Archive for 2010

Fungi, Feces Show Comet Didn’t Kill Ice Age Mammals?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: June 22, 2010   View Article

Tiny balls of fungus and feces may disprove the theory that a huge space rock exploded over North America about 12,900 years ago, triggering a thousand-year cold snap, according to a new study.

The ancient temperature drop, called the Younger Dryas, has been well documented in the geologic record, including soil and ice core samples.

The cool-down also coincides with the extinction of mammoths and other Ice Age mammals in North America, and it’s thought to have spurred our hunter-gatherer ancestors in the Middle East to adopt an agricultural lifestyle.

Chimp Gangs Kill to Expand Territory

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

Some gangs of chimpanzees beat their neighbors to death in bids to expand their turf, according to a new study.

While scientists have long known that chimps will kill each other on occasion, the finding shores up a long-held hypothesis that humans’ closest living relatives sometimes turn to violence to annex valuable parcels of land.

Father’s Day 2010 Is Centennial: How Did Holiday Start?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: June 18, 2010   View Article

As Father’s Day hits its centennial on June 20, 2010, sons and daughters around the world are expected to open their wallets wider—slightly—in celebration. Because of the slowly recovering global economy, people are expected to spend about 4 percent more than in 2009 on cards, ties, tools, clothes, and other Father’s Day gifts.

But the first Father’s Day, a hundred years ago, was decidedly humbler, and refreshingly noncommercial.

How the ancients celebrated the solstice

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: June 18, 2010   View Article

At sunrise on the Northern Hemisphere’s longest day of the year – the summer solstice– thousands of modern-day druids, pagans and partiers gather in the countryside near Salisbury, England, to cheer as the first rays of light stream over a circular arrangement of stones called Stonehenge. The original purpose of the ancient monument remains a source of academic debate. The large stones erected about 4,000 years ago are aligned with the summer solstice sunrise, leading scholars to suggest a link to an ancient sun-worshipping culture. Click the “Next” arrow above to learn about seven more ways ancient cultures marked the solstices – the longest and shortest days of the year.

Pyramid Tomb Found: Signs of Civilization’s Birth?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: May 18, 2010   View Article

After sheltering jeweled royals for centuries, the oldest known tomb in Mesoamerica—ancient Central America and Mexico, roughly speaking—has been uncovered, archaeologists announced Tuesday.

Apparently caught between two cultures, the 2,700-year-old pyramid in Chiapa de Corzo (map), Mexico, may help settle a debate as to when and how the mysterious Zoque civilization arose, according to excavation leader Bruce Bachand.

Tibetans Evolved to Survive Highlife, Study Says

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: May 13, 2010   View Article

Most Tibetans are genetically adapted to life on the “roof of the world,” according to a new study.

The Tibetan Plateau rises more than 13,000 feet (4,000 meters) above sea level. At such heights, most people are susceptible to hypoxia, in which too little oxygen reaches body tissues, potentially leading to fatal lung or brain inflammation.

To survive the high life, many Tibetans carry unique versions of two genes associated with low blood hemoglobin levels, the researchers found.

Bioluminescence lights up the oceans

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: May 11, 2010   View Article

The definition of bioluminescence “is easier than the pronunciation and spelling of the word: It is just visible light made by living animals,” says Edith Widder, president of the Ocean Research and Conservation Association in Fort Pierce, Fla.

The word may be easy to define, but the chemical process is still poorly understood. Bioluminescence has apparently evolved independently at least 40 times in species belonging to bioluminescence remains a poorly understood chemical process that appears to have evolved at least 40 times in species belonging to more than 700 genera. Widder notes in the journal Science that about 80 percent of those genera are found in the open ocean.

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