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Giant Cattle To Be Bred Back From Extinction

Posted by: Audiegrl

Aurochs were immortalized in prehistoric cave paintings and admired for their brute strength and “elephantine” size by Julius Caesar

Aurochs

Aurochs are depicted in ochre and charcoal in paintings found on the walls of cave galleries such as those at Lascaux in France Photo: ALAMY


Telegraph.co.uk/Nick Squires~~But despite their having gone the way of the dodo and the woolly mammoth, there are plans to bring the giant animals back to life.

The huge cattle with sweeping horns which once roamed the forests of Europe have not been seen for nearly 400 years.

Now Italian scientists are hoping to use genetic expertise and selective breeding of modern-day wild cattle to recreate the fearsome beasts which weighed around 2,200lb and stood 6.5 feet at the shoulder.

Breeds of large cattle which most closely resemble Bos primigenius, such as Highland cattle and the white Maremma breed from Italy, are being bred with each other in a technique known as “back-breeding“.

At the same time, scientists say they have for the first time created a map of the auroch’s genome, so that they know precisely what type of animal they are trying to replicate.

We were able to analyse auroch DNA from preserved bone material and create a rough map of its genome that should allow us to breed animals nearly identical to aurochs,” said team leader Donato Matassino, head of the Consortium for Experimental Biotechnology in Benevento, in the southern Campania region.

We’ve already made our first round of crosses between three breeds native to Britain, Spain and Italy. Now we just have to wait and see how the calves turn out.

More @ telegraph.co.uk

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The Mary Rose Artifacts: Tudor Manbag, Compact Mirror To Be Displayed In Britain

Posted by Audierl

The sole known image of the Mary Rose, depicted in the Anthony Roll

The sole known image of the Mary Rose, depicted in the Anthony Roll

Reuters/Georgina Cooper—Curators of King Henry VIII‘s flagship the Mary Rose, a Tudor time capsule likened to a British Pompeii, have revealed thousands of artefacts never before seen by the public, including a nit comb complete with nits from 1545 when the vessel sank.

The fabled warship went down in the Solent off England’s southern coast during an engagement with the French fleet, with the loss of more than 400 crew.

The sinking is thought to have been an accident, but exactly what happened has vexed historians for years.

The vessel was spectacularly raised from its watery grave in front of a global audience of some 60 million in 1982.

What remains of the hull has been on display behind glass ever since, but the thousands of personal items found in the wreckage have been hidden from public view due to lack of a suitable space to show them.
A Tudor manbag

A Tudor manbag


The artifacts include a well preserved leather “manbag” complete with compact mirror and cut-throat razor — the height of Tudor fashion, a giant 4 foot long wooden spoon used to stir the crew’s porridge pot and 70 nit combs, some even holding dead nits.

The Mary Rose Trust displayed the items to reporters to launch a cash appeal for a 35 million pound ($55 million) hi-tech museum, scheduled to open in 2012, in which all the objects will be on show.

Nowhere else in the world is a single moment in Tudor life captured as it is with the Mary Rose,” said Rear Admiral John Lippiett, Chief Executive of the Mary Rose Trust.

Also recovered was a violin and its bow — which the trust says is Europe’s oldest example — along with blood-letting bowls, canon balls and Tudor tankards.
Rat bones

Rat bones


It gives us window into a period in time where we have very little organic survival but here we have wonderful very personal mundane objects that would have been thrown out,” curator Alexandra Hildred told the BBC.

We’ve even got rat bones from the rats that didn’t leave the sinking ship,” she said.

The new museum will house all of the 19,000 Mary Rose artifacts. Its designers say it will resemble a finely crafted wooden jewelry box, clad in timber planks invoking the original ship.

