Science News

  • First confirmed underwater Aboriginal archaeological sites found off Australian coast
    on July 1, 2020 at 7:17 pm

    Ancient submerged Aboriginal archaeological sites await underwater rediscovery off the coast of Australia, according to a study.

  • Native bees' exotic origins reveal cross-pollination
    on June 26, 2020 at 3:48 pm

    Ancestors of a distinctive pollinating bee found across Australia probably originated in tropical Asian countries, islands in the south-west Pacific or greater Oceania region, ecology researchers claim. Describing the likely dispersal corridor for the ancestral lineage of the bee genus Homalictus will help understand the social evolution of the vibrant halictine bees, researchers say.

  • Non-tobacco plant identified in ancient pipe for first time
    on June 26, 2020 at 3:48 pm

    People in what is now Washington State were smoking Rhus glabra, a plant commonly known as smooth sumac, more than 1,400 years ago. The discovery marks the first-time scientists have identified residue from a non-tobacco plant in an archeological pipe.

  • Eruption of Alaska's Okmok volcano linked to period of extreme cold in ancient Rome
    on June 22, 2020 at 7:25 pm

    Scientists and historians have found evidence connecting an unexplained period of extreme cold in ancient Rome with an unlikely source: a massive eruption of Alaska's Okmok volcano, located on the opposite side of the Earth. A new study uses an analysis of tephra (volcanic ash) found in Arctic ice cores to link this period of extreme climate in the Mediterranean with the caldera-forming eruption of Alaska's Okmok volcano in 43 BCE.

  • High-tech CT reveals ancient evolutionary adaptation of extinct crocodylomorphs
    on June 18, 2020 at 4:01 pm

    New insights into the anatomy of the inner ear of prehistoric reptiles, the thalattosuchians, revealed details about the evolutionary adaption during the transition into the ocean after a long semiaquatic phase. These new findings were made possible by the use of a Canon high-tech computed tomography (CT) scanner.

  • A Neanderthal woman from Chagyrskaya Cave
    on June 17, 2020 at 4:15 pm

    Until now, the genomes of only two Neanderthals have been sequenced in high quality: one from Vindjia Cave in modern-day Croatia and one from Denisova Cave in Siberia's Altai Mountains. A research team has now sequenced the genome of a third Neanderthal whose remains were found - 106 kilometers away from the latter site - in Chagyrskaya Cave.

  • Ancient genomes uncover Irish passage tomb dynastic elite
    on June 17, 2020 at 4:15 pm

    Archaeologists and geneticists have shed new light on the earliest periods of Ireland's human history. Among their incredible findings is the discovery that the genome of an adult male buried in the heart of the Newgrange passage tomb points to his parents being first-degree relatives, implying he was among a ruling social elite akin to the similarly inbred Inca god-kings and Egyptian pharaohs.

  • Origins of the beloved guinea pig
    on June 16, 2020 at 2:08 pm

    New research sheds light on guinea pig domestication and how and why the small, furry animals became distributed around the world.

  • Discovery of oldest bow and arrow technology in Eurasia
    on June 12, 2020 at 9:22 pm

    The origins of human innovation have traditionally been sought in the grasslands and coasts of Africa or the temperate environments of Europe. More extreme environments, such as the tropical rainforests of Asia, have been largely overlooked, despite their deep history of human occupation. A new study provides the earliest evidence for bow-and-arrow use, and perhaps the making of clothes, outside of Africa approximately 48-45,000 years ago -- in the tropics of Sri Lanka.

  • Tropical disease in medieval Europe revises the history of a pathogen related to syphilis
    on June 11, 2020 at 3:45 pm

    Plague was commonplace in medieval times, so finding its victims in a 15th century Lithuanian graveyard was no surprise. However, discovering one woman with a second disease, yaws -- a close relative of modern syphilis found today only in tropical settings -- was something researchers did not expect. The current study's findings are changing perspectives on the evolutionary history of a disease family thought to be out of reach for the study of ancient DNA.

  • Ancient origin for key hormone system: Sea cucumbers
    on June 11, 2020 at 2:48 pm

    A key set of proteins that help regulate hormones necessary for many essential functions in humans and other vertebrates have ancient origins in much simpler creatures such as sea cucumbers, says a new study.

  • Ancient bird figurine recovered from refuse heap the oldest instance of East Asian 3D art
    on June 10, 2020 at 7:20 pm

    A small bird carving - -the oldest instance of East Asian three-dimensional art ever discovered -- is described in a new study.

  • Entire Roman city revealed without any digging
    on June 8, 2020 at 11:25 pm

    For the first time, archaeologists have succeeded in mapping a complete Roman city, Falerii Novi in Italy, using advanced ground penetrating radar (GPR), allowing them to reveal astonishing details while it remains deep underground. The technology could revolutionize our understanding of ancient settlements.

  • Ancient DNA provides new insights into the early peopling of the Caribbean
    on June 4, 2020 at 7:21 pm

    According to a new study by an international team of researchers from the Caribbean, Europe and North America, the Caribbean was settled by several successive population dispersals that originated on the American mainland.

  • Researchers document the first use of maize in Mesoamerica
    on June 3, 2020 at 7:11 pm

    Researchers investigated the earliest humans in Mesoamerica and how they adapted over time to new and changing environments, and how those changes have affected human life histories and societies.

  • Pinpointing the origins of Jerusalem's Temple Mount
    on June 3, 2020 at 6:43 pm

    Integrating radiocarbon dating and microarchaeology techniques has enabled more precise dating of the ancient Wilson's Arch monument at Jerusalem's Temple Mount, according to a new study.

  • On the hunt for megafauna in North America
    on June 2, 2020 at 3:01 pm

    Research has found that pre-historic climate change does not explain the extinction of megafauna in North America at the end of the last Ice Age.

