A treasure trove of important human fossils has been discovered by a team of scientists from the Natural History Museum, including Liverpool John Moores University’s Dr Isabelle De Groote.
Future Ancient DNA analyses of these bones, morphological studies and further dating of the material may shed light on the exodus of modern humans from Africa and on whether the Middle East is the place where Neanderthals and modern humans met and interbred.
The collection consisted of boxes of bones discovered among the personal belongings of Sir Arthur Keith who had been the Master at Buckston Brown Farm, a research station of the Royal College of Surgeons next to Darwins home, Down House, Kent. Read more.
A geologist studied fossils to confirm that stones used in 19th century Ohio grain mills originated from France. Fossils embedded in these millstones were analyzed to determine that stones known as French buhr were imported from regions near Paris, France, to Ohio in the United States. Dr. Joseph Hannibal, curator of invertebrate paleontology at The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, was lead author on research published in the Society for Sedimentary Geology journal PALAIOS.
The study documents a technique that uses fossils to definitively distinguish French buhr from similar-looking Ohio chert (also known as flint). The most revealing fossil is a one-millimeter wide reproductive structure of a charophyte (a type of algae also known as a stonewort) that occurs in the rocks of the Paris Basin, a geological province centered around Paris, France. Read more.
In contrast to the adage, third time lucky, a Simon Fraser University archaeology student has already been twice lucky in helping to unearth ancient hominid finds in a well-hidden South African cave.
Actually, this spring, luck had little or nothing to do with Marina Elliott’s recovery of another 320 bones in addition to the 1,200 she helped find in the same cave last fall.
"There certainly were again some very exciting fossils found in our latest caving adventure. But, unfortunately, I can’t tell you what they are yet. Stay tuned!" says Elliott. In the first trip, one of the highlights was the retrieval of a palm-sized section of skull. Read more.
The “Rising Star Expedition”, known for its recent recovery of one of the largest troves of hominin (early human) fossils ever discovered in one place, is now ambitiously seeking new early-career scientists to study the more than 1,200 fossil elements retrieved from the site and now housed at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits University) in Johannesburg, South Africa.
"The fossil material is an exceptional sample representing most of the parts of the skeleton, and our first task is to describe the material and place it into the context of hominin evolution," says John Hawks, a paleoanthropologist with the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a key member of the team that recovered the fossils during the Fall of 2013.* Read more.
Squeezing through a gap called the International Postbox and climbing the jagged Dragon’s Back were not in Alia Gurtov’s plans for the fall semester, but she made an exception in order to participate in a wildly successful archaeological expedition into a South African cave.
Over the last three weeks, Gurtov, a UW-Madison graduate student, and five other spelunking scientists have hauled hundreds of fossilized bones—likely the remains of several distant relatives of humans—through a rock crevice barely 18 centimeters wide.
"Every time I stop to think about what I’m involved in, I am almost overwhelmed by my incredibly great fortune," she said via email during a break. "Luckily, there are so many details to attend to in my daily life that I can maintain a reasonable level of excitement." Read more.
A major new fossil site has been discovered by UNSW scientists beyond the boundaries of the famous Riversleigh World Heritage area in north-western Queensland.
Dubbed “New Riversleigh”, initial indications are that it represents a different time period and poorly-known stage in the evolution of Australia’s unique biota. The prehistoric bone-bed contains the remains of a wide range of previously unknown marsupials and bats.
It was found about 15 kilometres south-west of the western limit of the Riversleigh World Heritage site, which is about 250 km north-west of Mount Isa, and which Sir David Attenborough has already described as one of the four most important fossil sites in the world. Read more.
With just two inhabited buildings and a population of five, Fossil, Wyo., is all but a ghost town today. But as far as ghosts go, the ones at Fossil are pretty remarkable — 50-million-year-old monitor lizards, stingrays and freakishly long-tailed turtles among them.
Fossil showed promise of becoming a train-stop city during America’s westward expansion. The town’s real golden age, however, may have been the early Eocene, when it was covered in a subtropical lake with an incredible diversity of aquatic life, surrounded by lush mountains and active volcanoes.
Over thousands of years, dead animals rained down into the muck deep below the surface of long-gone Fossil Lake. Their bones mixed with a limey ooze, created by calcium carbonate deposits carried to the lake bottom by rivers flowing in from nearby mountains. Read more.
A trove of Neanderthal fossils including bones of children and adults, discovered in a cave in Greece hints the area may have been a key crossroad for ancient humans, researchers say.
The timing of the fossils suggests Neanderthals and humans may have at least had the opportunity to interact, or cross paths, there, the researchers added.
Neanderthals are the closest extinct relatives of modern humans, apparently even occasionally interbreeding with our ancestors. Neanderthals entered Europe before modern humans did, and may have lasted there until about 35,000 years ago, although recent findings have called this date into question. Read more.