Science News

  • Eastern forests shaped more by Native Americans' burning than climate change
    on May 21, 2019 at 8:24 pm

    Native Americans' use of fire to manage vegetation in what is now the Eastern United States was more profound than previously believed, according to a researcher who determined that forest composition change in the region was caused more by land use than climate change. […]

  • Earliest evidence of the cooking and eating of starch
    on May 17, 2019 at 3:51 pm

    New discoveries made at the Klasies River Cave in South Africa's southern Cape, where charred food remains from hearths were found, provide the first archaeological evidence that anatomically modern humans were roasting and eating plant starches, such as those from tubers and rhizomes, as early as 120,000 years ago. […]

  • Museum volunteers discover new species of extinct heron at North Florida fossil site
    on May 17, 2019 at 3:51 pm

    When the bones of an ancient heron were unearthed at a North Florida fossil site, the find wasn't made by researchers but by two Florida Museum of Natural History volunteers. A previously unknown genus and species, the heron has been named Taphophoyx hodgei. […]

  • Chewing gums reveal the oldest Scandinavian human DNA
    on May 15, 2019 at 12:54 pm

    The first humans who settled in Scandinavia more than 10,000 years ago left their DNA behind in ancient chewing gums, which are masticated lumps made from birch bark pitch. […]

  • Traces of crawling in Italian cave give clues to ancient humans' social behavior
    on May 14, 2019 at 2:40 pm

    Using multiple methods of analysis, researchers have identified the movements of a group of humans as they explored an Italian cave system during the late Stone Age. […]

  • New data platform illuminates history of humans' environmental impact
    on May 13, 2019 at 3:22 pm

    Animal remains found at archaeological sites tell the millennia-long story of how humans have hunted, domesticated and transported wildlife, altered landscapes and responded to environmental changes such as shifting temperatures and sea levels. Now, that story is available digitally through a new open-access data platform known as ZooArchNet, which links records of animals across biological and archaeological databases. […]

  • Uncovering a 5000-year-old family tragedy
    on May 10, 2019 at 2:29 pm

    Researchers have shed light on a mysterious 5,000-year-old mass grave in Poland. Despite being killed brutally, the victims were buried carefully. Ancient DNA has revealed the mass murder to be that of a large family. The new research results shed light on a particularly violent era in European prehistory of which little is known. […]

  • Ancient DNA suggests that some Northern Europeans got their languages from Siberia
    on May 9, 2019 at 6:26 pm

    Most Europeans descend from a combination of European hunter-gatherers, Anatolian early farmers, and Steppe herders. But only European speakers of Uralic languages like Estonian and Finnish also have DNA from ancient Siberians. Now, with the help of ancient DNA samples, researchers suggest that these languages may have arrived from Siberia by the beginning of the Iron Age, about 2,500 years ago, rather than evolving in Northern Europe. […]

  • Oldest known trees in eastern North America documented
    on May 9, 2019 at 4:51 pm

    A stand of bald cypress trees in North Carolina, including one least 2,624 years old, are the oldest known living trees in eastern North America and the oldest wetland tree species in the world. They show evidence of severe flooding and drought during colonial and pre-colonial times. […]

  • Abrupt climate change drove early South American population decline
    on May 9, 2019 at 12:00 pm

    Abrupt climate change some 8,000 years ago led to a dramatic decline in early South American populations, suggests new research. […]

  • Freshwater mussel shells were material of choice for prehistoric craftsmen
    on May 7, 2019 at 3:04 pm

    Researchers have discovered that 6000-years-ago people across Europe shared a cultural tradition of using freshwater mussel shells to craft ornaments. […]

  • Ayahuasca fixings found in 1,000-year-old bundle in the Andes
    on May 6, 2019 at 7:18 pm

    Today's hipster creatives and entrepreneurs are hardly the first generation to partake of ayahuasca, according to archaeologists who have discovered traces of the powerfully hallucinogenic potion in a 1,000-year-old leather bundle buried in a cave in the Bolivian Andes. […]

  • New three-foot-tall relative of Tyrannosaurus rex
    on May 6, 2019 at 3:14 pm

    'Suskityrannus gives us a glimpse into the evolution of tyrannosaurs just before they take over the planet,' said Sterling Nesbit. […]

  • First examples of Iberian prehistoric 'imitation amber' beads at gravesites
    on May 1, 2019 at 6:11 pm

    Prehistoric Iberians created 'imitation amber' by repeatedly coating bead cores with tree resins, according to a new study. […]

  • First hominins on the Tibetan Plateau were Denisovans
    on May 1, 2019 at 5:14 pm

    So far Denisovans were only known from a small collection of fossil fragments from Denisova Cave in Siberia. A research team now describes a 160,000-year-old hominin mandible from Xiahe in China. Using ancient protein analysis the researchers found that the mandible's owner belonged to a population that was closely related to the Denisovans from Siberia. This population occupied the Tibetan Plateau in the Middle Pleistocene and was adapted to this low-oxygen environment long before Homo sapiens […]

  • Human ancestors were 'grounded,' new analysis shows
    on April 30, 2019 at 2:34 pm

    African apes adapted to living on the ground, a finding that indicates human evolved from an ancestor not limited to tree or other elevated habitats. The analysis adds a new chapter to evolution, shedding additional light on what preceded human bipedalism. […]

  • Details of the history of inner Eurasia revealed
    on April 29, 2019 at 3:19 pm

    An international team of researchers has combined archaeological, historical and linguistic data with genetic information from over 700 newly analyzed individuals to construct a more detailed picture of the history of inner Eurasia than ever before available. They found that the indigenous populations of inner Eurasia are very diverse in their genes, culture and languages, but divide into three groups that stretch across the area in east-west geographic bands. […]

  • Holy Pleistocene Batman, the answer's in the cave
    on April 25, 2019 at 11:36 am

    Examining a 3-meter stack of bat feces has shed light on the landscape of the ancient continent of Sundaland. The research could help explain the biodiversity of present-day Borneo, Sumatra, and Java. It could also add to our understanding of how people moved through the region. […]

  • 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. […]

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