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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Maps of my Upcoming Novel and Game World: Updated






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.


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Nasal cavities

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/p-hae031616.php 
Human ancestors explored 'out of Africa' despite impaired nasal faculties 

In humans inhaled air is conditioned poorly in the nasal cavity in 
comparison with primates, such as chimpanzees and macaques, according 
a recent study published in PLOS Computational Biology. Unlike our 
protruding external nose, which has little effect on improving air 
conditioning performance, other hominins (including 
australopithecines) were endowed with flat nasal features and 
faculties to improve air conditioning. 

The study, produced by Dr Takeshi Nishimura from Kyoto University and 
colleagues, is the first investigation of nasal air conditioning in 
nonhuman hominoids based on computational fluid dynamics (CFD). 

The human nasal passage conditions inhaled air in terms of temperature 
and humidity to match the conditions required in the lung. 
Insufficient conditioning can damage the tissues in the respiratory 
system and impair respiratory performance, thereby undermining health 
and increasing the likelihood of death. 

Our ancestors, the genus Homo, diversified under the fluctuating 
climate of the Plio-Pleistocene, to be flat-faced with a short nasal 
cavity and a protruding external nose, as seen in modern humans. 
Anatomical variation in nasal region is believed to be evolutionarily 
sensitive to the ambient atmospheric conditions of a given habitat, but 
the nasal anatomy of early Homo was not sensitive to the ambient 
atmosphere conditions. The inhaled air can be fully conditioned 
subsequently in the pharyngeal cavity, which was lengthened in early 
Homo. 

... These linked changes in the nasal and pharyngeal regions would in 
part have contributed to how flat-faced Homo members must have survived 
fluctuations in climate, before they moved "Out of Africa" in the Early 
Pleistocene to explore the more severe climates and ecological 
environments of Eurasia. 



http://journals.plos.org/ploscompbiol/article?id=10.1371/journal.pcbi.1004807 
Impaired Air Conditioning within the Nasal Cavity in Flat-Faced Homo 

Abstract 

We are flat-faced hominins with an external nose that protrudes from 
the face. This feature was derived in the genus Homo, along with facial 
flattening and reorientation to form a high nasal cavity. The nasal 
passage conditions the inhaled air in terms of temperature and humidity 
to match the conditions required in the lung, and its anatomical 
variation is believed to be evolutionarily sensitive to the ambient 
atmospheric conditions of a given habitat. In this study, we used 
computational fluid dynamics (CFD) with three-dimensional topology models 
of the nasal passage under the same simulation conditions, to investigate 
air-conditioning performance in humans, chimpanzees, and macaques. The 
CFD simulation showed a horizontal straight flow of inhaled air in 
chimpanzees and macaques, contrasting with the upward and curved flow in 
humans. The inhaled air is conditioned poorly in humans compared with 
nonhuman primates. Virtual modifications to the human external nose 
topology, in which the nasal vestibule and valve are modified to resemble 
those of chimpanzees, change the airflow to be horizontal, but have 
little influence on the air-conditioning performance in humans. These 
findings suggest that morphological variation of the nasal passage 
topology was only weakly sensitive to the ambient atmosphere conditions; 
rather, the high nasal cavity in humans was formed simply by evolutionary 
facial reorganization in the divergence of Homo from the other hominin 
lineages, impairing the air-conditioning performance. Even though the 
inhaled air is not adjusted well within the nasal cavity in humans, it 
can be fully conditioned subsequently in the pharyngeal cavity, which 
is lengthened in the flat-faced Homo. Thus, the air-conditioning faculty 
in the nasal passages was probably impaired in early Homo members, 
although they have survived successfully under the fluctuating climate 
of the Plio-Pleistocene, and then they moved “Out of Africa” to explore 
the more severe climates of Eurasia. 

