Anthropology

Will ‘hobbit’ tooth yield ancient DNA?

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: January 11, 2011   View Article

Scientists are gearing up to use a new drilling technique to extract ancient DNA from an 18,000-year-old tooth that belonged to a “hobbit,” the mysterious, diminutive creatures that once lived on the Indonesian island of Flores.

If successful, a comparison of the DNA with other species could help resolve disputes surrounding who the hobbits were and where they originated.

“Chilling” Child Sacrifices Found at Prehistoric Site

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: December 23, 2010   View Article

The skeletons of dozens of children killed as part of a ritual bloodletting sacrifice a thousand years ago have been discovered in northern Peru, a new study says.

The remains are the earliest evidence of ritualized blood sacrifice and mutilation of children that has so far been seen in the South American Andes, according to study leader Haagen Klaus.

Seeds of a paralytic and hallucinogenic plant called Nectandra, which also prevents blood clotting, were found with the skeletons, suggesting the children were drugged before their throats were slit and their chests cut open.

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.

“Hobbits” Had Million-Year History on Island?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: March 17, 2010   View Article

Newfound stone tools suggest the evolutionary history of the “hobbits” on the Indonesian island of Flores stretches back a million years, a new study says—200,000 years longer than previously thought.

The hobbit mystery was sparked by the 2004 discovery of bones on Flores that belonged to a three-foot-tall (one-meter-tall), 55-pound (25-kilogram) female with a grapefruit-size brain.

The tiny, hobbit-like creature—controversially dubbed a new human species, Homo floresiensis—persisted on the remote island until about 18,000 years ago, even as “modern” humans spread around the world, experts say.

Ancient Corpses Ritually Dug Up, Torn Apart, Reburied

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: March 9, 2010   View Article

According to the first known evidence of “double burials,” ancient people in what is now Mexico routinely dug up decomposing bodies and took off their arms, legs, and heads, then reburied the bodies, new research shows.

Indigenous peoples of the Cape Region of Baja California Sur practiced these double burials for about 4,500 years, from about 300 B.C. to the 16th-century A.D, when Europeans first arrived in the region, anthropologists say.

“Lost” Amazon Complex Found; Shapes Seen by Satellite

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: January 4, 2010   View Article

Hundreds of circles, squares, and other geometric shapes once hidden by forest hint at a previously unknown ancient society that flourished in the Amazon, a new study says.

Satellite images of the upper Amazon Basin taken since 1999 have revealed more than 200 geometric earthworks spanning a distance greater than 155 miles (250 kilometers).

Dogs First Tamed in China – To Be Food?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: September 4, 2009   View Article

Wolves were domesticated no more than 16,300 years ago in southern China, a new genetic analysis suggests—and it’s possible the canines were tamed to be livestock, not pets, the study author speculates.

“In this region, even today, eating dog is a big cultural thing,” noted study co-author Peter Savolainen, a biologist at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach