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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Human sacrifice may have helped societies become more complex

Human sacrifice may have

helped societies become more 


Religion is often touted as a force for moral good in the world—but it has
a sinister side, too, embodied by gruesome rituals like human sacrifice.
Now, new research suggests that even this dark side may have served an
important function. Scientists have found that these ceremonial killings
—intended to appease gods—may have encouraged the development
of complex civilizations in maritime Southeast Asia and the South Pacific,
though some experts remain unconvinced.
Human sacrifice was part of many traditional cultures across the globe,
marking important events like the death of a leader or the construction of
a house or boat. In the islands of the Indian and Pacific oceans, powerful
chiefs or priests usually carried out the grim rites. They dispatched powerless
individuals—often slaves—by cutting off their heads, beating them to death, or
crushing them with canoes until they died.


What Everyone Has Wrong About Arya Stark and the Waif (SPOILERS!!)

  Since last episode of Game of Thrones, the internet has been alive with theories concerning Arya Stark and her seeming "turning away" from the faith of the Many-Faced God. After all, Jaqen H'ghar told her that she would not get another chance if she failed on her second assassination assignment and the Waif has been given permission to kill her. However, this is just another test of her initiation trials and here's why:
She came back to the temple with her sword and snuffed out her candle.
 To many, it may seem as if Arya is simply facing what she knows must surely come next, and returns to the temple because she realizes that the Waif will find her anyway. But surely she also realizes that she'd have a much better chance on the run than in the Faceless Men's home turf! Arya is a clever girl. If she runs, she may have to only face the Waif or Jaqen alone, since someone has to stay behind and tend to the suicide water and the towers of face-flesh. At the temple, for all she knows our little wolf-girl might be facing Jaqen and Waif at the same time in a closed in space where both of her attackers have home-field advantage!
  If Arya were truly breaking ties with Jaqen and the Faceless-Men, it would also aid the plot pacing of book and series, because she'd already be on a ship to Westeros. This would greatly move things along, were Jaqen and the temple and Arya's training not still of significant importance to her greater story arc. If she were on a ship to Westeros, having received all of the training she's going to get at the temple, the Waif could attack her en route. Alternatively, a great sub-plot could be contrived with Arya always having to be one step ahead of the Waif on her revenge adventures through Westeros.
  But that is not what we see here.
  There has to be a literary reason or a practical reason (or both) as to why Arya does not flee the temple and Bravos when she has the chance. The implications seem to be that she has something left to learn at the temple, or that something that will happen at the temple or in Bravos is important to her character development.
  This can only be the fact that her "second chance" was really her "second test." Jaqen has put her in a situation where she must choose between authority and her own core beliefs about death and murder. This is also why Jaqen has not yet revealed that he is Syrio Forel- if he did so, Arya would know that her choice not to kill the actor is indeed correct. As it stands, she must truly follow her own heart instead of the shrouded words of Jaqen H'ghar and authority.
  It is interesting that she has also learned another lesson from her interaction with the actors, which is a certain amount of empathy for her enemies. She has already shed her "list" to some extent as a part of her training, and so learned a valuable lesson. Maybe this is even foreshadowing Arya sparing Cersei's life.
  Something seems to have clued Arya in on the fact that the Waif would be sent to do the dirty work, because if I recall correctly she was formerly in the habit of leaving her candle lit due to fear of an attack by the Waif, a least in the books. She snuffs the candle out deliberately now, and the Waif is in for a big surprise when she comes for our wolf-girl with a quarter-staff.
  I think that Waif's big mistake, in the eyes of Jaqen, is that she kills for pleasure. This is the Waif's test, and she is about to fail it. At the same time, it's probable that only one student can become a Faceless Man at a time, kind of like Sith Lords. Each student is presented with an ethical dilemma perfectly suited to their own short-comings.
  The Waif's dilemma is this- will she kill for pleasure simply because she's been given permission to?
  Arya's dilemma is this- will she kill an innocent person just because her employer told her to do so?
  Neither is acceptable to the Many-Faced God.
  But it isn't enough just to pass this ethical test. It is also necessary to dispose of the rival student who has failed. Jaqen has set up a perfect trial because one of three things has to happen in answer.
A. Arya kills the Cersei actor and is therefore kicked out of the Faceless Men or added to the hall of Faces by Jaqen, not the Waif, for being a tool.
B. Arya learns her lesson but fails her combat trial  The Waif kills her and is therefore expelled from the temple or added to the Hall for being a psychopath.
C. Arya proves herself worthy in both trials- she does not betray her core values and beliefs and also defeats her rival.
There can be only one.

On our Youtube Channel:  How Margaery is Winning the Game at King's Landing, Why Bran Orchestrated his Own Fall from the Tower, Why Coldhands is Benjen Stark in the Books Too, and The meaning of Bran's Flasbacks in "Blood of my Blood!"


