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The (Archeological) Discoveries Topic

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Forostar, Mar 26, 2008.

  1. Forostar

    Forostar Conjure the Death Star again

    This topic is meant for (in your opinion) interesting discoveries. Lost warships, cities, traces of ancient cultures, animals, you name it.

    Don't take archeological in the subject too literally. New discoveries in space are also allowed. Basically everything in this topic has to do with "things" (or "beings") found on "location(s)", so I don't mean discoveries in the sense of new inventions or something. :)

    Today I'll start with something "human":

    Human Ancestor Fossil Found in Europe

    MADRID, Spain (AP) — A small piece of jawbone unearthed in a cave in Spain is the oldest known fossil of a human ancestor in Europe and suggests that people lived on the continent much earlier than previously believed, scientists say.

    The researchers said the fossil found last year at Atapuerca in northern Spain, along with stone tools and animal bones, is up to 1.3 million years old. That would be 500,000 years older than remains from a 1997 find that prompted the naming of a new species: Homo antecessor, or Pioneer Man, possibly a common ancestor to Neanderthals and modern humans.

    The new find appears to be from the same species, researchers said.

    A team co-led by Eudald Carbonell, director of the Catalan Institute of Human Paleo-Ecology and Social Evolution, reported their find in Thursday's issue of the scientific journal Nature.

    The timing of the earliest occupation of Europe by humans that emerged from Africa has been controversial for many years.

    Some archeologists believe the process was a stop-and-go one in which species of hominins — a group that includes the extinct relatives of modern humans — emerged and died out quickly only to be replaced by others, making for a very slow spread across the continent, Carbonell said in an interview.

    Until now the oldest hominin fossils found in Europe were the Homo antecessor ones, also found at Atapuerca, but at a separate digging site, and a skull from Ceprano in Italy.

    Carbonell's team has tentatively classified the new fossil as representing an earlier example of Homo antecessor. And, critically, the team says the new one also bears similarities to much-older fossils dug up since 1983 in the Caucasus at a place called Dmanisi, in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. These were dated as being up to 1.8 million years old.

    "This leads us to a very important, very interesting conclusion," Carbonell said. It is this: that hominins which emerged from Africa and settled in the Caucasus eventually evolved into Homo antecessor, and that the latter populated Europe not 800,000 years ago, but at least 1.3 million years ago.

    "This discovery of a 1.3 million-year-old fossil shows the process was accelerated and continuous; that the occupation of Europe happened very early and much faster than we had thought," Carbonell said.

    Chris Stringer, a leading researcher in human origins at the Natural History Museum in London and not involved in the project, said Carbonell's team had done solid dating work to estimate the antiquity of the new Atapuerca fossil by employing three separate techniques — some researchers only use one or two — including a relatively new one that measures radioactive decay of sediments.

    "This is a well-dated site, as much as any site that age can be," Stringer said.

    But he also expressed some caution about Carbonell's conclusions.

    First of all, the newly found jawbone fragment, which measures about two inches long and has teeth attached to it, preserves a section not seen in the equivalent pieces found at Atapuerca in 1997. So assigning both to the same species must be provisional, Stringer said.

    And on the broader issue of tracing the new fossil back to the species unearthed at Dmanisi — Carbonell's big leap arguing continuity — Stringer said this too must be tentative because it is based on just a piece of a front of a jawbone and the time lapse is half a million years.

    "That is a long period of time to talk about continuity," Stringer said.

    Still, there are similarities between the two and this along with other archaeological evidence, suggests southern Europe did in fact begin to be colonized from western Asia not long after humans emerged from Africa — "something which many of us would have doubted even five years ago," Stringer said.

    Carbonell says that with the finding of human fossils 1.3 million years old in Europe, researchers can now expect to find older ones, even up to 1.8 million years old, in other parts of the continent.

    "This has to be the next discovery," he said. "This is the scientific hypothesis."
  2. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Göbekli Tepe

    An early Neolithic mountain sanctuary in the foothills of the Taurus in southeast Turkey

    The early Neolithic Göbekli Tepe, a mound some 300 m in diameter with an accumulation of 15 m, is situated on the highest point of a mountain ridge. It stands out from afar, a feature dominating the landscape. From the site one can see the great Taurus range and Karadağ to the north and the east, and to the south the Harran Plain stretching away to Syria. Only in the west is the horizon blocked by high spines that rise nearer by, cutting Şanlıurfa off from the Euphrates Valley further westward.

