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  • News in Brief

    Europe’s Stone Age fishers used beeswax to make a point

    Late Stone Age people got a grip thanks to honeybees. Northern Europeans attached a barbed bone point to a handle of some kind with a beeswax adhesive around 13,000 years ago, scientists say. The result: a fishing spear.

    Using beeswax glue to make tools was common in Africa as early as 40,000 years ago (SN: 8/25/12, p. 16). But this spear is the first evidence of its use in cold parts of...

    10/06/2017 - 16:17 Archaeology, Human Evolution
  • Feature

    Christina Warinner uncovers ancient tales in dental plaque

    Christina Warinner, 37Molecular anthropologistUniversity of OklahomaMax Planck Institute for theScience of Human History

    In a pitch-black rainforest with fluttering moths and crawling centipedes, Christina Warinner dug up her first skeleton. Well, technically it was a full skeleton plus two headless ones, all seated and draped in ornate jewelry. To deter looters, she excavated through the night...

    10/04/2017 - 13:45 Anthropology, Genetics, Archaeology
  • Reviews & Previews

    The rise of agricultural states came at a big cost, a new book argues

    Against the GrainJames C. ScottYale Univ., $26

    Contrary to popular opinion, humans didn’t shed a harsh existence as hunter-gatherers and herders for the good life of stay-in-place farming. Year-round farming villages and early agricultural states, such as those that cropped up in Mesopotamia, exchanged mobile groups’ healthy lifestyles for the back-breaking drudgery of cultivating crops...

    10/03/2017 - 14:00 Anthropology, Archaeology
  • News

    Skeleton ignites debate over whether women were Viking warriors

    Viking warriors have a historical reputation as tough guys, with an emphasis on testosterone. But scientists now say that DNA has unveiled a Viking warrior woman who was previously found in a roughly 1,000-year-old grave in Sweden. Until now, many researchers assumed that “she” was a “he” buried with a set of weapons and related paraphernalia worthy of a high-ranking military officer.

    If...

    09/13/2017 - 15:49 Anthropology, Archaeology
  • Science Ticker

    People may have lived in Brazil more than 20,000 years ago

    People hunted giant sloths in the center of South America around 23,120 years ago, researchers say — a find that adds to evidence that humans reached South America well before Clovis hunters roamed North America roughly 13,000 years ago.

    Evidence of people’s presence at Santa Elina rock shelter, located in a forested part of central-west Brazil, so long ago raises questions about how...

    09/05/2017 - 07:00 Archaeology, Anthropology, Human Evolution
  • News in Brief

    People may have lived in Brazil more than 20,000 years ago

    People hunted giant sloths in the center of South America around 23,120 years ago, researchers say — a find that adds to evidence that humans reached South America well before Clovis hunters roamed North America 13,000 years ago.

    Evidence of people’s presence at Santa Elina rock-shelter, in central-west Brazil, so long ago raises questions about how people first entered South America....

    09/05/2017 - 07:00 Archaeology, Anthropology, Human Evolution
  • News

    Fiery re-creations show how Neandertals could have easily made tar

    Neandertals took stick-to-itiveness to a new level. Using just scraps of wood and hot embers, our evolutionary cousins figured out how to make tar, a revolutionary adhesive that they used to make formidable spears, chopping tools and other implements by attaching sharp-edged stones to handles, a new study suggests.

    Researchers already knew that tar-coated stones date to at least 200,000...

    08/31/2017 - 09:00 Anthropology, Archaeology
  • Science Ticker

    Ancient mud documents the legacy of Rome’s lead pipes

    Just as modern cities struggle with lead pollution, so may have ancient Rome. And muddy waters preserved the city’s legacy of lead pipes, a new study suggests.

    Researchers examined lead levels in dirt drilled from two Roman harbor sites, Ostia and Portus, on the Tiber River. The samples spanned 1000 B.C. to A.D. 1000. Up until around 200 B.C., harbor waters were pristine, but then...

    08/28/2017 - 16:36 Archaeology, Pollution
  • News

    Some secrets of China’s terra-cotta army are baked in the clay

    China’s first emperor broke the mold when he had himself buried with a terra-cotta army. Now insight into the careful crafting of those soldiers is coming from the clays used to build them. Custom clay pastes were mixed at a clay-making center and then distributed to specialized workshops that cranked out thousands of the life-size figures, new research suggests.

    Roughly 700,000...

    08/22/2017 - 09:30 Anthropology, Archaeology
  • News

    Sacrificed dog remains feed tales of Bronze Age ‘wolf-men’ warriors

    Remains of at least two Late Bronze Age initiation ceremonies, in which teenage boys became warriors by eating dogs and wolves, have turned up in southwestern Russia, two archaeologists say. The controversial finds, which date to between roughly 3,900 and 3,700 years ago, may provide the first archaeological evidence of adolescent male war bands described in ancient texts.

    Select boys of...

    08/07/2017 - 07:00 Anthropology, Archaeology