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Sherlock

Stone Tools Discovery Points to Earliest Americans

wooly mammoth & pre-clovis man
© n/a
Archaeologists have unearthed thousands of ancient stone tools which they say could push back the theory of human presence in North America by as much as 2,500 years.

A team of researchers from the Texas A&M University in the US discovered the ancient artefacts from an archaeological site near Texas which predate the technology widely assumed to have been carried by the first settlers.

The trove of 15,528 artefacts, including chipping debris from working stones and 56 tools like blades, scrapers and choppers, was found buried in sediments believed to be between 13,200 and 15,500 years old, the Daily Mail reported.

The find was located five feet below materials left by the well-known Clovis culture, which was once thought to have been the first American settlers around 13,000 years ago, the researchers said.

Bad Guys

Canada: Alberta oilfield worker finds massive dinosaur fossil

A worker at Suncor has stumbled across one of the oldest dinosaur fossils ever unearthed in Alberta.

The discovery was made this week at a mine north of Fort McMurray.

Paleontologists from the Royal Tyrrell Museum rushed to the scene to start documenting the find.

It's believed the 110-million-year-old remains are of an ankylosaur, a plant-eating dinosaur with a large tail.

Originally, the creature was buried beneath a kilometre of earth, which would normally flatten out a fossil.

But this dinosaur was encased in extremely large rock.

Don Henderson of the Royal Tyrrell says it's a magnificent find.

"It's not disturbed at all. We've even got fingers and impressions of the scale that covered the outside of the body."

Magnify

Archaeologists Discover Saber-Toothed Vegetarian

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© The Associated Press / Science
This undated handout image provided by the journal Science shows the skull of Tiarajudens eccentricus. Surprised scientists have discovered the remains of a saber-toothed vegetarian. The leaf-crunching animal lived 260 million years ago in what is now Brazil.
Surprised scientists have discovered the remains of a saber-toothed vegetarian. The leaf-crunching animal - about the size of a large dog - lived 260 million years ago in what is now Brazil, researchers report in Friday's edition of the journal Science. Its upper canine teeth were nearly 5 inches long.

Such large teeth are more often the mark of a meat-eating animal, used to capture and kill prey.

The enormous canines were likely used by the plant-eating animals to fight each other or protect against predators, said research leader Juan Carlos Cisneros of the University of Piaui in northeastern Brazil.

For example, they might have fought for territory, resources or females, like the modern musk deer, which also have a pair of large, tusklike teeth, he said via email.

"These situations are extremely important for the survival of an individual and the success of a species," he said. Discovering animals like this "shows us how nature is extremely creative in providing solutions for several life tasks."

In addition to its saber shaped fangs, the newly discovered animal named Tiarajudens eccentricus (tee-AH-ruh-HOO-denz ek-SIN-trik-us) had rows of teeth on the roof of its mouth for chewing, the researchers said. The lower jaw was incomplete, but they expect it would have had similar rows of teeth.

Sherlock

Roman Quarry Found in Barry, Wales

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© unknown
Archeologists say the wall of limestone might have been left in place to keep the sea out of the quarry.
An archeologist says he has found the remains of a Roman quarry in the old harbor at Barry in the Vale of Glamorgan which provided the limestone for a Roman fort.

Karl-James Langford of Barry says the pottery remains show that the beach man-made walls might date back to 1,900 years ago, the state-funded BBC reported.

The quarry was used until the 19th century, but its origins were unknown.

"It's not in the records - it may have been completely ignored because it's too obvious," Langford said, adding that the quarry was the limestone source for the Roman fort whose ruins can be seen in the walls around Cardiff Castle.

"I've had this belief that there was a Roman quarry there all my life," he said.

According to Langford, a wall of unquarried high-quality lias limestone left on the beach was evidence of a quarry, similar to larger examples along the coast at Porthkerry, Rhoose and Aberthaw.

Pharoah

Wart detected on King Tut's grandmother

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© unknown
The mummified face of King Tut's grandmother, Queen Tiye
Mummy experts have found a flat wart on the face of King Tut's grandmother, a phenomenon which they say is not very common in Egyptian mummies.

Located between the eyes, the small wart was detected by director of the Instituto de Estudios Cientificos en Momias in the Spanish city of Madrid, who spotted it during a visit to the Cairo Museum.

"I got a high-resolution image of the mummy's face from the Egyptian museum. From the enlargement, the small growth appears compatible with a flat wart or verruca plana," Mercedes Gonzalez told Discovery News.

The mummy was identified by DNA testing in 2010 as Queen Tiye, daughter of Yuya and Thuya, wife of Amenhotep III, and mother of Akhenaten.

The so-called Elder Lady has long reddish hair falling across her shoulders, the mummy belongs to one of the most beautiful women in the Egyptian history and the most influential woman of Amenhotep III's 38-year reign.

