Vadasaurus Fossil Shows a Reptile in Transition Animals Paleontology 

Vadasaurus Fossil Shows a Reptile in Transition

By Kate Stone @GotScienceOrg A small fossil—just a foot long—is revealing secrets of how some land-dwelling reptiles moved back into the water. After studying the 155-million-year-old reptile fossil, scientists at Johns Hopkins University and the American Museum of Natural History report they have filled in some important clues to the evolution of animals that once roamed land and transitioned to life in the water. Vadasaurus, the Latin term for “wading lizard,” was discovered in limestone quarries near Solnhofen, Germany. The area was once part of a shallow sea that has…

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Ancient Crops Reveal Asian Colonization of Madagascar Archaeology 

Ancient Crops Reveal Asian Colonization of Madagascar

By Neha Jain @lifesciexplore For decades, the colonization of Madagascar has been one of the most puzzling mysteries of human history. Although Madagascar is only a few hundred kilometers from the east coast of Africa, the language spoken there, known as Malagasy, belongs to the same group of languages spoken in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands located thousands of kilometers away. This linguistic affinity suggests that Madagascar was colonized by settlers from Southeast Asia and the Pacific. Genetic and cultural evidence also support this theory. However, no concrete evidence has…

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Archaeology Technology 

See King Richard III in 3D

The remains of King Richard III of England were lost for a long time, but now you can see and manipulate a 3D representation of them. University of Leicester archaeologists discovered and helped to identify the bones of King Richard III beneath a paved parking lot in 2012. One year ago, they reinterred the King’s remains and, to mark the occasion, created an interactive 3D model of the grave and the skeleton of the king and made it publicly available for free. Using photographs taken during the excavation project, the…

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Mayan civilization: A round structure uncovered at Ceibal, from about 500 B.C. (Takeshi Inomata/University of Arizona) Archaeology 

How Mayan Civilization Came Together

Archaeologists working in Guatemala have unearthed new information about the Mayan civilization’s transition from a mobile, hunter-gatherer culture to an agrarian lifestyle. Until now, there have been two common assumptions about Mayan civilization: that nomadic and sedentary groups maintained separate communities, and that public buildings were constructed only after a population had fully put down roots (as was likely the case with these famous ancient Roman gold mines). These new findings challenge both assumptions. Developing a Unified Mayan Civilization Archaeologists go to great lengths, and depths, to uncover people and…

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Prehistoric stone tools: An elephant rib bearing marks from flint tools at the Revadim site. (American Friends of Tel Aviv University) Archaeology 

Prehistoric Stone Tools with Animal Residue

About 2.8 million years ago, early humans probably survived on a diet of plants. As the human brain expanded, however, it craved richer nourishment, namely animal fat and meat. Lacking claws and sharp teeth, early humans developed the skills and prehistoric stone tools necessary to hunt large animals and cut the fat and meat from the carcasses. Recently, this rare fossil shed new light on early human evolution. Long before that, our oldest known primate ancestors lived in trees and may have looked like this. Now, evidence of human carnivorous…

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3D reconstruction of the tetrapod skull. Top image: Right facial skeleton and skull roof shown in "exploded" view to show how the bones fit together. Center image: Left side of the cranium (braincase omitted) is shown in internal view. Bottom image: Right lower jaw in "exploded" view to illustrate sutural morphology. Individual bones shown in various colors. (Porro et al.) Biology Paleontology 

Early Tetrapod Skull Looks like Crocodile

Our 360 million-year-old tetrapod ancestors may have been more like modern crocodiles than previously thought, according to a new 3D skull reconstruction from the University of Bristol, UK. Acanthostega gunnari was a “four-footed” vertebrate, also known as a tetrapod, that invaded land during one of the great evolutionary transitions in Earth’s history, 380-360 million years ago. Tetrapods evolved from lobe-finned fish and display a number of adaptations that helped them survive on land. “These new analyses provide fresh clues about the evolution of the jaws and feeding system as the…

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Ancient Roman gold mines in the Eria river valley (J. Fernández Lozano et al) Archaeology 

Archaeologists at Ancient Roman Gold Mines

Archaeologists and geologists in Spain studying Las Médulas, the largest known open-cast gold mine of the Roman Empire, have discovered it was a much bigger operation than previously thought. The mines, located in the province of León, form a unique cultural landscape that was designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1997. The mining technique used by the Romans known as ruina montium, (Latin, “wrecking of mountains”) created a challenging terrain for later archaeological exploration, and the full extent of the mining operation had been underestimated, until now.…

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Greek technical diver Alexandros Sotiriou discovers an intact ceramic table jug and a bronze rigging ring on the Antikythera Shipwreck. (Brett Seymour, Return to Antikythera 2014) Archaeology 

Underwater Archaeology, Ancient Shipwreck

An international team of divers and archaeologists has retrieved amazing new finds from an ancient Greek ship that sank more than 2,000 years ago. Because of its large size and luxury cargo, they are calling this ship the “Titanic of the ancient world.” The Antikythera wreck was first discovered in 1900 by sponge divers who were blown off course by a storm. They subsequently recovered a spectacular haul of ancient treasure including bronze and marble statues, jewelry, furniture, luxury glassware, and the surprisingly complex Antikythera Mechanism (an ancient analog computer).…

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Skull (bigjom via freedigitalphotos.net) Archaeology 

Human Ancestors at the Bottom of the Sea

Researchers are studying the remains of prehistoric human settlements that now lie submerged beneath Europe’s coastal seas. More than 2,500 groups of submerged prehistoric artifacts, ranging in age from 5,000 to 300,000 years, have been found in the coastal waters and open sea basins around Europe. Artifacts include hut foundations, hearths, food remains, skeletons, shaped flint tools, hand axes, and canoe paddles embedded in the sediment on the sea floor. Periodically during the successive ice ages of the last million years, sea levels have dropped by up to 120 meters, adding…

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