Nominations now open for relaunched Dan David Prize, awarding $3 million annually to early- and mid-career scholars
Although there has been evidence of our species living in rainforest regions in Southeast Asia from at least 70,000 years ago, the poor preservation of organic material in these regions limits how much we know about their diet and ecological adaptations to these habitats. An international team of scientists led by the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig and the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) has now applied a new method to investigate the diet of fossil humans: the analysis of stable zinc isotopes from tooth enamel. This method proves particularly helpful to learn whether prehistoric humans and animals were primarily eating meat or plants.
- Journal of Human Evolution
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Human feces don’t usually stick around for long—and certainly not for thousands of years. But exceptions to this general rule are found in a few places in the world, including prehistoric salt mines of the Austrian UNESCO World Heritage area Hallstatt-Dachstein/Salzkammergut. Now, researchers who’ve studied ancient fecal samples (or paleofeces) from these mines have uncovered some surprising evidence: the presence of two fungal species used in the production of blue cheese and beer. The findings appear in the journal Current Biology on October 13.
- Current Biology
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A widely accepted theory of Native American origins coming from Japan has been attacked in a new scientific study, which shows that the genetics and skeletal biology “simply does not match-up”.
Could the biblical description of the destruction of Sodom be explained by an exploding meteor? A research team including East Carolina University’s Dr. Sid Mitra, professor of geological sciences, has presented evidence that a Middle Bronze Age city called Tall el-Hammam, located in the Jordan Valley northeast of the Dead Sea, was destroyed by a cosmic airburst.
Two thirds of all mammals vanished from Africa and the Arabian Peninsula around 30 million years ago, when the climate on Earth changed from swampy to icy. But we are only finding out about this mass extinction now. Researchers examined hundreds of fossils from multiple sites in Africa, built evolutionary trees, and pinpointed each species’ first and last known appearances. The climate shift “was a real reset button.”
- Communications Biology