General

VIDEO: Dyke: Blatter 'must take responsibility'

BBC test - Thu, 2015-05-28 12:53
The chairman of England's Football Association Greg Dyke says Fifa president Sepp Blatter ''must take responsibility'' following the arrests of several senior officials on corruption charges.
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Megalithic monuments discovered in India

Stonepages - Thu, 2015-05-28 10:35
A team of archaeologists discovered several new megalithic monuments in Karbi Anglong district (Assam, north-eastern India). The team, which was headed by Director Dr Deepi Rekha Kouli and comprised the...
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The earliest depiction of a music scene

Stonepages - Thu, 2015-05-28 10:34
Israeli archaeologists found what they think is Israel's most ancient depiction of a music scene, Israel Antiquities Authority announced. The scene appears on a rare 5,000-year-old large storage vessel from...
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VIDEO: Why the Common Dolphin is becoming more common

BBC test - Thu, 2015-05-28 08:26
The BBC's John Maguire joins a scientific expedition that is studying the Common Dolphin population off the west coast of Scotland, and trying to find out why, until recently, it was quite a rare sight.
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VIDEO: Airfield hosts Wingsuit World Cup

BBC test - Thu, 2015-05-28 08:12
The first ever Wingsuit World Cup has been taking place 12,000ft above Wiltshire.
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VIDEO: Princess Irene explosion remembered

BBC test - Thu, 2015-05-28 05:34
A memorial service has taken place 100 years after 353 people were killed when the mine-laying ship Princess Irene exploded in Sheerness.
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VIDEO: Kidnap fears over missing hotelier

BBC test - Thu, 2015-05-28 05:08
A missing Wolverhampton hotelier could have been kidnapped in India, his family say.
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One More Time: Cornelia Parker unveils her giant clock at St Pancras station

24 Hour Museum - Thu, 2015-05-28 00:00
Cornelia Parker has unveiled her second artwork in as many weeks with a giant clockface called One more Time at St Pancras station.
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"The ultimate in speed sailing": Moth master White aims to break women's nautical speed mile

24 Hour Museum - Thu, 2015-05-28 00:00
Hannah White, the endurance sailor who will attempt to break the women's nautical speed mile record in 2016, has been introducing her Moth boat to the public at the Science Museum.
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VIDEO: The options for £12bn welfare cuts

BBC test - Wed, 2015-05-27 23:47
The Conservatives say they will freeze working-age benefits, including child benefit, for two years, but have still not spelt out what else will be targeted.
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VIDEO: Cold sore virus could treat skin cancer

BBC test - Wed, 2015-05-27 21:32
A virus that normally causes cold sores could treat skin cancer, researchers believe.
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VIDEO: UKIP MP confronted by protesters

BBC test - Wed, 2015-05-27 20:40
The UKIP MP Douglas Carswell has been confronted in the street by anti-austerity protesters near Westminster.
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New human ancestor species from Ethiopia lived alongside Lucy’s species

Heritage Daily - Wed, 2015-05-27 19:12
A new relative joins “Lucy” on the human family tree. An international team of scientists, led by Dr. Yohannes Haile-Selassie of The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, has discovered a 3.3 to 3.5 million-year-old new human ancestor species.

Upper and lower jaw fossils recovered from the Woranso-Mille area of the Afar region of Ethiopia have been assigned to the new species Australopithecus deyiremeda. This hominin lived alongside the famous “Lucy’s” species, Australopithecus afarensis. The species will be described in the May 28, 2015 issue of the international scientific journal Nature.

Lucy’s species lived from 2.9 million years ago to 3.8 million years ago, overlapping in time with the new species Australopithecus deyiremeda. The new species is the most conclusive evidence for the contemporaneous presence of more than one closely related early human ancestor species prior to 3 million years ago. The species name “deyiremeda” (day-ihreme-dah) means “close relative” in the language spoken by the Afar people.

Australopithecus deyiremeda differs from Lucy’s species in terms of the shape and size of its thick-enameled teeth and the robust architecture of its lower jaws. The anterior teeth are also relatively small indicating that it probably had a different diet.

“The new species is yet another confirmation that Lucy’s species, Australopithecus afarensis, was not the only potential human ancestor species that roamed in what is now the Afar region of Ethiopia during the middle Pliocene,” said lead author and Woranso-Mille project team leader Dr. Yohannes Haile-Selassie, curator of physical anthropology at The Cleveland Museum of Natural History. “Current fossil evidence from the Woranso-Mille study area clearly shows that there were at least two, if not three, early human species living at the same time and in close geographic proximity.”

