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Fri, 27 May 2016
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Secret History

Magic Wand

Newly found fossilised skull reveals when last Siberian 'unicorn' lived

© Heinrich Harder/Wikimedia
Unicorns are real!
For decades, scientists have estimated that the Siberian unicorn - a long-extinct species of mammal that looked more like a rhino than a horse - died out some 350,000 years ago, but a beautifully preserved skull found in Kazakhstan has completely overturned that assumption. Turns out, these incredible creatures were still around as recently as 29,000 years ago.

Before we talk about the latest discovery, yes, there was a very real 'unicorn' that roamed Earth tens of thousands of years ago, but it was nothing like the one found in your favourite children's book. (Sorry - it's a bummer for us, too.) The real unicorn, Elasmotherium sibiricum, was shaggy and huge and looked just like a modern rhino, only it carried the most almighty horn on its forehead.

According to early descriptions, the Siberian unicorn stood at roughly 2 metres tall, was 4.5 metres long, and weighed about 4 tonnes. That's closer to woolly mammoth-sized than horse-sized. Despite its very impressive stature, the unicorn probably was a grazer that ate mostly grass. So, if you want a correct image in your head, think of a fuzzy rhinoceros with one long, slender horn protruding from its face instead of a short, stubby one like today's rhinos.

The newly found skull, which was remarkably well-preserved, was found in the Pavlodar region of Kazakhstan. Researchers from Tomsk State University were able to date it to around 29,000 years ago via radiocarbon dating techniques. Based on the size and condition of the skull, it was likely a very old male, they suggest, but how it actually died remains unknown.

The question on researchers' minds is how this unicorn lasted so much longer than those that died out hundreds of thousands of years earlier. "Most likely, the south of Western Siberia was a refúgium, where this rhino persevered the longest in comparison with the rest of its range," said one of the team, Andrey Shpanski. "There is another possibility that it could migrate and dwell for a while in the more southern areas."

The team hopes that the find will help them better understand how environmental factors played a role in the creature's extinction, since it seems like some may have lasted a lot longer than previously thought by migrating across great distances.

Knowing how the species survived for so long, and potentially what wiped it out in the end, could allow us to make more informed choices about the future of our own species, as we find ourselves in a rather perilous situation.

Black Cat

Edward Bernays: Developer of modern mind control & propagandist for the ruling elite

Edward Bernays, nephew to Sigmund Freud, considered the father of modern propaganda techniques
Edward Bernays was the master of influencing and shaping public opinion who developed upon the ideas of earlier social psychologists and the work of his uncle, Sigmund Freud, in order to create techniques to manipulate the subconscious desires of the masses.

Throughout his 103-year lifespan, the "father of public relations" was at the pinnacle of his field advising US Presidents Coolidge, Eisenhower, Hoover and Wilson, as well as inventor Thomas Edison, US industrialist Henry Ford and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. He also reportedly refused invitations by Hitler and Franco to work on fascist propaganda campaigns in Europe.

At the end of World War 1 Bernays served as a propagandist for America before going on to work with various government departments and corporations throughout his lifetime, including: the US Department of State, CBS, Procter and Gamble, and the American Tobacco Company, as well as designing the propaganda campaign for the United Fruit Company which led to the CIA coup against the Guatemalan President Jacobo Árbenz in 1954.

Comment: More information:


Easter Rising Centenary: Irish parade honors armed struggle against British empire

It's the Easter Sunday that's been 100 years in the making for the tiny European republic of Ireland.

Most of the city center in the capital Dublin was shut down while tens of thousands gathered to watch the military parade from the urban park St Stephen's Green to the General Post Office (GPO) building where Easter Rising rebels battled the British military.

Although the rebellion took place in 1916, it would be years before the Irish would successfully overthrow the foreign empire that occupied Irish soil, and could evolve into the (almost) independent republic we know today.

Six of the island's 32 counties are still under the Queen's thumb, unable to be wrested from her despite decades of struggle over the past 40 years.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams spoke with RT on a windy Good Friday during another ceremony nearby.

Comment: Irish revolutionary leaders like Pádraig Pearse must be turning in their graves, as such a hard fought opportunity for real independence has been stolen by psychopathic political leaders and corporate banking vultures. The recent farcical Irish general election, ostensibly between the two main 'opposition' parties (essentially two sides of the 'establishment coin) typifies the illusion of a truly democratic country that exists in Ireland. The reality in Ireland today is very different to the ideals laid out in the original 1916 Proclamation that is being celebrated.

Георгиевская ленточка

The Red Army took Berlin 71 years ago

© Sputnik/ Timothy Miller

Comment: Ask any red-blooded American who won WWII and you'll likely get a resounding, "We did!" Of course this is as fantastic a tale as the current US 'war on terror'. And just like the Soviets defeated the scourge of the earth 71 years ago this May, the Russians are doing the same today.

Saturday marks the 70th anniversary of the unconditional surrender of the Nazi German garrison in the Reichstag, and with it the end of the Battle of Berlin. Raging from April 25-May 2, 1945, the Battle of Berlin served as the dramatic culmination of a brutal four year war between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, known in Russia and other former Soviet countries as the Great Patriotic War.

In the spring of 1945, combat operations on the territory of Nazi Germany were being conducted by Soviet, US, British and French forces. The Soviet forces were 60 kilometers from Berlin, while the advance units of the US-British forces reached the Elbe River 110-120 kilometers from the German capital.

For the Nazis, Berlin was not only a political base, but also one of Germany's largest military-industrial centers. Leading up to the fighting, the Wehrmacht's main forces were concentrated near Berlin. About 200 Volkssturm (national militia) battalions were deployed in the city, with over 200,000 men organized in the garrison.

