Science Art: Giant Animals: Modern and Extinct (detail), by Mary McLain

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These are prehistoric animals compared to their modern relatives and, for scale, a human. A human who’s interested in what they’re like… except when…

Look out! HELL PIG!

There are plenty more of the majestic giants (and some terrifying ones) at NPR’s Skunk Bear tumblog.

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Science Art: Jupiter's Rings by LORRI, 2007.

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The New Horizons Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) snapped this photo of Jupiter’s ring system on February 24, 2007, from a distance of 7.1 million kilometers (4.4 million miles).

This processed image shows a narrow ring, about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) wide, with a fainter sheet of material inside it. The faint glow extending in from the ring is likely caused by fine dust that diffuses in toward Jupiter. This is the outer tip of the “halo,” a cloud of dust …

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SONG: Thirty-Five Minutes (from Earth)

SONG: “Thirty-Five Minutes (from Earth)”.

ARTIST: grant.

SOURCE:Based on “NASA Windbots Could Explore Gas Giant Jupiter”, Sky News, 24 July 2015, as used in the post as used in the post “Windbots to explore Jupiter – the bumpier the ride, the better..”

ABSTRACT: The planet Jupiter is 35 light-minutes from Earth (give or take a couple of minutes depending on where in its orbit the planet is).

So a robot floating in the turbulent winds of Jupiter would take that long to send a mes…

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Science Art: Doree, Zeus, Faber by Edward Donovan


Three names for one little fish. And those are just the beginning.

I found this one on the Scientific Illustration tumblog, which quoted Wikipedia on the doree (etc.):

John Dory, St Pierre or Peter’s Fish, refers to fish of the genus Zeus, especially Zeus faber, of widespread distribution. It is an edible benthic coastal marine fish with a laterally compressed olive-yellow body which has a large dark spot, and long spines on the dorsal fin. The dark spot is used to flash an ‘evil ey…

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Science Art: Her Majesty's Cochins; Imported in 1843, published 1904.

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These are ostensibly Cochin chickens, or forerunners of what we’d call Cochins today. They’re a breed with a *lot* of character, and are uniquely suited, temperamentally, for being “pet” chickens moreso than egg factories or walking meat supplies. Despite the name (after a part of India), they’re originally from China.

This picture is from The Asiatics; Brahmas, Cochins and Langshans, all varieties, their origin; peculiarities of shape and color; egg production; their ma…

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Science Art: Soaking Up the Rays of a Sun-Like Star, by NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle, 2015.

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This is an artist’s impression of a planet just discovered by NASA’s Kepler mission that’s gotten the folks at SETI all excited.

It’s the most Earth-like planet yet discovered. Kepler 452b sits in the “Goldilocks” zone around its star, not too hot and not too cold, and is about the same size (or is a little larger) and made of something like the same stuff as the planet we’re sitting around on right now. It takes 365 days to orbit around its sun, too. NASA’s calling it ou…

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Sea monster found off Sweden – and archaeologists are thrilled.

20 August 2015 // 0 Comments

Denmark’s The Local shares the excitement of discovering a 400-year-old dragon – a figurehead from a Danish ship – that has been hidden in the sea since the 1500s: The wooden face, which resembles a monster or a large grinning dog, had been lying on a seabed off the southern Swedish town of Ronneby for more than five centuries. It is thought to have broken off from the Gribhunden ship, commissioned by King Hans, who ruled Denmark from 1481 to 1513. The ship sunk after a fire. … Marcus Sandekejer from Blekinge museum, which is set to put the discovery on display later this month, told The Local on Wednesday: “This figurehead is probably the only one left from a 15th century ship in the world.” He said it was a “fantastic feeling” watching expert archaeologists lift the creature out of the water. “520 years under water….and in such a great condition!” The museum is […]

The Lost Colony… found?

