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Oldest Fossil on Earth Found

Oldest Fossil
© D. Wacey / UWA
The oldest microfossils ever found were discovered in a 3.4 billion-year-old sandstone at the base of Strelley Pool in the remote Pilbara region of Western Australia.
Microfossils found in Australia show that more than 3.4 billion years ago, bacteria thrived on an Earth that had no oxygen, a finding that boosts hopes life has existed on Mars, a study published Sunday says.

Researchers from the University of Western Australia and Oxford University say the remains of microbes, located in ancient sedimentary rocks that have triggered debate for nearly a decade, have been confirmed as the earliest fossils ever recorded.

The sample came from the remote Pilbara region of Western Australia, a site called Strelley Pool, where the microbes, after dying, had been finely preserved between quartz sand grains.

Pilbara has some of the planet's oldest rock formations, set down in the so-called Archean Eon when the infant Earth was a primeval water world, with seas that were the temperature of a hot bath.


Deadly Ancient Egyptian Medication? German Scientists Shed Light On Dark Secret of Queen Hatshepsut's Flacon

© Barbara Frommann/Uni Bonn
Michael Höveler-Müller (left) and Dr. Helmut Wiedenfeld with the mysterious vial.
The corpus delicti is a plain flacon from among the possessions of Pharaoh Hatshepsut, who lived around 1450 B.C., which is on exhibit in the permanent collection of the Egyptian Museum of the University of Bonn. For three and a half millennia, the vessel may have held a deadly secret. This is what the Head of the collection, Michael Höveler-Müller and Dr. Helmut Wiedenfeld from the university's Pharmacology Institute just discovered.

After two years of research it is now clear that the flacon did not hold a perfume; instead, it was a kind of skin care lotion or even medication for a monarch suffering from eczema. In addition, the pharmacologists found a strongly carcinogenic substance. Was Hatshepsut killed by her medicine?

When Michael Höveler-Müller became the curator of the Egyptian Museum of the University of Bonn in 2009, it occurred to him to examine the interior of the vessel that, according to an inscription, belonged to Pharaoh Hatshepsut. Its neck had been blocked with what was generally considered "dirt," but Höveler-Müller suspected that it might also be the original clay stopper. So possibly, some of the original contents might still be inside. In Dr. Helmut Wiedenfeld from the Pharmacy Institute, he found just the right partner, to get to the bottom of this question and of the flacon.


Iowa, US: Archaeologists Dig Up 7,000-Year-Old Remains

© Press-Citizen
University of Iowa archaeologists use laser-transit technology for high-precision mapping at the site of a new wastewater treatment facility in Des Moines. The archaeologists discovered artifacts nearly 7,000 years old at the site. office of the state archaeologist
State archaeologists are hoping thousands of artifacts they uncovered at a site in Des Moines will provide some insight into how people in the area lived nearly 7,000 years ago, from the way they made a living to what they ate and how they interacted socially.

"Those are the big research questions that are going to drive the lab analysis that takes place next," state archaeologist John Doershuk said. "We have thousands of artifacts that will tell us about their diet and map info that will tell us how they used their space."

Workers found more than 6,000 artifacts, from arrowheads and spear points to flint chips and even two human skeletons thought to be 6,680 to 6,890 years old at the site of a new wastewater treatment facility in Des Moines, north of the Des Moines River.

They are among some of the oldest and most well-preserved artifacts ever uncovered in Iowa.


Colorado, US: Archaeologists Discover 8,000 Year-Old Stone Shelter

Archaeologists discovered an 8,000-year-old stone shelter in Colorado.
Archaeologists may have discovered evidence of people living in Colorado's Grand Valley 8,000 years ago.

During a recent dig, researchers with the Dominguez Anthropological Research Group (DARG) uncovered a prehistoric stone shelter.

Due to an agreement with the Bureau of Land Management, which oversees the land where the shelter was found, the group could not disclose its exact location, but says it was north of Grand Junction, CO, near the Bookcliffs.

After nearly two years of background work and two months of in-ground work, DARG researchers say they made quite the find.

"We found fire pits and storage features," said James Miller, research director for DARG. "We also collected all the lithic artifacts, or stone tools."

The group says it also found remnants of posts where a wall would have gone.


Lost Amazon civilisation revealed after forests cleared for cattle grazing

Hundreds of geometric monuments unearthed deep in the Amazon may have been left behind by a previously unknown society, say scientists.

Archaeologists have found more than 200 earthworks shaped as perfect circles and squares, many connected by straight roads. They have dated one site to 1283AD but say others could be from as early as 200AD.

