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July 7 2014

Oldest case of Down's syndrome from medieval France


The oldest confirmed case of Down's syndrome has been found: the skeleton of a child who died 1500 years ago in early medieval France. According to the archaeologists, the way the child was buried hints that Down's syndrome was not necessarily stigmatised in the Middle Ages.

Down's syndrome is a genetic disorder that delays a person's growth and causes intellectual disabilitye.

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July 7 2014

The last ice age


A team of scientists has discovered that a giant 'burp' of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the North Pacific Ocean helped trigger the end of last ice age, around 17,000 years ago.

A recent study, led by Dr James Rae of the University of St Andrews, found that changes in ocean circulation in the North Pacific caused a massive 'burp' of CO2 to be released from the deep ocean into the atmosphere, helping to warm the planet sufficiently to trigger the end of the ice age.

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July 7 2014

Flight may have evolved multiple times in birds


The bladed, quill-like feathers of modern birds are essential for flight, and over millions of years they have become highly specialized for this purpose. But this may not be the reason they first evolved, say researchers studying an unusually complete fossil of the world’s first bird, Archaeopteryx. Instead, the team believes birds first grew these feathers for other purposes, such as insulation or mating display. The discovery raises the intriguing prospect that flight may have developed multiple times in the ancestors of birds.

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July 7 2014

Timeline of human origins revised


Many traits unique to humans were long thought to have originated in the genus Homo between 2.4 and 1.8 million years ago in Africa. Although scientists have recognized these characteristics for decades, they are reconsidering the true evolutionary factors that drove them.

A large brain, long legs, the ability to craft tools and prolonged maturation periods were all thought to have evolved together at the start of the Homo lineage as African grasslands expanded and Earth’s climate became cooler and drier.

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July 7 2014

Roman skeleton discovery could rewrite British history


For most archaeology students finding a piece of broken pottery or a glass bead is the highlight of their first dig.

But undergraduates at Bournemouth University have stumbled upon a major find which could rewrite Roman history in Britain.

For the first time the skeletons of a family have been uncovered at a Roman villa in Dorset field.

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July 7 2014

Cache of Roman and Corieltavi Iron Age coins discovered in cave


An excavation in Dovedale, Derbyshire by archaeologists from the National Trust, Leicester University and the Defence Archaeology Group (Operation Nightingale) has unearthed a hoard of Late Iron Age and Republican Roman coins, the first time coins of these two origins are thought to have been found buried together in a cave in Britain.

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July 7 2014

World's earliest erotic graffiti found in unlikely setting on Aegean island


Wild, windswept, rocky and remote, Astypalaia is not an obvious place for the unearthing of some of the world's earliest erotic graffiti.

Certainly, Dr Andreas Vlachopoulos, a specialist in prehistoric archaeology, didn't think so when he began fieldwork on the Aegean island four years ago. Until he chanced upon a couple of racy inscriptions and large phalluses carved into Astypalaia's rocky peninsula at Vathy. The inscriptions, both dating to the fifth and sixth centuries BC, were "so monumental in scale" – and so tantalisingly clear – he was left in no doubt of the motivation behind the artworks.

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July 7 2014

An Aztec shield gifted to a conquistador


In the sixteenth century the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés was presented with many gifts by members of the Aztec elite. Among these gifts it is believed that a warrior’s shield (chimalli) was included; an artefact which is now currently held at the Mexican National Museum of History.

A comprehensive study recently carried out by Emmanuel Lara to document the life of this rare piece (only one of four now remaining today), will ensure that its importance is fully understood in the context of Mexican history.

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July 7 2014

Prehistoric circle dated to same summer as Seahenge neighbour


A second prehistoric circle on a Norfolk beach has been dated to the same summer more than 4,000 years ago as its famous neighbour, Seahenge.

Archaeologists believe the two circles, which originally stood inland in boggy freshwater but are now being eroded gradually by the tides, were part of the same monumental complex connected with rites to honour the dead.