12 August 2015 // 0 Comments

New York Times reveals what might be the ultimate fate of the Lost Colony of Roanoke: They call the spot Site X. Down a dusty road winding through soybean fields, the clearing lies between two cypress swamps teeming with venomous snakes. It is a suitably mysterious name for a location that may shed light on an enigma at the heart of America’s founding: the fate of the “lost colonists” who vanished from a sandy outpost on Roanoke Island, about 60 miles east, in the late 16th century. On and off for three years, Mr. [Nicholas] Luccketti and colleagues with the First Colony Foundation have been excavating parts of the hillside, hoping to find traces of the colonists. As if clues in a latter-day treasure hunt, hidden markings on a 16th-century map led them to the spot on the sound’s western shore, which Mr. Luccketti had previously surveyed. Mr. Luccketti, 66, chose his words carefully as […]

Makin’ babies with Neanderthals *changed* us.

30 July 2015 // 0 Comments

As a species. In some pretty profound ways, Nature says. They highlight a few of the “outsize effects” our Neanderthal genes have on our lives: Now researchers are using large genomics studies to unravel the decidedly mixed contributions that these ancient romps made to human biology — from the ability of H. sapiens to cope with environments outside Africa, to the tendency of modern humans to get asthma, skin diseases and maybe even depression. … In some cases, they are very different from the corresponding H. sapiens DNA, notes population geneticist David Reich of Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts — which makes it more likely that they could introduce useful traits. “Even though it’s only a couple or a few per cent of ancestry, that ancestry was sufficiently distant that it punched above its weight,” he says. … Using de-identified genome data and medical records from 28,000 hospital patients, [Corinne Simonti and Tony Capra, […]

Archaeologists unearth magic Viking sword.

16 July 2015 // 0 Comments

Science Daily has a for-real scientific report with an abstract that begins “Have you held the sword? Have you felt its weight?”: Have you felt how sharp and strong the blade is? A deadly weapon and symbol of power — jewellery for a man, with ‘magical properties’. The sword gave power to the warrior, but the warrior’s strength could also be transferred to the sword. That is how they were bound together: man and weapon, warrior and sword. This sword was found in Langeid in Bygland in Setesdal in 2011. It is a truly unique sword from the late Viking Age, embellished with gold, inscriptions and other ornamentation. The discovery of the sword has not been published until now…. “Even before we began the excavation of this grave, I realised it was something quite special. The grave was so big and looked different from the other 20 graves in the burial ground. In each of […]

Zombies of the ancient world

17 June 2015 // 0 Comments

Popular Archaeology thrills us with really, really old scares… digging up (literally!) evidence of Classical Greek zombie stories: As one case in point, [University of Pittsburgh Postdoctoral Fellow and writer Carrie Sulosky Weaver] elaborates on finds unearthed in a cemetery located near the ancient coastal Greek town of Kamarina in southeastern Sicily. Known as Passo Marinaro, this cemetery served as a Classical period necropolis in use from the 5th through 3rd centuries BCE. Approximately 2,905 burials have been excavated by archaeologists at the site, more than half of which contained grave goods, such as terracotta vases, figurines, and metal coins. But two of the burials were unique. The first, designated tomb 653, contained an individual who, although of unknown gender, apparently suffered from serious malnutrition and illness in life. But “what is unusual about Tomb 653 is that the head and feet of the individual are completely covered by large amphora fragments,” states Weaver. “The […]

Ritual intoxication in the Holy Land

4 June 2015 // 0 Comments

Times of Israel reports on archaelogists puzzling out just *how* high Philistines were getting for religious reasons: In an upcoming symposium in Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, aptly titled “Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll,” archaeologists will discuss the analysis of findings from an incineration pit in Yavneh that was discovered a decade ago. The findings constitute the oldest known ritual use of the intoxicating Hyoscyamus plant, which has an effect on the body similar to that of alcohol. Thousands of artifacts used for worship were found inside the Yavneh pit, including clay and stone bowls, some of which served to hold the intoxicating plants, as well as hallucinogenic substances such as nutmeg. … According to [Dr. Devori] Mandar [of the Earth Science Institute at Hebrew University], the field of “sensory archaeology” is in its very early stages, and substantial knowledge is still lacking.

