PALEO

paleo

July 28, 1996: Kennewick man is discovered

On the evening of July 28, 1996, archaeologist James Chatters received an unexpected call at his home in Richland, Wash., from the local coroner. Two spectators at the local hydroplane races had found a skull in Columbia Park on the banks of the Columbia River near Kennewick, Wash. The coroner wanted Chatters, a paleontologist and forensic anthropologist affiliated with Central Washington University who often consulted for Benton County, to look at the skull and determine if it belonged to a recent murder victim. When the coroner arrived with the skull in a 5-gallon bucket, Chatters had scant notion that the discovery would end up challenging the reigning theory of the origins of the first Americans and would embroil scientists in a protracted, precedent-setting legal battle against the federal government.

27 Jul 2013

Blogging on EARTH: New lessons from antiquity, this time on construction

Each year, millions of visitors flock to Italy to wander among the remains of ancient Rome, where Cicero strolled and Augustus celebrated his expanding empire. Vestiges of the historic city center lie sprawled around the forum grounds like the abandoned playthings of a distracted giant: vertebrae of toppled columns, a crossword puzzle of ancient foundations, towering doorframes granting access to long-gone buildings. Above everything soars the lopsided profile of the Roman Colosseum, a structure as tough and stubborn as the gladiators that once battled in its ring.
 

20 Jun 2013

Down to Earth With: Adrian Hunt

Adrian Hunt grew up in England, but after earning his undergraduate degree in geology at the University of Manchester, he began looking for somewhere foreign to attend graduate school. At the time, Hunt says, he thought, “If it doesn’t work out, at least I’d see somewhere exotic.” He ended up in New Mexico, where his brother was working at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s Very Large Array in Socorro. It worked out and Hunt stayed to complete a master’s degree at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, followed by a doctorate at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

18 Mar 2013

Down to Earth With Richard Prum

Evolutionary ornithologist Richard Prum may be the first person to write a scientific field guide to dinosaur watching. Drawing on years of experience as a bird watcher and field researcher, Prum has made huge advances in our understanding of how feathers evolved and in turn how we view dinosaurs. Last year, Prum’s feather expertise allowed him to describe the dinosaur Anchiornus huxleyi in living color. All of this work on dinosaur feather evolution earned Prum a MacArthur Fellowship, the so-called genius grant, in 2009.
 
01 Mar 2011

Benchmarks: July 11, 1997: Neanderthal DNA unraveled

On July 11, 1997, six scientists announced they had sequenced DNA from a Neanderthal fossil. It was the first time anyone had analyzed the genetics of an extinct hominin, and the findings gave paleoanthropologists a new perspective on Neanderthals’ place in the human family tree.
The team, led by Svante Pääbo, then at the University of Munich in Germany, recovered the DNA from an upper arm bone. The bone was part of a collection of fossils discovered in 1856. Quarrymen working in the Feldhofer Cave in Germany’s Neander Valley found 16 bone fragments — including a skullcap, ribs, arms, legs and part of a hip — from several different individuals. The bones resembled human bones, but there were some striking differences: The skull had pronounced brow ridges and a low, sloping forehead, and the limb bones were extraordinarily thick.
11 Jul 2010

Blogging on EARTH: Ancient whale with a big bite named for Moby Dick author

In a Peruvian desert, scientists discovered the fossils of an extinct whale with a big bite. The whale's teeth and jaws were so powerful that it feasted on other whales.

30 Jun 2010

Third hominin coexisted with modern humans and Neanderthals

Modern humans and Neanderthals lived side by side on the Eurasian landscape for tens of thousands of years — but it turns out they weren’t alone, much to researchers’ surprise. A team of researchers has found a hominin bone in a Siberian cave containing DNA that doesn’t match up with either known hominin species at that time, the researchers reported in Nature today, indicating that these humans shared the continent with a third, unknown hominin.

24 Mar 2010

Criminals steal London dino's dung

Blogging on EARTH

A series of robberies over the past five years at London’s Natural History Museum has curators frustrated — and puzzled. From stuffed squirrels to scarab beetles, it seems that anything that can be carried is vulnerable. But most oddly, some thieves made off with a piece of fossilized dinosaur dung.

04 Feb 2009

Pages