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Science Ticker

Evidence of 5,000-year-old beer recipe found in China

ancient Chinese beer funnel

Pottery artifacts like this funnel from a Yangshao culture site called Mijiaya in northern China show evidence of ancient beer brewing activities. 

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Back in 2004, archaeologists excavated two pits in northern China that looked a lot like homebrewing operations. Constructed between 3400 and 2900 B.C. by the Yangshao culture, each pit contained the remnants of a stove and assorted funnels, pots and amphorae.

Now, Jiajing Wang of Stanford University and colleagues report that the pottery shards contain residue and other evidence of starches, chemicals and plant minerals from specific fermented grains. The ancient beer recipe included broomcorn millet, barley, Job’s tears and tubers — that probably gave the beer a sweet flavor, the team writes May 23 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The findings predate the earliest evidence of barley in China by around 1,000 years. Beer may have been consumed at social gatherings, and brewing, not agriculture, spurred the introduction of barley to China, the researchers argue.

Health,, Microbiology

CDC tracking 279 U.S. pregnant women with possible Zika infections

By Meghan Rosen 1:10pm, May 20, 2016
The number of U.S. pregnant women with evidence of Zika infection has climbed to nearly 300, and includes both women with and without symptoms.
Genetics,, Anthropology

Some Stone Age humans returned to Africa

By Bruce Bower 9:00am, May 19, 2016
DNA from an ancient woman suggests some humans trekked back to Africa.
Animals,, Physiology

Hornbills join toucans in the cool beak club

By Helen Thompson 4:56pm, May 18, 2016
Like toucans, southern yellow-billed hornbills keep things chill with cool beaks.
Agriculture,, Genetics,, Science & Society

New analysis: Genetically engineered foods not a health risk

By Meghan Rosen 6:16pm, May 17, 2016
No real evidence for health or environmental dangers of GE crops.
Health,, Microbiology

This week in Zika: First mouse study proof that Zika causes microcephaly

By Meghan Rosen 1:00pm, May 11, 2016
Three new studies in mice shore up the link between microcephaly and Zika virus infection.
Neuroscience

Social area of the brain sets threat level of animals

By Laura Sanders 5:00pm, May 10, 2016
How people perceive an animal’s danger level is encoded in a particular wrinkle of cortex, a brain scan study suggests.
Particle Physics

Large Hadron Collider starts its 2016 physics run

By Emily Conover 4:14pm, May 9, 2016
Experiments at the Large Hadron Collider are taking data for the first time in 2016.
Animals,, Genetics,, Archaeology

History of road-tripping shaped camel DNA

By Helen Thompson 3:00pm, May 9, 2016
Centuries of caravan domestication and travel left some metaphorical tire marks on Arabian camel genes, researchers find.
Health,, Microbiology

This week in Zika: An anniversary, how the virus kills brain cells and more

By Meghan Rosen 12:00pm, May 6, 2016
New weapons in the fight against Zika, how the virus shrinks minibrains, a quick paper-based test for Zika, and more in this week’s Zika Watch.
Astronomy

Mercury is about to make a rare journey across the face of the sun

By Christopher Crockett 8:53am, May 6, 2016
On May 9, Mercury will make a rare appearance as a small dot passing across the face of the sun.
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