    History of Research

    As early as 1963 Göbekli Tepe had been pinpointed as an archaeological site in the course of a Turkish-American survey, and in 1980 appeared Peter Benedict's report on the mound. The full significance of the site, however, was not yet apparent. The flanks of the rise, strewn with large cut blocks of masonry as well as countless implements of chipped stone, certainly did not bring to mind an establishment from mankind's earliest period of settlement, i.e. from the time the Paleolithic/Mesolithic hunters were first shifting to a sedentary life of farming. Only further investigation would reveal the special significance of this mound, which gradually rose layer upon layer like Schliemann's Troy, but dates at least five thousand years earlier than the "City of Priam." 

    Previous Activities

    The excavations of the Şanlıurfa Museum and the DAI in Istanbul begun in 1995 and since 2001 have continued in cooperation with the Orient-Abteilung of the German Archaeological Institute. The annual campaigns since 1995 have brought neither residences nor fortifications to light, but instead monumental and megalithic circular configurations previously unknown, beyond any shadow of a doubt religious in function. Monolithic pilasters, each weighing tons, were bound into a circle by segments of wall that enclosed them on the interior and the exterior as if to form a temenos. In the center, towering above all, stood a single pair of pillars. On these were large-scale reliefs of wild beasts: lions and bulls, wild boars, foxes and snakes. The sculpture provides a glimpse of a pictorial tongue, the meaning of which-like the overall significance of the structures-will continue to stimulate much scholarly controversy. What has now become clear is that the earliest architectural forms yet known were by no means small and unpretentious, but astoundingly monumental in character. It is only in the upper building levels at Göbekli Tepe that we see a transformation of these circular structures intomuch smaller forms, some constructed with quadrilateral plans as well.

    Current Work

    During the 12th campaign, which ended on 20 October 2006, excavation concentrated on widening the surface area to enable a complete exposure of the four great pillar-structures A through D; in the previous three seasons excavation had focused on the very center of the site. Outstanding among the 2006 discoveries are the sculpture of a wild beast in Structure C and a pillar with particularly ornate relief in Structure D.


    Paleozoological and paleobotanical studies running parallel to the excavation indicate that the population whose achievements we see at Göbekli Tepe represented an economic stage of development still dependent upon wild prey. The economic motor of the Neolithic village, forerunner of the oriental city, still lay far beyond the horizon. Only a collection of hunters who assembled on the mountain as if to attend an "Olympic council" could have been responsible for the outlay of labor necessary to erect this architecture. "First came the temple, then the city" would seem descriptive of the phenomenon we see here. It remains the role of future excavation either to confirm or discredit this conclusion.
    The most recent building phase at Göbekli Tepe (Level II) has been dated both comparatively and absolutely (C14) to ca 8000 BC, with an earlier primary building phase (Level III) ending as early as 9000 BC. The age of the earliest occupation cannot yet be determined; the depth of the deposit, however, would suggest a period of several millennia, which signifies that the site had already existed in early Paleolithic times. Level I refers to the accumulation of sediment on the lower slopes of the rise, often considerably deep, occasioned by natural erosion and recently intensified by agriculture. 

    Source. I met some participants of the excavations, and considered applying for participating myself for a few months, but having no previous active archaeological experience, that didn't happen.
  3. Forostar

    Forostar Conjure the Death Star again

    I also thought such work might be interesting to experience. But volunteers weren't needed either?
  4. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Most diggers were from the area. My institute offered spots for two students to participate.
  5. Forostar

    Forostar Conjure the Death Star again

    Thomas Edison has been dethroned as the father of recorded sound. Very old sound recording discovered! - check out site to hear it.

    Researchers Play Tune Recorded Before Edison
    By JODY ROSEN / Published: March 27, 2008

    For more than a century, since he captured the spoken words “Mary had a little lamb” on a sheet of tinfoil, Thomas Edison has been considered the father of recorded sound. But researchers say they have unearthed a recording of the human voice, made by a little-known Frenchman, that predates Edison’s invention of the phonograph by nearly two decades.

