Toasting a big week for ancient gastronomy

Blue cheese, beer and wine – it’s the hipster’s smorgasbord, but it turns out humans have been chowing down on these delicacies for a very long time. New research, published today in Current Biology, shows that preserved human poo – otherwise known as coprolites – in an Iron Age salt mine in Hallstatt, Austria contained … Continue reading Toasting a big week for ancient gastronomy

Human evolution: a last archaic hominin stronghold in India

Scientists trace the evolution and migration of ancient hominins to the edges of India Human history can be characterised perhaps by one skill above all else: the ability to make tools that vastly expand our technological abilities. In fact, for scientists tracing the fascinating, branching tree of human evolution, non-perishable stone tools provide a priceless … Continue reading Human evolution: a last archaic hominin stronghold in India

Incredible ancient footprints are oldest trace of people in North America

They say that children are the future but this time they’re also the past. Researchers have found ancient footprints in New Mexico, US, that may be the oldest traces of people in the Americas – and they may have belonged to children and teenagers. The footprints were embedded in what was once a muddy lakeshore … Continue reading Incredible ancient footprints are oldest trace of people in North America

A cosmic meteor brought desolation to an ancient city – Did it inspire Sodom?

The Bible story describing the destruction of Sodom is at the centre of iconic “fire and brimstone” judgement day predictions. But what if it was caused by other celestial origins – like a cosmic meteor airburst? Now, researchers have discovered 3600-year-old evidence that the ancient city of Tall el-Hammam – an archaeological site in Jordan … Continue reading A cosmic meteor brought desolation to an ancient city – Did it inspire Sodom?

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Moths vs bats: moths use sound to thwart bat attacks Who would win in a bat-moth fight? A new study has found that moths have more of a leg-up than previously thought, because their wings are structured to mess up the echolocation of bats. Researchers from the University of Bristol have found that the wingtips … Continue reading You may have missed…

Lack of marine policies place submerged Aboriginal heritage sites at risk

Submerged Indigenous heritage sites – called Sea Country by many First Nations peoples – are at risk of being lost because of blind spots in Australia’s environmental management policies, according to two new studies published in Australian Archaeology. The first study, led by John McCarthy of Flinders University, highlighted that the waters north of Northern … Continue reading Lack of marine policies place submerged Aboriginal heritage sites at risk

First ancient human DNA from the gateway between Asia and Australia

When Griffith University archaeologist Adam Brumm heard from local villagers on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi about a vast cave used to house local games of badminton, his scientific spidey-senses started to tingle. Brumm, from Griffith’s Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution, specialises in the archaeology of the region known as Wallacea, the cluster of … Continue reading First ancient human DNA from the gateway between Asia and Australia

‘Climate windows’ allowed the first human migrations

Migration is part of the great evolutionary story of our species – humans first evolved in Africa several million years ago, before leaving those homelands and spreading across the world in a series of epic journeys. But there has long been debate about exactly when humans left Africa and the routes that were taken. This … Continue reading ‘Climate windows’ allowed the first human migrations

Lead in the air ends up in our bones throughout history

A study has traced lead concentrations in human bones between 400 and 12,000 years in age, finding that the amount of lead they contain is connected to the amount that was being produced at the time the individuals were alive. The researchers say that this has implications for modern lead pollution. Lead production in Europe … Continue reading Lead in the air ends up in our bones throughout history

Neanderthals painted stalagmites red

Deep in Cueva de Ardales (Cave of Ardales) in Spain, stalagmites have been painted red by artistic Neanderthals, according to a study published in PNAS. Stalagmites, or flowstones, are long, hanging spikes made from calcite and other carbonate materials that form where water flows down cave walls and floors. The stalagmites in Cueva de Ardales, … Continue reading Neanderthals painted stalagmites red

Archaeology for the Anthropocene

The word ‘archaeology’ conjures one of the greatest opening scenes in film history: a whip-toting Westerner sprinting through an abandoned temple in the South American jungle, leaping across bottomless pits, sliding under closing doors, evading a massive boulder – all in the line of archaeological duty to retrieve a golden idol. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this picture … Continue reading Archaeology for the Anthropocene

Ancient human body size linked to climate change

The average body size of humans over the past million years is strongly linked to temperature, according to an international team of scientists. Over the course of human evolution, our bodies and brains have generally been increasing in size. But the driving mechanisms behind these changes are not well understood; hypotheses range from environmental factors … Continue reading Ancient human body size linked to climate change