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Showing posts with label Archeology and Paleontology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Archeology and Paleontology. Show all posts

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Discovery of a new Tyrannosaurus dinosaur in Canada


Julius Csotonyi / The University of Calgary and Ro

About 80 million years ago, a formidable Saurian predator from the T. rex family roamed the plains of present-day Canada, meticulously tracking down its prey with spectacular efficiency. This dinosaur, discovered by a team of Canadian paleontologists, received the name of "reaper of death". This important discovery will allow paleontologists to reconstruct the Tyrannosaurus lineage in more detail.

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Canadian paleontologists have announced the discovery of a new species of dinosaur closely related to Tyrannosaurus rex , which roamed the plain of North America about 80 million years ago. Thanatotheristes degrootorum (from the Greek for "death harvester") is the oldest member of the T. rex family discovered to date in northern North America and has reached a length of about 8 meters. T. degrootorum is the tenth tyrannosaurid species identified in North America.

“We have chosen a name that embodies what this tyrannosaurus was: the only known large predator of its time in Canada, the reaper of death. The nickname has become Thanatos,” said Darla Zelenitsky, study co-author and professor of dinosaur paleobiology at the University of Canada.



While T. rex - the most famous of all dinosaur species - tracked its prey about 66 million years ago, Thanatos dates back at least 79 million years. The specimen is the first new tyrannosaurus species found in Canada in 50 years.

Artist's impression of the new dinosaur. Credits: Julius Csotonyi / The University of Calgary and Ro

“There are very few species of tyrannosaurids. Due to the nature of the food chain, these large top predators were rare compared to herbivorous or herbivorous dinosaurs," said Zelenitsky in an article published in the journal Cretaceous Research .

The study found that Thanatos had a long, deep snout, similar to that of the more primitive tyrannosaurs that lived in the southern United States. The researchers suggested that the difference in skull shape of the tyrannosaurs between regions could have been due to differences in diet and also in prey available at the time.




Bibliography:

A new tyrannosaurine (Theropoda:Tyrannosauridae) from the Campanian Foremost Formation of Alberta, Canada, provides insight into the evolution and biogeography of tyrannosaurids

Authors: Jared T.Vorisa, Caleb M.Brown ....

Cretaceous Research

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cretres.2020.104388

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

New clues clarify symbolism of Easter Island statues


For hundreds of years, around 1000 monoliths have stood on Easter Island (Rapa Nui). Called moai (or moai) , the objective of these statues has always been a mystery for anthropologists. Several hypotheses suggest that they are linked to fertility, renewal and abundance. Recently, a team of archaeologists has uncovered evidence confirming this link.

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More than 90% of the moai statues were carved in a quarry called Rano Raraku: a volcanic crater which, at its base, represents less than 1% of the total area of ​​the island, but nevertheless served as a unique source of stone used to make the statues of the island. However, Rano Raraku is not limited to cut stone, according to the researchers, based on an analysis of soil samples taken in the region.



According to the research team, it was an industrial site used to temporarily produce and store the moai before it was removed and transported to other places on the island. However, almost 400 of the monoliths remain in the quarry, and some are buried in the ground with the support of fortified rock structures which suggest that the placement is not temporary. The reason would be the soil rich in calcium and phosphorus, nutrients necessary for the growth of plants and crops.

Several hundred moai are still present in the quarry used to make them. Credit: Easter Island Statue Project

In addition to evidence of soil fertility, researchers also found traces of ancient crops in the samples, including bananas, taro, sweet potatoes, and Chinese mulberry.

These signs show, according to the researchers, that in addition to using the quarry for producing the moai, the Rapa Nui company also used the space as a place to grow the food they needed, taking advantage of the rich soils. and plowed Rano Raraku, which would have produced higher yields with lower labor costs

Why were the moai also erected in the crater, in the middle of the earth from which they themselves were produced? It has long been theorized that the ceremonial purpose of monoliths was associated with fertility rituals, and researchers say their field work provides chemical evidence for this link - not to mention the discovery of carved pits, suggesting that the moai were probably erected to stand and “watch indefinitely” on this fertile ground.