    The 10-second recording of a singer crooning the folk song “Au Clair de la Lune” was discovered earlier this month in an archive in Paris by a group of American audio historians. It was made, the researchers say, on April 9, 1860, on a phonautograph, a machine designed to record sounds visually, not to play them back. But the phonautograph recording, or phonautogram, was made playable — converted from squiggles on paper to sound — by scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif.

    “This is a historic find, the earliest known recording of sound,” said Samuel Brylawski, the former head of the recorded-sound division of the Library of Congress, who is not affiliated with the research group but who was familiar with its findings. The audio excavation could give a new primacy to the phonautograph, once considered a curio, and its inventor, Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville, a Parisian typesetter and tinkerer who went to his grave convinced that credit for his breakthroughs had been improperly bestowed on Edison.

    Scott’s device had a barrel-shaped horn attached to a stylus, which etched sound waves onto sheets of paper blackened by smoke from an oil lamp. The recordings were not intended for listening; the idea of audio playback had not been conceived. Rather, Scott sought to create a paper record of human speech that could later be deciphered.

    But the Lawrence Berkeley scientists used optical imaging and a “virtual stylus” on high-resolution scans of the phonautogram, deploying modern technology to extract sound from patterns inscribed on the soot-blackened paper almost a century and a half ago. The scientists belong to an informal collaborative called First Sounds that also includes audio historians and sound engineers.

    David Giovannoni, an American audio historian who led the research effort, will present the findings and play the recording in public on Friday at the annual conference of the Association for Recorded Sound Collections at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif.

    Scott’s 1860 phonautogram was made 17 years before Edison received a patent for the phonograph and 28 years before an Edison associate captured a snippet of a Handel oratorio on a wax cylinder, a recording that until now was widely regarded by experts as the oldest that could be played back.

    Mr. Giovannoni’s presentation on Friday will showcase additional Scott phonautograms discovered in Paris, including recordings made in 1853 and 1854. Those first experiments included attempts to capture the sounds of a human voice and a guitar, but Scott’s machine was at that time imperfectly calibrated.

    “We got the early phonautograms to squawk, that’s about it,” Mr. Giovannoni said.

    But the April 1860 phonautogram is more than a squawk. On a digital copy of the recording provided to The New York Times, the anonymous vocalist, probably female, can be heard against a hissing, crackling background din. The voice, muffled but audible, sings, “Au clair de la lune, Pierrot répondit” in a lilting 11-note melody — a ghostly tune, drifting out of the sonic murk.

    The hunt for this audio holy grail was begun in the fall by Mr. Giovannoni and three associates: Patrick Feaster, an expert in the history of the phonograph who teaches at Indiana University, and Richard Martin and Meagan Hennessey, owners of Archeophone Records, a label specializing in early sound recordings. They had collaborated on the Archeophone album “Actionable Offenses,” a collection of obscene 19th-century records that received two Grammy nominations. When Mr. Giovannoni raised the possibility of compiling an anthology of the world’s oldest recorded sounds, Mr. Feaster suggested they go digging for Scott’s phonautograms.

    Historians have long been aware of Scott’s work. But the American researchers believe they are the first to make a concerted search for Scott’s phonautograms or attempt to play them back.

    In December Mr. Giovannoni and a research assistant traveled to a patent office in Paris, the Institut National de la Propriété Industrielle. There he found recordings from 1857 and 1859 that were included by Scott in his phonautograph patent application. Mr. Giovannoni said that he worked with the archive staff there to make high-resolution, preservation-grade digital scans of these recordings.

    A trail of clues, including a cryptic reference in Scott’s writings to phonautogram deposits made at “the Academy,” led the researchers to another Paris institution, the French Academy of Sciences, where several more of Scott’s recordings were stored. Mr. Giovannoni said that his eureka moment came when he laid eyes on the April 1860 phonautogram, an immaculately preserved sheet of rag paper 9 inches by 25 inches.

    “It was pristine,” Mr. Giovannoni said. “The sound waves were remarkably clear and clean.”

    His scans were sent to the Lawrence Berkeley lab, where they were converted into sound by the scientists Carl Haber and Earl Cornell. They used a technology developed several years ago in collaboration with the Library of Congress, in which high-resolution “maps” of grooved records are played on a computer using a digital stylus. The 1860 phonautogram was separated into 16 tracks, which Mr. Giovannoni, Mr. Feaster and Mr. Martin meticulously stitched back together, making adjustments for variations in the speed of Scott’s hand-cranked recording.