Author Summary 

This is the first investigation of nasal air conditioning in nonhuman 
hominoids based on computational fluid dynamics with digital topological 
models of the nasal passage made using medical imaging. Our comparative 
results of humans, chimpanzees, and macaques show that the inhaled air 
is conditioned poorly in humans compared with nonhuman primates. We also 
show that our protruding external nose has little effect on improving 
air conditioning. The nasal anatomy in Homo was weakly sensitive to the 
ambient atmosphere conditions in evolution, but was formed passively by 
facial reorganization in this genus. Even though the inhaled air is not 
adjusted well within the nasal cavity in humans, it can be fully 
conditioned subsequently in the pharyngeal cavity, which is lengthened in 
flat-faced Homo. Thus, despite an impaired air-conditioning conformation 
in the nasal passages, Homo members must have survived successfully under 
the fluctuating climate of the Plio-Pleistocene, and then they moved “Out 
of Africa” in the Early Pleistocene to explore the more severe climates 
and ecological environments of Eurasia. 
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Australopithecus fossils found east of the Great Rift Valley

http://phys.org/news/2016-03-australopithecus-fossils-east-great-rift.html 

New fossils from Kenya suggest that an early hominid species — 
Australopithecus afarensis — lived far eastward beyond the Great Rift 
Valley and much farther than previously thought. An international team 
of paleontologists led by Emma Mbua of Mount Kenya University and 
Masato Nakatsukasa of Kyoto University report findings of fossilized 
teeth and forearm bone from an adult male and two infant A. afarensis 
from an exposure eroded by the Kantis River in Ongata-Rongai, a 
settlement in the outskirts of Nairobi. 

"So far, all other A. afarensis fossils had been identified from 
the center of the Rift Valley," explains Nakatsukasa. "A previous 
Australopithecus bahrelghazali discovery in Chad confirmed that 
our hominid ancestor's distribution covered central Africa, but 
this was the first time an Australopithecus fossil has been found 
east of the Rift Valley. This has important implications for what 
we understand about our ancestor's distribution range, namely that 
Australopithecus could have covered a much greater area by this 
age." 
... 
Stable isotope analysis revealed that the Kantis region was humid, 
but had a plain-like environment with fewer trees compared to other 
sites in the Great Rift Valley where A. afaransis fossils had 
previously appeared. "The hominid must have discovered suitable 
habitats in the Kenyan highlands. It seems that A. afaransis was 
good at adapting to varying environments," notes Nakatsukasa. 
... 



http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0047248416000208 
Kantis: A new Australopithecus site on the shoulders of the 
Rift Valley near Nairobi, Kenya 

Abstract 

Most Plio-Pleistocene sites in the Gregory Rift Valley that have 
yielded abundant fossil hominins lie on the Rift Valley floor. Here 
we report a new Pliocene site, Kantis, on the shoulder of the 
Gregory Rift Valley, which extends the geographical range of 
Australopithecus afarensis to the highlands of Kenya. This species, 
known from sites in Ethiopia, Tanzania, and possibly Kenya, is 
believed to be adapted to a wide spectrum of habitats, from open 
grassland to woodland. The Kantis fauna is generally similar to that 
reported from other contemporaneous A. afarensis sites on the Rift 
Valley floor. However, its faunal composition and stable carbon 
isotopic data from dental enamel suggest a stronger C4 environment 
than that present at those sites. Although the Gregory Rift Valley 
has been the focus of paleontologists' attention for many years, 
surveys of the Rift shoulder may provide new perspective on African 
Pliocene mammal and hominin evolution. 

-Thanks to Rick Trasky for these articles.
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"Siberian Unicorn" Went Extinct Much Later Than We Thought

Researchers working in Kazakhstan report a new fossil site called the Kozhamzhar Locality, which contains the remains of massive mammals including mammoths, steppe elephants, prehistoric bison, and a giant rhinoceros called Elasmotherium sibiricum – which may have inspired the legend of the unicorn. According to findings published in American Journal of Applied Sciences, radiocarbon dating of the extinct rhino bones suggests the species died off tens (or even hundreds) of thousands of years later than we thought. 
Tomsk State University’s Andrei Shpansky and colleagues studied about 20 fossilized mammal teeth and bones uncovered from an 8-kilometer (5-mile) section of the left bank of the Irtysh River near Kozhamzhar in the Pavlodar Priirtysh Region of Kazakhstan. Residents of Kozhamzhar village have previously found bone fragments in the downstream outcrop, part of which has already been washed away. In fact, the fossils studied here were collected by locals in the late 1980s and brought to the Museum of Nature at Pavlodar State Pedagogical Institute in 2010.
Additionally, the team analyzed the Elasmotherium skull using AMS radiocarbon dating. This yielded a young age of 26,038 (plus or minus 356) years before present, with a calibration age ranging from 28,985 to 27,490 BCE. Not only are these Elasmotherium skulls bigger than that of eastern European elasmotheriums, these giant rhinos also existed for longer in the southeast of the West Siberian Plain.


