The Foundation of Carthage

Carthage was initially founded by Phoenicians from the city-state of Tyre in the 800s BCE. They named it Qart-hadasht, which simply means “new town.” Situated in today's Tunisia, the settlement was one of many Tyrian colonies dotted around the Mediterranean basin, which brought new materials and goods back to Phoenicia and strengthened and expanded Phoenicia's trading network. Eventually the new town gained its independence around 650 BCE, and became a prosperous trade-based city-state with colonies of its own.

Prehistoric Neanderthals had high rates of surfer’s ear, or aural exostoses -- a condition caused by repeated exposure to cold water. It is theorized that they may have gathered resources from the sea, such as fishing, or gathering molluscs. Another possibility, of course, is that Neanderthals had a genetic predisposition to bone growths in their ears.

How To Make A Mountain

There are three types of mountains: mountains of accumulation, formed by volcanic eruptions; folded mountains, formed by the clashing of the earth’s tectonic plates; and mountains of erosion, formed by extreme weather.

In 2017, a comprehensive study looked into why eggs are shaped like, well, eggs. Why are eggs ellipses, and not spheres? Why are they often asymmetrical with one pointier end and one rounder end? These were the questions the scientists set out to answer.

The research team gathered together a large dataset of 49,175 images of eggs produced by 1,400 species, both living and extinct, and examined exactly how elliptical and how asymmetrical each egg was (and made a pretty graph, see above). The scientists also paid attention to the parents' nesting behaviors, clutch sizes, diet, and flight ability. Previously, it was suggested that eggs are pointy on one end to prevent them from rolling away from the nest or to make laying easier for females. But the study did not support that.

Instead, they found multiple lines of evidence that the shape evolved to simply fit better inside the parent’s aerodynamic body. The stronger, better fliers had the longest and pointiest eggs. Meanwhile, some flightless birds (like ostriches) hatch from squat orbs.

Largest Parrot Known To Science Discovered In New Zealand

Heracles inexpectatus (yes, that's really its scientific name) was discovered based on re-classification of bones discovered initially in 2008. The fossils were dug up in St Bathans, New Zealand, labeled as giant eagle bones, and promptly put into storage. Recently a paleontology graduate student Ellen Mather re-discovered the bones as part of another research project. And realized something was not right about these "eagle bones."

At 3 feet tall, or about 1 meter, Heracles inexpectatus is the largest parrot ever discovered. It is nearly double the weight New Zealand's largest living bird the kakapo. Heracles probably lived during the Early Miocene, which spanned from about 23 million to 16 million years ago. It was likely flightless and ate what it could reach on the ground. Which wouldn't have been hard with its gigantic beak, which paleontologists suspect was capable of cracking most anything it fancied eating. Including bones. Researchers say yes, Heracles might have even been eating other parrots, leading them to bestow the cannibalistic nickname: "Squawkzilla."

Who Lived In Egypt Before The Pharaohs?

The known, Dynastic Egypt began around 3,100 BCE. But the magnificent, complex civilization we still learn about in elementary school did not suddenly emerge, fully-formed. What came before? Archaeologists know that roughly between 9,300 BCE and 4,000 BCE, an enigmatic Neolithic people built a proto civilization in Egypt. But there has been little research on them, so a new excavation of six burial sites has the possibility of adding greatly to the understanding of how ancient Egypt became, well, ancient Egypt.

During the Neolithic, Egypt was much greener, allowing ancient herders to populate what is now the middle of a barren desert. During the Final Neolithic (4,600 - 4,000 BCE) they began to bury the dead in formal cemeteries. We know this from excavations at three burial sites which were not lone graves but large cemeteries housing over 100 burials each.

One cemetery appears to be for the elite. It had a low childhood mortality rate, tall stature, and relatively long lifespans for the Neolithic. Men averaged about 170 cm tall (5'7"), and women about 160 cm (5'3"). Most had lived beyond 40, and some even into their 50s. That's not old today, but for the Neolithic, that's nothing to scoff at. And most tellingly, those in this cemetery were buried with many artifacts including ornamental pottery, jewellery from stones and ostrich eggshells, sea shells far from the sea, and animal remains. Two other cemeteries appear to be for lower-status individuals. They had few artifacts, high child mortality, were physically shorter, and had shorter lifespans. The larger of the two cemeteries had a separate burial area for children under 3 years old, although most of the remains were infants and late-term fetuses. It is the earliest known infant cemetery.

These three very different burial sites suggest that by 4,600 BCE, Neolithic society had developed stratified social hierarchies. It also suggests that age 3 is when children became "people" and were included in adult cemeteries. Finally, there was evidence of respect for those previously buried, because when coming across old skeletons in reused graves, they often carefully repositioned their ancestors' bones, sometimes even replacing teeth that had fallen out! The archaeological evidence suggests a sophisticated herding society, one slowly evolving towards what would become Dynastic Egypt.

In Deep Waters, There Be Monsters

Animals who live in polar waters or deep-sea waters tend to evolve into bigger animals than related species who live in shallower waters, in a phenomenon known as “polar gigantism.” Exactly why this happens is unknown.

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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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