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February 27 2015

Ancient Bolivians Stripped Flesh from Dead Bodies in Ritual Complex


At an ancient ritual complex in Bolivia, archaeologists discovered the ruins of a room where dead bodies were dissolved down to their bones in sizzling pots of caustic chemicals.

People traveling in llama caravans may have brought their deceased relatives to be "defleshed" in this way at the complex (on purpose) so they could leave with the plaster-coated bones as relics, according to a new study.

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February 27 2015

Prehistoric Crocodile Paradise Discovered in Peru


Northeastern Peru was a crocodile paradise 13 million years ago, as researchers have found the remains of seven different croc species that simultaneously thrived at the once swampy and food-filled site.

The discovery, reported in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, is the largest known number of crocodile species to have ever co-existed in one place at any time in Earth’s history.

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February 27 2015

Fossil reveals hippos related to whales


An ancient relative of the hippopotamus likely swam from Asia to Africa some 35 million years ago, long before the arrival of the lion, rhino, zebra and giraffe, suggests a new study.

Analysis of the previously unknown, long-extinct animal also confirms that cetaceans -- the group to which whales, dolphins and porpoises belong -- are in fact the hippo's closest living cousins.


Related: Baby Woolly Rhino Discovered In Siberia Is The First Ever Found

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February 27 2015

Disappearing lakes stoke megafauna debate


New research into central Australia's ancient lakes has found evidence that climate change contributed to the extinction of the continent's megafauna.

Dr Joshua Larsen from The University of Queensland's School of Geography Planning and Environmental Management, said water resources I Australia were changing significantly about 48,000 years ago when humans arrived and megafauna became extinct.

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February 27 2015

Earth's Worst Mass Extinction Preserved Ancient Footprints


Earth's worst mass extinction may have created ideal conditions for preserving the ancient footprints of giant reptiles on the muddy ocean floor, according to a new study.

Researchers found a spike in fossilized tracks of tetrapods (these early four-limbed vertebrates include amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals) during the early Triassic period, roughly 250 million years ago. This increase may be the result of a mass extinction at the end of the Permian period that wiped out worms and other tiny creatures that typically churn up ocean sediments, leaving behind sticky seafloor conditions that preserved the wading and swimming habits of ancient giant reptiles, the scientists said.

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February 27 2015

Drilling ancient African lakes sheds light on human evolution


How was human evolution and migration influenced by past changes in climate?

This question has led Aberystwyth University researchers to drill day and night to great depths in a dried up lake in east Africa.

The Chew Bahir Drilling Project, in a remote part of south Ethiopia, will provide a sedimentary record of changes in rainfall, temperature and vegetation, spanning the last 500,000 years of human evolution.

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February 27 2015

Study Suggests Chemical "Emulsifiers" In Food Are Disrupting Gut Microbes And Making Us Fat


Emulsifiers are ubiquitous in food products because they help otherwise unmixable ingredients blend together – making salad dressings, ice cream and cream cheese smooth. But in a recent experiment, mice got fat and developed health problems after being fed two common synthetic emulsifiers in doses comparable to those people might be exposed to in processed foods.


Related: Microbes in the Gut Are Essential to Our Well-Being

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February 27 2015

Is the 'love hormone' a buzz kill -- and maybe a treatment for alcoholism?


Love may be intoxicating. But when mixed with alcohol, the hormone that love spurs in humans seems to have the opposite effect: It's downright sobering.

A new study finds the much-ballyhooed "love hormone," oxytocin, appears to dampen the effects of alcohol, and suggests it could someday play a role in treating alcohol dependence and withdrawal.


Related: Heavy Drinkers Have Lowest IQs

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February 27 2015

Study links psychedelic drug use to reductions in psychological distress and suicidal behavior


The National Institute of Mental Health has called for novel ways of thinking about suicidal behavior and new avenues for its prevention. “Treatments involving classic psychedelics may represent one such approach,” according to a new study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

The study found that people who used classic psychedelic drugs tended to have lower levels of psychological distress, and were less likely to experience suicidal thoughts, suicidal planning, or attempt suicide.

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February 27 2015

Music Made for Cats Wins Feline Approval


Music that incorporates everything from purrs to meow-like sounds is gaining feline fans, according to a new study that suggests cats enjoy tunes that are crafted just for them.

The study, which has been accepted for publication in the journal Applied Animal Behavioral Science, adds to the growing body of evidence that many animals respond favorably to species-specific music. This is music that takes into account a particular animal's favorite sounds, hearing range, commonly used tones and other factors.

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February 27 2015

The girl who gets gifts from birds


Lots of people love the birds in their garden, but it's rare for that affection to be reciprocated. One young girl in Seattle is luckier than most. She feeds the crows in her garden - and they bring her gifts in return.

Eight-year-old Gabi Mann sets a bead storage container on the dining room table, and clicks the lid open. This is her most precious collection.

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February 27 2015

How cities cause bigger spiders and tamer birds


Humans and the cities we build are driving evolutionary changes in the creatures and plants around us faster than previously thought, new research shows.

The signs are small but striking: Spiders in cities are getting bigger. Salmon in rivers are getting smaller. Birds in urban areas are growing tamer and bolder, outcompeting their country cousins.

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February 27 2015

Himalayan ice shows chemicals ban is working


A unique study of frozen ice cores from the Tibetan Himalayas has shown that international agreements on phasing out the use of toxic persistent organic pollutants are working.


Related: Trade in Shark Fins Takes a Plunge - "An analysis of trade statistics suggests that efforts to educate shark-fin soup consumers is working"

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February 26 2015

Kublai Khan was a notorious … polluter


Kublai Khan and his imperial Mongol brethren were legendary warriors, masters of the Silk Road, and, according to a new study, terrible polluters due to silver mining. Geologists discovered this legacy by visiting Erhai Lake (pictured above) in the southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan. The team extracted 2.5-meter-long sediment cores that accounted for the last 4500 years of the lakebed’s history. They scanned the silt for heavy metal pollutants, namely copper, lead, silver, cadmium, and zinc.

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February 26 2015

Pharaoh Brutally Killed in Battle, Analysis Shows


Pharaoh Senebkay, one of the earliest kings of a forgotten Abydos Dynasty, was brutally killed in battle more than 3,600 years ago, says a study that has reconstructed, blow by blow, the king’s last moments.

The research identified 18 wounds on the pharaoh’s bones. It also established that Senebkay is the earliest Egyptian pharaoh to have died in battle.

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February 26 2015

Isis burns thousands of books and rare manuscripts from Mosul's libraries


Isis militants have reportedly ransacked Mosul library, burning over a hundred thousand rare manuscripts and documents spanning centuries of human learning.

Initial reports said approximately 8,000 books were destroyed by the extremist group.


Related: Oregon police seize Native American relics headed for black market

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February 26 2015

Trail of Tools Reveals Modern Humans' Path Out of Africa


Where did our species come from, and how did we get from there to everywhere?

Genetic studies have supplied a convincing answer to the first question: Our modern human ancestors evolved in Africa, then swept across Eurasia beginning some 60,000 to 50,000 years ago. Now, a pair of American archaeologists claim to have uncovered the route those early Homo sapiens took on their way to populating the planet.

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