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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.

Info

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.

Question

2,100-yr-old Greek Coin Offers Insights Into Rare Astronomical Event

Ancient Greek Coin
© Unreported Heritage News
New research suggests that this coin marks an eclipse of Jupiter by the moon.
It happened on January 17, 121 BC and was visible in Antioch, the capital of the Seleucid Empire. The coin itself show Zeus with a crescent moon above his head and a star like object hovering above the palm of his right hand.
An unusual Greek coin, minted around 120 BC, may have marked a moment in time when people in ancient Syria saw Jupiter being blocked out by the moon.

On one side is a portrait of Antiochos VIII, the king who minted it. On the reverse is a depiction of Zeus, either nude or half-draped, holding a sceptre in his left hand. Above the god's head is the crescent of the moon, and his right arm is outreached with a star like figure (that may in fact be Jupiter) hovering just above his palm.
"Nobody ever re-used this iconography again - it was a one off," said Professor Robert Weir, of the University of Windsor in Canada, who presented his research recently at the annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America.

Antiochos VIII was ruler of the Seleucid Empire, a kingdom created by one of Alexander the Great's officers, after the great conqueror died in 323 BC. By the time of Antiochos this realm was composed of a rump of territory centred on the city of Antioch, in south-eastern Turkey.

The empire had been in decline for some time, with the Parthians gaining territory in the east, the Romans in the west and the Hasmoneans, a dynasty of Jewish kings, coming to power in the south.

Antiochos's rise to the throne was brutal to say the least. His mother was a woman named Cleopatra Thea, and he started his rule having to share the throne with her. "She was a very oppressive, domineering sort of woman as far as we can gather," said Professor Weir. "She had just killed his brother for no good reason."

Perhaps fearing for his own life Antiochos VIII had her put to death in 121 BC, making him sole ruler of what was left of the Seleucid kingdom.

Sherlock

Researchers find neolithic site

Image
© unknown
A string of neolithic posthole sites, considered to be used by ancient people for the construction of pillared halls, have been found in Palakkad district in south Indian state .

A group of researchers, led by V Sanal Kumar, Director of the Palakkad-based Geo-Heritage Archaeology Research Centre, recently unearthed around 13 such sites in various locations of the district.

While a large number of sites were found in the rocky plateaus at Thenmala in Western Ghats in the Palakkad gap zone, some others were found on the banks of Ikshumathipuzha--a tributary of the Gayathripuzha flowing through Kollengode, Muthalamada and Elevanchery here.

The remnants of a similar site was also found at Polpully, about 20 km away from Thenmala, researchers said.

Magnify

34,000-Year-Old Bacteria Discovered

Image
© unknown
34,000-year-old bacteria were found in ancient salt crystals dug up for research from deep below Death Valley - a surprising discovery of sci-fi proportions.

Scientist Brian Schubert made the bacteria discovery after taking a second look at 34,000-year-old crystals that had been originally dug for climate research. What he discovered, according to LiveScience.com, was astonishing - ancient bacteria within "tiny, fluid-filled chambers inside the salt crystals."

"It was actually a very big surprise to me," said Brian Schubert.

Because salt crystals grow quickly, they essentially imprison anything that happens to be nearby, "akin to naturally made, miniature snow-globes."