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Ancient genomes reveal 7,000 years of demographic history in France

skull
© Eva-Maria Geigl et Thierry Grange, Institut Jacques Monod (CNRS/Université de Paris)
Samantha Brunel examining a skull in Institut Jacques Monod ‘s high containment laboratory
According to new genomic analysis, France was populated by a pair of ancient migrations: the first during the Neolithic period, roughly 6,300 years ago, and the second during the Bronze Age, some 4,200 years ago.

"There were almost no data from ancient populations on the territory of present-day France and our study begins to fill a gap that leads to a clearer picture of the evolution of populations throughout Europe," Eva-Maria Geigl, a researcher with the Jacques Monod Institute in Paris, told UPI in an email.

For the new study, researchers in France generated and analyzed the mitochondrial genomes, Y-chromosome markers and genotypes of 243 individuals, whose remains were recovered from dig sites across present-day France. The dates of the individuals comprised a period spanning 7,000 years.

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Blue Planet

Drones cast new light on mystery of Nazca Lines Archaeology

La Orca
© Jorge de la Quintana/The Guardian
The figure known as ‘La Orca de Piedras Gordas’, or The Orca, which was rediscovered by Johny Isla in Palpa.
An aerial search in the Peruvian desert has revealed intriguing figures of humans and animals that predate the nearby Unesco world heritage site

A faded decades-old black-and-white photograph was the only lead Johny Isla had when he set out on the trail of a sea monster.

The Peruvian archaeologist spotted the image at a 2014 exhibition in Germany about the Nazca Lines, the vast and intricate desert images which attract tens of thousands of tourists every year.

The photograph taken in the early 1970s showed a mysterious killer whale deity carved in an arid hillside. The figure bore some resemblance to others he knew but he had never seen this one before.

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Cow Skull

Bones of 60 mammoths found near human-built traps in Mexico

mammoths
© AP
An archaeologist works at the site where bones of about 60 mammoths were found just north of Mexico City in an undated photo.
Archaeologists have found the bones of about 60 mammoths at an airport under construction just north of Mexico City, near human-built "traps" where more than a dozen mammoths were found last year.

Both discoveries reveal how appealing the area - once a shallow lake - was for the mammoths, and how erroneous was the classic vision of groups of fur-clad hunters with spears chasing mammoths across a plain.

For the moment, however, Mexican archaeologists are facing a surfeit of mammoths, almost too many to ever excavate.

"There are too many, there are hundreds," said archaeologist Pedro Sánchez Nava, of the National Institute of Anthropology and History.

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Biohazard

Did psychopath Rockefeller create the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918?

Rockefeller Spanish Flu
It Started with the Rockefeller Institute's Crude Bacterial Meningitis Vaccination Experiment on US Troops. The 1918-19 bacterial vaccine experiment may have killed 50-100 million people. What if the story we have been told about this pandemic isn't true? What if, instead, the killer infection was neither the flu nor Spanish in origin?

Newly analyzed documents reveal that the "Spanish Flu" may have been a military vaccine experiment gone awry.

Summary

The reason modern technology has not been able to pinpoint the killer influenza strain from this pandemic is because influenza was not the killer.

More soldiers died during WWI from disease than from bullets.

The pandemic was not flu. An estimated 95% (or higher) of the deaths were caused by bacterial pneumonia, not an influenza virus.

The pandemic was not Spanish. The first cases of bacterial pneumonia in 1918 trace back to military bases, the first one in Fort Riley, Kansas.

From January 21 - June 4, 1918, an experimental bacterial meningitis vaccine cultured in horses by the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research in New York was injected into soldiers at Fort Riley.

During the remainder of 1918 as those soldiers - often living and traveling under poor sanitary conditions - were sent to Europe to fight, they spread bacteria at every stop between Kansas and the frontline trenches in France.

Comment: History may not always repeat itself exactly, but sometimes it sure does rhyme!

See also: Vaccine not virus responsible for Spanish flu

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Network

Italians' extraordinary genetic diversity dates back 19,000 years

italy
© CC0 Public Domain
In Europe, Italians have the highest genetic diversity. The gradient of their genetic variability, scattered all over the peninsula, encloses on a small scale the whole genetic variance between southern and continental Europeans. This amazing diversity started to accumulate soon after the Late Glacial Maximum, which ended approximately 19,000 years ago.

This is what researchers of the University of Bologna have reported in a paper published in BMC Biology . It is the first time that researchers have traced Italians' genetic history. Results also show that there are genetic peculiarities characterizing people living in the north and south of Italy that evolved in response to different environments. These peculiarities contribute to reducing the risk of kidney inflammation and skin cancers, and the risk of diabetes and obesity, favoring a longer lifespan.

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Archaeology

White settlers buried the truth about the Midwest's mysterious mound cities

Monks Mound
© Sarah E. Baires
View of Monks Mound from Woodhenge Circle
Around 1100 or 1200 A.D., the largest city north of Mexico was Cahokia, sitting in what is now southern Illinois, across the Mississippi River from St. Louis. Built around 1050 A.D. and occupied through 1400 A.D., Cahokia had a peak population of between 25,000 and 50,000 people. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Cahokia was composed of three boroughs (Cahokia, East St. Louis, and St. Louis) connected to each other via waterways and walking trails that extended across the Mississippi River floodplain for some 20 square km. Its population consisted of agriculturalists who grew large amounts of maize, and craft specialists who made beautiful pots, shell jewelry, arrow-points, and flint clay figurines.

