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August 20 2014

Lessons From The Last Time Civilization Collapsed


Consider this, if you would: a network of far-flung, powerful, high-tech civilizations closely tied by trade and diplomatic embassies; an accelerating threat of climate change and its pressure on food production; a rising wave of displaced populations ready to sweep across and overwhelm developed nations. Sound familiar?

While that laundry list of impending doom could be aimed at our era, it's actually a description of the world 3,000 years ago. It is humanity's first "global" dark age as described by archaeologist and George Washington University professor Eric H. Cline in his recent book 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed

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August 20 2014

Homo floresiensis: scientists clash over claims 'hobbit man' was modern human with Down's syndrome


A furious international dispute has erupted over the publication of a paper that claims the hobbit man of Flores was a modern human who had Down's syndrome. Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) this month, the research has been denounced by scientists around the world. The tiny Homo floresiensis, discovered on Flores, an island in Indonesia, is definitely a member of a distinct ancient species of hominins, they insist.

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August 20 2014

Did Vedism come from ancient Egypt (a), vice versa (b), or did they both come from Atlantis (c)?


Pop quiz (that you will never be given within the halls of academia):

Choose the best answer:
a) Vedism came from the sacred myths of ancient Egypt.
b) The sacred myths of ancient Egypt came from Vedism.
c) They both came from some even earlier, now unknown predecessor civilization (which, for want of a better term, some have called "Atlantis").
d) None of the above.

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August 20 2014

Hallucigenia revealed: The most surreal creature from strangest period in history of life on Earth


If Salvadore Dali were God, he would surely have designed an animal that looked like Hallucigenia. It has been described as the most surreal creature that lived in the strangest period in the history of life on Earth, more than 500 million years ago.

After more than four decades of studying fossilised imprints, scientists believe they have finally nailed Hallucigenia’s position in the tree of life, and in the process discovered its only living descendants.

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August 20 2014

Toothless 'dragon' pterosaurs once ruled skies worldwide, study says


Ancient winged reptiles called pterosaurs were so successful that they ruled Earth's skies for tens of millions of years, according to a study published in the journal ZooKeys.

The fearsome fliers, part of a family of pterosaurs named Azhdarchidae, get their name from azdarha, the Persian word for "dragon." Unlike earlier pterosaurs, they had no teeth, and they dominated from late in the Cretaceous period (around 90 million years ago) until the extinction event that also killed off the dinosaurs some 66 million years ago.

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August 20 2014

Surprise! Mathematical model reveals unexpected findings on happiness


Do you remember the last time you were dreading something, only to have it turn out to be a pleasant surprise? Maybe it was a bad summer blockbuster you were forced to watch, or a blind date set up by your parents.

You turn up, grumbling and prepared to hate every second of it. But then, a funny thing happens: you crack a smile – laugh out loud, even – and before you know it, you’re having a grand old time.

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August 20 2014

Bone chemistry reveals royal lifestyle of Richard III


A recent study by the British Geological Survey, in association with researchers at the University of Leicester, has delved into the bone and tooth chemistry of King Richard III and uncovered fascinating new details about the life and diet of Britain's last Plantagenet king. The study, published in Elsevier's Journal of Archaeological Science indicates a change in diet and location in his early childhood, and in later life, a diet filled with expensive, high status food and drink.

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August 20 2014

‘Jaws of an earth monster’ among treasures discovered at newly unearthed Mayan cities


Archaeologists have unearthed two ancient Mayan cities hidden for centuries in thick vegetation in the heart of the Yucatan peninsula.

Aerial photographs helped the researchers locate the sites in the southeastern part of Mexico’s Campeche state, near a large Mayan site discovered last year by the same team.

No other site has been found in this 1,800-square-mile area between the Rio Bec and Chenes regions.

