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The Iceman Mummy: Finally Face to Face

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© Heike Engel-21Lux/Südtiroler Archäologiemuseum/NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC DEUTSCHLAND
Brown-eyed, bearded, furrow faced, and tired: this is how Ötzi the Iceman might have looked, according to the latest reconstruction based on 20 years of research and investigations.

Realized by two Dutch experts, Alfons and Adrie Kennis, the model was produced with the latest in forensic mapping technology that uses three-dimensional images of the mummy's skull as well as infrared and tomographic images.

The new reconstruction shows a prematurely old man, with deep-set eyes, sunken cheeks, a furrowed face and ungroomed beard and hair.

Although he looks tired, Ötzi has vivid brown eyes. Indeed, recent research on the 5,300-year-old mummy has shown that the Stone Age man did not have blue eyes as previously thought.

Believed to have died around the age of 45, Ötzi was about 1.60 meters (5 foot, 3 inches) tall and weighed 50 kilograms (110 pounds).

Magnify

Evidence Neanderthals used feathers for decoration

neanderthals
© PhysOrg
Researchers studying a large deposit of Neanderthal bones in Italy have discovered the remains of birds along with the bones, and evidence the feathers were probably used for ornamentation. The findings add evidence that the now extinct Neanderthals could have been as cultured as our own ancestors.

Sherlock

Bronze Age skeleton found in garden by man building a shed

An archaeology enthusiast in Co Westmeath has unearthed human remains dating back more than 4,000 years in his back garden.

The National Museum of Ireland has described as "significant" the find by Pat Tiernan at Rickardstown, Collinstown.

Mr Tiernan had been excavating soil for the construction of a "lean-to", or shed, at the rear of his home when a spell of bad weather led to a small landslide.

"I looked out the window and saw bones protruding out the back and I saw the pot, and then I kind of knew what I was looking at," Mr Tiernan said.

"They looked too big for ordinary animal bones and too small for large animal bones. I kinda clicked it because I was used to looking at a bit of the Time Team."

After a visit to Newgrange, Mr Tiernan developed an interest in ancient Irish art and archaeology. He contacted specialists about the find.
Skeleton bronze age
© Co Westmeath.Photograph: Molloy Photography
A Bronze Age skeleton that was found last week in the back garden of Pat Tiernan at Collinstown
Skeleton discoverer
© Molloy Photography
Pat Tiernan

Family

Earliest Human Remains in US Arctic Reported

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© Ben A. Potter/Science
This undated handout photo provided by the journal Science shows a trench connecting both areas of the site in Alaska. Some 11,500 years ago one of America's earliest families laid the remains of a three-year-old child to rest in their home in what is now Alaska. Today archaeologists are learning about the life and times of the early settlers who crossed from Asia to the New World, researchers thank to that burial.
Some 11,500 years ago one of America's earliest families laid the remains of a 3-year-old child to rest in their home in what is now Alaska. The discovery of that burial is shedding new light on the life and times of the early settlers who crossed from Asia to the New World, researchers report in Friday's edition of the journal Science.

The bones represent the earliest human remains discovered in the Arctic of North America, a "pretty significant find," said Ben A. Potter of the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

While ancient Alaskan residents were known to hunt large game, the newly discovered site shows they also foraged for fish, birds and small mammals, he explained. "Here we know there were young children and females. So, this is a whole piece of the settlement system that we had virtually no record of."

The site of the discovery, Upper Sun River, is in the forest of the Tanana lowlands in central Alaska, Potter and his colleagues report.

Potter said the find, which included evidence of what appeared to be a seasonal house and the cremated remains of the child, "is truly spectacular in all senses of the word."

Igloo

Oregon: Explosive Piece of the Past Found

Discovery of volcano near Canby is an interesting geological find

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© 3-D Imagery
Ground penetrating lasers allowed Ian Madin, chief scientist for the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Studies, to create a 3-D model of the volcano recently discovered near Canby.
Hidden beneath a thick layer of silt on farm land near Canby, a piece of geologic history appears to have been uncovered.

Turns out, sophisticated imaging equipment may have found a volcano buried under Ice Age deposits, according to Ian Madin, chief scientist for the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries.

The site is between Central Point and Haines roads, just northeast of Canby. Using LIDAR, which employs laser technology to map the ground and provide a look at the topography in vivid detail, Madin believes an old volcano has turned up.

"I should make it clear that the reason I believe there is a volcano at the site is entirely because of the landscape that was revealed by the LIDAR," Madin said. "I have not been to the site, nor would I expect to find much evidence on the ground. "

Meteor

"The mighty snake firmly resolved to harm the men": The last 12,000 years

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© Unknown
The mighty snake firmly resolved to harm the men. [from the Walam Olum]

Although we cannot yet say specifically how our ancestors were affected by the interaction of Earth with a large, short period, comet over the past 12,000 or more years, there are certain aspects that can be discerned by combining elements of what we have discovered about our past. One thing that most of us are familiar with is a tradition that claims humanity once lived in a world of abundance and did not have to work very hard to live well. In most cultures that retain a notion of this land of happy and easy living the good times are brought to an end by the activities of some powerful serpent-like creature. Such a tradition of prior abundance is really not at odds with what we presently know of Pleistocene conditions and we have recently discovered through ice core and other time defining studies that this era of rich flora and fauna ended quite abruptly around 11,000 years ago. If we assume that a large comet had something to do with this rapid change then we have a pretty clear picture of why our ancestors' stories invoke an image of a serpent-like creature destroying this pleasant time.