    Listeners are now left to ponder the oddity of hearing a recording made before the idea of audio playback was even imagined.

    “There is a yawning epistemic gap between us and Léon Scott, because he thought that the way one gets to the truth of sound is by looking at it,” said Jonathan Sterne, a professor at McGill University in Montreal and the author of “The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction.”

    Scott is in many ways an unlikely hero of recorded sound. Born in Paris in 1817, he was a man of letters, not a scientist, who worked in the printing trade and as a librarian. He published a book on the history of shorthand, and evidently viewed sound recording as an extension of stenography. In a self-published memoir in 1878, he railed against Edison for “appropriating” his methods and misconstruing the purpose of recording technology. The goal, Scott argued, was not sound reproduction, but “writing speech, which is what the word phonograph means.”

    In fact, Edison arrived at his advances on his own. There is no evidence that Edison drew on knowledge of Scott’s work to create his phonograph, and he retains the distinction of being the first to reproduce sound.

    “Edison is not diminished whatsoever by this discovery,” Mr. Giovannoni said.

    Paul Israel, director of the Thomas A. Edison Papers at Rutgers University in Piscataway, N.J., praised the discovery as a “tremendous achievement,” but called Edison’s phonograph a more significant technological feat.

    “What made Edison different from Scott was that he was trying to reproduce sound and he succeeded,” Mr. Israel said.

    But history is finally catching up with Scott.

    Mr. Sterne, the McGill professor, said: “We are in a period that is more similar to the 1860s than the 1880s. With computers, there is an unprecedented visualization of sound.”

    The acclaim Scott sought may turn out to have been assured by the very sonic reproduction he disdained. And it took a group of American researchers to rescue Scott’s work from the musty vaults of his home city. In his memoir, Scott scorned his American rival Edison and made brazen appeals to French nationalism. “What are the rights of the discoverer versus the improver?” he wrote less than a year before his death in 1879. “Come, Parisians, don’t let them take our prize.”

    The audio historian David Giovannoni with a recently discovered phonautogram that is among the earliest sound recordings.

    The 19th-century phonautograph, which captured sounds visually but did not play them back, has yielded a discovery with help from modern technology.
  6. Forostar

    Forostar Conjure the Death Star again

    Youngest Planet Ever Discovered Offers Unique View Of Planet Formation

    ScienceDaily (Apr. 2, 2008) — Using radio observatories in the UK and US and computer simulations, a team of astronomers have identified the youngest forming planet yet seen. Team leader Dr Jane Greaves of the University of St Andrews will discuss the ‘protoplanet’ in her talk at the RAS National Astronomy Meeting in Belfast on April 2.

    Taking advantage of a rare opportunity to use the Very Large Array (VLA) of radio telescopes in the US with the special addition of an extra telescope 50 km away, the team studied the disk of gas and rocky particles around the star HL Tau. This star is thought to be less than 100000 years old (by comparison the Sun is 4600 million years old) and lies in the direction of the constellation of Taurus at a distance of 520 light years. The disk around HL Tau is unusually massive and bright, which makes it an excellent place to search for signs of forming planets.

    The VLA gives very sharp images of HL Tau and its surroundings. The team studied the system using radio emission at a wavelength of 1.3 cm, specifically chosen to search for the emission from super-large rocky particles about the size of pebbles. The presence of these pebbles is a clue that rocky material is beginning to clump together to form planets.

    In the UK, scientists used the MERLIN array of radio telescopes centred on Jodrell Bank in Cheshire, to study the same system at longer wavelengths. This allowed the astronomers to confirm that the emission is from rocks and not from other sources such as hot gas. Jodrell Bank scientists Dr Anita Richards and Dr Tom Muxlow analysed the data.

    The big surprise was that, as well as detecting super-large dust in the disk around HL Tau, an extra bright 'clump' was seen in the image. It confirms tentative ‘nebulosity’ reported a few years earlier at around the same position, by a team lead by Dr Jack Welch of the Berkeley-Illinois-Maryland Array. The new image shows the same system in much greater detail.

