Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Stuff I Probably Won't Have Time to Blog About , But Find Incredibly Cool!

From the BBC Humans may have moved into England 200,000 years earlier than previously thought. The tools above were found at a sight dating to approximately 700,000 years ago:

A team of researchers from the UK, Italy and Canada found a total of 32 flint tools in a fossil-rich seam at Pakefield. They say it represents the earliest unequivocal evidence of human activity in northern Europe.

New Scientist has a good article on the subject as well. Some perspective:

"We don't know for sure what species it was," says team member Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum in London, "but my bet is it's an early form of Homo heidelbergensis or Homo antecessor."

H. heidelbergensis is known to have been present in central Europe about 500,000 years ago. Bones were first discovered in 1907 near Heidelberg, Germany, and have since been found in France and Greece. Hominin remains about 800,000 years old have been found in Spain and Italy, indicating that early humans had colonised southern Europe by this time. These early humans have been classed as another species, H. antecessor, though arguments remain over whether it is a really separate species to H. heidelbergensis.

Ancient Humans Brought Bottle Gourds To The Americas From Asia:

Thick-skinned bottle gourds widely used as containers by prehistoric peoples were likely brought to the Americas some 10,000 years ago by individuals who arrived from Asia, according to a new genetic comparison of modern bottle gourds with gourds found at archaeological sites in the Western Hemisphere. The finding solves a longstanding archaeological enigma by explaining how a domesticated variant of a species native to Africa ended up millennia ago in places as far removed as modern-day Florida, Kentucky, Mexico and Peru.
This was an open access article in PNAS and I will probably be doing a post on it.

This is probably going to blow my reputation at the Hairy Museum of Natural History since it took me a day to post about it.
The above is Hongshanornis longicresta a 125 million year old fossil bird found in China:

Primitive land birds, or enantiornithines, were among the earliest known birds. Mainly tree dwellers that were poor fliers, these birds warmed their bodies by basking in the sun, like lizards and other reptiles.

The newly found bird, meanwhile, belonged to ornithurines, a group that maintained body temperature internally by dilating or contracting blood vessels, sweating, or shivering.

This trait, known as endothermy, is associated with a more active lifestyle. The prehistoric wading bird may have developed the trait as a result of shoreline living, says Zhonghe Zhou, a palaeontologist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.

Finally, enjoy the squid:

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