Science News

  • Early dispersal of neolithic domesticated sheep into the heart of central Asia
    on April 8, 2021 at 3:23 pm

    Along the Tian Shan and Alay mountain ranges of Central Asia, sheep and other domestic livestock form the core economy of contemporary life. Although it was here that the movements of their ancient predecessors helped to shape the great trade networks of the Silk Road, domestic animals were thought to have come relatively late to the region. A new study reveals that the roots of animal domestication in Central Asia stretch back at least 8,000 years -- making the region one of the oldest […]

  • 800-year-old medieval pottery fragments reveal Jewish dietary practices
    on April 7, 2021 at 4:22 pm

    Archaeologists have found the first evidence of a religious diet locked inside pottery fragments excavated from the early medieval Jewish community.

  • Genomes of the earliest Europeans
    on April 7, 2021 at 4:22 pm

    Ancient genomes shed new light on the earliest Europeans and their relationships with Neanderthals.

  • Early indicators of magma viscosity could help forecast a volcano's eruption style
    on April 7, 2021 at 3:04 pm

    The properties of the magma inside a volcano affect how an eruption will play out. In particular, the viscosity of this molten rock is a major factor in influencing how hazardous an eruption could be for nearby communities. But it usually only quantified well after an eruption. New work identifies an indicator of magma viscosity that can be measured before an eruption. This could help scientists and emergency managers understand possible patterns of future eruptions.

  • Modern analysis of rock art
    on March 31, 2021 at 1:09 am

    Rock art of human figures created over thousands of years in Australia's Arnhem Land has been put through a transformative machine learning study to analyse style changes over the years. The study has tested different styles labelled 'Northern Running figures', 'Dynamic figures', 'Post Dynamic figures' and 'Simple figures with Boomerangs' to understand how these styles relate to one another.

  • Ancient genomes trace the origin and decline of the Scythians
    on March 26, 2021 at 7:13 pm

    Generally thought of as fierce horse-warriors, the Scythians were a multitude of Iron Age cultures who ruled the Eurasian steppe, playing a major role in Eurasian history. A new study analyzes genome-wide data for 111 ancient individuals spanning the Central Asian Steppe from the first millennia BCE and CE. The results reveal new insights into the genetic events associated with the origins, development and decline of the steppe's legendary Scythians.

  • Warriors' down bedding could ease journey to realm of the dead
    on March 25, 2021 at 3:54 pm

    Feathers, an owl head and oars suggest the people in this Iron Age grave were prepared for a long journey.

  • Ancient Maya houses show wealth inequality is tied to despotic governance
    on March 24, 2021 at 7:51 pm

    Archaeologists examined the remains of houses in ancient Maya cities and compared them with other Mesoamerican societies; they found that the societies with the most wealth inequality were also the ones that had governments that concentrated power with a smaller number of people.

  • For ancient farmers facing climate change, more grazing meant more resilience
    on March 24, 2021 at 3:33 pm

    Humans are remarkably adaptable, and our ancestors have survived challenges like the changing climate in the past. Now, research is providing insight into how people who lived over 5,000 years ago managed to adapt.

  • New evidence in search for the mysterious Denisovans
    on March 23, 2021 at 12:47 pm

    Researchers have conducted a comprehensive genetic analysis and found no evidence of interbreeding between modern humans and the ancient humans known from fossil records in Island Southeast Asia. They did find further DNA evidence of our mysterious ancient cousins, the Denisovans, which could mean there are major discoveries to come in the region.

  • Worth one's salt: An ancient Maya commodity
    on March 22, 2021 at 6:32 pm

    The first documented record of salt as an ancient Maya commodity at a marketplace is depicted in a mural painted more than 2,500 years ago at Calakmul, a UNESCO World Heritage site in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. Salt cakes could have been easily transported in canoes along the coast and up rivers in southern Belize, according to archaeologists.

  • Extinct Caribbean bird's closest relatives hail from Africa, South Pacific
    on March 17, 2021 at 1:46 am

    In a genetic surprise, ancient DNA shows the closest family members of an extinct bird known as the Haitian cave-rail are not in the Americas, but Africa and the South Pacific, uncovering an unexpected link between Caribbean bird life and the Old World.

  • Experts recreate a mechanical Cosmos for the world's first computer
    on March 12, 2021 at 1:47 pm

    Researchers have solved a major piece of the puzzle that makes up the ancient Greek astronomical calculator known as the Antikythera Mechanism, a hand-powered mechanical device that was used to predict astronomical events.

  • Paleontology: Microscope helps with dinosaur puzzle
    on March 11, 2021 at 8:27 pm

    Fossil sites sometimes resemble a living room table on which half a dozen different jigsaw puzzles have been dumped: It is often difficult to say which bone belongs to which animal. Researchers have now presented a method that allows a more certain answer to this question.

  • Elite women might have ruled El Argar 4,000 years ago
    on March 11, 2021 at 1:53 pm

    Research on the individuals and valuable grave goods found in a princely tomb of La Almoloya, in which a silver diadem stands out, offers a new perspective on the power of the El Argar society during the Bronze Age and the role some women may have had.

  • Biomolecular analysis of medieval parchment 'birthing girdle'
    on March 10, 2021 at 12:25 am

    Analysis of stained c. 500-year-old manuscript provides direct evidence of wear and use during childbirth. Birthing girdles are thought to have been used in medieval society to protect the wearer during pregnancy and childbirth - dangerous times for women.

