Science News

  • When three species of human ancestor walked the Earth
    on April 2, 2020 at 7:57 pm

    Scientists share details of the most ancient fossil of Homo erectus known and discuss how these new findings are forcing us to rewrite a part of our species' evolutionary history.

  • Homo naledi juvenile remains offers clues to how our ancestors grew up
    on April 1, 2020 at 7:08 pm

    A partial skeleton of Homo naledi represents a rare case of an immature individual, shedding light on the evolution of growth and development in human ancestry, according to a study.

  • Modern humans, Neanderthals share a tangled genetic history, study affirms
    on April 1, 2020 at 7:08 pm

    A new study reinforces the concept that Neanderthal DNA has been woven into the modern human genome on multiple occasions as our ancestors met Neanderthals time and again in different parts of the world.

  • Coral tells own tale about El Niño's past
    on March 26, 2020 at 6:44 pm

    Scientists use data from ancient coral to build a record of temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean over the last millennium. The data question previous links between volcanic eruptions and El Niño events.

  • Neanderthals ate mussels, fish, and seals too
    on March 26, 2020 at 6:44 pm

    Over 80,000 years ago, Neanderthals fed themselves on mussels, fish and other marine life. The first evidence has been found by an international team in the cave of Figueira Brava in Portugal. The excavated layers date from 86,000 to 106,000 years ago, the period when Neanderthals settled in Europe. Sourcing food from the sea at that time had only been attributed to anatomically modern humans in Africa.

  • Fine-tuning radiocarbon dating could 'rewrite' ancient events
    on March 19, 2020 at 6:10 pm

    A new paper points out the need for an important new refinement to radiocarbon dating. The research has relevance for understanding key dates in Mediterranean history and prehistory, including the tomb of Tutankhamen and a controversial but important volcanic eruption on the Greek island of Santorini.

  • Bone analyses tell about kitchen utensils in the Middle Ages
    on March 19, 2020 at 4:52 pm

    Who in the Middle Ages cooked their dinner in copper pots? And where did they do it? Such information can be revealed by chemical analyses of human bones.

  • Aboriginal scars from frontier wars
    on March 18, 2020 at 2:44 pm

    Hundreds of Aboriginal men who became native mounted police in colonial Australia carried a significant burden of responsibility for law and order for white settlers in Queensland and other settlements. A long-running archaeology project has turned the lens on the recruitment to the Queensland Native Mounted Police and their part in the violent 'frontier wars' - which created long-term traumatic impacts on the lives of the Indigenous people involved.

  • Surprising research: Prehistoric hyenas and humans share migration patterns
    on March 13, 2020 at 10:08 pm

    New research into the evolutionary history and prehistoric migrations of hyenas reveals surprising similarities between hyenas and prehistoric humans. The results also indicate that humans had a detrimental effect on hyena populations about 100,000 years ago.

  • Sticky tape: A key ingredient for mapping artifact origins
    on March 9, 2020 at 1:30 pm

    Researchers have demonstrated that combining a highly sensitive sulfur analysis technique with simple sulfur-free tape is an effective and harmless way to test extremely small samples of vermilion from artifacts that are thousands of years old. The study used this technique to confirm that trade likely existed between Japan's northern island of Hokkaido and the western part of Japan's mainland -- a distance of over 1000 miles -- more than 3000 years ago.

  • Siberian Neanderthals originated from various European populations
    on March 4, 2020 at 7:15 pm

    At least two different groups of Neanderthals lived in Southern Siberia researchers have now shown that one of these groups migrated from Eastern Europe.

  • How millets sustained Mongolia's empires
    on March 3, 2020 at 4:32 pm

    Researchers examined stable isotopes from bone collagen and dental enamel to reconstruct the diets of ancient Mongolians. Findings challenge the popular notion of a completely nomadic prehistoric population, linking grain cultivation with the success of the Xiongnu Empire (c. 200 BCE-150 CE) and showing continual grain consumption during the Mongol Empire of the Khans (c. 1200-1400 CE).

  • 5,000-year-old milk proteins point to the importance of dairying in eastern Eurasia
    on March 2, 2020 at 4:33 pm

    By analyzing milk proteins extracted from calcified dental plaque, researchers present the earliest evidence for dairy consumption on the eastern Eurasian Steppe and uncover clues to the origin of mounted dairy pastoralism in Mongolia.

  • Complex pattern of ancient immigration from Africa, Asia and Europe
    on February 26, 2020 at 2:54 pm

    Anthropologists have found out that prehistoric migration from Africa, Asia and Europe to the Mediterranean islands took place long before the era of the Mediterranean seafaring civilizations. For their analysis they used the DNA of prehistoric individuals from Sicily, Sardinia and the Balearic Islands.

  • Ancient DNA from Sardinia reveals 6,000 years of genetic history
    on February 24, 2020 at 6:11 pm

    A new study of the genetic history of Sardinia, a Mediterranean island off the western coast of Italy, analyzed genome-wide DNA data for 70 individuals from more than 20 Sardinian archaeological sites spanning roughly 6,000 years from the Middle Neolithic through the Medieval period.

  • Earliest interbreeding event between ancient human populations discovered
    on February 20, 2020 at 7:12 pm

    A new study documented the earliest known interbreeding event between ancient human populations -- a group known as the 'super-archaics' in Eurasia interbred with a Neanderthal-Denisovan ancestor about 700,000 years ago. The event was between two populations more distantly related than any other recorded. The authors proposed a revised timeline for human migration out of Africa and into Eurasia. The method for analyzing ancient DNA provides a new way to look farther back into the human lineage.

