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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

Ancient shark-tooth collection uncovered

Scientists have uncovered an unexpected collection of fossilised shark teeth buried in a basement in ancient Jerusalem, in the modern-day Palestinian village of Silwan. The 29 teeth were discovered in a filled-in basement from the time of King Solomon, buried with pottery and food waste such as fish bones. “We had at first assumed that … Continue reading Ancient shark-tooth collection uncovered

5000-year-old remains reveal plague’s genetic secrets

The remains of a 5000-year-old man have been discovered to house the oldest known strain of Yersinia pestis, the bacteria responsible for bubonic plague, aka the Black Death. “What’s most astonishing is that we can push back the appearance of Y. pestis 2,000 years farther than previously published studies suggested,” says Ben Krause-Kyora, head of … Continue reading 5000-year-old remains reveal plague’s genetic secrets

Disappearing ancient Indonesian rock art

Some of the world’s earliest known cave art in Indonesia is “weathering at an alarming rate”, according to a study published in Scientific Reports. Researchers suggest the disappearing Indonesian rock art is correlated with volatile weather patterns caused by anthropogenic climate change. Local archaeologists and site keepers for the ancient artworks of Maros-Pangkep in Sulawesi, … Continue reading Disappearing ancient Indonesian rock art

Oldest human burial in Africa unearthed

About 78,000 years ago, at the mouth of a yawning cave complex in today’s south-eastern Kenya, someone placed the body of a three-year-old child on its side in a purpose-dug grave and covered it with earth from the cave floor. Whatever else was said or done in those moments is lost in time, but this … Continue reading Oldest human burial in Africa unearthed