The city defense was carefully thought-through and well-prepared. The Berlin defense area included three circular perimeters. The outside perimeter passed along rivers, canals and lakes 25-40 kilometers from the center of the capital. It comprised large built-up areas converted into pockets of resistance.


Genetic map reveals impact of interbreeding with ancient Denisovans and Neanderthals

© Michael Coyne/Getty Images
People from Oceania have a higher percentage of genes from ancient humans called Denisovans.
Scars in our genetic landscape have revealed the fertility costs of breeding with different groups of our early ancestors.

Researchers have analysed the DNA of 257 individuals from 120 different non-African populations around the world to look for traces of ancestry from Neanderthals and Denisovans — another group of ancient humans that lived at the same time — in the modern human genome.

Previous studies have shown that almost all present-day non-African people possess some Neanderthal DNA, while some people, particularly people from Oceania, also have Denisovan DNA.

The new analysis, published in Current Biology, indicated that modern humans interbred with Denisovans around 100 generations after their trysts with Neanderthals.

But hybridisation may have reduced male fertility according to evidence of significantly lower Denisovan and Neanderthal ancestry on the X chromosome and near genes more highly expressed in the testes than other tissues.

"They're exactly the parts of the genome that we would expect them to be deficient in if there was infertility in males who were hybrids," said study co-author Professor David Reich of Harvard Medical School.

"What they would reflect is that the males who happened to carry Denisovan or Neanderthal DNA in these sections were not as successful in terms of producing offspring as others, and because of that those sections were removed in that first handful of generations after the mixture occurred."

But even though we can see the "scars of infertility" in the genetic history, it is not relevant to the fertility of populations that contain that mix of ancestry today, Professor Reich said.


Preserved Ice Age puppies awe scientists: May shed light on origins of domesticated dogs

© Agence France-Presse
A scientist performs an autopsy of the remains of a puppy, which died 12,460 years ago and was discovered in Russia's northern Yakutia, at the North-Eastern Federal University in Yakutsk
The hunters searching for mammoth tusks were drawn to the steep riverbank by a deposit of ancient bones. To their astonishment, they discovered an Ice Age puppy's snout peeking out from the permafrost.

Five years later, a pair of puppies perfectly preserved in Russia's far northeast region of Yakutia and dating back 12,460 years has mobilised scientists across the world.

"To find a carnivorous mammal intact with skin, fur and internal organs -- this has never happened before in history," said Sergei Fyodorov, head of exhibitions at the Mammoth Museum of the North-Eastern Federal University in the regional capital of Yakutsk.

And the discovery could contribute to the lively scientific debate over the origin of domesticated dogs.


A brief history of taxation in America

"100% of what is collected is absorbed solely by interest on the Federal Debt ... all individual income tax revenues are gone before one nickel is spent on the services taxpayers expect from government." ~The Grace Commission Report, 1984

As April 15 nears...thought you would find this research on taxation in America timely if not interesting.

No one living before the Constitution of 1787 could have believed the seven ways to Sunday Americans are now taxed. Under the Declaration of Independence and the first American constitution of 1777, The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, association among the confederate states and a state's interaction with federal authorities was 100% voluntary.

Comment: See also: 'Taxation is theft' meme goes viral


Charles Fort: Pioneering the study of scientific anomalies

© CC by SA 3.0
Charles Fort, 1920, a depiction of a UFO, and an okapi at Walt Disney's Animal Kingdom, symbol of the defunct International Society of Cryptozoology.
Charles Hoy Fort was an American "self-educated newspaperman, modestly-successful short story writer, unsuccessful novelist and inventor, and eccentric natural philosopher," regarded by some, especially his devotees, who call themselves 'Forteans', as a pioneer of anomalistic.

This is a term coined in 1973 by an anthropologist by the name of Roger W. Wescott, and has been used to describe the "interdisciplinary study of scientific anomalies (alleged extraordinary events unexplained by currently accepted scientific theory)". Fort was fascinated by such anomalies, and spent much of his adult life collecting accounts of such events.

Charles' Troubled Early Life

Charles Fort was born on August 6, 1874 in Albany, New York. Fort's parents were Dutch immigrants who became fairly prosperous in the United States. Fort's family owned a wholesale grocery business in Albany. Fort had a painful childhood, as it has been said that his father was abusive and often beat him. Some believe that as a result of these experiences, Fort became skeptical and distrustful of authority and dogma.

Comment: See also: The man who created the Fortean Times


Surprising find: Ancient water reservoir found in Crimea

© Sputnik/ Artem Kreminskiy
Construction workers building an energy linkup from Russia's mainland to Crimea have dug up a freshwater intake built by an ancient civilization that once existed on the Black Sea peninsula.

Archeologists believe that the reservoir means that ancient tribes that once inhabited the region knew how to build complex hydro-technical facilities long before the ancient Greeks.

According to preliminary information, the reservoir was built between the 7th and 8th centuries BC, Dni.ru reported.

Treasure Chest

How did bunnies become associated with Easter?

© shutterstock
While you're biting the heads off your chocolate bunnies this weekend, you might wonder how cartoon rabbits became so central to our Easter celebrations. It's tempting to assume that because there's no biblical basis for the Easter Bunny, rabbits and hares have no religious significance - but that's just not the case.

Leviticus 11:6 states that the hare is an unclean animal: "The hare, for even though it chews the cud, it does not have divided hoofs; it is unclean for you"", but in Christian art, it is regularly associated with rebirth and resurrection.

In fact, the symbol of a circle of three hares joined by their ears has been found in a number of churches in Devon. Like much of our cultural "bunny" symbolism, the meaning of this image remains mysterious - and The Three Hares Project has been set up to research and document occurrences of the ancient symbol, examples of which have been found as far away as China.