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June 16 2014

Namibia's 'fairy circles': Nature's greatest mystery?


From the air, the Namibian desert looks like it has a bad case of chicken pox. Spread across 1,100 miles of a narrow strip sit a smattering of barren polka dots, otherwise known as fairy circles. These sizable craters measure 10- to 65-feet in diameter, and represent one of nature's greatest mysteries.

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June 16 2014

Human Ancestors Got Herpes from Chimps' Ancestors


A herpes virus that infects humans originated in chimpanzees before it jumped into our early human ancestors, according to a new study.

Researchers found that herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) infected hominids before their evolutionary split from chimpanzees 6 million years ago, whereas herpes simplex 2 (HSV-2) was transferred from ancient chimpanzees to human ancestors such as Homo erectus about 1.6 million years ago, long before the rise of early modern humans about 200,000 years ago.

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June 16 2014

Navy faces daunting task of counting desert petroglyphs


Archaeologists know it as Renegade Canyon, a lava gorge in desert badlands with more than 1 million images of hunters, spirits and bighorn sheep etched in sharp relief on cliff faces and boulders.

But this desert is in the heart of the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station, and it is where the Navy and Marines develop and test advanced bomb and missile systems.

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June 16 2014

Archaeological cave dig unearths artefacts from 45,000 years ago


An archeological dig has revealed artefacts of early occupation so old they rival the dates of those found at sites of the earliest human settlement in Australia.

The discovery of the artefacts of animal bone and charcoal at the Ganga Maya Cave (named by traditional owners meaning 'house on the hill') in the Pilbara region of Western Australia are the subject of a scientific paper not yet submitted to archaeological journals.

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June 16 2014

Archaeologists discover Britain's longest road to be 10,000 year old


Archaeologists were stunned to discover evidence of a Mesolithic settlement alongside the A1, which stretches 410 miles from London to Edinburgh.

The site, near Catterick in North Yorkshire, is believed to have been used by people travelling north and south as an overnight shelter, similar to today’s motorway service stations.

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June 16 2014

Ancient Egyptian remedies


The ancient Egyptians, who embalmed their deceased so carefully, must have had a profound knowledge of anatomy. This is shown in tomb reliefs depicting surgeons dealing with patients and in famous medical texts such as those in the ancient Egyptian Ebers and Edwin Smith papyri.

The ancient Greek historian Herodotus who visited Egypt around 440 BCE wrote extensively of his observations of ancient Egyptian medical practices.

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June 16 2014

Mexico’s mysterious Mayan ruins at Palenque, now accessible from the air


From seat 7A, I look down to see miles of dense rain forest blanketing the ground below me. I’m 10,000 feet above the Mexican state of Chiapas, coming in for a landing at Palenque, where an ancient Mesoamerican city flourished for five centuries, until its Mayan inhabitants mysteriously abandoned it, leaving their temples, homes and palaces to be reclaimed by the encroaching forest, not to be rediscovered for nearly 900 years.

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June 16 2014

Drunken revels depicted in 1800 year old mural


Since its discovery in 1969 Los bebedores or The Drinkers, is a large pre-Hispanic mural that has remained hidden from public view. However, visitors can now see the mural at the Mexican archaeological zone of Cholula near Puebla for a limited period only.

An initiative was instituted a decade ago by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) to look into conservation of the mural.

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June 16 2014

Ancient Roman Sanctuary Discovered in France


In Northern France’s Picardy region about 35 kilometers north of Paris in the city of Pont-Sainte-Maxence, archeologists have uncovered an ancient Roman sanctuary dating back to the second century, which has no equivalent in Roman Gaul.

This sanctuary, which measures 70 meters by 105 meters, has two small pavilions in the back, of which only the foundations remain. In the center, the Cella, visitors could access a dramatic masonry platform via a front staircase.

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June 16 2014

Court records reveal moment society became more civilized


Trial transcripts from London’s oldest court, the Old Bailey, chronicle 239 years of criminal history ranging from scandalous murders to sheep theft. A research team wondered if these documents reflect Western society’s “civilizing process,” a centuries-long period when violence levels plummeted and the modern justice system took shape.

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June 16 2014

First Farmers Were Also Sailors


When hunter-gatherers in the Middle East began to settle down and cultivate crops about 10,500 years ago, they became the world’s first farmers. But two new papers suggest that they were at home on both the land and the sea: Studies of ancient and modern human DNA, including the first reported ancient DNA from early Middle Eastern farmers, indicate that agriculture spread to Europe via a coastal route, probably by farmers using boats to island hop across the Aegean and Mediterranean seas.

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June 16 2014

Studies show movements of continents speeding up after slow 'middle age'


Two studies show that the movement rate of plates carrying the Earth's crust may not be constant over time. This could provide a new explanation for the patterns observed in the speed of evolution and has implications for the interpretation of climate models. The work is presented today at Goldschmidt 2014, the premier geochemistry conference taking place in Sacramento, California, USA.

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June 15 2014

Cracks May Hint at Ancient Ocean on Pluto's Moon Charon


When NASA's New Horizons probe streaks past Pluto, scientists will be looking for cracks in the surface of its biggest moon, Charon, to figure out whether it was ever warm enough to maintain a subsurface ocean.

It seems hard to believe, considering that the surface temperature on Pluto and its moons is thought to be 380 degrees below zero Fahrenheit (-229 degrees Celsius). But scientists say it's theoretically possible for Charon to have had a hidden sea of liquid water.

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June 15 2014

Russia's Popigai Meteor Crash Linked to Mass Extinction


New evidence implicates one of Earth's biggest impact craters in a mass extinction that occurred 33.7 million years ago, according to research presented here Wednesday (June 11) at the annual Goldschmidt geochemistry conference.

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles precisely dated rocks from beneath the Popigai impact crater in remote Siberia to the Eocene epoch mass extinction that occurred 33.7 million years ago. Popigai crater is one of the 10 biggest impact craters on Earth, and in 2012, Russian scientists claimed the crater harbors a gigantic industrial diamond deposit.

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June 15 2014

Fly Found With Da Vinci Princess Spurs a Mystery


A fly larva discovered among the remains of an Italian Renaissance princess -- often credited to be the true Mona Lisa -- has a produced a zoological puzzle, raising questions about the origins of the insect.

Widely believed to be a native of the Americas, the black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) thrives on decaying organic material. It was thought to have first reached Europe in the early 1900s.

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June 15 2014

Origins of Arctic fox traced back to Tibet


The Arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus) was thought to have evolved in Europe as the ice sheet expanded when a glacial period swept the Earth about 2.6 million years ago. But fossil evidence now suggests that the animal ‘pre-adapted’ to living in the cold and harsh environment on lofty Tibetan terrains.

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June 15 2014

Earth's Oldest Rocks Hold Essential Ingredient for Life


A critical building block for creating the first life on Earth was found in 3.8-billion-year-old rocks from Isua, Greenland, researchers reported this week here at the annual Goldschmidt geochemistry conference.

For the first time, rich concentrations of the element boron have been found in Isua's ancient marine rocks, study author Takeshi Kakegawa, a professor at Tohoku University in Japan, said Monday (June 9). The discovery signals that boron was circulating in seawater and was absorbed by marine clays, which eventually became tourmaline, he said.

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