Alaskan Archaeologists Find and Identify New Plesiosaur Species
An Anchorage, Alaska-based fossil collector named Curvin Metzler has recently announced that discovery of fossil bones of an elasmosaur—a type of plesiosaur. Metzler says that this species has very long limbs and necks like paddles, a feature which would have definitely allowed the animal to swim efficiently underwater.
According to University of Alaska Museum of the North earth science curator and marine expert Patrick Druckenmiller, notes, “Picture the mythical Loch Ness monster and you have a pretty good idea what it looked like.”
Not a terribly exciting story but I wanted to point that out.
Studies find genetic signature of native Australians in the Americas
The first paper takes the view that it’s a product of a later addition to the already established population in North America, probably brought in by a group that was largely East Asian but had interbred with Australo-Melanesians. Whatever this group was, it appears to have vanished from Siberia and East Asia.
The second paper, however, argues that the Australo-Melanesian DNA couldn’t have gotten to the Amazon undisturbed if it were just randomly being spread through interbreeding. Instead, a distinct population must have taken it there. Because the population is still largely Native American on the DNA level, but contains some DNA distantly related to Australo-Melanesians, its authors argue that this population originated in Asia and came to the Americas via a second migration.
These chickens. Purley speculation on my part.
Well, not really “news” at all, via Althouse: Art historical horticulture? (scroll down)
Horticulture professors Jim Nienhuis and Irwin Goldman co-teach what may be one of the few horticulture classes in the world that visits an art museum: Hort 370, World Vegetable Crops.
“Vegetables are perishable (as opposed to grains), and were domesticated prior to photography, but Renaissance art saves the day,” says Nienhuis. “We’re interested in the color, shape and sizes of the vegetables from 400 years ago, compared to modern cultivars of the same vegetables: the deep sutures on cantaloupe in Italian art of the Renaissance or the lack of pigmentation in pictures of watermelon compared to today.”
That’s one way to do it. One would expect that they would have painted such things realistically? I dunno, I’m not an art historian.
Weird Horse-Cows and 6-Legged Sheep Found in Iron Age Burials
Weird, “hybridized” animal skeletons, including a cow-horse and a six-legged sheep litter the bottom of storage pits in an Iron Age site in England, archaeologists have found. One pit even holds the bones of a woman with a slit throat laid on top of animal bones, the scientists said.
The unusual remains belong to an ancient people who lived in southern England from about 400 B.C. until just before the Roman invasion, in A.D. 43, said dig co-director Paul Cheetham, a senior lecturer in archaeology at Bournemouth University in the United Kingdom.
I have not heard of this before. The proffered explanation makes some sense though.
Not unlike (actually, completely unlike, but whatever) the Centaur of Volos (which I saw in Madison WI once).
Denmark: Archaeologists Find Artisan’s 5,500-year-old Fingerprint in Ceramic Vessel
Archaeologists unearthed pieces of a ceramic vessel from an ancient fjord east of Rødbyhavn near Lolland, Denmark on the south coast. The 5,500-year-old ceramic vessel is known as a funnel beaker because of the characteristic funnel-shaped neck and the accompanying flat bottom of the vase.
Altogether, archaeologists found three beakers at the site. When they were brought to the Danish National Museum, upon closer inspection, experts found a fingerprint just within one of the ceramic vessels.
These aren’t all that rare; I found one myself on a piece of mud plaster with a (I assume) thumb print on it in Egypt.
I saw this thing in my news feed and was intrigued: Bronze Age time capsule: 3,000-year-old vitrified food found in jars in England
Vitrified, you say?
Yes. I was thinking “Idiots. Organic substances can’t vitrify, that’s for silicates.” True vitrification yes, but organics can also vitrify. I’d never seen this referred to archaeologically, however. I didn’t see anything about that in the links either.
Scarlet Macaws Point to Early Emergence of Complex Pueblo Society
The rare birds were a sign of prestige and their feathers were important as ceremonial objects for their colorful variety, not locally common among the area’s native birds. The bright colors signified different directions, such as red for south and blue or green for west, for example.
It was traditionally thought that the Pueblo people did not bring the macaws back to the settlement until 1040 CE. But new radiocarbon dating of the bird remains discovered in the settlement is changing that view.
The radiocarbon dating project, co-led by Dr Adam Watson from the American Museum of Natural History, Prof Stephen Plog from the University of Virginia and Dr Douglas Kennett from Pennsylvania State University, showed that the macaw remains came from as early as the late 800s to mid 900s CE.
That’s generally thought to be one of the ways elites reinforce their authority, by having access to luxury goods from elsewhere. It does make some sense that the hierarchies — and all of the additional accouterments — wouldn’t have developed overnight, some stuff coming earlier, some later. But I haven’t read the paper.
Archaeologists find 500-year-old skeleton with ‘evil twin’ tumor in Peru
Out of the 500 skeletal remains found at the cemetery of the Chapel of the Divino Niño Serranito de Eten, the bones of one teenage girl stood for the simple reason that she had a lot more of them than anyone else in the burial site.
After careful study, the scientists, including bioarchaeologist Haagen Klaus of George Mason University, ruled that the dozens of extra bones and teeth found in her abdominal cavity were part of an ovarian teratoma – or what has been labelled an “evil twin” tumor. While the teratoma may not have not have been the cause of her death, the large tumor probably made her look like she was pregnant and may have factored into her early death.
That’s too bad. This is the first I’ve seen of one of these things archaeologically; you get quite a number of pregnancies, but no teratomas.
The Caveman’s Home Was Not a Cave
I don’t blame anyone for focusing on caves. Caves are constrained spatially, preservation is excellent because they’re usually limestone and very alkaline, which helps preserve bone and other materials that don’t often preserve in the open air. But caves are an unrepresentative sample of where people were and what they did. People were clearly inside caves—painting, drawing, and doing other kinds of artistic and cultural activities. But they weren’t hunting in a cave, they weren’t collecting raw materials in a cave, they weren’t collecting firewood or other things. So where were they the rest of the time, and what were they doing?
I dunno, this seems like old news to me. It’s an interview with Margaret Conkey. They do seem to indicate that archaeologists back in the 1970s were still cave-focused so this is something of a retrospective? I would guess the average person still probably thinks of them as all living in caves but that hasn’t been archaeological thought for decades.