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Saturday, March 26, 2016

Study Casts New Light on Diseases We Inherited from Neanderthals -

Feeling depressed? Can’t kick the tobacco habit? Sun causing skin lesions? Allergies bothering you? Some people of today may blame their Neanderthal ancestry in part for some of these health problems, new studies say. - See more at: http://www.ancient-origins.net/news-evolution-human-origins/study-casts-new-light-diseases-we-inherited-neanderthals-005344#sthash.7s4PwrHu.dpuf

http://www.ancient-origins.net/news-evolution-human-origins/study-casts-new-light-diseases-we-inherited-neanderthals-005344
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Friday, March 25, 2016

Is white-clawed bear thought to be extinct really alive?

Is white-clawed bear thought to be extinct really alive? Mysterious giant paw prints suggest animal may be roaming remote Siberian mountains

  • Saylyugem bear has been sighted since the end of the 1980s
  • Back then there were about 70 of the animals living in remote Siberia
  • The animals resemble Russian brown bears, but have white claws 
The Saylyugem bear, which resembles a Russian brown bear except for its paws, had not been sighted since the 1990s and was given a 'zero' rating on the list of endangered species in the region.
But giant paw prints and strange holes in the ground found in the shadow of the snowy Altai Mountains are seen as the first evidence they did not die out.


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3076920/Is-white-clawed-bear-thought-extinct-really-alive-Mysterious-giant-paw-prints-suggest-animal-roaming-remote-Siberian-mountains.html#ixzz43vkGWJLP
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

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Going underground

Going underground

South America is a place full of stories about mysterious beasts. Standing seven feet tall, with long red hair and big sharp claws, tales of the mapinguari, have been passed down in South American Indian folklore. An odd tapir/jaguar hybrid is also said to lurk in the deepest parts of the Amazonian rainforest. Although extremely fanciful, this hasn’t stopped explorers searching for strange creatures. Even explorers who also happened to be vice-presidents.
The principal author of the American Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson had a strong interest in the sciences. He was a member of the American Philosophical Societyfor 35 years, and promoted the sciences widely. In 1796, when he was the vice president of the United States, a Colonel sent Jefferson some bones, including massive claws. He thought they belonged to an enormous lion, and, because the bones looked so fresh, thought that the lion was still out there. So he asked two explorers to keep an eye out for his giant lion.
Surprisingly, the explorers didn’t find anything. His giant lion, which he named Megalonyx, was in fact a giant ground sloth. Some years later it was named Megalonyx jeffersonii in Jefferson’s honor. However, there are some very strange things lurking in Southern Brazil and Argentina. Bizarre structures that would have made Jefferson venture into the jungles himself...



https://twilightbeasts.wordpress.com/2016/03/04/going-underground/
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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

6 Wrong Ways to Write About Horses

Column by Vicki L. Weevilauthor of FACSIMILE (March 8, 2016, 
Month9Books). Weavil turned her early obsession with reading into a 
career as a librarian. After obtaining a B.A. in Theatre from the University 
of Virginia, she continued her education by receiving a Masters in Library 
Science and a M.A. in Liberal Studies. She is currently the Library 
Director for a performing and visual arts university. Follow her on Twitter
I saw a promo for the film, THE REVENANT, the other day and glimpsed a scene where a horse and rider sail off a cliff. Yeah, it looks cool, but like many other ways horses are depicted in movies and books, it doesn’t ring true.  (I’ve already seen many people comment negatively on this scene in reviews, so I know I’m not the only one who doesn’t buy it).
Fortunately, many books and films display an understanding of horses and horsemanship. But occasionally a lack of knowledge or research rears its shaggy head. So, as someone with a background in this area, I’d like to mention a few common errors that make readers like me cringe.
1. Horses not being cooled down after exertion. Picture a romance novel, where a dashing hero must ride hell-for-leather to reach the church where his beloved is being married off to another. His horse is lathered in sweat. Sir Hero reaches the church, jumps off and … does nothing with the horse.
Any horse person knows this a big no-no. Hard-ridden horses must be walked until they are cool, because a hot horse given water or food can be permanently injured. Foundering, which can lame a horse, can be one result. If your character can’t take time to do this, please invent a stable urchin or someone to care for the horse!