Bibliography:

New excavations in Easter Island's statue quarry: Soil fertility, site formation and chronology

Authors: Sarah C.SherwoodaJ  AnneVan Tilburg Casey R.Barrier MarkHorrocks Richard K.DunnfJosé MiguelRamírez-Aliaga

Journal of Archaeological Science
Volume 111, November 2019, 104994

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2019.104994

Saturday, 14 December 2019

Grave of Celtic warrior reveals "most important British Celtic art object of the millennium"



Although it has been studied for a long time by archaeologists, Celtic culture still holds many mysteries. The funeral practices of the Celts are known to be complex, the living bringing all possible help to the deceased to continue their life in the afterlife. The tomb of a 2,200-year-old Celtic warrior recently discovered in the United Kingdom, containing various objects including a particularly ornate shield, confirms these ancestral practices.

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Among the finds in the tomb is an ornate shield described as "the most important British Celtic art object of the millennium" by archaeologist Melanie Giles of the University of Manchester.

Made in an ancient Celtic art style known as La Tène, the shield has an unusual scalloped edge and a triple spiral design called a triskele. The shield also shows organic shapes such as mollusc shells, as well as repair marks.



“ Popular belief is that elaborate metal-faced shields were purely ceremonial, reflecting status, but not used in battle. Our investigation disputes this with evidence of a puncture break in the shield, typical of a sword. Repair marks can also be seen, suggesting that the shield was not only old but also likely to have been used, "said archaeologist Paula Ware of the MAP Archaeological Practice.

Accompanying the deceased in the afterlife

Measuring 75 centimeters in diameter, the shield was made by hammering a bronze sheet from below. All of the leather and wooden accessories that once existed on the defensive weapon have since rotten. Besides the shield, the tomb also features what appears to be a chariot, with horses - although it is unclear whether the horses were sacrificed for burial or had already died before.

Shield found in the Celtic tomb. Credits: MAP Archaeological Practice

Seeing all these weapons, a means of transport and provisions piled up in the tomb indicates how seriously the Celtic tribes of the time envisaged the passage into the afterlife. The society in which this warrior would have lived would have wanted to help him as much as possible in everything that was to follow.

Remains of horses exhumed in the grave. Credits: MAP Archaeological Practice

The possibility of natural death
It is believed that the man himself was in his late forties or more when he died, around 320-174 BCE. Nothing like this type of burial has ever been seen in the UK before, although another grave with chariot and horse was discovered in Bulgaria in 2013.

These latest findings have not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal, but come from a funeral site originally discovered in 2018, near the town of Pocklington, Yorkshire. A red glass brooch and pig remains (another potential animal sacrifice) were also discovered in the same grave.

“ We don't know how the man died. There is blunt trauma but they would not have killed him. I don't think he died in combat; it is very likely that he died in "old age" "concludes Ware.




Bibliography:

Article: Iron Age shield found in Pocklington is "one of most important ancient finds this millennium"

Source

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

More than 140 new Nazca geoglyphs have been discovered


In 1927, archaeologists discovered for the first time from the air stylized representations of humans, animals and objects of various sizes (between a few tens of meters and several kilometers) drawn in the soil of the Nazca desert in southern Peru. Called the Nazca Geoglyphs, the purpose in which they were traced by the Nazca civilization is still unknown. Recently, a team of archaeologists discovered 143 new geoglyphs, including one thanks to artificial intelligence . This discovery could help to better understand the functions of these representations.

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Scientists have discovered more than 140 new geoglyphs, known as Nazca Geoglyphs (or Nazca Lines): an ancient and mysterious group of giant characters engraved in the desert of southern Peru. These massive and sprawling representations of human beings, animals and objects can be as old as 2500 years old and so impressive that many of them can only be identified from the air.

Archaeologists at the Japanese University of Yamagata report that a long-term study conducted since 2004 has uncovered 143 previously unknown Nazca geoglyphs, including a figure who escaped human detection and discovered by artificial intelligence.

Humanoid geoglyph (about 10 meters long). Credits: Yamagata University

Geoglyphs with still unexplained objectives

The newly identified geoglyphs would have been created between at least 100 BCE and 300 EC. Although the purpose of these great motifs inspired by the ancient culture of Nazca remains controversial, the way they were made is known to archaeologists. " All these figures were created by removing the black stones that cover the earth, exposing the white sand underneath, " says the research team.

Geoglyph representing a bird (about 100 meters long). Credits: Yamagata University

Previous assumptions have suggested that the Nazca people have shaped the giant geoglyphs - some of which are hundreds of meters long - to be seen by deities in the sky or to serve astronomical purposes.

