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How Psychology Solved A WWII Shipwreck Mystery

In November 1941, two ships crossed paths off the coast of Australia. One was the German raider HSK Kormoran. The other: an Australian warship called the HMAS Sydney. Guns were fired, the ships were damaged and both sank to the bottom of the ocean.

The loss of the Sydney in World War II was a national tragedy for the Australians, particularly because none of the 645 men on board survived. In the years that followed, there was intense interest in finding the wrecks, particularly the wreck of the Sydney. The idea was that doing this might give the families of the lost sailors some measure of peace, a sense of closure and certainty.

© Unknown
The Australian warship HMAS Sydney is anchored in Sydney Harbor in this undated photograph. The ship sank in November 1941 after a battle with a German vessel. Despite extensive search efforts, the boats were not found until 2008.
The problem was that the only witnesses to the battle and the sinking were about 300 German sailors who had abandoned their ship after it had been hit. They were eventually picked up by the Australian military.


Preserved flesh of 2-million-year-old human ancestor found?

His jaw must have dropped when he examined the material before him. It was a rare find. So rare, in fact, that, if what he was looking at was really what he thought it could be, it would be the first and only evidence of soft body tissue from an early hominin ever discovered.......soft tissue from an early (possible) pre-human ancestor nearly 2 million years old. The find was part of the remains uncovered by paleoanthropologist Lee Berger of the University of the Witwatersrand and his colleagues when they discovered fossils of Australopithecus sediba, a possible precursor to our earliest human ancestors (the Homo genus) in the Malapa cave system of South Africa.

© Phiston, GNU Free Documentation License
Australopithecus sediba, on display in Maropeng.
"I was standing with Lee in his lab looking at what might be australopithecine skin" said Dr. John Hawks, a paleoanthropologist with the University of Wisconsin - Madison. "I'm not talking about an imprint of skin, like a skin cast. These appear to be thinly layered, possibly mineralized tissue"[1].


Mayan film documentary claims proof of aliens?

© Unknown
A new documentary about Mayan civilization will provide evidence of extraterrestrial contact with the ancient culture, according to a Mexican government official and the film's producer.

Revelations of the Mayans 2012 and Beyond, currently in production, will claim the Mayans had contact with extraterrestrials, producer Raul Julia-Levy revealed to TheWrap.

"Mexico will release codices, artifacts and significant documents with evidence of Mayan and extraterrestrial contact, and all of their information will be corroborated by archaeologists," said Julia-Levy, son of actor Raul Julia.

In a release to TheWrap, Luis Augusto Garcia Rosado, the minister of tourism for the Mexican state of Campeche, said new evidence has emerged "of contact between the Mayans and extraterrestrials, supported by translations of certain codices, which the government has kept secure in underground vaults for some time."


Treasure hunters eye huge silver haul from WWII ship

© Odyssey Marine Exploration
A stern compass of the SS Gairsoppa on the top of the poop deck. When the SS Gairsoppa was torpedoed by a German U-boat, it took its huge silver cargo to a watery grave. Seventy years later, US divers said they are working to recover what may well be the biggest shipwreck haul ever
When the SS Gairsoppa was torpedoed by a German U-boat, it took its huge silver cargo to a watery grave. Seventy years later, US divers said they are working to recover what may well be the biggest shipwreck haul ever.

Florida-based Odyssey Marine Exploration on Monday confirmed the identity and location of the Gairsoppa and cited official documents indicating the ship was carrying some 219 tons of silver coins and bullion when it sank in 1941 in the North Atlantic some 300 miles (490 kilometers) off the Irish coast.

That's worth about $200 million today, which would make it history's largest recovery of precious metals lost at sea, Odyssey said.

"We've accomplished the first phase of this project -- the location and identification of the target shipwreck -- and now we're hard at work planning for the recovery phase," Odyssey senior project manager Andrew Craig said in a statement.


Turkey: Heracles finally returning to its homeland

The top half of an 1,800-year-old Roman sculpture of the mythological hero Heracles, which was smuggled out of the country 40 years ago, is to return to Turkey in the plane of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, according to daily Hürriyet.

Turkish Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay said he was happy about the imminent return of the top half of the statue, which has been on display at the Boston Museum and added that Turkey would continue to work for the return of cultural artifacts stolen from the country.

© Unknown
The top half of Weary Heracles will meet its lower half which is on display at the Antalya Archaeology Museum.
The bottom half of the statue, known as Weary Heracles, was discovered in 1980 by Professor Jale İnan in Perge, a few years after the top half was smuggled out of the country. "[There have been] 40 years of longing between the top and lower half of the statue," Günay said. Together, the two halves weigh 200 kilograms.


