Scientists have sequenced ancient DNA from soil for the first time and the advance will transform what is known about everything from evolution to climate change. The findings have been described as the 'moon landings' of genomics because researchers will no longer have to rely on finding and testing fossils to determine genetic ancestry, links and discoveries - and it is thanks to Stone Age black bears who defecated in a remote cave in Mexico 16,000 years ago.
Tarantulas are among the most notorious spiders, due in part to their size, vibrant colors and prevalence throughout the world. But one thing most people don't know is that tarantulas are homebodies. Females and their young rarely leave their burrows and only mature males will wander to seek out a mate. How then did such a sedentary spider come to inhabit six out of seven continents?
Before sugar cane and sugar beets conquered the world, honey was the worldwide most important natural product for sweetening. Archaeologists at Goethe University in cooperation with chemists at the University of Bristol have now produced the oldest direct evidence of honey collecting of in Africa. They used chemical food residues in potsherds found in Nigeria. (Nature Communications, DOI 10.1038/s41467-021-22425-4)
A new paper published in the Journal of Near Eastern Studies presents the results of and images from the resuming of the archaeological seasons in the Mons Smaragdus region in the Egyptian Eastern Desert. During the 1990s a team from the "Berenike Project" started to survey the area and conducted the first excavations, focusing on the main site identified, Sikait, where the archaeological seasons resumed in January of 2018 and January 2020.
Grave goods, such as stone tools, have revealed that Neolithic farmers had different work-related activities for men and women.
A team of scientists, led by the University of Bristol, with colleagues from Goethe University, Frankfurt, has found the first evidence for ancient honey hunting, locked inside pottery fragments from prehistoric West Africa, dating back some 3,500 years ago.
Researchers compared lake sediment, tree ring data and archaeological evidence to reconstruct a 1,200 history of fire, climate, and human activity of the Fish Lake Plateau, a high-elevation forest in central Utah in the U.S. They found that Indigenous people used small, frequent fires, a practice known as cultural burning, which reduced the risk for large-scale wildfire activity in mountain environments even during periods of drought more extreme and prolonged than today.
To improve climate models, an international team led by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, and the University of Glasgow turned to archaeological data. The resulting classification from the project, called LandCover6k, offers a tool the researchers hope might generate better predictions about the planet's future and fill in gaps about its past.
A new investigation of stone tools buried in graves provides evidence supporting the existence of a division of different types of labor between people of male and female biological sex at the start of the Neolithic. Alba Masclans of Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas in Barcelona, Spain, and colleagues present these findings in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on April 14, 2021.
A new study verifies the age and origin of one of the oldest specimens of Homo erectus--a very successful early human who roamed the world for nearly 2 million years. In doing so, the researchers also found two new specimens at the site--likely the earliest pieces of the Homo erectus skeleton yet discovered.