Oldest Known Parasite Found in Chinese Fossils

Parasitism is, at heart, just a relationship between two organisms. Albeit a relationship in which one organism, the parasite, increases its own success by exploiting and harming another organism, the host. Exquisitely preserved 515-million-year-old fossils from southern China belonging to organisms called brachiopods show evidence of a relationship between the brachiopods' tubes and potentially parasitic worms. Specifically, the hardened tubes encrusting the surface of fossil brachiopod shells were once occupied by worms that took food that the brachiopod sucked into the tube. But how can fossils show that the relationship was harmful for the host? The new research showed that there was a clear negative effect, as brachiopods without the worms grew larger than those with the worms. Thus, the worms were parasites.

A new study has detected a large, rectangular platform made of earth in southern Mexico with the use of lidar technology. (Lidar employs lasers to generate 3-D models of vegetation-covered terrain.) The structure, thought to have been built by the Maya between 1000 and 800 BCE, measures more than 4,500 feet long by 1,300 feet wide and up to 50 feet tall. Because it is so wide, the structure seems like a natural part of the landscape to people on the ground. It was only from the air that the rectangular shape made it clear that this was, once upon a time, a structure. The remote-sensing survey also found nine causeways and reservoirs linked to the new find.

Bulgaria's Plovdiv is Europe's oldest city. It was first founded around 8,000 years ago, and has been continuously inhabited since at least 5,000 years ago. The modern city sits atop 39 feet (12 meters) of cultural remains.

This Giraffe is at least 6,000 Years Old

Recorded in 1987 by French archaeologist Christian Dupuy, two remarkable life-size depictions of giraffes were engraved on the weathered surface of a sandstone outcrop in north-eastern Niger. The animals cannot be seen from ground level; they are only visible by climbing onto the boulder. They are thought to date from between 6,000 and 8,000 years ago, to a period known as the Neolithic Subpluvial, when environmental conditions were much wetter and the Sahara was a vast savannah capable of sustaining large mammals such as giraffe. And, of course, humans. The engravings reveal a sophisticated artist who utilized multiple techniques including scraping, smoothing and deep engraving of the outlines. This was not the first fumblings of an amateur, but someone who had been taught techniques, and was part of a larger artistic tradition. A systematic study of the area has identified 828 further engravings, including 704 animal forms, 61 human forms, and 17 inscriptions of Tifinâgh script.

New DNA Evidence For Native American Ancestors in Siberia

A recent analysis of DNA extracted from a 14,000-year-old tooth fragment unearthed by archaeologists in south-central Russia in the 1970s found that it is mixture of ancient North Eurasian and Northeast Asian ancestry which matches that of today’s Native Americans. Ust-Kyakhta, the Siberian site where the tooth was found, is situated between Lake Baikal and the Mongolian border. That's about 2,800 miles from the land-bridge Beringia which connected eastern Siberia to the Americas until the end of the last Ice Age. About 2,000 miles away from Ust-Kyakhta, in northeastern Siberia, researchers have found the remains of a Mesolithic woman whose genome shares about two-thirds of its DNA with living Native Americans. The two genomes, found far apart from each other, suggests suggests that Native American ancestors came from a wider region than previously thought.

Beadnet dress from Egypt’s 4th Dynasty, during the reign of Pharaoh Khufu 2551–2528 BCE. It is the oldest surviving example of a dress in this style. And yes, it would have put the wearer’s body on display in a way that is barely acceptable at a burlesque by today’s standards.

The dress has been reassembled from approximately seven thousand beads (no record mentioned how long the reassembling took) found in an undisturbed burial of a female contemporary of Pharaoh Khufu. Although their string had disintegrated, a few beads still lay in their original pattern on and around the mummy, allowing modern archaeologists to accurately reconstruct what it had once looked like. The color of the beads has faded as well. But when it was first made, the beadnet was blue and blue green, to imitate the precious stones lapis lazuli and turquoise.

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    HISTORICAL NON-FICTION

    By Lillian Audette

    This blog is a collection of the interesting, the weird, and sometimes the need-to-know about history, culled from around the internet. It has pictures, it has quotes, it occasionally has my own opinions on things. If you want to know more about anything posted, follow the link at the "source" on the bottom of each post. And if you really like my work, buy me a coffee or become a patron!

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