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August 20 2014

Now a Weed, Once a Prehistoric Cavity Fighter


Cyperus rotundus, commonly known as purple nutsedge or nutgrass, is considered one of the world’s worst invasive weeds. But new research suggests that prehistoric humans in what is now central Sudan may have gotten an unusual benefit from it.

Stephen Buckley, an archaeological chemist from the University of York in England, analyzed dental calculus — a form of hardened plaque — in fossilized teeth from people who lived thousands of years ago, in the pre-Mesolithic, Neolithic, and Meroitic periods.

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August 20 2014

Rome’s first emperor died 2000 years ago – his derelict tomb is now used as a toilet


Augustus, who died 2000 years ago, was the first emperor of Rome. He brought peace after the turmoil in the republic after the assassination of Julius Caesar when he defeated the forces of Antony and Cleopatra. But despite this, two millenia after he bestrode the world, his mausoleum lies in disrepair under piles of rubbish while his celebrated stables, only discovered five years ago, are to be reburied due to lack of funds.

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August 20 2014

Echo of Soviet Union's fall in nations' heart health


Pity the hearts beating in Russian chests. The death rate from heart disease for men and women of all ages in Russia is six times higher than in France, according to data on heart and stroke deaths from 52 nations in Europe and northern Asia.

Death rates are steadily declining across the entire area studied.

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August 20 2014

On Borrowed Time - Making Earth Overshoot Day a Thing of the Past


It’s that time again. Earth Overshoot Day is here and the clock continues to tick. As I described in Foreign Affairs last year, Earth Overshoot Day is the date on which humanity’s demand for natural resources exceeds the earth’s ability to renew them in a year. Last year, we hit that mark on August 20. This year, it comes one day earlier.


Related: We’ve already used up the planet’s resources for the year

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August 20 2014

Wolves cooperate but dogs submit, study suggests


For dog lovers, comparative psychologists Friederike Range and Zsófia Virányi have an unsettling conclusion. Many researchers think that as humans domesticated wolves, they selected for a cooperative nature, resulting in animals keen to pitch in on tasks with humans. But when the two scientists at the Messerli Research Institute at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna studied lab-raised dog and wolf packs, they found that wolves were the tolerant, cooperative ones.

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August 20 2014

Bottlenose Dolphin Makes Rare Interspecies Adoption


A rare adoption has taken place in New Zealand, where a bottlenose dolphin has taken up the rearing responsibilities for a common dolphin.

The New Zealand Herald reports that in the waters of Bay of Islands, a baby common dolphin was spotted nursing from its new mom from another species.

The baby, known locally as "Pee-Wee," is an orphaned calf. The mom, meanwhile, is known as "Kiwi" and lost her own calf five years ago, when she became stranded at the Kerikeri Inlet of Aroha Island while her poor young one was still out at sea.

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August 20 2014

Magpies 'don't steal shiny objects'


Magpies do not steal trinkets and are positively scared of shiny objects, according to new research.

The study appears to refute the myth of the “thieving magpie”, which pervades European folklore.

It is widely believed that magpies have a compulsive urge to steal sparkly things for their nests.

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August 20 2014

The ABC's of animal speech: Not so random after all


The calls of many animals, from whales to wolves, might contain more language-like structure than previously thought, according to study that raises new questions about the evolutionary origins of human language.

The study, published today in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, analyzed the vocal sequences of seven different species of birds and mammals and found that the vocal sequences produced by the animals appear to be generated by complex statistical processes, more akin to human language.


Chimp Chat Recordings Reveal Wide Range of Sounds

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August 19 2014

Amazonian turtle mothers heard 'talking' to hatchlings to get them into the water


Scientists have observed Giant South American river turtles ‘talking’ to their newly-hatched young, using high-pitched vocalisations that carry better through air and shallow water to guide the nestlings into the water.

The findings, published in a recent edition of the journal Herpetologica, constitutes the first known examples of parental care among turtles - an order of reptiles that have been roaming the Earth for more than 220 million years.

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