Blackbox

First Americans arrived 2500 years before we thought

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© Michael R. Waters
America's first toolkit
It's time to rewrite the story of how Stone Age explorers from Asia crossed over into the Americas and colonised the continents.

The Clovis people were leading candidates for the title of first Americans. But a hoard of tools newly uncovered in Texas suggests the land was inhabited several thousand years before the reign of the Clovis culture.

When the people who built the Texan tools migrated, ice sheets would have made travel by land difficult. This lends strength to the hypothesis that the Americas were colonised by sea, not land.

Who the first Americans were, where they came from and when they arrived are contested issues among archaeologists. One favoured theory, known as "Clovis first", says that during the last Ice Age, people from Asia followed herd animals across a land bridge connecting Siberia to Alaska and established the first settlements in North America. The Clovis culture is characterised by pointed stone tools.

But recent finds of artefacts that pre-date the Clovis, including this new one in Texas, have challenged the Clovis-first hypothesis.

Better Earth

Giant, prehistoric bunny was too big to hop

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© Josep Quintana
An artist's take on a giant rabbit that lived on the island of Minorca.
A giant fossil rabbit discovered by a scientist from the Catalan Institute of Paleontology might have you rethinking everything you thought you knew about fuzzy little bunnies.

And maybe giving Uncle Wiggily a second thought, too.

The giant rabbit - technically termed Nuralagus rex - apparently lived between 3 million and 5 million years ago on the island of Micorca in the Mediterranean Sea. Fossils indicate the creatures had brittle backbones that made it impossible for them to hop, and likely weighed more than 25 pounds.

"N. rex was a very robust and peculiar rabbit," project leader Josep Quintana told Discovery News. "Surely he was a very calm and peaceful animal that moved with slow, but powerful, movements."

The rabbit was isolated on the island with just a few other species, including a type of bat, a dormouse and a giant tortoise. Because it didn't have any enemies, the rabbits' eye sockets and ears reduced over time.

Magnify

da Vinci's Last Supper: New conspiracy theory

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© unknown

New claims that Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper contains a hidden image of a woman holding a child are provoking a storm of interest on the internet.

The figure allegedly appears when the 15th Century mural painting is superimposed with its mirror image, and both are made partially transparent.

According to Slavisa Pesci, an Italian amateur scholar, the resulting composite picture shows a figure clutching what appears to be a young child.

More cynical observers may conclude that the double-image is far too blurry and faded to draw such conclusions.

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© unknown
Mr Pesci, who revealed his "findings" last week, chose not to speculate on who the child could be, but internet conspiracy theorists have been quick to point out similarities to the plot of the bestseller The Da Vinci Code, in which Jesus married his follower, Mary Magdelene.

Leonardo da Vinci websites received millions of hits within hours of Mr Pesci's announcement, and at least four - www.leonardodavinci.tv, www.codicedavinci.tv, www.cenacolo.biz and www.leonardo2007.com - were still down this morning due to the weight of traffic.

Mr Pesci also claims that the superimposed image shows a goblet in front of Jesus Christ - perhaps a depiction of his blessing of bread and wine - and transforms two of the people sitting at the table into knights.

Sherlock

Canadian university puts ancient, mysterious sculpture on display

A mysterious sculpture held by Montreal's Concordia University - an artifact possibly thousands of years old and thought by some experts to predate the pyramids of Egypt - is being displayed publicly for the first time in hopes of attracting international attention and fresh insights into its origins.

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© Handout, Concordia University
A mysterious sculpture held by Montreal's Concordia University -- an artifact possibly thousands of years old and thought to pre-date the Pyramids of Egypt -- is being publicly displayed for the first time in hopes of attracting international attention and fresh insights into its origins.
The large limestone object, described as a "haunting" representation of two entwined and perhaps emaciated figures, "could be one of the rarest finds of its kind," according to Clarence Epstein, the university's director of special projects and cultural affairs.

The hitch, he acknowledges, is that no expert among the many consulted over the past decade can identify the sculpture's age or artistic tradition, nor can they decipher the "ancient, yet unidentifiable language" etched into the artwork.

Question

The Roman Ninth Legion's Mysterious Loss

The disappearance of Rome's Ninth Legion has long baffled historians, but could a brutal ambush have been the event that forged the England-Scotland border, asks archaeologist Dr Miles Russell.

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© Focus Features/NBC Universal
Scene from The Eagle.
One of the most enduring legends of Roman Britain concerns the disappearance of the Ninth Legion.

The theory that 5,000 of Rome's finest soldiers were lost in the swirling mists of Caledonia, as they marched north to put down a rebellion, forms the basis of a new film, The Eagle, but how much of it is true?

It is easy to understand the appeal of stories surrounding the loss of the Roman Ninth Legion - a disadvantaged band of British warriors inflicting a humiliating defeat upon a well-trained, heavily-armoured professional army.

It's the ultimate triumph of the underdog - an unlikely tale of victory against the odds. Recently, however, the story has seeped further into the national consciousness of both England and Scotland.