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Ancient root eaters, copycat games and facing danger together in this week’s news

1:46pm, July 25, 2011

New World island roots
Prehistoric people who took sea voyages to an island 42 kilometers from California’s coast laid down offshore roots by eating some. Between about 11,500 and 3,000 years ago, residents of San Miguel Island ate carbohydrate-rich corms — energy-storage bulbs attached to certain plant roots. Soil samples from a cave occupied by early islanders contain corm fragments, report ethnoarchaeologist Seetha Reddy of Statistical Research Inc. in Woodland, Calif. and archaeologist Jon Erlandson of the University of Oregon in Eugene in an upcoming Journal of Archaeological Science. Corms and seafood provided a nutritious diet far from the mainland, the team proposes. —Bruce Bower

Rock, paper, copycat
Rock smashes scissors, scissors cuts paper and imitation trumps self-interest. People ape opponents’ gestures in the rock-paper-scissors game more often than exp

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