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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Oldest stone tools in the Americas claimed in Chile

Archaeologist Tom Dillehay didnt want to return to Monte Verde. 
Decades ago, his discoveries at the famous site in southern Chile 
showed that humans occupied South America by 14,500 years ago, 
thousands of years earlier than thought, stirring a long and 
exhausting controversy. Now, Dillehay, of Vanderbilt University 
in Nashville, has been lured back - and he is preparing for renewed 
debate. He reports in PLOS ONE today that people at Monte Verde built 
fires, cooked plants and meat, and used tools 18,500 years ago, which 
would push back the peopling of the Americas by another 4000 years. 

... Genetic studies suggest that the ancestors of Paleoindians first 
left Siberia no earlier than 23,000 years ago (Science, 21 August, 
p. 841), so Dillehay's new dates suggest they wasted little time in 
reaching the southern tip of the Americas. And the find raises 
questions about the North American record, where no one has found 
widely accepted evidence of occupation before 14,300 years ago. "Where 
the hell were the people in North America at that hour?" wonders 
archaeologist David Meltzer of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, 
Texas. 
... 
...But in 2013, fearing another team's survey might damage the site, he 
returned, hoping to spend a few weeks collecting new evidence of ancient 
plants and climate by digging 50 small test trenches across a 
20,000-square-meter area. But the dig turned up 39 stone artifacts, 
including flakes, a "chopper," and cores, embedded near plants or animal 
bones that had been burned in small fires at 12 areas. This suggests a 
"spotty, ephemeral presence," he says. 

His team radiocarbon dated the plants and animal bone to between 14,500 
and 18,500 years ago, and perhaps as early as 19,000 years ago. http://news.sciencemag.org/archaeology/2015/11/oldest-stone-tools-americas-claimed-chile
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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Small-Bodied Humans from Palau, Micronesia

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0001780


Abstract

Newly discovered fossil assemblages of small bodied Homo sapiens from Palau, Micronesia possess characters thought to be taxonomically primitive for the genus Homo.

Background

Recent surface collection and test excavation in limestone caves in the rock islands of Palau, Micronesia, has produced a sizeable sample of human skeletal remains dating roughly between 940-2890 cal ybp.

Principle Findings

Preliminary analysis indicates that this material is important for two reasons. First, individuals from the older time horizons are small in body size even relative to “pygmoid” populations from Southeast Asia and Indonesia, and thus may represent a marked case of human insular dwarfism. Second, while possessing a number of derived features that align them with Homo sapiens, the human remains from Palau also exhibit several skeletal traits that are considered to be primitive for the genus Homo.

Significance


These features may be previously unrecognized developmental correlates of small body size and, if so, they may have important implications for interpreting the taxonomic affinities of fossil specimens of Homo.

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Hobbits Were a Separate Species, Ancient Chompers Show

n ancient, 3-foot-tall (0.9 meters) human whose diminutive stature has earned it the nickname "hobbit" has puzzled evolutionary scientists since its little bones were discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores. Some have suggested the individual was a Homo sapien with some miniaturizing disorder.
Now, teeth from the hobbit suggest it belonged to a unique species rather than a modern human with a growth disorder. The new research also suggests hobbits may share a direct ancestor with modern humans...http://www.livescience.com/52839-hobbits-were-separate-species.html

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

DNA from Ancient Denisovan Tooth Sheds Light on Mysterious Human Relative

The Denisovans are a mysterious hominid species that we only know about from two molar teeth and the bone of a pinky finger discovered in the remote Denisova Cave in the Altai Mountains of Siberia. However, DNA extracted from the fossils has opened a window in understanding this ancient species and how it impacted the world tens of thousands of years ago. New research now reveals that far from being a small, isolated population, the Denisovans ranged widely across Asia, even persisting for tens of thousands of years alongside Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens, interbreeding with both and creating a complex family tree that scientists are still trying to unravel.
Scientists first discovered that a previously unknown species of early human had lived in Asia when teeth and bone fragments were found in the Denisova cave. DNA analyses revealed that the fossils belonged to a species that was related to, but genetically distinct from, Neanderthals, and which roamed the plains of Siberia long before modern humans arrived.


Read more: http://www.ancient-origins.net/news-evolution-human-origins/dna-ancient-denisovan-tooth-sheds-light-mysterious-human-relative-020265#ixzz3rozkhDkc
Follow us: @ancientorigins on Twitter | ancientoriginsweb on Facebook

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Fataluku medicinal ethnobotany and the East Timorese military resistance

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1796860/

Abstract:


Background

An ethnobotanical study of medicinal and poisonous plants used by the East Timor resistance was undertaken in the Lautem District of East Timor to study medicinal plant use in the region. Interviews were conducted with a single key consultant from the resistance army who belonged to the Fataluku culture. This study is of importance as a historical document and because no previous medicinal ethnobotanical studies on this region exist.

Methods

A rapid ethnobotanical survey of medicinal and poisonous plants was conducted through the proposed Conis Santana National Park in the Lautem district of East Timor. Medicinal and poisonous plants were identified by a Consultant and data was collected by the authors using classical descriptive ethnobotanical techniques (i.e. no quantitative measures) through an unstructured open ended interview.

Results

During the survey 40 medicinal and poisonous plants were identified by the Consultant and collected by the authors. Defining characteristics of the Consultant's knowledge include a high frequency use of trees, heavily forested habitats, leaves, decoctions and drinks for a range of conditions relevant to a resistance army.

