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  • News

    Sound-reflecting shelters inspired ancient rock artists

    Ancient rock artists were drawn to echo chambers. Members of early farming communities in Europe painted images in rock-shelters where sounds bounced off walls and into the surrounding countryside, researchers say.

    Rock-shelters lacking such sound effects were passed up, at least in the central Mediterranean, report archaeologist Margarita Díaz-Andreu of the University of Barcelona and...

    06/26/2017 - 08:00 Archaeology, Anthropology
  • News

    DNA reveals how cats achieved world domination

    The cat is starting to come out of the bag when it comes to revealing when and how wild felines became couch kitties.

    A tale hidden in ancient cat DNA suggests cats were probably first domesticated in the Middle East. They later spread, first by land, then by sea, to the rest of the world, researchers report June 19 in Nature Ecology & Evolution.

    Early farmers brought...

    06/19/2017 - 17:01 Genetics, Archaeology, Animals
  • News

    Oldest known Homo sapiens fossils come from northern Africa, studies claim

    In a surprising and controversial geographic twist, the earliest known remains of the human species, Homo sapiens, have turned up in northwestern Africa, researchers claim.

    Fossils attributed to H. sapiens and stone tools unearthed at Jebel Irhoud, Morocco, date to approximately 300,000 years ago, an international team of researchers report June 7 in two papers in Nature. Until now, the...

    06/07/2017 - 13:00 Anthropology, Archaeology, Human Evolution
  • Science Ticker

    Mummy DNA unveils the history of ancient Egyptian hookups

    Egyptian mummies are back in style at the summer box office — and in genetics labs. A study of genetic blueprints from 90 mummies repairs the frayed reputation of sarcophagus occupants as sources of ancient DNA. And it reveals evidence of a hookup history with foreigners from the east.

    An Egyptian mummy served up the first ancient human DNA sample in 1985 (SN: 4/27/85, p. 262). But both...

    05/31/2017 - 16:30 Genetics, Archaeology
  • News

    Peru’s plenty brought ancient human migration to a crawl

    Some of the earliest settlers of the Americas curtailed their coastal migration to hunker down in what’s now northwestern Peru, new finds suggest. Although researchers have often assumed that shoreline colonizers of the New World kept heading south from Alaska in search of marine foods, staying put in some spots made sense: Hunter-gatherers needed only simple tools to exploit rich coastal and...

    05/31/2017 - 07:00 Archaeology, Anthropology
  • News

    Tool sharpens focus on Stone Age networking in the Middle East

    A stone tool found in Syria more than 80 years ago has sharpened scientists’ understanding of Stone Age networking.

    Small enough to fit in the palm of an adult’s hand, this chipped piece of obsidian dates to between 41,000 and 32,000 years ago, say archaeologists Ellery Frahm and Thomas Hauck. It was fashioned out of volcanic rock from outcrops in central Turkey, a minimum of 700...

    05/23/2017 - 07:00 Archaeology, Anthropology, Human Evolution
  • Feature

    Chaco Canyon’s ancient civilization continues to puzzle

    Chaco Canyon is a land of extremes. Summer heat scorches the desert canyon, which is sandwiched between sandstone cliffs nearly two kilometers above sea level in New Mexico’s northwestern corner. Bitter cold sweeps in for winter. Temperatures can swing as many as 28 degrees Celsius during the course of a day. Through it all, Chaco Canyon maintains a desolate beauty and a craggy pride as home...

    05/17/2017 - 07:00 Archaeology, Anthropology
  • News

    Twisted textile cords may contain clues to Inca messages

    Animal-hair cords dating to the late 1700s contain a writing system that might generate insights into how the Inca communicated, a new study suggests.

    Researchers have long wondered whether some twisted and knotted cords from the Inca Empire, which ran from 1400 to 1532, represent a kind of writing about events and people. Many scholars suspect that these textile artifacts, known as...

    05/08/2017 - 09:00 Archaeology, Anthropology, Language
  • News

    First settlers reached Americas 130,000 years ago, study claims

    The New World was a surprisingly old destination for humans or our evolutionary relatives, say investigators of a controversial set of bones and stones.

    An unidentified Homo species used stone tools to crack apart mastodon bones, teeth and tusks approximately 130,700 years ago at a site near what’s now San Diego. This unsettling claim upending the scientific debate over the settling of...

    04/26/2017 - 13:00 Archaeology, Anthropology
  • The –est

    Oldest evidence of patterned silk loom found in China

    An ancient tomb in southern China has provided the oldest known examples, in scaled-down form, of revolutionary weaving machines called pattern looms. Four immobile models of pattern looms illuminate how weavers first produced silk textiles with repeating patterns. The cloths were traded across Eurasia via the Silk Road, Chinese archaeologists report in the April Antiquity. The models, created...

    04/25/2017 - 07:00 Archaeology