In the new research, led by anthropologist and archaeologist Masato Sakai, the team analyzed the high-resolution satellite imagery of the Nazca region, also conducted fieldwork and identified two main types of geoglyphs.

Two types of geoglyphs with potentially distinct functions

The oldest geoglyphs (100 AECs), called type B, are generally less than 50 meters, while the slightly more recent ones (100 and 300 EC), called type A, extend over 50 meters, with the largest geoglyph discovered by the team measuring more than 100 meters.

Researchers believe that type A geoglyphs, larger, often shaped like animals, were ritual places where people organized ceremonies involving the destruction of various pottery vases.

Geoglyph representing a two-headed serpent (about 30 meters long). Credits: Yamagata University

On the other hand, the smaller Type B patterns were located along trails and could have served as a relay to guide travelers - possibly to a larger Type A ritual space where people would gather. Some of these Type B designs are really tiny, the smallest of new discoveries measuring less than 5 meters, making it difficult to find this type of line.

The help of artificial intelligence in the discovery of geoglyphs

To this end, as part of a recent experimental collaboration that began in 2018 with IBM researchers, the team used a company-developed Deep Learning artificial intelligence that runs on a geospatial analysis system. called IBM PAIRS geoscope.

Humanoid geoglyph discovered by IBM's artificial intelligence (about 4 meters long). Credits: Yamagata University

The Learning Network - IBM Watson Machine Learning Accelerator (WMLA) - has screened huge volumes of images of drones and satellites to see if it can spot hidden marks related to the Nazca lines.

The system found a match: the faded outline of a small humanoid type B, resting on two feet. Although the symbolic meaning of this strange and ancient character is not yet clear, the researchers point out that the geoglyph was located near a path, which makes it perhaps one of the supposed beacons.

Source

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Discovery of the oldest known pearl on an island in the Persian Gulf


Pearls are white or iridescent limestone structures made by some bivalve molluscs. They are the subject of an important trade in the field of luxury jewelry in modern society, but this trade could have roots much older than previously estimated. This is suggested by the discovery of an 8000-year-old pearl on a Neolithic site on Marawah Island, off Abu Dhabi, making it one of the oldest known pearls in the world.

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Archaeologists have discovered what they claim to be the world's oldest natural pearl on the island of Marawah, off the coast of Abu Dhabi. The pearl is dated 8000 years old and was formed during the Neolithic period - the last stage of the Stone Age. Nicknamed the "Pearl of Abu Dhabi", it is pale pink in color and is approximately 0.3 centimeters long. It was found in a layer located on a Neolithic site dating from between 5800 BC. and 5600 BC AD

Before the discovery of the pearl of Abu Dhabi, the oldest known pearl of the United Arab Emirates was found on a Neolithic site in Umm al-Quwain. Ancient pearls from the same period were also discovered in a neolithic cemetery near Djebel Buhais in the emirate of Sharjah. Carbon dating indicates that the pearl of Abu Dhabi is older than these two discoveries.

Abu Dhabi: an important pearl center in Neolithic times

" The presence of pearls on archaeological sites is proof that the pearl trade has existed since at least the Neolithic period, " said Abdulla Khalfan Al-Kaabi, director of the Archaeological Investigations Unit of the Department of Culture and Tourism. Abu Dhabi.

Found at a Neolithic site on the island of Marawah, the pearl testifies to the central pearling activity of the Abu Dhabi region. Credits: Abu Dhabi Department of Culture

Indeed, " if we look at historical sources, we find more than one indication that Abu Dhabi was considered one of the main pearl centers ." According to the statement, the pearls could have been worn as jewelry or exchanged for goods of other civilizations, such as ceramics of Mesopotamia.

This Neolithic site, composed of collapsed stone structures, was first discovered in 1992 and many artefacts have been found, including flint arrowheads, pearls and ceramics. Moreover, as this site is located on an island, many of the objects found, such as fish bones, turtles, dolphins, dugongs and oysters, relate to the sea.

" The inhabitants of this period knew the sea very well and considered it an essential part of everyday life, " explains Al-Kaabi. Even centuries later, pearl diving remained an important activity in the region and was an important engine of the economy of the United Arab Emirates until the 1930s.


Source

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