Conclusion

Despite limitations of the study, important contributions of this study include preservation of a part of the cultural history of the resistance movement and traditional botanical knowledge of the Fataluku. Furthermore, initial findings may indicate that traditional botanical knowledge is unique amongst different East Timorese cultures in terms of plant selection.

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Bottleneck in human Y-chromosomes in the last 10,000 years.

A very exciting new paper has just been published in Genome Research on 456 full sequence Y-chromosomes from around the world. The authors date the MRCA of Y-chromosomes ("Y chromosome Adam") to 254 (95% CI 192–307) kya, find coalescences of major non-African haplogroups to 47–52 kya (which clearly corresponds to the Upper Paleolithic revolution), but also infer a second bottleneck that occurred in the last 10 thousand years.

The contrast (left) between mtDNA (red) and Y-chromosome (yellow) coalescences is quite noticeable. The little "dip" in the yellow curve in many regions on the right of the various regional plots corresponds to a the second bottleneck event (that was really not "one" event, but rather shows that many modern men descend from a small number of "patriarchs" of the Neolithic and Bronze Age worlds. The "when" of the dip is important:..http://dienekes.blogspot.com/2015/03/bottleneck-in-human-y-chromosomes-in.html
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Leading Harvard physicist has a radical new theory for why humans exist

Where do we come from? There are many right answers to this question, and the one you get often depends on who you ask.
For example, an astrophysicist might say that the chemical components of our bodies were first forged in the nuclear fires of stars.
On the other hand, an evolutionary biologist might look at the similarities between our DNA and that of other primates' and conclude we evolved from apes.
Lisa Randall, a theoretical physicist at Harvard University, has a different, and novel answer, which she describes in her latest book, "Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs."
Randall has written other popular science books, including the New York Times bestseller "Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe's Hidden Dimensions." Her studies at Harvard explore theoretical particle physics and cosmology.
In her latest book, she posits that the extinction of the dinosaurs — necessary for the emergence of humans — is linked to dark matter. Dark matter is the mysterious, invisible matter that astronomers estimate makes up 85% of all matter in our universe....

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Classics: a third way

Let’s face it, the field of literary Science Fiction & Fantasy is flying to pieces. There is no single gateway through which fans enter (if there ever was) and there is no single gateway through which professionals enter (thanks to electronic and indie publishing.) The lines between fan and professional have also been so thoroughly blurred, they practically don’t exist. There is merely a long, flat income curve — with most people dwelling along the flat part, and a very few people dwelling on the steep ascent; where the real money can be found. Success might be measured according to accolades, or it might also be measured according to dollars, but there is also the matter of academic recognition. There is no agreement on matters of quality, nor on matters of import. One woman’s deathless classic is another man’s throwaway rubbish; and vice versa. Tens of thousands of books, stories, comics, graphic novels, games, movies, and television series pour forth each year — all of them vying for a piece of our collective attention. (The good news being that the audience’s favor is not an exclusive commodity. A fan of one book, one author, one franchise, can be a fan of many others as well.)

http://madgeniusclub.com/2015/11/08/classics-a-third-way/#comment-68576
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Monday, November 16, 2015

Leading Harvard physicist has a radical new theory for why humans exist

Where do we come from? There are many right answers to this question, and the one you get often depends on who you ask.
For example, an astrophysicist might say that the chemical components of our bodies were first forged in the nuclear fires of stars.
On the other hand, an evolutionary biologist might look at the similarities between our DNA and that of other primates' and conclude we evolved from apes.
Lisa Randall, a theoretical physicist at Harvard University, has a different, and novel answer, which she describes in her latest book, "Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs."
Randall has written other popular science books, including the New York Times bestseller "Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe's Hidden Dimensions." Her studies at Harvard explore theoretical particle physics and cosmology.
In her latest book, she posits that the extinction of the dinosaurs — necessary for the emergence of humans — is linked to dark matter. Dark matter is the mysterious, invisible matter that astronomers estimate makes up 85% of all matter in our universe...http://finance.yahoo.com/news/leading-harvard-physicist-radical-theory-160000092.html

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Saturday, November 7, 2015

Horned gopher

Horned gophers are extinct rodents from the genus Ceratogaulus, a member of the extinct fossorial rodent family MylagaulidaeCeratogaulus is the only known rodent genus with horns, and is the smallest known horned mammal. Ceratogaulus lived from the late Miocene[1][2] to the early Pleistocene epoch.[citation needed]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horned_gopher
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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Mystery whale known only from specimens found living in the wild

n the waters off Madagascar, scientists have at last encountered living members of a species of whale known only from old, dead specimens. Shaped like a sleek torpedo, with unusual asymmetrical markings, the elusive Omura’s whale has for the first time been documented in photos, videos, and audio recordings.
In the 1970s, scientists initially classified eimadaght whales killed by Japanese whalers in the eastern Indian and western Pacific oceans as Bryde’s whales (Balaenoptera edeni). Measuring between 33 and 38 feet long, the animals were considered smaller “pygmy” Bryde’s whales, which usually measure around 45 feet long.
It wasn’t until 2003 that another team of researchers, examining DNA evidence from the eight whaling specimens and a stranded animal, concluded that the whales actually belonged to a new-to-science species that came to be called Omura’s whale (B. omurai). Subsequent studies have identified other stranded or hunted animals as members of the same species based on DNA and skeletal evidence...http://news.mongabay.com/2015/11/mystery-whale-known-only-from-specimens-found-living-in-the-wild/

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