  • Ancient genomes link subsistence change and human migration in northern China
    on June 1, 2020 at 11:29 am

    Northern China is among the first centers in the world where agriculture developed, but its genetic history remains largely unknown. Researchers have now analyzed 55 ancient genomes from China, finding new correlations between the intensification of subsistence strategies and human migration. This work provides a comprehensive archaeogenetic overview of northern China and fuels the debate about the archaeological and linguistic signatures of past human migration.

  • Who were the Canaanites? New insight from 73 ancient genomes
    on May 28, 2020 at 3:58 pm

    The people who lived in the area known as the Southern Levant -- which is now recognized as Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Lebanon, and parts of Syria -- during the Bronze Age (circa 3500-1150 BCE) are referred to in ancient biblical texts as the Canaanites. Now, researchers have new insight into the Canaanites' history based on a new genome-wide analysis of ancient DNA collected from 73 individuals.

  • Genomic analysis shows long-term genetic mixing in West Asia before world's first cities
    on May 28, 2020 at 3:58 pm

    Scientists analyzed DNA data from 110 skeletal remains in West Asia dated 3,000 to 7,500 years ago. The study reveals how a high level of human movement in West Asia during the Neolithic to late Bronze Age not only led to the spread of ideas and material culture but to a more genetically connected society well before the rise of cities, not the other way around, as previously thought.

  • Information technology played key role in growth of ancient civilizations
    on May 27, 2020 at 2:50 pm

    A new article shows the ability to store and process information was as critical to the growth of early human societies as it is today.

  • Early African Muslims had a halal -- and cosmopolitan diet -- discovery of thousands of ancient...
    on May 26, 2020 at 1:13 pm

    Early Muslim communities in Africa ate a cosmopolitan diet as the region became a trading centre for luxury goods, the discovery of thousands of ancient animal bones has shown.

  • Migration patterns reveal an 'Eden' for ancient humans and animals
    on May 22, 2020 at 6:02 pm

    Researchers have discovered a new migration pattern (or lack of) at Pinnacle Point, a now-submerged region in South Africa. While it was first believed large omnivores would travel to follow the growth of vegetation to survive, researchers came to a completely new conclusion through studying antelope teeth. They discovered that this region was an 'Eden' to all living species that called it home, including the earliest humans.

  • Oldest connection with Native Americans identified near Lake Baikal in Siberia
    on May 20, 2020 at 5:16 pm

    Using human population genetics, ancient pathogen genomics and isotope analysis, a team of researchers assessed the population history of the Lake Baikal region, finding the deepest connection to date between the peoples of Siberia and the Americas. The current study also demonstrates human mobility, and hence connectivity, across Eurasia during the Early Bronze Age.

  • Fishing rod 'selfie stick' and scientific sleuthing turn up clues to extinct sea reptile
    on May 19, 2020 at 8:58 pm

    A paleontologist visiting the Natural History Museum in London desperately wanted a good look at the skeleton of an extinct aquatic reptile, but its glass case was too far up the wall. So he attached his digital camera to a fishing rod and -- with several clicks -- snagged a big one, scientifically speaking.

  • Cahokia's rise parallels onset of corn agriculture
    on May 14, 2020 at 5:17 pm

    Corn cultivation spread from Mesoamerica to what is now the American Southwest by about 4000 B.C., but how and when the crop made it to other parts of North America is still debated. In a new study, scientists report that corn was not grown in the ancient metropolis of Cahokia until sometime between A.D. 900 and 1000, a relatively late date that corresponds to the start of the city's rapid expansion.

  • 'Lettere patenti' help assess intensity of historic central Italian earthquakes
    on May 14, 2020 at 1:26 pm

    Three hundred-year-old administrative documents from the Roman government, granting residents permission to repair damage to their buildings, can help modern-day seismologists calculate intensities for a notable sequence of earthquakes that struck central Italy in 1703.

  • Chemical evidence of dairying by hunter-gatherers in Lesotho in the first millennium AD
    on May 11, 2020 at 3:26 pm

    After analyzing organic residues from ancient pots, a team of scientists has uncovered new evidence of dairying by hunter-gatherers in the landlocked South African country of Lesotho in the mid-late first millennium AD.

  • Beer was here! A new microstructural marker for malting in the archaeological record
    on May 7, 2020 at 5:12 pm

    A new method for reliably identifying the presence of beer or other malted foodstuffs in archaeological finds is described in a new study.

  • Infectious disease modeling study casts doubt on impact of Justinianic plague
    on May 1, 2020 at 10:41 pm

    Many historians have claimed the Justinianic Plague (c. 541-750 CE) killed half of the population of Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire. New historical research and mathematical modeling challenge the death rate and severity of this first plague pandemic, named for Emperor Justinian I.

  • Deformed skulls in an ancient cemetery reveal a multicultural community in transition
    on April 29, 2020 at 6:49 pm

    An ancient cemetery in present-day Hungary holds clues to a unique community formation during the beginnings of Europe's Migration Period.

  • Study sheds light on unique culinary traditions of prehistoric hunter-gatherers
    on April 22, 2020 at 1:11 pm

    A new study suggests the culinary tastes of ancient people were not solely dictated by the foods available in a particular area, but also influenced by the traditions and habits of cultural groups.

  • Neolithic genomes from modern-day Switzerland indicate parallel ancient societies
    on April 20, 2020 at 12:42 pm

    Genetic research throughout Europe shows evidence of drastic population changes near the end of the Neolithic period, as shown by the arrival of ancestry related to pastoralists from the Pontic-Caspian steppe. But the timing of this change and the arrival and mixture process of these peoples, particularly in Central Europe, is little understood. In a new study, researchers analyze 96 ancient genomes, providing new insights into the ancestry of modern Europeans.

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