The city of Cahokia is one of many large earthen mound complexes that dot the landscapes of the Ohio and Mississippi River Valleys and across the Southeast. Despite the preponderance of archaeological evidence that these mound complexes were the work of sophisticated Native American civilizations, this rich history was obscured by the Myth of the Mound Builders, a narrative that arose ostensibly to explain the existence of the mounds. Examining both the history of Cahokia and the historic myths that were created to explain it reveals the troubling role that early archaeologists played in diminishing, or even eradicating, the achievements of pre-Columbian civilizations on the North American continent, just as the U.S. government was expanding westward by taking control of Native American lands.

Cupcake Choco

Australian Aboriginal people were baking bread and farming grain 30,000 years ago

bread
What would your response be if you were asked who were the world's first bakers? Many people think of ancient Egypt first, where it is believed that bread was baked about 17,000 BCE first. But there is evidence that grindstones were used in Australia to turn seeds into flour 30 thousand years ago.

The Gurandgi Munjie group is revitalizing native crops once cultivated by Aboriginal Australians, baking new bread with forgotten flours.

At Cuddie Falls, in New South Wales, Archeologists found evidence of this in the form of an ancient grinding stone that was used to turn grass seeds into flour.

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Monkey Wrench

Supercomputer simulations reveal possible cause of Neanderthal extinction

Neanderthals
© IBS
Computer simulations of population density of Neanderthals (left) and Homo sapiens (right) 43,000 years ago (upper) and 38,000 years ago (lower). Orange/green circles indicate archeological sites of Neanderthals/Homo sapiens during 5,000-year-long intervals centered around 43 and 38 thousand years before present.
Climate scientists from the IBS Center for Climate Physics discover that, contrary to previously held beliefs, Neanderthal extinction was neither caused by abrupt glacial climate shifts, nor by interbreeding with Homo sapiens. According to new supercomputer model simulations, only competition between Neanderthals and Homo sapiens can explain the rapid demise of Neanderthals around 43 to 38 thousand years ago.

Neanderthals lived in Eurasia for at least 300,000 years. Then, around 43 to 38 thousand years ago they quickly disappeared off the face of the earth, leaving only weak genetic traces in present-day Homo sapiens populations. It is well established that their extinction coincided with a period of rapidly fluctuating climatic conditions, as well as with the arrival of Homo sapiens in Europe. However, determining which of these factors was the dominant cause has remained one of the biggest challenges of evolutionary anthropology.

Comment: It seems likely that factors contributing to the Neanderthals demise could include their obvious lack of creativity, their small population size, and, notably, that Homo Sapiens, renowned for their ingenuity, were - for the most part - either unable or unwilling to interbreed with them; and there may be other factors that are, as of yet, to fully come to light: The Golden Age, Psychopathy and the Sixth Extinction

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Info

Connection with Native Americans identified near Lake Baikal in Siberia using prehistoric genomes

Using human population genetics, ancient pathogen genomics and isotope analysis, a team of researchers assessed the population history of the Lake Baikal region, finding the deepest connection to date between the peoples of Siberia and the Americas. The current study, published in the journal Cell, also demonstrates human mobility, and hence connectivity, across Eurasia during the Early Bronze Age.
Excavation at the Ust'-Kyakhta-3 site
© A.P. OKLADNIKOV
Excavation in 1976 of the Ust'-Kyakhta-3 site located on right bank of the Selenga River in the vicinity of Ust-Kyakhta village in the Kyakhtinski Region of the Republic of Buryatia (Russia).
Modern humans have lived near Lake Baikal since the Upper Paleolithic, and have left behind a rich archaeological record. Ancient genomes from the region have revealed multiple genetic turnovers and admixture events, indicating that the transition from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age was facilitated by human mobility and complex cultural interactions. The nature and timing of these interactions, however, remains largely unknown.

A new study published in the journal Cell reports the findings of 19 newly sequenced ancient human genomes from the region of Lake Baikal, including one of the oldest reported from that region. Led by the Department of Archaeogenetics at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, the study illuminates the population history of the region, revealing deep connections with the First Peoples of the Americas, dating as far back as the Upper Paleolithic period, as well as connectivity across Eurasia during the Early Bronze Age.

Cow Skull

300,000-year-old nearly complete elephant skeleton found in Germany

elephant
© Jordi Serangeli, Schöningen Research Station
Excavator Martin Kursch uncovers one foot of the elephant.
Elephants ranged over Schöningen in Lower Saxony 300,000 years ago. In recent years, remains of at least ten elephants have been found at the Palaeolithic sites situated on the edges of the former opencast lignite mine. Now, archaeologists from the Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment at the University of Tübingen, in cooperation with the Lower Saxony State Office for Heritage, have recovered for the first time in Schöningen an almost complete skeleton of a Eurasian straight-tusked elephant (Palaeoloxodon antiquus). The animal died on what was then the western lakeshore — what exactly happened and what the biotope surrounding the area was like 300,000 years ago is now being carefully reconstructed by the team. The preliminary study will be published in Archäologie in Deutschland and will be first presented at a press conference in Schöningen on Tuesday the 19th of May.

Björn Thümler, Minister of Science of Lower Saxony, says: "The former Schöningen open-cast mine is a first-rate archive of climatic change. This must be made even clearer in the future. This is a place where we can trace how humankind went from being a companion of nature to a designer of culture."

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