A new analysis of European archaeological sites containing large numbers of dead mammoths and dwellings built with mammoth bones has led Penn State Professor Emerita Pat Shipman to formulate a new interpretation of how these sites were formed.
She suggests that their abrupt appearance may have been due to early modern humans working with the earliest domestic dogs to kill the now-extinct mammoth—a now-extinct animal distantly related to the modern-day elephant. Shipman’s analysis also provides a way to test the predictions of her new hypothesis. Advance publication of her article “How do you kill 86 mammoths?” is available online through Quaternary International. Read more.
Dogs are more than man’s best friend: They may be partners in humans’ evolutionary journey, according to a new study.
The study shows that dogs split from gray wolves about 32,000 years ago, and that since then, domestic dogs’ brains and digestive organs have evolved in ways very similar to the brains and organs of humans.
The findings suggest a more ancient origin for dog domestication than previously suggested. They also hint that a common environment drove both dog and human evolution for thousands of years.
"As domestication is often associated with large increases in population density and crowded living conditions, these ‘unfavorable’ environments might be the selective pressure that drove the rewiring of both species," the researchers wrote in their article, published today (May 14) in the journal Nature Communications. Read more.
Archaeologists, paleontologists, and geneticists from the United States and Canada reported the first known evidence of the domestication and use of the Mexican turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) in the ancient Mayan word in an August 8, 2012, article published in the open access peer reviewed journal Public Library of Science.
Late Pre classic (300 BC to AD 100) turkey remains identified at the archaeological site of El Mirador (Petén, Guatemala) are the first and only evidence that the Mayan civilization domesticated turkeys at that time. The natural range of the Mexican turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) does not extend to what is considered the boundary of the Mayan world.
The evidence indicates that the Mayans acquired turkeys through trade with northern Mesoamerican peoples. The nearest verifiable turkey populations at this time were approximately 600 kilometers (660 miles) from the nearest borders of the established Mayan world. Read more.
The recent excavation work of Associate Professor of Classical and Near Eastern Archeology Peter Magee and a group of Bryn Mawr students may lead to a better understanding of the expansion of human settlements during the Ancient Near East Bronze Age, according to an article in The National, an English-language newspaper published in the United Arab Emirates.
Magee and the students have turned up evidence that the areas in which they’re excavating may have see the earliest known domestication of the wild camel.
Three American undergraduate students from the Philadelphia college are in charge of sifting through the never-ending piles of dirt.
Akshyeta Suryanarayan, 20, picked up a flat-looking rock and asked Mr Magee if it was a piece of pottery.
“No, that looks like a turtle shell,” he said.
“We’ve found a lot of interesting things, and it’s cool to learn how it works out here on an excavation site,” said Sara, while prodding a few pieces of 3,000-year-old bird bone. Read more.
ScienceDaily — Human domestication of soybeans is thought to have first occurred in central China some 3,000 years ago, but archaeologists now suggest that cultures in even earlier times and in other locations adopted the legume (Glycine max).
Comparisons of 949 charred soybean samples from 22 sites in northern China, Japan and South Korea — found in ancient households including hearths, flooring and dumping pits — with 180 modern charred and unburned samples were detailed in the Nov. 4 edition of the online journal PLoS ONE, a publication of the Public Library of Science.
The findings, say lead author Gyoung-Ah Lee, an archaeologist at the University of Oregon, add a new view to long-running assumptions about soybean domestication that had been based on genetic and historical records. Read more.
SHIJIAZHUANG, (Xinhua) — Chickens began being domesticated in China about 8,000 years ago, far earlier than in the rest of the world,according to a recent study on fossils uncovered in north China’s Hebei Province.
Archaeologists said they had unearthed 116 fossil specimens from 23 types of animals, including pig, dog, chicken, tortoise, fish, and clam, at the Cishan Site, a Neolithic village relic in the city of Wu’an.
Several bone fragments were identified to be from domesticated chickens, said Qiao Dengyun, head of the Handan Municipal Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology.
"The chicken bones found at Cishan are slightly larger than wild jungle fowls, but smaller than that of a modern domesticated chicken," said Qiao. Read more.
Some dogs were domesticated by 33,000 or more years ago, but the Ice Age disrupted the process.
Some dogs were domesticated by at least 33,000 years ago, but these canines did not generate descendants that survived past the Ice Age, suggests a new PLoS ONE study.
The theory, based on analysis of a 33,000-year-old animal that may have been a partly domesticated dog, explains why the remains of possible prehistoric dogs date to such early periods, and yet all modern dogs appear to be descended from ancestors that lived at the end of the Ice Age 17,000-14,000 years ago.
The ancient animal identified as being a partly domesticated dog was found in Razboinichya Cave in the Altai Mountains of southern Siberia. Read more.