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"Lucy" had prehuman company, fossil shows

Lucy and friends
© Yohannes Haile-Selassie/The Cleveland Museum of Natural History
The first element of the Burtele partial foot, fourth metatarsal, as it was found on the ground in the Woranso-Mille area of the Afar region of Ethiopia.

Lucy, it turns out, had company - another prehuman that also walked but spent more of its time in trees.

Until now, there was no proof of another human relative living around the same time as the species made famous by the Lucy skeleton. But a fossil discovery reveals there was another creature around 3 million years ago and it gives new insight into the evolution of a key human trait - walking on two legs.

The creature came to light when an international team of researchers unearthed a partial foot in eastern Africa. Like Lucy, it walked upright, but had a grasping foot that it used to climb tree branches. Scientists said it's now clear that various human relatives experimented with upright walking.

"This is just another window into solving the problem of how we got from a primitive foot to the modern human foot," said Bruce Latimer of Cleveland's Case Western Reserve University, who helped discover the fossil remains.

Various hominin species have co-existed throughout human evolutionary history, but this is the first sign of another during Lucy's time.

So what was this tree-climbing and ground-dwelling creature?

Star of David

Were Jews Ever Slaves in Egypt, or is Passover a Myth?

Where is the real proof - archeological evidence, state records and primary sources?

© Associated Press
Here's a question for you: what do actor Charlton Heston, DreamWorks animation studios and Former Prime Minister Menachem Begin all have in common? Well, they've all, at one time or another, perpetuated the myth that the Jews built the pyramids. And it is a myth, make no mistake. Even if we take the earliest possible date for Jewish slavery that the Bible suggests, the Jews were enslaved in Egypt a good three hundred years after the 1750 B.C. completion date of the pyramids. That is, of course, if they were ever slaves in Egypt at all.

We are so quick to point out the obvious lies about Jews and Israel that come out in Egypt - the Sinai Governors claims that the Mossad released a shark into the Red Sea to kill Egyptians, or, as I once read in a newspaper whilst on holiday in Cairo, the tale of the magnetic belt buckles that Jews were selling cheap in Egypt that would sterilize men on contact - yet we so rarely examine our own misconceptions about the nature of our history with the Egyptian nation.


Another Nazca: Rare Animal-Shaped Mounds Discovered in Peru

Dr. Robert Benfer of the University of Missouri has discovered numerous earthen animals rising above the coastal plains of Peru, including a giant condor, an orca, a duck, and a caiman or puma monster.

Ancient Mounds
© Google Earth Pro
The orca-shaped mound dated to about 5000 years ago.
The study, published in the journal Antiquity, describes the mounds, measuring from 5 to 400 m long in each of the six valleys Dr. Benfer surveyed in coastal Peru, a region already renowned for the Nazca lines. The mounds pre-date ceramics and were probably built using woven baskets to carry and pile up rock and soil.

"The mounds will draw tourists, one day," Dr. Benfer said. "Some of them are more than 4,000 years old. Compare that to the effigy mounds of North America, which date to between 400 and 1200 AD. The oldest Peruvian mounds were being built at the same time as the pyramids in Egypt."

Like the Nazca lines, which include a series of giant animal outlines drawn on the ground to the south, the animal mounds were best observed from a higher vantage point. Google Earth images of the mounds revealed the shapes of birds, including a giant condor, a 5000-year-old orca, a duck, and a caiman/puma monster seen in bone and rock carvings from the area.


Neanderthals Were Dying Out Before Humans Arrived

© Corbis
A lifelike model of a Neanderthal at the Neanderthal Museum in Mettmann, Germany.

Neanderthals in Western Europe started disappearing long before Homo sapiens showed up, suggesting that cold weather, and not cold-hearted humans, might have been responsible for the species' ultimate demise.

The findings, published in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution, suggest that at least one population of Neanderthals was vulnerable to climate change.

