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Stone Tools Discovered in Arabia Force Archaeologists to Rethink Human History

Stone Tools
© AAAS/Science/PA
Stone hand axes belonging to humans who lived in Arabia more than 100,000 years ago.

A spectacular haul of stone tools discovered beneath a collapsed rock shelter in southern Arabia has forced a major rethink of the story of human migration out of Africa. The collection of hand axes and other tools shaped to cut, pierce and scrape bear the hallmarks of early human workmanship, but date from 125,000 years ago, around 55,000 years before our ancestors were thought to have left the continent.

The artefacts, uncovered in the United Arab Emirates, point to a much earlier dispersal of ancient humans, who probably cut across from the Horn of Africa to the Arabian peninsula via a shallow channel in the Red Sea that became passable at the end of an ice age. Once established, these early pioneers may have pushed on across the Persian Gulf, perhaps reaching as far as India, Indonesia and eventually Australia.

Michael Petraglia, an archaeologist at Oxford University who was not involved in the work, told the Science journal: "This is really quite spectacular. It breaks the back of the current consensus view."

Anatomically modern humans - those that resemble people alive today - evolved in Africa about 200,000 years ago. Until now, most archaeological evidence has supported an exodus from Africa, or several waves of migration, along the Mediterranean coast or the Arabian shoreline between 80,000 and 60,000 years ago.

A team led by Hans-Peter Uerpmann at the University of Tübingen in Germany uncovered the latest stone tools while excavating sediments at the base of a collapsed overhang set in a limestone mountain called Jebel Faya, about 35 miles (55km) from the Persian Gulf coast. Previous excavations at the site have found artefacts from the iron, bronze and neolithic periods, evidence that the rocky formation has provided millennia of natural shelter for humans.

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Scientists Discover Ancient Ras Al Khaimah Caves

Dr. Nadja Zupan Hajna
© Charles Crowell for The National
Dr. Nadja Zupan Hajna of the Karst Research Institute from Slovenia with crystals found as part of a cave system at the site of a cave in Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates on Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2011.

Six of the world's leading experts from Slovenia's Karst Institute and UAE University have discovered the remnants of an cave network that may have existed millions of years ago.

The cave is thought to predate the surrounding wadi and should provide clues about the UAE's former climate, geography and water.

The discovery happened by chance at the beginning of the week when they asked for help from a young man, known to them only as Talal, when they were lost in Wadi Haqil.

"Just by chance we asked him if he knew if there was a cave in the area," said Dr Asma al Ketbi, the head of the Emirates Geographic Society and a geography professor at UAE University, at the site yesterday. "At first he said 'no', and then he just brought us to this cave."

The dark chamber contained little more than a few startled pigeons, but in the mountainside above they found shining strips of crystal green embedded in the limestone.

The rock holds the remains of a hydrothermic cave network of thousands of channels covered in crystal walls five to 10 centimetres thick, with at least one chamber measuring more than seven metres in diameter.

Cow Skull

California Desert: The mysterious Blythe Intaglios

Image
© Unknown
The Blythe Intaglios are a group of gigantic earth figures found on the ground near Blythe, CA. These intaglios are east of the Big Maria Mountains, about 15 miles north of Blythe - just west of Highway 95 near the Colorado River. The intaglios are best viewed from the air, and that is exactly how they were discovered. In 1932, local pilot George Palmer was flying over the Colorado River into Blythe when he accidentally spotted the formations below him.

Intaglios are gigantic human, animal and geometric figures on the ground surface. There are over 300 intaglios in the American Southwest and adjacent Mexico. The best known of these mysterious figures are the Blythe Intaglios. The ground drawings are situated on two low mesas or terraces. There are several figures in three locations. The figures include two large humans, a feline and a concentric circle and a spiral. The largest human figure measures 171 feet from head to toe.

Cow Skull

Russia court confiscates 3 tonnes of mammoth tusks

Image
© Unknown
Russian authorities have confiscated three tonnes of mammoth tusks from a criminal gang which tried to smuggle them out of the country.

The court office of the northern city of St. Petersburg said on Thursday that it had confiscated some 64 full and 14 reconstructed tusks, but would not say when.

A small group of criminals has been involved in smuggling tusks and bones from the extinct beasts across Russia's borders since 2004, the court said in a press release.

The court said that the tusks come from a species of mammoth that once inhabited the Siberian Sakha Republic, also known as Yakutia. The tusks have survived thousands of years in the permafrost that covers vast part of the region.

Hardhat

Bosnia: Convincing Evidence for largest Pyramid on Earth (so far)

At the Megalithomania Conference of 2008 Dr. Osmanagić presented convincing evidence for a 220 meter tall pyramid in Bosnia, which would make it the largest pyramid on earth. Seismologic measurements by several European scientific institutes, perfect geometry and alignment at the sun and Earth's north pole as well as numerous excavations and artifacts point to an artificial creation of this structure.

Black Cat

Saber-toothed cats could have preyed on early humans

Washington: Scientists have discovered two fearsome species of saber-toothed cats which they believe might once have stalked the early humans.

However, the feline predators might also have proven to be a boon to our ancient relatives who could have scavenged the meat they left behind, said researchers from University of Poitiers in France.

