Friday, 20 October 2017

Mystery ancient Iron Age skeleton unearthed in Ireland

A storm has unearthed an Iron Age skeleton on the coast of Ireland. The complete remains were discovered near Kilmore Quay in Co Wexford. The person lived between 1,500 and 2,500 years ago around the time the Celtic tribes arrived in Ireland.
The remains were buried, not washed ashore. They were found by people out walking on the beach.

Locals are baffled by the find and say it throws up questions about whether there could be more historical sites in the area.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Astronomers find the cosmic source of gold and rare metals

130 million years ago, the ultra-dense cores of two dead stars collided. The first evidence of the cataclysmic collision were gravitational waves. They reached Earth on August 17th. As astronomers targeted their source, they turned up a trove of riches. It is explaining, among other things, the source of such precious metals as silver, gold and platinum.

This is the first direct sighting of a collision between two neutron stars. The corpses of these stars are spectacularly dense. A single teaspoon of material would carry a mass that on Earth would weigh roughly one billion tons.
Churning debris produced in the afterglow of the collision included newly created gold, silver and platinum. There was also a smattering of other heavy elements, including uranium.

Until now, the birthplace of such elements had been theory. The extreme conditions produced in the collision forged heavier elements than the parent stars had hosted.
The actual smashup now appears to have taken place 130 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Hydra. The afterglow revealed the birth of elements.

As the collision spurted neutron-rich material into space, a variety of heavy elements formed through a chain of nuclear reactions known as the “r-process.”

Thursday, 12 October 2017

40,000-year-old “Tianyuan Man” pure Homo sapiens

When scientists excavated a 40,000-year-old skeleton in China in 2003, they thought they had discovered the offspring of a Neandertal and a modern human. But ancient DNA now reveals that “Tianyuan Man” has only traces of Neandertal DNA and none detectable from another type of extinct human and elusive cousin of Neandertals known as a Denisovan. Instead, he was a full-fledged member of our species, Homo sapiens, and a distant relative of people who today live in East Asia and South America.
The first modern humans arose in Africa about 300,000 years ago. By 60,000 years ago, a subset swept out of Africa and mated with Neandertals, perhaps in the Middle East. After that, they spread around the world.

Tianyuan Man shares DNA with one ancient European—a 35,000-year-old modern human from Goyet Caves in Belgium. But he doesn’t share it with other ancient humans who lived at roughly the same time in Romania and Siberia—or with living Europeans. Tianyuan Man is most closely related to living people in east Asia. All of this suggests that Tianyuan Man was not a direct ancestor, but rather a distant cousin, of a founding population in Asia that gave rise to present-day Asians.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

3,200-year-old stone tells of invasion of mysterious sea people

Symbols on a 3,200-year-old stone slab have been deciphered by researchers who say they could solve "one of the greatest puzzles of Mediterranean archaeology". The 29-metre limestone frieze, found in 1878, in what is now Turkey, bears the longest known hieroglyphic inscription from the Bronze Age. Only a handful of scholars worldwide can read its ancient Luwian language.

Researchers believe the inscriptions were commissioned in 1190 BC by Kupanta-Kurunta, the king of a late Bronze Age state known as Mira. The text suggests the kingdom and other Anatolian states invaded ancient Egypt and other regions of the east Mediterranean before and during the fall of the Bronze Age. The script tells how a united fleet of kingdoms from western Asia Minor raided coastal cities on the eastern Mediterranean. The identity and origin of the invaders which scholars call the Trojan Sea People had puzzled archaeologists for centuries. The first translation provides an explanation for the unexplained collapse of the Bronze Age's advanced civilizations.
It suggests they were part of a marauding seafaring confederation, which historians believe played a part in the collapse of nascent Bronze Age civilizations.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Top Archaeological Discoveries in 2015

Ancient Mosaic in Israel. A 1,700-year-old mosaic discovered in Lod, Israel, was revealed to the public for the first time in November, 2015.