What is interesting about this conjecture is the fact that we will be able to establish whether interaction with comet debris caused this deterioration of conditions and, if indeed this was the reason, then the basis for some of the tales that have come down to us becomes much more understandable. It seems very likely now that much of the lore dealing with gods of the sky are metaphorical descriptions of the history of this comet as it literally fell into pieces from being exposed to both the heat of the sun and the many gravitational forces tugging on it along its less than four year Earth-crossing orbit. Thus, seemingly nonsensical statements such as Athena being born fully formed from the head of Zeus can be seen as lore that interprets the splitting of a comet as the birth of a new god.

Blackbox

Scientists 'step closer' to solving Stonehenge mystery

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© Unknown
It is a mystery that has baffled geologists and historians for centuries... how were the Stonehenge rocks transported from Wales' Preseli mountains to their resting place 120 miles away.

Scientists are today one step closer to solving the 4,000-year- old mystery after making their most significant discovery in 15 years.

Of the six to eight different bluestone types found in the inner circle of rocks on Salisbury Plain, only one, the so- called "spotted dolerite", was convincingly traced to the Mynydd Preseli area in north Pembrokeshire in the early 1920s.

But modern technology has now assisted geologists at Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales - in creating a "fingerprint" for one of the other rock types found in Wiltshire.

And that "fingerprint" has been identically matched to stones found in an area north of the Mynydd Preseli range, in the vicinity of Pont Saeson.

Meteor

6th Century Wasteland: Secret Volcano or Cosmic Interaction?

Cosmic Horror
© The Cosmic Tusk

I was not surprised to see the paper below this week in Science. I have read all of Mike Baillie's books, as well as Catastrophe by David Keys, leaving me feeling as though I had actually lived through the 6th Century.

The inescapable conclusion of the popular books and the hard science is that something quite horrid happened during this period. Dr. Baillie, one the world's most experienced and published dendrochronologists, has maintained for over a decade that the sum of all the evidence; tree rings, ice chemistry and (heretically) written accounts from the time, suggest that it was a horror from above - not below - that led to the worldwide decline of trees, global cultural upheavals, and human health reversals such as the Justinian Plague.

As might be expected, other scientists disagreed with Baillie's conclusion and instead finger an unidentified equatorial volcano for the misery of the era. Chief among these critics is Keith Briffa of "Climategate" fame.

Over the next week or two, the Tusk plans to dig more deeply in the drift of evidence for the ~536 event and it's cause. I hope to bring attention to what I believe is another attempt to brush away the reasoned conclusion of a respected mainstream scientist - Mike Balllie - by a group of thinkers consumed by an agenda that discourages free inquiry or alternative explanations.

Meteor

Survival of the Fittest of the Luckiest: Cosmic Catastrophes and The Evolution of Life

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© Unknown
There seems to be a tendency to set evolution and catastrophism as opposite ways of thinking. That's a big misunderstanding. As if Darwin or the concept of evolution would need some defending against some mystical, religious or supernatural concepts, there is coined the term punctuated evolution. I see no need for any such term. Evolution as a theory in the form as Darwin put it, needs refinements in the same way as Einstein refined the theories of Newton. Nothing more, nothing less.

So what has changed since Darwin to warrant this discussion or, more specifically, what has to be added or refined? In short, the paraphrase of the "survival of the fittest" must be enlarged to the "survival of the fittest of the luckiest". Evolution as such has no ultimate goal. It has only temporary goals, as long as we see the universe as a changing place.

Taking as an example our home planet, the Earth, it seemed for billions of years, from some 3.8 billion of years ago (when the bombardment in the Solar System lowered to its nowaday level) to some 800 million years ago, a suitable place for micro-organisms to fill every niche available to them. At some places there most probably was some cooperation between some micro-organisms that was nearly or exactly like multi-cellular life.

Comment: Although there are good reasons to question the established theory of evolution the way it is described in this article (like the story of human migration out of Africa, for example), the reality of the situation is, that evolution on this planet, exposed to a periodic bombardment from space, was indeed marked by the survival of the fittest of the luckiest. And it looks like it might happen again...and rather soon.


Eye 2

Japanese government conducted macabre human experiments during WWII

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© Itsuo Inouye/AP
Toyo Ishii, a former military nurse, broke her 60-year silence about Unit 731 in 2006.
Former Tokyo medical school site is linked to Unit 731, branch of imperial army which used prisoners in germ warfare programme

Authorities in Japan have begun excavating the former site of a medical school that may contain the remains of victims of the country's wartime biological warfare programme.

The school has links to Unit 731, a branch of the imperial Japanese army that conducted lethal experiments on prisoners as part of efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction.

The Japanese government has previously acknowledged the unit's existence but refused to discuss its activities, despite testimony from former members and growing documentary evidence. In 2002 a Japanese court said Tokyo was under no obligation to compensate victims.

The government agreed to launch a ¥100m (£741,000) investigation after Toyo Ishii, a former nurse, said she had helped bury body parts on the site as the US occupation forces moved into Tokyo at the end of the second world war. Officials said so far there was no evidence the site had been used for experiments.