    Dr Greaves comments, “We see a distinct orbiting ball of gas and dust, which is exactly how a very young protoplanet should look. In the future, we would expect this to condense out into a gas giant planet like a massive version of Jupiter. The protoplanet is about 14 times as massive as Jupiter and is about twice as far from HL Tau as Neptune is from our Sun.”

    Dr Richards adds, “The new object, designated HL Tau b, is the youngest planetary object ever seen and is just 1 percent as old as the young planet found in orbit around the star TW Hydrae that made the news last year. HL Tau b gives a unique view of how planets take shape, because the VLA image also shows the parent disk material from which it formed.”

    Team member Dr Ken Rice of the University of Edinburgh ran a computer simulation to find out how such a massive protoplanet could form. His animation shows a very similar body condensing out of a disk with similar properties to that actually observed around HL Tau. The planet forms because of gravitational instability in the disk, which is about half as massive as the star itself. This allows small regions to separate out and cool down into self-contained structures. This instability mechanism has been controversial, but the simulated and real data are such a good match that it seems the mechanism really does operate in nature.

    Dr Rice comments, “The simulations were as realistic as we could make them and we were delighted that the results compare so well with the observations.”

    One intriguing property is that XZ Tau, another young star in the same region, may have passed near HL Tau about 1600 years ago. Although not required for planet formation, it is possible that this flyby 'tweaked' the disk and helped it become unstable. This would be a very recent event in astronomical terms. Whether the proto-planet formed in only the last few hundred years, or sometime in the 100000 years since the birth of HL Tau, the images provide a unique view of planet formation in action, and the first picture of a protoplanet still embedded in its birth material.

    This is an image from the computer simulation of HL Tau and its surrounding disk. In the model the dense clump (seen here at top right) forms with a mass of about 8 times that of Jupiter at a distance from the star about 75 times that from the Earth to the Sun.

    Adapted from materials provided by Royal Astronomical Society.
  7. Forostar

    Forostar Conjure the Death Star again

    Veil of mystery hangs over wreck of Sydney


    The discovery of the wreck of HMAS Sydney last month was met with excitement and jubilation for most Australians although why there had been no survivors will never be known.

    THE greatest Australian mystery is still unsolved – and unlikely to be satisfactorily resolved – after 66 years of extensive search, scientific researches, critical analyses and deep probing to get to the truth.

    Although the Naval Association of Australia regards last month’s finding of the wreck of HMAS Sydney, which was the nation’s pride during World War II, as having solved the mystery, the Chief of the Navy, Vice Admiral Russ Shalders, insists there is still work to be done to unlock the mystery.

    In fact, the crux of the mystery is not what happened to the cruiser after it was engaged in a battle with a German raider Kormoran off the coast of Western Australia on Nov 19, 1941.

    It is really the question of why none of the 645 crew had survived or jumped overboard from the sinking Sydney when it was torpedoed by the freighter disguised as a Dutch merchant ship. How could it be that all of them had disappeared without a trace – until now, assuming that their remains are in the wreck?

    Yet, 317 of the Kormoran’s 397-strong crew survived after the freighter, which was burning, also sank about 1,500m away from the Sydney.

    But last month’s significant discovery after more than six decades of numerous searches also surprised the team of the government-sponsored Finding Sydney Foundation and the Royal Australian Navy that the wrecks were further apart than it was originally thought.

    The 7300-tonne Sydney was the biggest warship from any country to be lost with no survivors during the war.

    There had been no messages from it, no distress calls and no visual sightings or violent explosion except the statements of the German survivors of the Kormoran, who were picked up and held as prisoners of war.

    Ever since then, the fate of the Sydney had fascinated Australians with numerous TV programmes, articles and books about it.

    Its disappearance has remained an enduring mystery – and controversy with all sorts of conspiracy theories and some kind of official cover-up – of what actually happened.

    One theory by author Michael Montgomery of the book Who Sank The Sydney? and son of the cruiser’s navigation officer, claimed that the cruiser was not sunk by the German raider but by Japanese submarines at a time when Japan was about to enter the war.

    His claim seemed plausible but a 4,710-page report of the Australian parliamentary committee of inquiry in 1999 dismissed it under its methodology of determining “what a reasonable person would believe and looked at the balance of probabilities”.

    So was the dismissal of another theory that Kormoran was working in conjunction with the Japanese whose aircraft were seen flying over Western Australia’s country towns of Geraldton and Derby and the Townville areas in northern Queensland at about the time.

