern isotopic signature of an area may be very different from the prehistoric signature. […]

  • Prehistoric Britons rack up food miles for feasts near Stonehenge
    on March 13, 2019 at 6:05 pm

    Archaeologists have unearthed evidence of the earliest large-scale celebrations in Britain - with people and animals traveling hundreds of miles for prehistoric feasting rituals. The study is the most comprehensive to date and examined the bones of 131 pigs, the prime feasting animals, from four Late Neolithic complexes. Serving the world-famous monuments of Stonehenge and Avebury, the four sites hosted the very first pan-British events. […]

  • Changes in rat size reveal habitat of 'Hobbit' hominin
    on March 13, 2019 at 3:47 pm

    A study of rat body sizes shifting over time gives a glimpse into the habitat of the mysterious hominin Homo floresiensis -- nicknamed the 'Hobbit' due to its diminutive stature. […]

  • From Stone Age chips to microchips: How tiny tools may have made us human
    on March 12, 2019 at 4:37 pm

    Anthropologists have long made the case that tool-making is one of the key behaviors that separated our human ancestors from other primates. A new article, however, argues that it was not tool-making that set hominins apart -- it was the miniaturization of tools. […]

  • Palaeolithic art featuring birds and humans discovered
    on March 11, 2019 at 4:52 pm

    A new article tells how researchers found -- in the site of Hort de la Bequera (Margalef de Montsant, Priorat) -- an artistic piece from 12,500 years ago in which humans and birds try to interact in a pictorial scene with exceptional traits: figures seem to star a narration on hunting and motherhood. […]

  • Modern beer yeast emerged from mix of European grape wine, Asian rice wine yeast
    on March 5, 2019 at 8:36 pm

    For thousands of years brewers made beer using specialized strains of the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. A new study shows that modern brewing strains were derived from a mixture of European grape wine and Asian rice wine strains. This finding points to the emergence of beer yeast from a historical East-West transfer of fermentation technology. […]

  • Oldest tattoo tool in western North America
    on February 28, 2019 at 2:36 pm

    Archaeologists have discovered the oldest tattooing artifact in western North America. The tool was made around 2,000 years ago by the Ancestral Pueblo people of the Basketmaker II period in what is now southeastern Utah. […]

  • New research casts doubt on cause of Angkor's collapse
    on February 26, 2019 at 12:21 am

    Research has revealed the ancient Cambodian city of Angkor underwent a gradual decline in occupation rather than an abrupt collapse. […]

  • Foxes were domesticated by humans in the Bronze Age
    on February 21, 2019 at 5:29 pm

    In the northeast of the Iberian Peninsula, between the third and second millennium BC, a widespread funeral practice consisted in burying humans with animals. Scientists have discovered that both foxes and dogs were domesticated, as their diet was similar to that of their owners. […]

  • Origins of giant extinct New Zealand bird traced to Africa
    on February 21, 2019 at 4:03 pm

    Scientists have revealed the African origins of New Zealand's most mysterious giant flightless bird -- the now extinct adzebill -- showing that some of its closest living relatives are the pint-sized flufftails from Madagascar and Africa. […]

  • Biodiversity on land is not higher today than in the past, study shows
    on February 18, 2019 at 5:31 pm

    The rich levels of biodiversity on land seen across the globe today are not a recent phenomenon: diversity on land has been similar for at least the last 60 million years, since soon after the extinction of the dinosaurs. […]

  • Indigenous hunters have positive impacts on food webs in desert Australia
    on February 17, 2019 at 7:25 pm

    Australia has the highest rate of mammal extinction in the world. Resettlement of indigenous communities resulted in the spread of invasive species, the absence of human-set fires, and a general cascade in the interconnected food web that led to the largest mammalian extinction event ever recorded. In this case, the absence of direct human activity on the landscape may be the cause of the extinctions, according to an anthropologist. […]

  • New dinosaur with heart-shaped tail provides evolutionary clues for African continent
    on February 13, 2019 at 7:27 pm

    A new dinosaur that wears its 'heart' on its tail provides new clues to how ecosystems evolved on the African continent during the Cretaceous period. […]

  • Earliest known seed-eating perching bird discovered in Fossil Lake, Wyoming
    on February 7, 2019 at 4:50 pm

    The 'perching birds,' or passerines, are the most common birds in the world today -- they include sparrows, robins, and finches. They used to be very rare. Scientists have just discovered some of the earliest relatives of the passerines, including a 52-million-year-old fossil with a thick, curved beak for eating seeds. […]

  • Medieval inks for heritage conservation
    on February 5, 2019 at 3:25 pm

    Researchers have replicated five medieval inks using 15th and 16th century recipes. […]

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