Fazenda Colorada

Aerial photograph and plan of the Fazenda Colorada site, which is made up of clear geometric shapes. Excavations suggest inhabitants lived in the three-sided square.


Wreck of 16th century Swedish warship found in Baltic

The wreck of a Swedish warship that historians hope is the Mars, head of king Erik XIV's fleet before it sank in the Baltic in 1564, has been found off Sweden's coast, museum officials said on Friday.

© AP
“This is a wreck we have waited a long time to see,” said Andreas Olsson, head of the museum's archaeology department, practically certain that the find is indeed the ship (not pictured) described as “mythical” by the museum.
A team of divers discovered the wreck at a depth of 75 metres (250 feet), 10 nautical miles (18.5 kilometres) north of the Swedish island of Oland, Stockholm's maritime history museum said in a statement.

The find came after several years of research.

"Everything suggests that it is indeed the Mars that we have found," Richard Lundgren, one of the divers, said in the statement. "The size and the age of the ship correspond," with historical records, he added.

A stack of corn, the symbol of the Swedish royal family at the time, was found engraved on a cannon, providing another strong clue.


The very ancient mariners: Early human ancestors were more advanced than first thought and sailed the high seas

Early man is normally portrayed as a grunting cave-dweller of little intelligence and limited horizons.

But new research suggests that our ancestors may have been smarter than we give them credit for.

Archeologists now believe that man was crossing the Mediterranean Sea from northern Africa at least 130,000 years ago - more than 100,000 years earlier than previously thought.


Older than you think: These tools are now known to have been made in Crete 130,000 years ago - proof that early man must have sailed to the island before then to make them
The re-think comes after a number of ancient tools found on the island of Crete were accurately dated - and found to have been made by our early ancestors, Homo Erectus.

Cow Skull

Reindeer herder finds baby mammoth in Russia Arctic

A reindeer herder in Russia's Arctic has stumbled on the pre-historic remains of a baby woolly mammoth poking out of the permafrost, local officials said on Friday.

The herder said the carcass was as perfectly preserved as the 40,000-year-old mammoth calf Lyuba discovered in the same remote region four years ago, authorities said, adding that an expedition had set off hoping to confirm the "sensational" find.

"If it is true what is said about how it is preserved, this will be another sensation of global significance," expedition leader Natalia Fyodorova said in a statement on the Arctic Yamalo-Nenetsk region's official website.


Defending a Mayan Jungle Kingdom

Newly uncovered fortifications reveal how ancient Maya rulers struggled for wealth and territory

The Usumacinta River cuts a meandering path through a mountainous rain forest and forms part of an international border with Mexico on its west bank and Guatemala on its east. In the past, the land around the Usumacinta was criss-crossed by a constantly shifting web of borders as the rulers of ancient Maya cities fought wars and made alliances to expand the size and influence of their kingdoms. But little evidence of where the borders of these kingdoms actually lay had been found, until the recent discovery of a series of stone walls standing three to six feet high, strung out through a four-mile-long stretch of the rain forest. These walls, which divided the kingdoms of Yaxchilan and Piedras Negras, were used to defend Yaxchilan's northern border. The walls provide important clues about the military tactics as well as the causes of the fighting that took place during the tumultuous period 1,300 years ago when both cities were at the peak of their power.

© Sierra del Lacandon Regional Archaeology Project
An archaeological survey in the rain forest on the border between Mexico and Guatemala is revealing a series of stone walls that were used to defend the border between the warring Maya kingdoms of Yaxchilan and Piedras Negras.


"Britain's First Pre-Roman Planned Town" Found Near Reading

© BBC News
The site was first excavated from 1890 to 1909
Archaeologists believe they have found the first pre-Roman planned town discovered in Britain.

It has been unearthed beneath the Roman town of Silchester or Calleva Atrebatum near modern Reading.

The Romans are often credited with bringing civilisation to Britain - including town planning.

But excavations have shown evidence of an Iron Age town built on a grid and signs inhabitants had access to imported wine and olive oil.

Prof Mike Fulford, an archaeologist at the University of Reading, said the people of Iron Age Silchester appear to have adopted an urbanised 'Roman' way of living, long before the Romans arrived.

"It is very remarkable to find this evidence of a planned Iron Age layout before the arrival of the Romans and the development of a planned, Roman town," he said.

"Indeed, it would be hard to see a significant difference between the lifestyles of the inhabitants of the Iron Age town and of its Roman successor in the 1st Century AD."