Love Dalén, lead author of the paper, told Discovery News that "even if the Neanderthals were capable of surviving periods of extreme cold, the game species they relied on likely could not, so their resource base would have been severely depleted."

Neanderthals appear to have favored hunting wooly mammoths and other big game. Neanderthals were also big-brained, with the ability to make stone tools, construct garments, control fire and find shelter.

For the study, Dalén of the Swedish Museum of Natural History and his colleagues analyzed mitochondrial DNA sequences from 13 Neanderthal individuals, including a new sequence from the site of Valdegoba cave in northern Spain.


Celeb Martial Artist Recruited for Ancient Roman Army

Ancient Sports
© Timothy R. Nichols | Shutterstock
Flavillianus excelled at two sports, wrestling and pankration, winning victories in Athens, Argos and Neapolis. Both of these sports have roots in ancient Greece.
Millennia before modern-day military recruiters talked up potential soldiers in shopping malls or put up posters, one Roman city took a rather different approach to recruiting soldiers for the emperor's army.

A newly translated inscription, dating back about 1,800 years, reveals that Oinoanda, a Roman city in southwest Turkey, turned to a mixed martial art champion to recruit for the Roman army and bring the new soldiers to a city named Hierapolis, located hundreds of miles to the east, in Syria.

His name was Lucius Septimius Flavianus Flavillianus and he was a champion at wrestling and pankration, the latter a bloody, and at times lethal, mixed martial art where contestants would try to pound each other unconscious or into submission.

Flavillianus proved to be so successful as a military recruiter that it was decreed that he be made a "cult figure in the band of heroes" after he died, with each tribe of the city erecting statues in his honor. The inscription, written in Greek, was engraved on the base of a statue found in Oinoanda's agora (a central public space) and would have been erected by the people of the city. Discovered by a team in 2002, it wasn't until now that researchers translated and published it.

"This is a very unusual piece of evidence that has come to light," said Nicholas Milner, a researcher with the British Institute at Ankara, who published the translation in the most recent edition of the journal Anatolian Studies.

Milner explained that in the Roman Empire, this sort of "heroisation" is very rare.


Archaeologists astounded by musical instrument find in Skye cave

© Unknown
Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop holds a replica of the 2,300-year-old lyre bridge with, from left, High Pasture Cave project director Steve Birch, cultural historian Dr John Purser and Dr Graeme Lawson of Cambridge Music-archaeological research.
One of the earliest stringed instrument ever found in Western Europe - dating to more than 2,300 years ago - has been discovered at an excavation on the Isle of Skye. Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Culture Fiona Hyslop has revealed the small wooden fragment that it is believed comes from a lyre. It has been burnt and broken, but the notches where strings would have been placed are easy to distinguish on the artefact.

Music archaeologists Graeme Lawson and John Purser studied the fragment which was discovered at High Pasture Cave, near the village of Torrin. Mr Lawson, of Cambridge Music-archaeological Research, said: "For Scotland - and indeed all of us in these islands - this is very much a step change. It pushes the history of complex music back more than a thousand years, into our darkest pre-history. And not only the history of music but more specifically of song and poetry, because that's what such instruments were very often used for.


Primitive Human Ancestor Shared Lucy's World

Fossil Bones
© Yohannes Haile-Selassie, The Cleveland Museum of Natural History
Right foot. These fossil foot bones show there were at least two different ways to walk upright 3 million to 4 million years ago.

Lucy was not alone. The discovery of a remarkably rare partial foot from an ancient primate suggests that more than one kind of human ancestor walked upright in Africa when Lucy's species, Australopithecus afarensis, was alive. The primitive traits in this 3.4-million-year-old partial right foot also show that there was more than one way for early human ancestors to walk upright for at least a million years, according to a new study.

Ever since the discovery of Lucy's species in 1974, she has been considered a prime candidate for a direct human ancestor. Unlike earlier apes, Lucy walked fully upright, even though her brain and body weren't much bigger than a chimp's. This showed researchers that bipedal walking was a key trait of humans and our ancestors, the group called hominins - but not of living apes and their ancestors.