  • Ancient DNA reveals clues about how tuberculosis shaped the human immune system
    on March 4, 2021 at 4:24 pm

    A new study employing ancient human DNA reveals how tuberculosis has affected European populations over the past 2,000 years, specifically the impact that disease has had on the human genome. This work has implications for studying not only evolutionary genetics, but also how genetics can influence the immune system.

  • Journey of a skull: How a single human cranium wound up alone in a cave in Italy
    on March 3, 2021 at 7:25 pm

    A lone cranium in an Italian cave wound up there after being washed away from its original burial site, according to a new study.

  • New technology allows scientists first glimpse of intricate details of Little Foot's life
    on March 2, 2021 at 12:53 pm

    In June 2019, an international team brought the complete skull of the 3.67-million-year-old Little Foot Australopithecus skeleton, from South Africa to the UK and achieved unprecedented imaging resolution of its bony structures and dentition in an X-ray synchrotron-based investigation at the UK's national synchrotron, Diamond Light Source. The X-ray work is highlighted in a new article, focusing on the inner craniodental features of Little Foot.

  • Deep dive into bioarchaeological data reveals Mediterranean migration trends over 8,000 years
    on March 1, 2021 at 8:15 pm

    A team of international researchers has analyzed reams of data from the Neolithic to Late Roman period looking at migration patterns across the Mediterranean and found that despite evidence of cultural connections, there's little evidence of massive migration across the region.

  • Under climate stress, human innovation set stage for population surge
    on February 26, 2021 at 5:12 pm

    Aridification in the central plains of China during the early Bronze Age did not cause population collapse, a result that highlights the importance of social resilience to climate change. Instead of a collapse amid dry conditions, development of agriculture and increasingly complex human social structures set the stage for a dramatic increase in human population around 3,900 to 3,500 years ago.

  • Ancient skeletal hand could reveal evolutionary secrets
    on February 25, 2021 at 1:25 pm

    Evolutionary expert Charles Darwin and others recognized a close evolutionary relationship between humans, chimps and gorillas based on their shared anatomies, raising some big questions: how are humans related to other primates, and exactly how did early humans move around?

  • How did dogs get to the Americas? An ancient bone fragment holds clues
    on February 24, 2021 at 12:24 am

    Researchers analyzed the dog's mitochondrial genome, and concluded that the animal belonged to a lineage of dogs whose evolutionary history diverged from that of Siberian dogs as early as 16,700 years ago. The timing of that split coincides with a period when humans may have been migrating into North America along a coastal route that included Southeast Alaska.

  • Medieval containers hint at thriving wine trade in Islamic Sicily
    on February 22, 2021 at 9:42 pm

    Researchers have found chemical residues of grapes in medieval containers indicating a prosperous wine trade in Islamic Sicily.

  • Genomic insights into the origin of pre-historic populations in East Asia
    on February 22, 2021 at 5:46 pm

    East Asia today harbors more than a fifth of the world's population and some of the most deeply branching modern human lineages outside of Africa. However, its genetic diversity and deep population history remain poorly understood relative to many other parts of the world. In a new study, researchers analyzes genome-wide data for 166 ancient individuals spanning 8,000 years and 46 present-day groups, and provides insights into the formation of East Asian populations.

  • Changing livestock in ancient Europe reflect political shifts
    on February 17, 2021 at 8:11 pm

    In ancient European settlements, livestock use was likely primarily determined by political structure and market demands, according to a new study.

  • World's oldest DNA reveals how mammoths evolved
    on February 17, 2021 at 4:44 pm

    An international team has sequenced DNA recovered from mammoth remains that are up to 1.2 million years old. The analyses show that the Columbian mammoth that inhabited North America during the last ice age was a hybrid between the woolly mammoth and a previously unknown genetic lineage of mammoth. The study provides new insights into when and how fast mammoths became adapted to cold climate.

  • Neanderthals and Homo sapiens used identical Nubian technology
    on February 15, 2021 at 2:24 pm

    New analysis of a fossil tooth and stone tools from Shukbah Cave reveals Neanderthals used stone tool technologies thought to have been unique to modern humans.

  • Horse remains reveal new insights into how Native peoples raised horses
    on February 4, 2021 at 6:14 pm

    When a Utah couple dug up the remains of a horse near the city of Provo, researchers suspected that they may have discovered an animal that lived during the last Ice Age. New results suggest a different story.

  • Environmental factors had a role in the evolution of human tolerance
    on February 3, 2021 at 2:05 pm

    Environmental pressures may have led humans to become more tolerant and friendly towards each other as the need to share food and raw materials became mutually beneficial, a new study suggests.

  • What did the Swiss eat during the Bronze Age?
    on February 2, 2021 at 4:37 pm

    People living at the Bronze Age faced a series of challenges: climate, opening up of trade and population growth. How did they respond to changes in their diet? Researchers have carried out isotopic analyses on skeletons together with plant remains. They discovered that manure use had become widespread over time to improve crop harvests in response to demographic growth. They also found that there had been a radical change in dietary habits.

  • Scientific investigations of believed remains of two apostles
    on February 1, 2021 at 4:35 pm

    A Roman church has since the sixth century AD held relics, believed to be the remains of two apostles. Now, they have undergone scientific analysis, casting light on their age and origin.

  • Chumash Indians were using highly worked shell beads as currency 2,000 years ago
    on January 29, 2021 at 5:02 pm

    Archaeologists show that the Chumash Indians had been using shell beads as money for at least 800 years.

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