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More @ reuterssmall

Life Aboard the Mary Rose Re-enactment

The story of the Tudor warship the Mary Rose, complete with re-enactments of what conditions were like on board, plus information about the historical finds yielded after its sunken remains were excavated and raised: almost half of the many finds excavated have now been either restored or conserved; it is a true example of a time capsule as many of the artifacts would not have survived anywhere else; a number of dice and coins were found indicating that gambling was a popular pastime for the crew; the longbows recovered are probably the only surviving examples of the weaponry used to such devastating effect against the French in many of the battles of the time; animal bones excavated from the wreck suggest the food consumed by the crew – beef, pork, fish and venison were all eaten; a gallon of watered-down beer per day was given to each crew member; the officers had music as an extra with their meals.

The History of the Mary Rose

Artists impression of the Mary Rose

Artists impression of the Mary Rose

The Mary Rose was one of the first ships built during the early years of the reign of King Henry VIII, probably in Portsmouth. She served as Flagship during Henry’s First French War and was substantially refitted and rebuilt during her 36 year long life. The Mary Rose sank in 1545 whilst defending Portsmouth from the largest invasion fleet ever known, estimated at
King Henry VIII

King Henry VIII

between 30,000 and 50,000 individuals and between 150 and 200 vessels. This number is nearly twice the number estimated within the fleet of 1588, latterly known as the Spanish Armada. At this time Mary Rose was the second largest and most heavily armed vessel within the fleet; she carried 91 guns deployed over three decks, her main gun deck carried fourteen large guns including two cannons which fired 64lb cast iron shot. The Mary Rose marks a transition between the use of a vessel to support guns and a vessel built to carry large guns close to the waterline, her structure is undocumented in historical sources and there are no shipwright’s plans. The Mary Rose is an extremely important vessel to study in order to understand the evolution of the fighting ship.

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Second Stonehenge‘ Discovered Near Original

Posted by TheLCster

Bluestonehenge‘ found by archaeologists less than two miles from world-famous prehistoric monument

Stonehenge

Stonehenge

Guardian.co,UK/James Sturcke & Maev Kennedy —Archaeologists have discovered evidence of what they believe was a second Stonehenge located a little more than a mile away from the world-famous prehistoric monument.

The new find on the west bank of the river Avon has been called “Bluestonehenge“, after the colour of the 25 Welsh stones of which it was once made up.

Aerial view of the site of a 'second Stonehenge'  (Photo: Aerial-Cam/Stonehenge Riverside Project)

Aerial view of the site of a 'second Stonehenge' (Photo: Aerial-Cam/Stonehenge Riverside Project)

Excavations at the site have suggested there was once a stone circle 10 metres in diameter and surrounded by a henge – a ditch with an external bank, according to the project director, Professor Mike Parker Pearson, of the University of Sheffield.

The stones at the site were removed thousands of years ago but the sizes of the holes in which they stood indicate that this was a circle of bluestones, brought from the Preseli mountains of Wales, 150 miles away.

The standing stones marked the end of the avenue that leads from the river Avon to Stonehenge, a 1¾-mile long processional route constructed at the end of the Stone Age.

The outer henge around the stones was built about 2400BC but arrowheads found in the stone circle indicate the stones were put up as much as 500 years earlier.

Parker Pearson said his team was waiting for results of radiocarbon dating which could reveal whether stones currently in the inner circle of Stonehenge were originally located at the other riverside construction.

More @ guardiancouklogo

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Ardi, The Oldest “Human” Skeleton Revealed — Along With New Discoveries About Food And Sex!

Posted by Audiegrl

Ancient Skeleton May Rewrite Earliest Chapter of Human Evolution

October Issue

October Issue

Science magazine presents 11 papers, by a multinational team of 47 researchers, describing an early hominid species, Ardipithecus ramidus. These 4.4 million year old hominid fossils sit within a critical early part of human evolution, and cast new and sometimes surprising light on the evolution of human limbs and locomotion, the habitats occupied by early hominids, and the nature of our last common ancestor with chimps.
An artist's rendition of Ardipithecus ramidus

An artist's rendition of Ardipithecus ramidus


UK Daily Mail—She lived at the dawn of a new era, when chimps and people began walking (or climbing) along their own evolutionary trails. This is Ardi – the oldest member of the human family tree we’ve found so far.