Fire exposes something really interesting on Montana’s plains – an unseen stone complex.

26 May 2015 // 0 Comments reveals what we now know about the ceremonial carvings hidden for centuries under the sod: Among the formations are two large effigies — or figures made from arrangements of stones — one of a human and the other, perhaps, of a turtle. The burn also exposed six rock cairns, a multitude of stone tipi rings, and dozens of so-called drive lines — alignments of large boulders that ancient hunters used to chase bison into a killing pen. … The artifacts — along with radiocarbon dates from six discrete layers of cast-off bison remains — showed that the site was used regularly from 770 to 1040 CE. As part of a new test project this spring, land managers set out both to preserve and to record the Henry Smith site, using a combination of the very latest technology, and the most ancient. First, in mid-April, a prescribed fire was set and was allowed to consume […]

An 800-year-old Viking note found. Written in runes on a slip of wood.

7 May 2015 // 0 Comments

Science Nordic hails a medieval discovery in the heart of Odense, Denmark – a medieval runestick written by someone named Tomme: It isn’t easy to decipher what the runes say and the stick itself is extremely fragile, explained rune expert and senior researcher Lisbeth Imer from the National Museum of Denmark in the press release. ”The stick itself had the consistency of cold butter before it was conserved, and some little devil of a root has gouged its way along the inscription on one side, which is a bit upsetting,” said Imer. All the same, the researchers have been able to make out the words “good health” and “Tomme his servant”. According to the archaeologists the latter refers to the round stick’s owner as a servant of God. The words are in Latin. … The rune stick, which may have been worn as an amulet or talisman, was found among ancient stalls, at a place […]

Pocahontas was married here. In this church.

1 May 2015 // 0 Comments

Well, sort of. Popular Archaeology traces the efforts now underway to rebuild the Jamestown church where Pocahontas was married: About five years after the footprint of the first Jamestown colony church was discovered, archaeologists and other specialists are busy partially reconstructing the structure. … Based on the evidence recovered from the initial excavation of the church, archaeologists know that the building was constructed as a ‘mud and stud’ structure, where the walls of the building were constructed of simple wood posts in the ground with mud fill for the walls. Although the original wood construction has long vanished, the dimensions of the posthole traces in the soil and the overall measurements of the soil footprint of the structure matched the dimensions of the early church described in the record by William Strachey, Secretary of the colony. The modern construction crew has attempted to duplicate the construction process followed by the early colonists as much as […]

Science Art: The Golden Horns of Gallehus.

26 April 2015 // 0 Comments

These are two ancient horns, made of gold and engraved (or embossed) with runes and pictures that seem to tell a story. Or maybe just look cool. Also, they are horns that it seems like no one ever blew (one translation of one inscription is about drinking), and they are horns that are not there: The original horns were stolen and melted down in 1802. Casts made of the horns in the late 18th century were also lost. Replicas of the horns must thus rely on 17th and 18th-century drawings exclusively and are accordingly fraught with uncertainty. Nevertheless, replicas of the original horns were produced and are exhibited at the National Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen, and the Moesgaard Museum, near Aarhus, Denmark. These replicas also have a history of having been stolen and retrieved twice, in 1993 and in 2007. [via Archaeological Illustrations – apparently an edit of two scans from S.A.Andersen: Guldhornene, København 1945.]

Our cannibal roots.