    One question raised in a document is quite intriguing. It argued that why ask an official historian to produce a historical record of what happened to the cruiser when he was also told at the same time that certain information relating to the ship’s disappearance was classified as restricted.

    It pointed out that certain documents and records have not been made available to the public even today, not even to the next-of-kin of the Sydney crew.

    However, news of the Sydney’s disappearance shocked the nation, particularly the city of Sydney after which the cruiser was named. The city, described by its mayor as “suffering the greatest heartache in history”, was in mourning as the people could not comprehend how the cruiser had disappeared with its entire crew without a trace.

    They found it hard to believe that no survivors had been found. They knew that even when a ship was scuttled or abandoned, there would always be some survivors.

    But the discovery of the Sydney’s wreck by the foundation’s search team under US-born David Mearns came with a mixture of emotion, excitement and jubilation for most Australians although the truth on why there had been no survivors will never be known.

    Mearns, who felt “a summit of pure delight and exhilaration” when he realised he had found the ship, had used the latest high-resolution sonar device that was dragged behind his vessel Geosounder to locate it nearly 3,000m under the sea and about 10 nautical miles west of Steep Point near Shark Bay. His team also found the Kormoran 24 hours earlier about 100 nautical miles from the shore.

    As an American shipwreck hunter, Mearns was responsible for the finding of the wrecks of the British cruiser HMS Hood and the Birsmarck, the German battleship that sank the British ship in the North Atlantic in 1941.

    Sonar images, released last week, show that the Sydney is largely intact and upright on the seabed. A section of about 25m at the cruiser’s bow was missing.

    Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has declared the sites of the Sydney and Kormoran wrecks as war graves and placed them under protection.

    He hopes the discovery of the Sydney would provide “some closure” for the families and relatives of its crew – words that indicate, perhaps, the mystery of the missing crew may well be one of those “unknown or unknowable” as the parliamentary committee once acknowledged.
  8. Forostar

    Forostar Conjure the Death Star again

    First Dinosaur Tracks Discovered On Arabian Peninsula

    ScienceDaily (May 21, 2008) — Scientists have discovered the first dinosaur tracks on the Arabian Peninsula. They have discovered evidence of a large ornithopod dinosaur, as well as a herd of 11 sauropods walking along a Mesozoic coastal mudflat in what is now the Republic of Yemen.

    "No dinosaur trackways had been found in this area previously. It's really a blank spot on the map," said Anne Schulp of the Maastricht Museum of Natural History in The Netherlands. He conducted the study with Ohio University paleontologist Nancy Stevens and Mohammed Al-Wosabi of Sana'a University in Yemen.

    The finding also is an excellent example of dinosaur herding behavior, the researchers report. The site preserved footprints of 11 small and large sauropods -- long-necked, herbivorous dinosaurs that lived in the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods -- traveling together at the same speed.

    "It's rare to see such a big example of a dinosaur herd," Schulp said. "This is interesting social behavior for reptiles."

    A Yemeni journalist spotted one of the trackways in 2003, about 50 kilometers north of the capital of Sana'a in the village of Madar. Stevens, Al-Wosabi and Schulp identified it as the footprint of an ornithopod, a large, common plant-eater sometimes referred to as the "cow of the Mesozoic," Schulp said. It walked on its hind legs.

    Only a few dinosaur fossils have been reported so far from the Arabian Peninsula, including isolated bones from the Sultanate of Oman, which Schulp has studied, and possible fragments of a long-necked dinosaur from Yemen.

    In late 2006, the research team conducted further field work at the Madar site. By taking measurements on the shape and angle of the different digits, they were able to identify the bipedal dinosaur as an ornithopod. The size, shape and spacing of the quadrupedal prints were used to identify the body size, travel speed and other distinguishing features of the animals in the sauropod herd, Stevens said.

    The rocks in which the dinosaur tracks are preserved are likely Late Jurassic in age, some 150 million years old, according to Al-Wosabi. The tracks probably went unnoticed for so long, Schulp explained, because they were too big to be spotted by the untrained eye and were partially covered by rubble and debris. "It isn't a surprise that they were overlooked," he said.

    Though ornithopods and sauropods overlapped in time, it's a bit unusual to find evidence of such a big ornithopod in the late Jurassic, the researchers noted.