US: American Indian mounds are Florida's hidden monuments

I'm scrabbling, sweating, straining up a steep incline, my running shoes sliding back downhill on the chalky white ground. My hat's in the car where it doesn't belong on this unusually hot March afternoon, and I can feel my forehead starting to sear. Getting myself into this position took three hours in crawling traffic and then a boat ride to Mound Key, in Estero Bay. I have to ask myself: "You agreed to this?''

© Suzanne Williamson
The temple mound in Crystal River Archaeological State Park shows its height and a scar from shell removal, which occurred before the preservation of its 14-acre, six-mound complex — said to have been occupied for 1,600 years.
I did. Soon after we moved to Tampa Bay my wife Suzanne began traveling around Florida to photograph American Indian heritage sites. The old bungalow felt empty without her and, besides, she was heading into some remote areas alone. So I tagged along.

These Indian mounds, as they're known, are man-made structures of earth, shells and sand, built by prehistoric and historic civilizations. Beginning as long as 7,000 years ago and continuing into the 1700s, American Indians living in nature transformed it - working without metal tools, pack animals, or the wheel. Florida is rich in these mounds, Suzanne explained, especially along the west coast and around Tampa Bay.


Huge Ancient Roman Shipyard Unearthed in Italy

Roman Shipyard
© The Portus Project
A computer-created image of the large Roman shipyard that has been uncovered at Portus — the ancient port of Rome. Researchers have uncovered the remains of a massive building close to the distinctive hexagonal basin or 'harbor,' at the center of the port complex.

A large Roman shipyard has been uncovered an ancient port in Rome called Portus, researchers reported yesterday (Sept. 22).

They found the remains of a massive building, dating to the second century, where ancient ships were likely built close to the distinctive hexagonal basin, or "harbor," at the center of the port complex.

"Few Roman Imperial shipyards have been discovered and, if our identification is correct, this would be the largest of its kind in Italy or the Mediterranean," dig director Simon Keay, of the University of Southampton, said in a statement.

Portus was a crucial trade gateway linking Rome to the Mediterranean during the Imperial period (27 B.C. to A.D. 565). The area was initially built during the time of Emperor Trajan (A.D. 98 to 117). Excavation at the site has revealed that it had many uses, including to store grain and as a defensive measure.


Maya Royal Tombs Found With Rare Woman Ruler

Maya Royal Burial

The roughly 2,000-year-old tomb was found underneath another, 1,300-year-old tomb filled with treasures such as jade gorgets - normally used to protect the throat - beads, and ceremonial knives.

The upper tomb's corpse had been badly destroyed by rodents within the last few centuries, but the body was clearly that of another Maya ruler - perhaps another female, based on the small size of a ring found in that tomb.

The royal burials are the first discovered in Nakum, once a densely packed Maya center. Study co-author Wiesław Koszkul and colleagues have been investigating Nakum's surroundings, known as the Cultural Triangle, for decades. (Explore an interactive map of key Maya sites.)

© Wiesław Koszkul, Nakum Archaeological Project
A woman ruler's skeleton—her head mysteriously placed between two bowls—is one of two royal burials recently found at the Maya ruins of Nakum in Guatemala.
"We think this structure was something like a mausoleum for the royal lineage for at least 400 years," said Koszkul, of the Jagiellonian University Institute of Archaeology in Krakow, Poland.

The Maya royal-tomb discoveries are described in the September issue of the journal Antiquity.


Lock of hair pins down early migration of Aborigines

 Lock of Aboriginal hair A lock of hair is all that is needed to decode the history of an entire race
© BBC News

Lock of Aboriginal hair A lock of hair is all that is needed to decode the history of an entire race

A lock of hair has helped scientists to piece together the genome of Australian Aborigines and rewrite the history of human dispersal around the world.

DNA from the hair demonstrates that indigenous Aboriginal Australians were the first to separate from other modern humans, around 70,000 years ago.

This challenges current theories of a single phase of dispersal from Africa.

An international team of researchers published their findings in the journal Science.


Old Fossils Solve Mystery of Earliest Bird Extinction

Bird bone fragments
© Nicholas Longrich
Bird fossils are very rare because the bones are fragile and easily damaged.
Many early bird species suffered from the same catastrophic extinction as the dinosaurs, new research has shown.

The meteorite impact that coincided with the disappearance of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, also saw a rapid decline in primitive bird species.

Only a few bird groups survived through the mass extinction, from which all modern birds are descended.

Researchers at Yale University have published their findings in PNAS this week.