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Scientists May Have Just Discovered a Parallel Universe Leaking Into Ours

We may have just, for the first time ever, caught a tantalizing glimpse of a parallel universe bumping against our own. Scientists say that signals from the furthest reaches of space suggest that the fabric of our universe is being disrupted by another universe. The discovery could provide proof of the multiverse theory, which says that there are many alternate universes.http://upriser.com/posts/scientists-may-have-just-discovered-a-parallel-universe-leaking-into-ours
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Study Finds That Psilocybin Creates A Hyperconnected Brain

Psilocybin, the entheogenic compound found within psychoactive mushrooms, is coveted for its ability to bestow imbibers with vivid hallucinations and unexplored avenues of thought. For millennia, psilocybin mushrooms have been used for spiritual purposes, with early evidence such the 6,000 year old cave paintings of mushrooms found in the Selva Pascuala cave, Spain, as well as Saharan cave paintings dated back to 7,000 BCE that depict ceremonial activity involving mushrooms, and much more.

TW_PsiloBrain01_670
It is no secret that psilocybin is capable of incredible psychiatric feats, but there remains much mystery as to how it performs said feats. Researchers have known for some time that the psilocybin compound binds itself to serotonin receptors in the mind, which are responsible for regulating appetite, mood, and sleep, though this understanding does not offer an explanation of the novel and indescribable experiences produced by psilocybin. In a past study, it was concluded that psilocybin decreased brain activity resulting in a sort of dreamlike state, but further research has found this to be only a partial explanation.https://www.sociedelic.com/study-finds-that-psilocybin-creates-a-hyperconnected-brain/

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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Rock (Art) of Ages: Indonesian Cave Paintings Are 40,000 Years Old

Modern critics would probably hail the up and coming rock artists that once inhabited Indonesia. About a hundred caves outside Moras, a town in the tropical forests of Sulawesi, were once lined with hand stencils and vibrant murals of abstract pigs and dwarf buffalo. Today only fragments of the artwork remain, and the mysterious artists are long gone.


Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/rockart-ages-indonesian-cave-paintings-are-40000-years-old-180952970/#FkQ7gaK3PmaCRRSd.99
Give the gift of Smithsonian magazine for only $12! http://bit.ly/1cGUiGv
Follow us: @SmithsonianMag on TwitterFor now, all we know is when the caves were painted—or at least ballpark dates—and the finding suggests that the practice of lining cave walls with pictures of natural life was common 40,000 years ago. A study published today in Nature suggests that paintings in the Maros-Pangkep caves range from 17,400 to 39,900 years old, close to the age of similar artwork found on the walls of caves in Europe. 


Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/rockart-ages-indonesian-cave-paintings-are-40000-years-old-180952970/#FkQ7gaK3PmaCRRSd.99
Give the gift of Smithsonian magazine for only $12! http://bit.ly/1cGUiGv
Follow us: @SmithsonianMag on Twitter




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Sunday, March 6, 2016

High Neanderthal Ancestry in Ust’-Ishim Man

A large team of genetic scientists led by Dr Qiaomei Fu of Harvard Medical 
School has recovered and sequenced the DNA from a thighbone of a male 
hunter-gatherer who lived in what is now Siberia 45,000 years ago. 
... 
The sequence revealed that the bone came from an anatomically modern human, 
a man whose remains are the oldest ever found and carbon-dated outside of 
Africa and the Middle East. 

Comparison to diverse humans around the world today showed that the 
Ust’-Ishim man was a member of one of the most ancient non-African 
populations. 

“The ancient Siberian was related equally to West European hunter-gatherers, 
North Asian hunter-gatherers, East Asians, and the indigenous people of the 
Andaman Islands off South Asia,” said Dr Fu, who is the first author of a 
paper published in the journal Nature. 

“The fact that this population separated so early indicates that theories 
of an early split of people who followed a coastal route to Australia, New 
Guinea, and coastal Asia are not strongly supported by this data.” 
... 
The scientists also obtained a high-resolution estimate of the mutation 
rate in humans. 

Previous studies had given scientists evidence of two possible rates, one 
twice as fast as the other. Because of this large range, dates obtained 
from genetic research have tended to be quite uncertain. 

By measuring the number of mutations missing in the Ust’-Ishim man and 
comparing with people now, the scientists obtained an accurate estimate 
of the rate that mutations accumulated over time. They revealed a slower 
mutation rate, corresponding to between one to two mutations per genome 
per year. 
... 
“Instead of humans and Neanderthals becoming distinct offshoots sometime 
between 270,000 and 380,000 years ago, for example, the slower rate would 
put that shift much further back in time, between 550,000 and 770,000 
years ago.” 