    "We really want to learn when did which dinosaurs live where, and why was that?" Schulp said. "How did the distribution change over time, why did one replace another and move from one place to another?"

    The researchers agreed that discoveries from Yemen could yield more answers to those questions.

    "This international collaboration provides an exciting new window into evolutionary history from a critically undersampled region," said Stevens, an assistant professor in Ohio University's College of Osteopathic Medicine. "These trackways help us to assemble a more detailed picture of what was happening on the southern landmasses. It's exciting to see new paleontological data coming out of Yemen -- and I think there is a lot more to discover."

    The Yemen Geological Survey has implemented protective measures to preserve the trackways and to improve their accessibility to tourists, the researchers report.

    Partial funding for the research was provided by the Yemen Geological Survey and Ohio University.

    Journal reference: Schulp AS, Al-Wosabi M, Stevens NJ (2008) First Dinosaur Tracks from the Arabian Peninsula. PLoS One 3(5): e2243. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0002243 [link]

    Image of ornithopod trackway
  9. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Oldest vertebrate fish mother discovered
    Wed May 28, 2008

    SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian scientists unveiled on Thursday the fossilized remains of the oldest vertebrate mother ever discovered, a 375-million-year-old placoderm fish with embryo and umbilical cord attached.

    The fossil, found in the Gogo area of northwest Australia, is proof that an ancient species had advanced reproductive biology, comparable to modern sharks and rays, said John Long, head of sciences at the Museum of Victoria in Melbourne.

    "It is not only the first time ever that a fossil embryo has been found with an umbilical cord, but it is also the oldest known example of any creature giving birth to live young," Long told Reuters.

    The placoderms, often referred to as "the dinosaurs of the seas", were the rulers of the world's lakes and seas for almost 70 million years. Most species of the armored fish were quite small but some reached over 20 feet in length.

    Placoderms are from the late Devonian period when land animals evolved from fish.

    "This discovery changes our understanding of the evolution of vertebrates," Long said.

    "It will make us rethink the early evolution of vertebrate in terms of how reproduction has driven evolutionary events."

    Long said little was known about how reproductive changes from spawning eggs to internal fertilization affected the evolution species.

    The scientists have published their finding in the latest Nature journal (http://www.nature.com/nature).

    "The new specimen, remarkably preserved in three dimensions, contains a single, intra-uterine embryo connected by a permineralized umbilical cord. An amorphous crystalline mass near the umbilical cord possibly represents the recrystallized yolk sac," wrote the scientists.

    "Our new example extends the definite record of vertebrate viviparity (giving birth to live young) back by some 200 million years," the scientists wrote in the journal.

    They said the new discovery points to internal fertilization and viviparity in vertebrates as originating earliest within placoderms.

    The Australian scientists have named their 25-cm fossil, Materpiscis attenboroughi, in honor of Sir David Attenborough, who first drew attention to the Gogo fish sites in the 1979 series Life on Earth.

    "The existence of the embryo and umbilical cord within the specimen provides scientists with the first ever example of internal fertilization, sex, confirming that some placoderms had remarkably advanced reproductive biology," said Long.

    "This is the first bit of evidence on how a complete extinct class of animals may have reproduced."

    The fossil will go on display in the foyer of Melbourne Museum from May 29.


    Source: Michael Perry - Reuters
  10. LooseCannon

    LooseCannon Yorktown-class aircraft carrier Staff Member

    Are we lumping archeology and paleontology into one thread now?
  11. Perun

    Perun Climbing like a monkey Staff Member

    Don't be so picky.
  12. LooseCannon

    LooseCannon Yorktown-class aircraft carrier Staff Member

    I know Baysfield isn't rock and roll, Steve.  The Isle of Mann wasn't rock and roll till the bloody Beatles played there.  I know the Beatles never played the Isle of Mann, Steve.  Don't be so fucking pedantic!
  13. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Do you mean Bayswater?

    Do you mean the Isle of Man?

    And yes, I'm being pedandic!  :p
  14. LooseCannon

    LooseCannon Yorktown-class aircraft carrier Staff Member

    I haven't heard that sketch in like...1.5 years, so maybe it was from memory when I was still waking up.