“The age of the new fossils is very well constrained by the regional geology, radiometric dating, and new paleomagnetic data,” said co-author Dr. Beverly Saylor of Case Western Reserve University. The combined evidence from radiometric, paleomagnetic, and depositional rate analyses yields estimated minimum and maximum ages of 3.3 and 3.5 million years.

“This new species from Ethiopia takes the ongoing debate on early hominin diversity to another level,” said Haile-Selassie. “Some of our colleagues are going to be skeptical about this new species, which is not unusual. However, I think it is time that we look into the earlier phases of our evolution with an open mind and carefully examine the currently available fossil evidence rather than immediately dismissing the fossils that do not fit our long-held hypotheses,” said Haile-Selassie.

Scientists have long argued that there was only one pre-human species at any given time between 3 and 4 million years ago, subsequently giving rise to another new species through time. This was what the fossil record appeared to indicate until the end of the 20th century. However, the naming of Australopithecus bahrelghazali from Chad and Kenyanthropus platyops from Kenya, both from the same time period as Lucy’s species, challenged this long-held idea. Although a number of researchers were skeptical about the validity of these species, the announcement by Haile-Selassie of the 3.4 million-year-old Burtele partial foot in 2012 cleared some of the skepticism on the likelihood of multiple early hominin species in the 3 to 4 million-year range.

The Burtele partial fossil foot did not belong to a member of Lucy’s species. However, despite the similarity in geological age and close geographic proximity, the researchers have not assigned the partial foot to the new species due to lack of clear association. Regardless, the new species Australopithecus deyiremeda incontrovertibly confirms that multiple species did indeed co-exist during this time period.

This discovery has important implications for our understanding of early hominin ecology. It also raises significant questions, such as how multiple early hominins living at the same time and geographic area might have used the shared landscape and available resources.

Discovery of Australopithecus deyiremeda:

The holotype (type specimen) of Australopithecus deyiremeda is an upper jaw with teeth discovered on March 4, 2011, on top of a silty clay surface at one of the Burtele localities. The paratype lower jaws were also surface discoveries found on March 4 and 5, 2011, at the same locality as the holotype and another nearby locality called Waytaleyta. The holotype upper jaw was found in one piece (except for one of the teeth which was found nearby), whereas the mandible was recovered in two halves that were found about two meters apart from each other. The other mandible was found about 2 kilometers east of where the Burtele specimens were found.

Location of the Discovery:

The fossil specimens were found in the Woranso-Mille Paleontological Project study area located in the central Afar region of Ethiopia about 325 miles (520 kilometers) northeast of the capital Addis Ababa and 22 miles (35 kilometers) north of Hadar (“Lucy’s” site). Burtele and Waytaleyta are local names for the areas where the holotype and paratypes were found and they are located in the Mille district, Zone 1 of the Afar Regional State.

The Woranso-Mille Project:

The Woranso-Mille Paleontological project conducts field and laboratory work in Ethiopia every year. This multidisciplinary project is led by Dr. Yohannes Haile-Selassie of The Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Additional co-authors of this research include: Dr. Luis Gibert of University of Barcelona (Spain), Dr. Stephanie Melillo of the Max Planck Institute (Leipzig, Germany), Dr. Timothy M. Ryan of Pennsylvania State University, Dr. Mulugeta Alene of Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia), Drs. Alan Deino and Gary Scott of the Berkeley Geochronology Center, Dr. Naomi E. Levin of Johns Hopkins University, and Dr. Beverly Z. Saylor of Case Western Reserve University. Graduate and undergraduate students from Ethiopia and the United States of America also participated in the field and laboratory activities of the project.

Cleveland Museum of Natural History

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VIDEO: Bercow tells SNP MPs not to clap

BBC test - Wed, 2015-05-27 17:18
Speaker of the House John Bercow reminds Scottish National Party MPs to respect the traditions and conventions of the chamber, and refrain from clapping.
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VIDEO: Lineker calls for Fifa 'boycott'

BBC test - Wed, 2015-05-27 17:11
Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker says major football federations should boycott Fifa in the wake of fresh allegations of bribery at football's governing body.
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VIDEO: MP jokes at Speaker Bercow's expense

BBC test - Wed, 2015-05-27 16:43
Former Tory minister Simon Burns jokes about "dastardly rumours" that he and Speaker John Bercow do not get on, in a laughter-filled speech to the Commons.
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Most European men descend from a handful of Bronze Age forefathers

Heritage Daily - Wed, 2015-05-27 15:24
Geneticists from the University of Leicester have discovered that most European men descend from just a handful of Bronze Age forefathers, due to a ‘population explosion’ several thousand years ago.

The project, which was funded by the Wellcome Trust, was led by Professor Mark Jobling from the University of Leicester’s Department of Genetics and the study is published in the prestigious journal Nature Communications.

