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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Woolly Mammoth Hair Provides DNA

Drawing of a woolly mammoth. (Credit: Penn State University)

ScienceDaily (Sep. 27, 2007) — Stephan C. Schuster and Webb Miller of Penn State, working with Thomas Gilbert from Copenhagen and a large international consortium, discovered that hair shafts provide an ideal source of ancient DNA -- a better source than bones and muscle for studying the genome sequences of extinct animals. Their research achievement, described in a paper to be published in the journal Science on Sept. 28, includes the sequencing of entire mitochondrial genomes from 10 individual woolly mammoths.

The research team obtained hair from 10 woolly mammoths collected from a wide swathe of northern Siberia and with dates of death spanning approximately 38,000 years -- from 50,000 years to 12,000 years ago.

"DNA in bones and muscle usually degrades and becomes contaminated with genetic material from other sources such as bacteria, limiting its usefulness in scientific studies," Schuster explained. Because only a tiny proportion of ancient bones and muscle are preserved in such a way that uncontaminated DNA can be recovered, research with such materials has involved laborious efforts, sometimes spanning as long as six years for a single study. In contrast, Miller said, "Once I get the data from the genome sequencer, it takes only five minutes to assemble the entire mitochondrial genome."

Source of quotes:

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

New Fossil discovery rivals Lucy


A new partial skeleton has been found in Ethiopia. It is said to be about 400,000 years older than Lucy (the famous fossil) which makes it approximately 3.6 million years old. Not only older, the skeleton is larger than Lucy (3.5 feet). He stands at more than 5 feet tall, clearly a large man, thus his name: "Kadanuumuu," which means "big man" in Afar. He is the same species as Lucy: Australopithecus afarensis.

This find sheds light on the movement of these early hominids. Lucy was believed to be a tree climber and she was not believed to be bipedal. But this discovery shows that it is likely that early hominids were bipedal. This skeleton has the most complete clavicle and shoulder blades ever found in the human fossil record.

Parts of the hip bone (pelvis)
Photo courtesy: Yohannes Haile-Selassie, Cleveland Museum of Natural History

These findings were published in today’s online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

New Timeline for Pharoahs

A new study using radiocarbon dating has a better view of the timeline of ancient Egypt’s 3 main periods. Dr. Ramsey and his colleagues used the radiocarbon dating method on 211 plant samples that are tied to artifacts of certain kings in different periods.

We might already know a great deal about the timeline, but some dates are still debated. Thus this study gives a more precise look at the dates.

This study appeared in the June 18 issue of Science.

We can see with his study that:

* New Kingdom previous estimates 1550 or 1539 B.C. - Now between 1570 and 1544 B.C.

* Djoser's reign previously widely believed to be 2667 or 2592 B.C. - Now between 2691 and 2625 B.C.

Full Article:

Phoenician fort uncovered in Cyprus

Digs in Cyprus have uncovered what may be soldiers’ barracks belonging to a sprawling Phoenician fortress that was the island’s largest ancient administrative hub dating back at least 2,500 years, the Cypriot Antiquities Department director said Monday.

The archaeologists found two building complexes that were attached to a tower. Pieces of weapons were found suggesting a barracks.

Earlier finds at this site included a clay vessel (large) and a triple olive press.

Full article:

Monday, June 21, 2010

Radar shows ancient Egyptian city!

Image released by the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities on Sunday, June 20, 2010,

We can see on the image the outlines of houses, streets etc. This is all under the town of Tel al-Dabaa.

An Austrian archaeological used the radar images to show the ruins of the Hykos's capital. The archaeologist wanted to see what the extend of the city is.

The full article:

Sunday, June 20, 2010

I'm back

I have been away for awhile but I'm back with tons of new exciting Archaeology news!
Stay tuned!

I'm Back Pictures, Images and Photos