According to the researchers, the new fossils were uncovered in the vast, flat, windy Djurab desert in northern Chad in central Africa.

Saber Tooth
© Reuters

Sherlock

9,400-year-old dog found, earliest found in Americas

Image
© Robert F. Bukaty/AP
Researcher Samuel Belknap III poses with a skull of a domestic dog, on Jan. 14, at the University of Maine in Orono. Belknap found a bone fragment of what he says is the oldest-known domesticated dog in North America, while examining a waste matter recovered from Hinds Cave, a major archeological site in southwest Texas near the Mexico border.
Nearly 10,000 years ago, man's best friend provided protection and companionship - and an occasional meal.

That's what researchers are saying after finding a bone fragment from what they are calling the earliest confirmed domesticated dog in the Americas.

University of Maine graduate student Samuel Belknap III came across the fragment while analyzing a dried-out sample of human waste unearthed in southwest Texas in the 1970s. A carbon-dating test put the age of the bone at 9,400 years, and a DNA analysis confirmed it came from a dog - not a wolf, coyote or fox, Belknap said.

Because it was found deep inside a pile of human excrement and was the characteristic orange-brown color that bone turns when it has passed through the digestive tract, the fragment provides the earliest direct evidence that dogs - besides being used for company, security and hunting - were eaten by humans and may even have been bred as a food source, he said.

Magic Wand

Canadian paleontologists reveal earthly origins of mysterious Tibetan footprints. But are they right?

Image
© Wikipedia Commons, Photo Handout
Painting of King Gesar, the hero of an epic poem at the heart of Tibetan history. When giant, human-shaped footprints were found stamped in rock at a construction site in Tibet in 1999, local residents celebrated what they believed to be the discovery of ancient traces of the legendary King Gesar.
When giant, human-shaped footprints were found stamped in rock at a construction site in Tibet in 1999, local residents celebrated what they believed to be the discovery of ancient traces left by the legendary figure King Gesar, the hero of an epic poem at the heart of Tibetan history. But two leading Canadian paleontologists have published a study revealing the more earthly origins of the metre-long prints - an enormous dinosaur that made tracks along a Tibetan mudflat about 150 million years ago.

The finding, due to appear in the next issue of the Geological Bulletin of China, represents the first documented dinosaur trackway in Tibet. But it isn't likely to deter locals from leaving respectful offerings to King Gesar at the site of the fossilized footfalls, says the University of Alberta scientist who led the study.

Lida Xing, who co-authored the footprint study with his U of A colleague and famed fossil hunter Philip Currie, said the research site in Tibet was frequently shrouded with gifts left by local residents as a tribute to the mythic king.

Magnify

Neanderthal faces were not adapted to cold

Image
© Ther Neanderthaler Fund
First reconstruction of Neanderthal man
New research into Neanderthal skulls suggests that facial features believed for over a century to be adaptations to extreme cold are unlikely to have evolved in response to glacial periods after all.

Neanderthal faces had prominent cheekbones and wide noses previously thought to have developed in extremely cold periods because large sinuses were needed to warm air as it was inhaled. One problem with this theory is that modern people such as the Inuits, and other mammals living in Arctic regions have not developed large sinuses, and their sinuses are often smaller, and another problem is that it has never been proven that Neanderthal sinuses were larger.

A team led by Dr Todd C. Rae from the Centre for Research in Evolutionary Anthropology at Roehampton University in the UK took previously published measurements of X-Rays and new data from three-dimensional (3D) computer tomography (CT) scans of nine Neanderthal skulls, all dated at over 28,000 years old. They then collected measurements from four Homo sapiens skulls from archaeological sites in Lithuania and dated from 300 to 1,500 years old. They compared the two sets of measurements to determine how large the sinuses of Neanderthals actually were.

They used medieval Homo sapiens skulls rather than present-day skulls because they wanted data from a period before air conditioning and central heating, which could have affected the results.

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Archaeologists: Human Settlement in Syria Dates Back to One Million Years

Ancient Civilization
© Global Arab Network

Syria (Lattakia) - Director General of the Department of Archaeology and Museums Bassam Jamous affirmed that humans inhabited Syria one million years ago on the banks of Orontes, Euphrates and the Great Northern River and later the Syrian Desert.

In a lecture on new archeological finds in Syria during the past ten years, Jamous pointed out that recent studies revealed that humans settled in al-Dedariya Cave north of Aleppo, central Syria, where human skeletons dating back to 100,000 years ago.

Over the past ten years, the Department of Archaeology and Museums documented over 10,000 archaeological sites across Syria, 600 of which date back to prehistory.

Jamous noted that recent discoveries prove that the first villages with circular houses were established during the 10th millennium BC in the middle Euphrates area and Jadet al-Magharra site in Aleppo countryside.

In Damascus Countryside, three sites were discovered: Tal Aswad, a-Ramad and Ghrefi. They contain several buildings indicating urban development dating back to the 7th millennium BC.

In 2010, the Department announced the discovery of a village called "al-Jerf al-Ahmar" on the banks of the Euphrates, which showed an example of a pictography predating hieroglyphs. The village contained circular houses without pillars that are still standing after 11,000 years.