Related: Second 4,000 year old timber circle revealed

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July 7 2014

Major Viking site discovery described as ‘mind-blowing’


A tiny County Louth village has been confirmed as home to one of the most important Viking sites in the world.

Carbon testing on trenches at a ‘virgin’ site in Annagassan have revealed that the small rural community once housed a Viking winter base, one of only two in Ireland.

The other went on to become Dublin but the Annagassan site, 50 miles north of the capital, was believed to be the stuff of mythology and folklore until now.

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July 7 2014

Cursed Warship Revealed With Treasure Onboard


On the second day of a brutal naval battle in 1564, a cursed warship went up in a ball of flames, consigning 800 to 900 Swedish and German sailors and a fortune in gold and silver coins to the bottom of the Baltic Sea (map). Legend has it that a specter rose from the inferno to guard the pride of the Swedish navy—named the Mars for the Roman god of war—against ever being discovered.

Treasure hunters, archaeologists, and history aficionados have sought the Mars over the years.

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July 7 2014

Brazilian voodoo priest to place curse on German World Cup team prior to match


Germany will have to contend with black magic as well Brazil’s Selecao in Tuesday’s World Cup semi-final as a voodoo priest plans to curse die Mannschaft.

Brazil will be without injured superstar Neymar in Belo Horizonte, but black magic enthusiast Helio Sillman from Rio de Janeiro says his curse will hinder Joachim Loew’s team in the semi-final.

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July 6 2014

Scientists Translate Chimpanzee and Bonobo Gestures That Resemble Human Language


Scientists have described the communications of chimpanzees and bonobos in new and unsurpassed detail, offering a lexicon for our closest living relatives and even a glimpse into the origins of human language.

The research, contained in two new studies published July 3 in Current Biology, focuses on physical gestures. These are the primary form of communication in bonobos and chimps, used more readily than vocalizations.


Related: Chimpanzee language: Communication gestures translated

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July 6 2014

Chimps develop bizarre trend of sticking grass in ear


A group of Zambian chimps have developed a bizarre fad of sticking a blade of grass in their ears in behaviour which may prove that the primates are capable of creating their own culture

It’s not just humans who worry about keeping up with the latest trends, chimpanzees are followers of fads as well, researchers have found.

Experts studying chimps at a Zambian sanctuary were intrigued to find that after one female named Julie stuck a piece of grass in her ear, the other primates followed suit.

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July 6 2014

Ability to Adapt Gave Early Humans the Edge Over Other Hominins


From the cold Arctic to the sweltering Sahara, from the high Himalayas to the deep reaches of the Amazon, humans are everywhere. Our ability to adapt and even thrive in a variety of environments is one of the hallmarks of our species.

In fact, adaptability might be THE defining characteristic of our broader genus, Homo. According to new research published in Science, the ability of early humans to adjust to wild climate fluctuations likely enabled them to diversify, differentiate, and spread out of Africa 1.85 million years ago.

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July 6 2014

Are Cities Evolving Into Hive Organisms?


Today, more than half of the human population lives in hive-like warrens called cities. Does this mean we are on the tipping point of becoming colony animals the way bees and ants did? It's not entirely impossible. We talked to scientists to find out whether urban humans are evolving into superorganisms.

Before we consider whether humans could form hive minds or colony societies, we first need a working definition of what it means to be an individual.

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July 6 2014

Imperiled Amazon Indians Make 1st Contact with Outsiders


Indigenous people with no prior contact to the outside world have just emerged from the Amazon rainforest in Brazil and made contact with a group of settled Indians, after being spotted migrating to evade illegal loggers, advocates say.

The news, which was released yesterday (July 2), comes after sightings of the uncontacted Indians in Brazil near the border with Peru, according to the group Survival International. Officials with the organization had warned last month that the isolated tribes face threats of disease and violence as they moved into new territory and possibly encountered other people.

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