Monday, May 30, 2016

When Neanderthals Replaced Us

About 100,000 years ago, tall, long-limbed humans lived in the caves of Qafzeh, east of Nazareth, and Skhul, on Israel’s Mount Carmel. Their remains suggest a surprisingly sophisticated people defying the conventional timeline of Homo sapiens’ migration out of Africa. But ultimately, the Skhul and Qafzeh residents did not survive.
The Skhul-Qafzeh people gathered shells from a shoreline more than 20 miles away, decorated them and strung them as jewelry. They buried their dead, most likely with grave goods, and cared for their living: A child born with hydrocephalus, sometimes called water on the brain, lived with profound disability until the age of 3 or so, a feat only possible with patient, loving care.
So advanced were their artifacts that, for years after their discovery in the late 1920s, most archaeologists believed the people had evolved from the Neanderthals whose remains were found in neighboring caves. For decades, researchers theorized that the Skhul-Qafzeh populations represented a “missing link” between Neanderthals and us.
Beginning in the late 1980s, however, more precise dating techniques upended that notion. The Qafzeh humans were around 92,000 years old, and the Skhul people were even older, averaging about 115,000 years. The age of the Skhul-Qafzeh people challenged the widely held idea that Homo sapiens had not left Africa until about 60,000 years ago. Even more startling: Almost all the Neanderthal remains were significantly younger. The Skhul-Qafzeh people were not an elusive missing link between Neanderthals and humans. They were humans, and Neanderthals had replaced them.


T-Rex, Then and Now


Prehistoric Fiction as Visionary Tale

An excellent article on prehistoric fiction:

Prehistoric Fiction as Visionary Tale


High-protein diet may explain anatomical differences of Neanderthals

It is believed Neanderthals lived in Ice-Age Europe, co-existing alongside modern-day humans, or Homo sapiens, until around 40,000 years ago.
In terms of appearance, Neanderthals were very similar to Homo sapiens, and the two species even mated. However, there were some notable differences. As well as being shorter and stockier, Neanderthals had a wider rib cage, or thorax, and a larger pelvis than our modern ancestors.


Saturday, May 21, 2016

Could the Tasmanian tiger be hiding out in New Guinea?

While Tasmanian tigers are believed to have died out in New Guinea at the end of the Pleistocene, Shuker believes there’s a chance a population still survives on the mountainous island, which contains some of the world’s least-explored terrestrial habitats.
“New Guinea, especially Irian Jaya, is far less well-explored than either Tasmania or mainland Australia, as confirmed for instance by recent expeditions to Irian Jaya’s Foja Mountains, where several new and potentially new species were discovered, including a giant rat, a tiny wallaby, and a new honeyeater,” Shuker says. “Consequently, there is a much greater chance of zoological novelties turning up here than elsewhere within the thylacine’s former distribution range, and one such novelty may be the thylacine itself.”


Friday, May 20, 2016

To Meat or Not to Meat?

Here's a recent article with problems. Carnivores are not the only predators on Earth, and therefore our own lack of carnivore teeth does not absolve us of our Prion-Immunity Gene sweeping past:

And then there's this:

5 Eerily Specific Things Every Human Does Exactly the Same


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Jamatta's Shark-Tooth Sword

The Oracle of Lost Sagas will be available as a custom MMO for Shards Online in 2017
Joe Lyon Layden is a prehistoric fiction author and primitive musician. To receive a free copy of this entire  novella as well as three free songs and monthly updates, freebies, and discounts on Joe's ongoing work, please sign up for the newsletter below.

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Elasmotherium Model for Oracle of Lost Sagas

Joe Lyon Layden is a prehistoric fiction author and primitive musician. To receive a free copy of this entire novella "The Man from Parkho Khatune Bears Favor," as well as three free songs and monthly updates, freebies, and discounts on Joe's ongoing work, please sign up for the newsletter below.

Sign Up Now


Sunday, May 15, 2016

Rare whale found on Australian beach believed to be evolutionary throwback

Humans Hunted Mastodon in Florida Nearly 15,000 Years Ago

The discovery of ancient artifacts and mastodon bones in a submerged sinkhole shows that humans first inhabited the southeastern corner of North America 1,500 years earlier than previously assumed.
A collaborative research team has pulled up dozens of stone tools and the remains of extinct animals from the Page-Ladson site in Florida, a 26-foot-deep sinkhole located in the Aucilla River just outside of Tallahassee. It now represents the oldest known site of human life in the southeastern United States, dating back approximately 14,500 years. It’s also the oldest submerged archaeological site in all the Americas, and one of the oldest sites on continent.
The discovery shows that a population of pre-Clovis hunters—possibly with the assistance of dogs—hunted mastodon in what is now Florida. This research has been published in the latest edition of Science Advancesand was conducted by a multidisciplinary team of scientists from Florida State University, Texas A&M University, and the University of Michigan...


Saturday, May 7, 2016

Ancient DNA Study Sheds New Light on Genetic History of Europeans

Analyses of genome-wide data from 51 Eurasians from 7,000 – 45,000 years ago reveal two big changes in prehistoric human populations that are closely linked to the end of the last Ice Age, approximately 19,000 years ago, according to an international team of researchers led by Harvard Medical School scientist Dr. David Reich.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

This 3-minute animation will change your perception of time

Everybody knows that Earth is old, but it’s quite hard to put into perception presently how old it is. In the end, what does 4.5 billion years *in fact* mean?

How do you still grasp that amount of time with our short-term human brains? Well, Business Insider has lastly done a pretty unbelievable job of it in this 3-minute simulation, by presentation the timeline of Earth if time was the distance from Los Angeles to latest York. And, oh boy, our world-view will never ever be the same.