Measuring 36 by 42 feet, the impressive artwork covered in depictions of nature was found during construction of a visitor center for the Lod Mosaic, another artwork found two decades ago in that same area.
Musashi Japanese Warship Wreck. The wreckage of the Musashi was found at a depth of more than 3,000 feet. The ship went down in October 1944 after multiple torpedo and bomb hits during the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

About half of its 2400-member crew was lost.
Superhenge. Archaeologists in Great Britain discovered evidence of a row of up to 90 stones buried at Durrington Walls, a prehistoric henge less than 2 miles from Stonehenge. The line of stones, which have been pushed over and covered with an earthen mound, roughly outline the southern border of the Durrington Walls, forming a C-shaped arena about a third of a mile in diameter. Researchers believe the earthworks could have been built earlier than Stonehenge.
Amenhotep's Tomb. Egypt announced the discovery of the 3,000-year-old tomb of Amenhotep, a nobleman who guarded the temple of the Egyptian deity Amun. The tomb was discovered by an American research team in the city of Luxor, which is more than 400 miles away from Cairo. It is believed to date to 1543 B.C. - 1292 B.C. Colorful artworks and hieroglyphics are etched into the tomb walls, telling the story of the tomb owner and his family.
Burial Tomb in Pompeii, Italy. French archaeologists found a perfectly preserved pre-Roman tomb dating to the fourth century B.C. in Pompeii. It predates and survived the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. It was discovered near the Herculaneum Gate and held the remains of an adult woman about 45 years old, as well as a number of vases and clay jars known as “amphoras.”
Texas Supershark. Fossils of a megashark that lived 300 million years ago were unearthed in Jacksboro, Texas in October 2015. The sharks were more than half the length of a school bus. That's 25 percent larger than the modern great white shark and more than three times as long as other fossil sharks.

They lived before the age of dinosaurs, which emerged about 230 million years ago. The find indicates that giant sharks date back much further in the fossil record than previously thought.
Siberian Cave Lion Cubs. Scientists in Yakutsk, Russia discovered two incredibly well-preserved remains of two lion cubs approximately 12,000 years old.

The two cubs are cave lions, a long extinct species, and were about two weeks old when they died. Dug from permafrost, the cubs still had fur, soft tissue and even whiskers.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Feeling peckish? Blame the Neanderthals!

Our ancient ancestors have a role in today's smoking habits, moods and sleeping patterns, say researchers. It is estimated around two per cent of the DNA in non-African people today comes from Neanderthals. Early humans migrating from Africa interbred with Neanderthals in Europe roughly 100,000 years ago, and this DNA mixing still contributes to several modern traits.

Previous studies have shown that Neanderthal DNA plays a role in human immunity and our susceptibility to certain diseases. But this is the first time the ancient genes have been shown to affect traits that change how we look and behave.

The team compared genetic data to DNA from a Neanderthal specimen found in the Altai mountains in Russia.
Neanderthals are a human-like species that evolved from a shared ancestor, but split from humans between 1,000,000 and 800,000 years ago. Neanderthals had been in Europe for thousands of years before humans arrived. Early humans migrating from Africa interbred with Neanderthals in Europe roughly 100,000 years ago, and this DNA mixing still contributes to modern human traits. Findings suggest that Neanderthals might have differed in their hair and skin tones, much as people now do.

Researchers noted the traits influenced by Neanderthal DNA, including skin and hair pigmentation, mood and sleeping patterns, are all linked to sunlight exposure. Neanderthals were likely well adapted to lower and more variable levels of ultraviolet radiation from the sun, while the new human arrivals from Africa were not.

Neanderthal Skull (Homo neanderthalensis)

Monday, 2 October 2017

Ancient primate may be responsible for genital herpes

Our ancient ancestors have been catching herpes since before we were human. The infection is quite common today; the World Health Organization estimates that two-thirds of adults under 50 are infected with the herpes virus that causes oral cold sores. One in six have genital herpes. Humans might have dodged herpes' below-the-belt blow if it weren't for an ancient encounter between early members of our genus and a more distant primate relative.

Blame genital herpes on Paranthropus boisei, a heavy-jawed primate with teeth so large it earned the nickname the 'Nutcracker Man'.
Herpes viruses are as varied as they are old. There are more than 100 different kinds of herpes. Eight regularly infect humans, causing diseases like chickenpox and mononucleosis. Scientists had previously analyzed the herpes genome and created a viral family tree. Oral herpes, HSV-1, has been around since humans and chimpanzees split 6 million years ago. The researchers also discovered that HSV-2 must have jumped from ancestral chimpanzees into the human lineage later, as recently as 1.4 million years ago.

In a model's most likely scenario, Paranthropus boisei infected a human ancestor called Homo erectus.

Homo erectus