  • Old Irish 'clachan' found in South Australia
    on February 18, 2020 at 3:47 pm

    The oldest known Australian example of a communal type of Irish settlement has been 'unearthed' in a dusty paddock in rural South Australia. An extensive geophysical study of the Baker's Flat Irish settlement site near Kapunda has found the first -- and possibly largest -- clachan in Australia, says Flinders archaeologist Susan Arthure.

  • Discovery at 'flower burial' site could unravel mystery of Neanderthal death rites
    on February 18, 2020 at 12:34 pm

    The first articulated Neanderthal skeleton to come out of the ground for over 20 years has been unearthed at one of the most important sites of mid-20th century archaeology: Shanidar Cave, in the foothills of Iraqi Kurdistan.

  • 5200-year-old grains in the eastern Altai Mountains redate trans-Eurasian crop exchange
    on February 14, 2020 at 6:47 pm

    Cereals from the Fertile Crescent and broomcorn millet from northern China spread across the ancient world, integrating into complex farming systems that used crop-rotation cycles enabled by the different ecological regions of origin. The resulting productivity allowed for demographic expansions and imperial formation in Europe and Asia. In this study, scientists illustrate that people moved these crops across Eurasia earlier than previously realized, adapting cultivation methods for harsh […]

  • 9,900-year-old Mexican female skeleton distinct from other early American settlers
    on February 5, 2020 at 7:33 pm

    A new skeleton discovered in the submerged caves at Tulum sheds new light on the earliest settlers of Mexico.

  • Ocean temperatures impact Central American climate more than once thought
    on February 5, 2020 at 6:22 pm

    Researchers examined the rainfall history of Central America over the last 11,000 years. The results provide context for the development of tropical rainforest ecosystems in the region, and long-sought answers to what has been controlling rainfall in Central America for several millennia.

  • Smaller detection device effective for nuclear treaty verification, archaeology digs
    on January 29, 2020 at 10:45 pm

    Most nuclear data measurements are performed at accelerators large enough to occupy a geologic formation a kilometer wide. But a portable device that can reveal the composition of materials quickly on-site would greatly benefit cases such as in archaeology and nuclear arms treaty verification. New research used computational simulations to show that with the right geometric adjustments, it is possible to perform neutron resonance transmission analysis in a device just 5 meters long.

  • Early North Americans may have been more diverse than previously suspected
    on January 29, 2020 at 7:33 pm

    Ancient skulls from the cave systems at Tulum, Mexico, suggest that the earliest populations of North America may have already had a high level of morphological diversity, according to a new study.

  • Game-based virtual archaeology field school
    on January 29, 2020 at 5:33 pm

    Before they can get started at their field site - a giant cave studded with stalactites, stalagmites and human artifacts -- 15 undergraduate students must figure out how to use their virtual hands and tools. They also must learn to teleport.

  • Assessing geographic origins of ancient humans
    on January 28, 2020 at 7:27 pm

    Working with lead isotopes taken from tooth enamel of prehistoric animals, researchers have developed a new method for assessing the geographic origins of ancient humans.

  • Hungry for hutia? Our taste for Bahamas' 'most peaceable rodent' shaped its diversity
    on January 28, 2020 at 5:27 pm

    Hungry for hutia? Humans' taste for this Bahamian rodent shaped its diversity over 1,000 years -- an example of how what we like to eat can chart the course of a species.

  • New study debunks myth of Cahokia's Native American lost civilization
    on January 27, 2020 at 7:54 pm

    An archaeologist has dug up ancient human feces, among other demographic clues, to challenge the narrative around the legendary demise of Cahokia, North America's most iconic pre-Columbian metropolis.

  • Driven by Earth's orbit, climate changes in Africa may have aided human migration
    on January 27, 2020 at 7:54 pm

    New research describes a dynamic climate and vegetation model that explains when regions across Africa, areas of the Middle East, and the Mediterranean were wetter and drier and how the plant composition changed in tandem, possibly providing migration corridors throughout time.

  • Tw writers penned landmark inscriptions in 8th-century BCE Samaria
    on January 22, 2020 at 8:43 pm

    A new study reveals that only 2 writers penned landmark inscriptions on an 8th-century BCE Samarian ostraca. The discovery illuminates the bureaucratic apparatus of an ancient kingdom of Israel.

  • Anthropologists confirm existence of specialized sheep-hunting camp in prehistoric Lebanon
    on January 22, 2020 at 8:00 pm

    Anthropologists have confirmed the existence more than 10,000 years ago of a hunting camp in the mountains along the modern-day border between Lebanon and Syria -- one that straddles the period marking the transition from nomadic hunter-gatherer societies to agricultural settlements at the onset of the last stone age. Analysis of decades-old data collected from Nachcharini Cave shows it was a short-term hunting camp and that sheep were the primary game.

  • Native Americans did not make large-scale changes to environment prior to European contact
    on January 22, 2020 at 5:37 pm

    Contrary to long-held beliefs, humans did not make major changes to the landscape prior to European colonization, according to new research. These new insights into the past could help to inform how landscapes are managed in the future.

  • Fossil is the oldest-known scorpion
    on January 16, 2020 at 5:19 pm

    Scientists studying fossils collected 35 years ago have identified them as the oldest-known scorpion species, a prehistoric animal from about 437 million years ago. The researchers found that the animal likely had the capacity to breathe in both ancient oceans and on land.

  • The Vikings erected a runestone out of fear of climate catastrophe
    on January 8, 2020 at 9:13 pm

    Several passages on the Rök stone -- the world's most famous Viking Age runic monument -- suggest that the inscription is about battles and for over a hundred years, researchers have been trying to connect the inscription with heroic deeds in war. Now, thanks to an interdisciplinary research project, a new interpretation of the inscription is being presented. The study shows that the inscription deals with an entirely different kind of battle: the conflict between light and darkness, […]

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