Researchers have long wondered if other upright walking species shared the Rift Valley of Africa with Lucy, particularly after they discovered that several types of hominins were alive at the same time after A. afarensis disappeared 3 million years ago. Paleoanthropologists have found the bones and teeth of hundreds of individuals of A. afarensis from between 3 million and 4 million years ago. But in that time period, only one other potential hominin, Kenyanthropus platyops, has turned up, and its skull was so badly crushed that researchers disagree whether it represents Lucy's kind or a new species.


4,000-Year-Old Stone Monolith Likely an Astronomical Marker

© D Brown/Nottingham Trent University
An ancient stone monolith in England was likely an astronomical marker, according to new archaeological evidence.
An ancient stone monolith in England was likely an astronomical marker, according to new archaeological evidence.

The 4,000-year-old stone is triangular in shape and angles up toward geographic south. Its orientation and slant angle are aligned with the altitude of the sun at midsummer, researchers said.

And new evidence shows that there are packing stones around the base of the 7.2-foot tall (2.2-meter) monolith, indicating that it was placed carefully in its location and position, they added.

"Given the sensitivity of the site, we can't probe under the surface of the soil," astronomer Daniel Brown of Nottingham Trent University in England said in a statement. "However, through our survey, we have found a higher density of packing stones on one side, supporting the case that the stone has been orientated intentionally." [Aerial Photos: Mysterious Stone Structures]


Ice Age Migration? New DNA study suggests people moved between continents before recorded history

© Unknown
Early man: A third of people in modern Europe show genetic traces of populations from sub-Saharan Africa, leading researchers to conclude that people migrated between the continents as early as 11,000 years ago.
People moved between Africa and Europe long before recorded history - and the migrations might have been driven by Europeans moving south to 'weather' ice ages.

The genetic traces of long-forgotten migrations from Africa to Europe live on in Europeans today.

A third of the genetic traces of sub-Saharan lineages in today's Europe come from prehistory.

Researchers think that Europeans 'pushed south' by glaciers might have met with populations from sub-Saharan Africa.

People moved between the continents as early as 11,000 years ago.

Geneticists used mitochondrial DNA to look for the traces of ancient migrations.

Mitochondrial DNA is passed directly from mother to child with no DNA from the father - and tiny changes in the sequence come to 'characterise' different populations, which can be used to trace movements and migrations of groups of humans in the past.

Large numbers of people moved between Africa and Europe during recent and well-documented time periods such as the Roman Empire, the Arab conquest, and the slave trade - but the researchers found that a third of sub-Saharan lineages came from before these movements.

'It was very surprising to find that more than 35 percent of the sub-Saharan lineages in Europe arrived during a period that ranged from more than 11,000 years ago to the Roman Empire times,' said Dr. Antonio Salas of the University of Santiago de Compostela and senior author of the study.


Japan's Jomon Older Than Sumerians

Jomon Pottery
© Wikimedia Commons
Incipient Jomon pottery between 10000 and 8000 BC.

Chuo University associate professor Kenichi Kobayashi reporting that dating of cooked plants and beans, found in ruins in southwestern Japan, are 13,000 years old. Dishes and grain grinders made of stone have also been found at the Ojiyama ruins in the city of Miyakonojo.

Anthropologists believe the Jomon people survived the last Great Ice Age, their civilization is older than the Bronze Age Sumerians. The latest findings of preserved cooked food shows the diet of the Jomon was changing due to global warming.

Some researchers believe the Jomon might have built a sacred mountain site, near the Island of Yonaguni Jima, during the Ice Age. That site is now underwater. During the Ice Age it would have been above sea level, because sea levels were much lower during the Ice Age. There is debate whether the site was built by Jomon, or that it was a natural formation used by the Jomon.

The Jomon, like many ancient societies, viewed rocks and mountains as sources of spiritual power.