    So be pedantic, Mav. :p
  15. Natalie

    Natalie Insect of Terror Staff Member

    I saw a documentary on the 2002 discovery of a complete skeleton of Thylacoleo, a giant marsupial meat-eater believed to have lived in Australia around the time when they had giant wallabees, wombats, and kangaroos. The skeleton in question is estimated to be about half a million years old and was found in Western Australia.

  16. national acrobat

    national acrobat Ancient Mariner

    I once found an old army belt on a beach in Normandy. As a 10 year old, needless to say I was well chuffed.
  17. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Fossil fills out water-land leap

    Scientists say a fossil of a four-legged fish sheds new light on the process of evolution.

    The creature had a fish-like body but the head of an animal more suited to land than water.

    The researchers' study, published in the journal Nature, says Ventastega curonica would have looked similar to a small alligator.

    Scientists say the 365-million-year-old species eventually became an evolutionary dead end.

    An impression of Ventastega pictured with its fossil skull

    Counting digits

    About one hundred million years before dinosaurs began to roam the Earth, Ventastega was to be found in the shallow waters and tidal estuaries of modern day Latvia.

    According to lead author, Professor Per Ahlberg, from Uppsala University, Sweden, this creature had the head of a tetrapod, an animal adapted to live on land. The body, though, was fish-like but with four primitive flippers.

    "From a distance, it would have looked like an alligator. But closer up, you would have noticed a real tail fin at the back end, a gill flap at the side of the head; also lines of pores snaking across head and body.

    "In terms of construction, it had already undergone most of the changes from fish towards land animal, but in terms of lifestyle you are still looking at an animal that is habitually aquatic."

    Experts believe that Ventastega was an important staging post in the evolutionary journey that led creatures from the sea to the land. Scientists once believed that these early amphibious animals descended in a linear fashion, but this discovery instead confirms these creatures diversified into different branches along the way.

    Professor Ahlberg points to the discovery of a fossil called Tiktaalik in Canada in 2004. It is believed to be the "missing link" in the gap between fish and land mammals. Ventastega is a later species but is a more primitive form of transition animal.

    "Ventastega fills the gap between Tiktaalik and the earliest land based mammals. All these changes in these creatures are not going in lockstep; it's a mosaic with different parts of animal evolving at different rates. Ventastega has acquired some of land-animal characteristics, but has not yet got some of the other ones."

    For instance, the creature had primitive feet - but with a high number of digits.

    The famous Tiktaalik fossil

    Superb sands

    "I would draw the inference that Ventastega probably had limbs very much like Acanthostega (another transitional species). These were little things sticking out of the sides, with a strangely high number of digits. You would have seven, eight, maybe even nine toes per foot, rather than five or so which you would expect to find in modern day animals," the Uppsala scientist explained.

    Unfortunately for Ventastega, a multitude of toes does not inevitably lead to evolutionary success. It eventually died out. Other creatures went on to become our very distant land-living ancestors.

    Scientists are delighted with the quality of these Latvian fossils, saying they are really well preserved. Professor Ahlberg believes it is due to some of the geological characteristics of the area.

    "This region has had a very quiet geological history since that time, and as a result the rocks have not been folded or squashed up to form mountains.

    "We still find sediments not yet properly turned to rock. These fossils were found in compact, wet sand. It's not sandstone, it's sand; you dig it with a breadknife.

    "Once you take it back to the lab very carefully, you can remove the remainder of the sand with brushes and needles. These fossils are fragile but superbly preserved. They are actually three dimensional, not flat. It makes it very easy to interpret the skeleton."

    Source: Matt McGrath - BBC science correspondent
  18. Forostar

    Forostar Conjure the Death Star again

    Roman watchtower discovered in Nijmegen

    Excavations in Nijmegen have revealed the foundations of a Roman watchtower, a city wall and a moat. All three were constructed in 160 AD as part of the town's defence works. Nijmegen, the oldest town in the Netherlands, was under Roman rule at the time. Archeological finds are fairly common there, but this is the first time remains of a Roman watchtower have been discovered.
  19. LooseCannon

    LooseCannon Yorktown-class aircraft carrier Staff Member

    Ah, the watchtower.  That's where they stationed Centurion Naughtius Maximus.
  20. Onhell

    Onhell Mexican Revolutionary

    he opened the first porn shop soon after.

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