Short, hairy and with long arms, she roamed the forests of Africa 4.4million years ago.

Her discovery, reported in detail for the first time today, sheds light on a crucial period when we were just leaving the trees. Some scientists said she could provide evidence that our ancestors first started walking upright in the pursuit of sex.

Conventional wisdom says our earliest ancestors first stood up on two legs when they moved out of the forest and into the open savannas. But this does not explain why Ardi’s species was bipedal (able to walk on two legs) while still living partly in the trees.

Owen Lovejoy from Kent State University said the answer could be as simple as food and sex.

He pointed out that throughout evolution males have fought with other males for the right to mate with fertile females. Therefore you would expect dominant males with big fierce canines to pass their genes down the generations.

But say a lesser male, with small stubby teeth realized he could entice a fertile female into mating by bringing her some food? Males would be far more successful food-providers if they had their hands free to carry home items like fruit and roots if they walked on two legs.

Mr Lovejoy said this could explain why males from Ardi’s species had small canines and stood upright – it was all in the pursuit of sex.

He added that it could also suggest that monogamous relationships may be far older than was first thought.

More @ mail-online-small

The Middle Awash study area, where the Ardipithecus bones were found

The Middle Awash study area, where the Ardipithecus bones were found


New York Times/John Noble Wilford—The Ardipithecus specimen, an adult female, probably stood four feet tall and weighed about 110 pounds, almost a foot taller and twice the weight of Lucy. Its brain was no larger than a modern chimp’s. It retained an agility for tree-climbing but already walked upright on two legs, a transforming innovation in hominids, though not as efficiently as Lucy’s kin.

Ardi’s feet had yet to develop the arch-like structure that came later with Lucy and on to humans. The hands were more like those of extinct apes. And its very long arms and short legs resembled the proportions of extinct apes, or even monkeys.

Tim D. White of the University of California, Berkeley, a leader of the team, said in an interview this week that the genus Ardipithecus appeared to resolve many uncertainties about “the initial stage of evolutionary adaptation” after the hominid lineage split from that of the chimpanzees. No fossil trace of the last common ancestor, which lived some time before six million years ago, according to genetic studies, has yet come to light.

The other two significant stages occurred with the rise of Australopithecus, which lived from about four million to one million years ago, and then the emergence of Homo, our own genus, before two million years ago. The ancestral relationship of Ardipithecus to Australopithecus has not been determined, but Lucy’s australopithecine kin are generally recognized as the ancestral group from which Homo evolved.

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A fairly complete skeleton of Ardipithecus ramidus

A fairly complete skeleton of Ardipithecus ramidus

Science—Until now, the oldest known skeleton of a human ancestor was Lucy, who proved in one stroke that our ancestors walked upright before they evolved big brains. But at 3.2 million years old, she was too recent and already too much like a human to reveal much about her primitive origins. As a result, researchers have wondered since her discovery in 1974, what came before her–what did the early members of the human family look like?

Now, that question is being answered in detail for the first time. A multinational team discovered the first parts of the Ar. ramidus skeleton in 1994 in Aramis, Ethiopia. At 4.4 million years old, Ardi is not the oldest fossil proposed as an early hominin, or member of the human family, but it is by far the most complete–including most of the skull and jaw bones, as well as the extremely rare pelvis, hands, and feet. These parts reveal that Ardi had an intermediate form of upright walking, a hallmark of hominins, according to the authors of 11 papers that describe Ardi and at least 35 other individuals of her species. But Ardi still must have spent a lot of time in the trees, the team reports, because she had an opposable big toe. That means she was probably grasping branches and climbing carefully to reach food, to sleep in nests, and to escape predators.

More @ sciencemaglogo

The reduced size of canine teeth is an indication of a shift in social behavior away from male-male aggression, and is one of the hallmarks of the human lineage.

The reduced size of canine teeth is an indication of a shift in social behavior away from male-male aggression, and is one of the hallmarks of the human lineage.

