Archive for July, 2010

Pictures: Human Sacrifice Chamber Discovered in Peru

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 30, 2010   View Article

Found in Peru within a chamber used for an ancient human-sacrifice rite called the presentation, this woman was likely an offering to the site, archaeologists say.

Announced last week, the 197-foot-long (60-meter-long) sacrificial chamber or passageway at the Huaca Bandera archaeological site belonged to the Moche culture, a pre-Columbian agricultural civilization that flourished on the north coast of Peru from about 100 B.C. to AD 800.

The several burials found in the sacrifice chamber “are from a time apparently after the site had been abandoned but nevertheless continued to receive offerings to maintain the status of the elite sanctuary,” archaeologist Carlos Wester La Torre, leader of the excavation, said in an email translated from Spanish.

How science measures up cats and dogs

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: July 29, 2010   View Article

As “Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore” hits the big screen, find out what science has to say about the intelligence and abilities of our favorite household pets.

Bowl of Fingers, Baby Victims, More Found in Maya Tomb

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 21, 2010   View Article

Reeking of decay and packed with bowls of human fingers, a partly burned baby, and gem-studded teeth—among other artifacts—a newfound Maya king’s tomb sounds like an overripe episode of Tales From the Crypt.

But the tightly sealed, 1,600-year-old burial chamber, found under a jungle-covered Guatemalan pyramid, is as rich with archaeological gold as it is with oddities, say researchers who announced the discovery Friday.

The real science of dream research

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: July 16, 2010   View Article

Movie director Chris Nolan is famous for his unorthodox spin on thrillers ranging from “Memento” and “The Prestige” to “The Dark Knight.” Nolan’s latest movie, “Inception,” takes viewers on a sci-fi trip to a novel frontier: the visions of the sleeping mind.

The cerebral adventure introduces the concept of “extraction,” where corporate thieves enter people’s dreams and steal their ideas. Master extractor Dom Cobb – played by Leonardo DiCaprio, – is given the task of planting a dream instead.

Are our dreams really vulnerable to manipulation? Click ahead for a reality check on these ideas and more in the world of dream research

Top ten species of 2009 named

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: July 15, 2010   View Article

This bomb-dropping worm, Swima bombiviridis, is among the top 10 species discovered in 2009, according to the International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University. The annual roundup winnows down a list of about 20,000 species described each year to just a few mind-benders.

“It is a great way of getting the public involved in biodiversity,” says Mary Liz Jameson, a biodiversity scientist at Wichita State University and chair of this year’s selection committee. While the criteria for selection include scientific significance, Jameson admits that “the cool factor” also plays a part.

For example, the bomb-dropping worm found off the coast of California “has these green gills it can kind of throw off, and the predator will follow the gill instead of following the [worm], so it is tripping up the predator,” Jameson said. “It’s really cool.”

Check out the other cool species on the top-10 list.

Pictures: Giant Undersea Volcano Revealed

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 15, 2010   View Article

Captured by high-resolution cameras aboard a robotic submersible, mineral-rich water spews from hydrothermal vents in this June 30 picture of Kawio Barat, a massive undersea volcano off Indonesia.

During the past few weeks, the submerged volcano—one of the world’s largest—was mapped and explored in detail for the first time by a joint Indonesian-U.S. expedition north of the island of Sulawesi.

Human Brains “Evolve,” Become Less Monkey-Like With Age

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 12, 2010   View Article

Brain regions that grow the most outside the womb are the same areas that expanded the most during evolution from monkeys to humans, a new study says.

As the human brain matures, it expands in a “strikingly nonuniform” fashion, according to researchers who compared MRI scans of 12 infant brains with scans of 12 young adult brains.

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