“Similarly, the slower rate pushes back estimates for the date of the 
separation of African and non-African populations.” 

The slow mutation rates indicate that the present-day subdivisions among 
human populations date back to almost 200,000 years ago, well before the 
period around 50,000 years ago when the archaeological record documents 
art and new styles of tool-making. 
... 
The researchers also found that about 2.3 percent of the Ust’-Ishim man’s 
genome came from Neanderthals. 

The genomic segments of Neanderthal ancestry are substantially longer than 
those observed in present-day individuals, indicating that Neanderthal gene 
flow into the ancestors of this individual occurred 7,000-13,000 years 
before he lived (i.e. 58,000-52,000 years ago – a much tighter window than 
the previous range of between 37,000 and 86,000 years ago). 
... http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v514/n7523/full/nature13810.html http://www.sci-news.com/genetics/science-genome-45000-year-old-siberian-man-02227.html
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Mysterious 'Population Y' May Have Bred with Amazonia Peoples

A number of natives of the Amazon rainforest may partly descend from peoples in the Pacific, researchers say.
It remains a mystery as to when and how this genetic signature from an Australasia group in the Pacific they call "Population Y" made its way to the Amazon, scientists added.
Most genetic studies have suggested that all Native Americans analyzedto date can trace much or all of their ancestry to a single common origin — a population from Eurasia that probably migrated to the Americas more than 15,000 years ago, back when lower sea levels exposed the Bering land bridge known as Beringia that connected the continents. Some Native Americans from North America and the Arctic may also trace other parts of their ancestry to more recent waves of migration.http://www.livescience.com/51618-mysterious-population-y-bred-with-amazonians.html

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Thursday, March 3, 2016

Update on the Bilbo Mound

For those of you following the Bilbo Mound story we covered in last week's post "Rain Goddess," we've just found a detailed report of excavations of the site in 2009 by the University of South Carolina.  It looks like the test pits were dug in the area directly to the South of the "temple."


There is fascinating information here.

Highlights:

* Discussion of "blue clay" ...Maya Blue/ Haint Blue connection anyone?

* Discussion of pile-driven houses in marshlands and estuaries circa 8000 - 10,000 B.C. in the "Discussion and Conclusion" sections.  This is classic Nusantao cultural behavior! The "Sea Gypsies" and "Sea Dayaks" of South-East Asia still practice pile driving midden culture today...you know those expert Sea-Farers with all the Microcephalin D and Y Haplogroup T?

*This culture used "Swamp Cane" like the Southeast Asians use bamboo in order to build walkways and dwellings over the middens. 

The paper also says that the Native Americans were storing the blue clay in pits lined with a ceramic for later trade, like rectangular coolers embedded in the middens.
The first episode of cable T.V.'s "America Unearthed" centered around Georgian polygorskite in Mexican "Maya Blue," as well as the mesoamerican terraces of N.E. Georgia and a Native American skeleton with an elongated skull in south-central Georgia. 


My main area of research has been the Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic, and this site is of great interest to me because of its possible ties with the findings of Stephen Oppenheimer. In his book "Eden in the East" the doctor describes three phases of mass flooding at the end of the Younger Dryas prompting three separate waves of Nusantao cultural diffusion. 
He's already linked the SE Asian continent of Sundaland to Mesoamerican cultures and the world-wide distribution of the blowgun, fish poisons, bird shamans, dragon mythos, megaliths,the "two soul" religions, shell middens, bolas, agriculture, Frazer's corn god, and many other cultural traits shared by far-flung civilizations. 

Many fringe theorists have made speculative claims about the similarities between advanced "dawn"civilizations, but everything from the banana to the pig seems to have its genetic roots in South East Asia.
I think it's safe to add artificial cranial deformation (credit Paul Kekai Manansala), Microcephalin D, Y Haplogroup T, human sacrifice, headhunting, belief in "Ki," "Mana," or "Oro" energy, and some really large stone balls to certain  waves of Nusantao diffusion.