17 April 2015 // 0 Comments

Science Daily digs into new evidence that early humans enjoyed an occasional bite of early human: Gough’s Cave in Somerset was thought to have given up all its secrets when excavations ended in 1992, yet research on human bones from the site has continued in the decades since. … The excavations uncovered intensively-processed human bones intermingled with abundant butchered large mammal remains and a diverse range of flint, bone, antler, and ivory artefacts. New radiocarbon techniques have revealed remains were deposited over a very short period of time, possibly during a series of seasonal occupations, about 14,700 years ago. Dr Silvia Bello, from the Natural History Museum’s Department of Earth Sciences, lead researcher of the work said, “The human remains have been the subject of several studies. In a previous analysis, we could determine that the cranial remains had been carefully modified to make skull-cups. During this research, however, we’ve identified a far greater degree […]

Pictish fort found off Aberdeen

16 April 2015 // 0 Comments

BBC is reporting that University of Aberdeen researchers have got all het up over the thought that there are traces of all kinds of pre-Celtic settlements in the rocks along the coast: Pictish symbol stones were said to be found on the Dunnicaer sea stack by locals in the 19th Century. Until this latest discovery, it was unclear whether the site held other historical remains. … Lead archaeologist Dr Gordon Noble said it could be the precursor to Dunnotter Castle, the remains of which lie a quarter of a mile south of the site. He explained: “We’ve opened a few trenches so far. This is the site where, in the 19th Century, they found six Pictish stones when a group of youths from Stonehaven came up the sea stack. “Here we’ve got clear evidence of people living on the sea stack at least for part of the year. Certainly people are living here for long […]

Drones for archaeology

6 April 2015 // 0 Comments

PhysOrg has more on using drones… not just to find priceless historical sites, but to protect them from looters: With aerial photographs taken by a homemade drone, researchers are mapping exactly where—and roughly when—these ancient tombs were robbed. … The aerial photography detects spots where new looting has taken place at the 5,000-year-old Fifa graveyard, which can then sometimes be linked to Bronze Age pots turning up in shops of dealers, said Morag Kersel, an archaeologist at DePaul University in Chicago. Kersel, who heads the “Follow The Pots” project, also shares the data with Jordan’s Department of Antiquities, to combat looting. On a recent morning, team members walked across ravaged graves, their boots crunching ancient bones, as a tiny, six-bladed flying robot buzzed overhead. In recent years, drone use in archaeology has become increasingly common, replacing blimps, kites and balloons in surveying hard-to-access dig sites, experts said. Chad Hill, an archaeologist at the University of […]

A new dawn of humankind

19 March 2015 // 0 Comments

A bit of a jawbone (and a bit of computer modeling) has given us a long-awaited glimpse of our new oldest ancestor: On 29 January 2013, scientists combing a stretch of northeastern Ethiopia’s Afar region found a 2.8-million-year-old jawbone that may belong to the earliest of the Homo species — perhaps the first ancient human. Its teeth are small, like those of other Homo species, and the parabolic shape of the jaw is a better match to Homo than to Australopithecus, says Brian Villmoare, a palaeoanthropologist at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. His team reports the discovery in Science. The researchers stopped short of putting a species name to the jaw — until they discover more remains. “We have every intention of finding them, but that’s just down to luck,” says Villmoare. … But Homo‘s origins are increasingly confusing, as a reanalysis of 1.8-million-year-old fossil specimens, reported in Nature, demonstrates. In the early 1960s, […]

Faces of the sons of the Khans, in living color

7 February 2015 // 0 Comments

CNTV reports on the discovery of Yuan Dynasty artwork – a trove of murals from the time when the Khans ruled: The tomb was discovered last year when a heavy downpour washed away the top stone. After excavation work by archaeologists, the remarkable appearance of the murals are now revealed for the public’s pleasure. The tomb is located along a mountain slope in Luo Ge Tai village of Hengshan County. It is composed of a pathway with a dome-shaped chamber. Pictures are painted on the walls of the chamber. A mural depicts the tomb-owner seated with his five wives, the background being a check-patterned screen. Their outfits and the vessels on the table in front of them shed light on the ethnicity of the tomb-owner. “He is most likely a Mongolian, but from their clothes, furniture, and all the things painted on the mural, we can still see the influences of the Han culture. So […]

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