Reuters—Genetics suggest that humans and our closest living relatives, the chimpanzees, diverged 6 million to 7 million years ago, although some research suggests this may have happened 4 million years ago.

Ardi” is clearly a human ancestor and her descendants did not grow up to be chimpanzees or other apes, the researchers report in Science.

She had an ape-like head and opposable toes that allowed her to climb trees easily, but her hands, wrists and pelvis show she strode like a modern human and did not knuckle-walk like a chimp or a gorilla.

People have sort of assumed that modern chimpanzees haven’t evolved very much, that the last common ancestor was more or less like a chimpanzee and that it’s been … the human lineage … that’s done all the evolving,” White said.

But “Ardi” is “even more primitive than a chimpanzee,” White said.

So chimps and gorillas do not knuckle-walk because they are more primitive than humans — they have evolved this characteristic that helps them live in their forest homes.

White, Berhane Asfaw of Rift Valley Research Service in Addis Ababa and a large team analyzed all the bones of Ardi and found she might have been more peace-loving than modern chimpanzees. She does not have the long, sharp canines that chimps use to fight, for instance.

And males and females have similar-sized teeth, suggesting more equality than seen among modern apes.

More @ reuterssmall

An introduction to Ardi by the Associated Press

A wonderfully informative video by Science magazine

Vodpod videos no longer available.

‘Ardi’ Slideshow

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Fossil hunters in Ethiopia are excavating a mandible, or lower jaw, of Ardipithecus ramidus. A fairly complete skeleton of this individual, nicknamed Ardi, is 4.4-million-years-old. It lived well before and was much more primitive than the 3.2-million-year-old Lucy skeleton, of the species Australopithecus afarensis. Unveiling the Ardi remains this week, scientists said this was the earliest known skeleton of a potential human ancestor. (Photo: Tim White and David L. Brill)

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Ardi was discovered in the arid badlands along the middle stretch of the Awash River, near the village of Aramis in Ethiopia. Arid now, it was a cooler, humid woodland in the time of the early hominids Ardipithecus ramidus. (Photo: David L. Brill)



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For the past 17 years, scientists collected fragments, some tiny pieces of bone, that represented more than 110 specimens from a minimum of 36 different individuals of the Ardipthecus species, including Ardi. (Photo: David L. Brill)



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The few modern Homo sapiens living near the discovery site at Aramis include this Ethiopian goat herder. (Photo: David L. Brill)



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Since the first tooth of the new species was picked up in 1992, members of the Middle Awash research project returned year after year to explore the remote site. Here they are on the dusty trail, driving to camp from a survey trip. (Photo: David L. Brill)



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The excavation team sits down to breakfast before heading off on another day of fossil hunting in the Middle Awash region of Ethiopia. (Photo: David L. Brill)



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An Ethiopian herder, one of the Afar people, moves his stock from the Awash River toward Yardi Lake. (Photo: David L. Brill)



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Berhane Asfaw, an Ethiopian paleoanthropologist, works with the local Afars who occupy the lands of the area of the Ardipithecus discoveries. (Photo: David L. Brill)



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At the discovery site, Tim D. White, left, a leader of the project, and Yohannes Haile-Selassie crawl over the parched surface looking for the tiniest fossil fragments.(Photo: David L. Brill)



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A collection of the fossilized bones that were assembled into the partial skeleton of Ardi. (Photo: David L. Brill)





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This is the site, known as Yonas Arm, that yielded fossil evidence of Ardipithecus ramidus. (Photo: David L. Brill)




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Scientists have identified both primitive and evolved characteristics of the 4.4-million-year-old Ardi hominid. Here, the hand bones were more like those of earlier apes. (Photo: David L. Brill)



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The Ardipithecus specimen, an adult female, probably stood four feet tall and weighed about 120 pounds, almost a foot taller and twice the weight of Lucy. The paleoanthropologists wrote in one of the articles that Ardipithecus was “so rife with anatomical surprises that no one could have imagined it without direct fossil evidence.” (Photo: Tim White 2008, from the Oct. 2 issue of Science)

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