The research team determined the DNA sequences of a large part of the Y chromosome, passed exclusively from fathers to sons, in 334 men from 17 European and Middle Eastern populations.

This research used new methods for analysing DNA variation that provides a less biased picture of diversity, and also a better estimate of the timing of population events.

This allowed the construction of a genealogical tree of European Y chromosomes that could be used to calculate the ages of branches. Three very young branches, whose shapes indicate recent expansions, account for the Y chromosomes of 64% of the men studied.

Professor Jobling said: “The population expansion falls within the Bronze Age, which involved changes in burial practices, the spread of horse-riding and developments in weaponry. Dominant males linked with these cultures could be responsible for the Y chromosome patterns we see today.”

In addition, past population sizes were estimated, and showed that a continuous swathe of populations from the Balkans to the British Isles underwent an explosion in male population size between 2000 and 4000 years ago.

This contrasts with previous results for the Y chromosome, and also with the picture presented by maternally-inherited mitochondrial DNA, which suggests much more ancient population growth.

Previous research has focused on the proportion of modern Europeans descending from Paleolithic – Old Stone Age – hunter-gatherer populations or more recent Neolithic farmers, reflecting a transition that began about 10,000 years ago.

Chiara Batini from the University of Leicester’s Department of Genetics, lead author of the study, added: “Given the cultural complexity of the Bronze Age, it’s difficult to link a particular event to the population growth that we infer. But Y-chromosome DNA sequences from skeletal remains are becoming available, and this will help us to understand what happened, and when.”

The study ‘Large-scale recent expansion of European patrilineages shown by population resequencing’ is published in Nature Communications.

University of Leicester

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A File in the Nail-stack

Wessex Archaeology - Wed, 2015-05-27 15:22

Most metal artefacts are routinely X-rayed as part of the post-excavation process. Metal objects, particularly those containing iron, are commonly recovered just as lumps of corrosion, and X-rays reveal otherwise unobservable details that aid in their identification and recording.  The value of X-raying was demonstrated recently when a small iron file was identified among a batch of nearly 500 Roman nails recovered from a site in the south-east of England. The 104 mm long tool, which had closely set teeth and a tapered end, would have been used for detailed metalworking. Its short tang (visible on the left side of the X-ray) would have been set in a handle made of wood or bone. The design and use of such tools has changed little since the Iron Age; much earlier examples have been found in Egypt and Greece. Wessex Archaeology benefits from in-house X-raying facilities and the services of experienced Conservator Lynn WoottenBy Kirsten Egging Dinwiddy, Osteoarchaeologist  
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Social Media & Archaeology – a match not made in heaven

Heritage Daily - Wed, 2015-05-27 13:33
Archaeologists are avid users of social media, as well as online crowd-based funding and content-sourcing tools—deploying them to save sites, sustain the historic environment and protect history, often in the face of government disinterest, ‘austerity’ and short-sighted cultural policy.

It seems, however, that these social media applications do potentially more harm than good – by allowing archaeology and the future of collective cultural heritage to be swept away by naïve initiatives without strategic oversight. The archaeological record and the archaeological profession are at stake, local communities face unequal access to their own heritage and archaeologists themselves become all too often a subject of abuse and exploitation.

An article published today in Open Archaeology focuses on the current state of the social web in the development of archaeological practice, and reflects on various conscientious activities aimed both at challenging current online interactions, as well as at positioning archaeologists as more informed innovators of the web.

Sara Perry and Nicole Beale, both from The University of York, surveyed the field in search of active social web initiatives in archaeology, studying their development and evaluation and assessing their impacts on other people, on cultural heritage itself and on the world at large. They found out that archaeologists have been drawing on social media and crowdsourcing/crowdfunding tools since their appearance on the web, and also that despite this long history of involvement, there is little evidence that they are aware of their (often dangerous) impacts.

It seems that these social web applications have not only put archaeologists themselves in danger, exposing them to severe online harassment and abuse, but that they are also draw local communities into exploitative labour practices, and seemingly enable a devolution of responsibility for, and weakened oversight of, the archaeological record. In so doing, the use of the web appears to be relieving the government and the cultural custodians of their duties to protect and conserve the historic environment for the future.

The authors argue that archaeology could adopt a more obvious social justice stance, using web-based media to advocate for cultural change and to bring attention to the short-sighted politics which are threatening our collective cultural heritage.

De Gruyter

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VIDEO: Pomp and ceremony before Queen's Speech

BBC test - Wed, 2015-05-27 12:45
Huw Edwards commentates as the Queen arrives to deliver her speech, setting out the plans of the Conservative government.
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