I can't find anything on the early use of bolas other than China, South America, and possibly Australia...but eastern neanderthal and homo erectus soloensis in Java used them before homo sapien ever did, and they were once called Ngangdog balls when found by archeologists in Java.
There's been a lot of hoopla about elongated skulls, and the main-stream scholars make it worse by their claim that the practice happened independently all over the world at roughly the same time with no central underlying cause whatever.
Obviously people didn't wake up all over the world's coastlines one day around 3,500 B.C. and say, "Hey! Let's warp our babies' heads today!"
Only a cloistered scientist without any street-smarts could propose such a notion. It requires a belief in a Universal Mind, Rupert Sheldrake's 'Morphic Field," or a particularly psychic and timely sort of cultural convergent evolution in order to even entertain the idea.

These people were obviously emulating something, and the practice obviously spread from one location to the coasts via a maritime culture.

The Teshik-Tash Neanderthals threw me off of the answer for quite some time, because scientists actually thought that they were practicing artificial cranial deformation 30 thousand years ago.  
Now we know that they were not practicing any form of head-binding at all; their heads actually grew that way naturally!
  
Come to think of it, homo erectus soloensis had a dolicephalic skull as well. The same ones who shared the neanderthal cultural trait of "Ngangdong Balls"... or Oppenheimer's Nusantao Bolas.

We know why mainstream scientists won't address these questions; "diffusion" is a dirty word when used to describe prehistoric cultures, even when it provides a common sense answer to a problem that needs and has an obvious answer.

But why are the "fringe scientists" looking for a source in little green men? We don't have the skeleton of a little green man... but we have the skeleton of a Shanidar Neanderthal.
We have the skulls of Nusantao priests and sailors. We find them wherever we find megaliths, Y Haplogroup T, high concentrations of Microcephalin D and ASPM D, as well as cranial deformation, non-tonal languages,and Denisovan introgression. 

And sure enough, cranial deformation is a practice known from the coastal areas of Georgia within the "Mesoamerican-influenced" early shell-ring cultures and related tribes in Florida.

Update:  The good news- Though there is a map of several vandal pits contained in the paper, the Bilbo Mound is at least 70% intact!  A barbed wire fence has been built around it, and pictures of the inside show that it is largely unaffected by the outer litter.  Good job, archeologists dudes!  I still think the outside should be cleaned up for pest control reasons, however.

Update II: Archeologists from Georgia Southern university have confirmed to me that though the culture of the Woodland and Archaic periods in the South-East was unlike any other in North America, there are other examples of stilt-house midden-dwellings in Florida's related Native American cultures.

Update III: The City of Savannah is now proposing a widening of the "Bilbo Canal," an act which might endanger the Bilbo Mound. We have been working with archeologists at several universities to ensure that this doesn't happen and that the site and effigy are recognized.

2009 Bilbo delta report

Note: Richard Thornton says that "Haint Blue" is made from buttermilk, fermented lime, and indigo and is lighter than haint blue.  I would still like to test some, as there are a few really dark examples here in Savannah.


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.


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Neanderthals used chemistry in fire-making?

Thanks to Pandora from alt.anthropology.paleo for sharing this paper:

Selection and Use of Manganese Dioxide by Neanderthals 

Abstract 

Several Mousterian sites in France have yielded large numbers of small 
black blocs. The usual interpretation is that these ‘manganese oxides’ 
were collected for their colouring properties and used in body 
decoration, potentially for symbolic expression. Neanderthals 
habitually used fire and if they needed black material for decoration, 
soot and charcoal were readily available, whereas obtaining manganese 
oxides would have incurred considerably higher costs. Compositional 
analyses lead us to infer that late Neanderthals at Pech-de-l’Azé I 
were deliberately selecting manganese dioxide. Combustion experiments 
and thermo-gravimetric measurements demonstrate that manganese dioxide 
reduces wood’s auto-ignition temperature and substantially increases 
the rate of char combustion, leading us to conclude that the most 
beneficial use for manganese dioxide was in fire-making. With 
archaeological evidence for fire places and the conversion of the 
manganese dioxide to powder, we argue that Neanderthals at 
Pech-de-l’Azé I used manganese dioxide in fire-making and produced 
fire on demand. 
Article in Nature

I have often thought that if a Neanderthal travelled forward in time and found himself in 2016, he would think us extremely primitive.
"What? You need things to condition the air? Why not just tell your body what temperature you'd like?
You mean you spend all your time doing something you hate so that you can eat and have shelter? Why not just chase down a deer and sling it over your shoulder?
Why do you need all of this crude metal to do things that you can do with arm and brain power?
Wait...you're spending how much to reach Mars? Want me to show you how to do some astral projection? It's cheaper, really, and quite simple..."
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