Quetzalcoatlus, the largest known flying animal ever, was as tall as a giraffe. It flew over North America during the Late Cretaceous, about 100.5–66 million years ago. The name comes from the Mesoamerican feathered serpent god Quetzalcoatl.

The Book of Joshua offers what many historians believe to be one of the first recorded instances of a solar eclipse, which occurred on October 30, 1207 BCE.

A six-inch-long (10 cm) fragment of a ceramic figurine, apparently a woman’s torso, has been unearthed at the site of a workshop in northeastern Bulgaria near the coast of the Black Sea. The torso is decorated with stamped lines criss-cross the front and the back. There are also encrusted geometric motifs which might have been depicting clothing. The complete statue is thought to have stood about 12 inches tall when it was created sometime in the brief Middle Chalcolithic period, between 4700 and 4600 BCE.

The Tomb of the Eagles

On the Island of South Ronaldsay in the Orkney Islands north of Scotland is a peculiar tomb. The site is a chambered tomb, built into the cliff's edge around 3,500 BCE, and it wasn't re-discovered until the 1950s. As you probably guessed from this post's title, the tomb is the final resting place of 8 to 20 people -- and 14 white sea eagles. Recent dating tells us the people were buried in it about 1,000 years before the eagles were. It's an amazing example of how a neolithic tomb was in use for many generations, and evolved in its meaning over time. Personally, I think its pretty cool that 1,000 years after their ancestors died, someone added eagles to accompany them.

Giant Ice-Age Kangaroo Had Odd Link to Giant Panda

More than 40,000 years ago, Australia used to be home to many species of giant kangaroos. One, the short-faced kangaroo, had a single-toed clawed foot (modern-day kangaroos have three toes), and weighed more than 260 pounds (118 kilograms, modern-day kangaroos reach only 200 lbs). And the short-faced kangaroo had a box-shaped head. A recent study of the short-faced kangaroo’s odd skull shape found that it was specifically adapted to eat tough foods like mature leaves, stems, and branches when other food sources were scarce.

That makes the short-faced kangaroo very similar to the modern-day giant panda. They both have thick jaws, and specialized skulls, evolved for eating the toughest plants that other animals can’t. When times are hard, the short-faced kangaroo and the giant panda both have a competitive edge.

First DNA Analyses Done on Indus River Valley Civilization Remains

Getting DNA from Indus River Valley Civilization burials is quite difficult, as the hot South Asian climate provides the perfect conditions for degrading biological material. After 5,000 years in the ground there is usually nothing left to sequence. But for the first time, a full genome has been sequenced! A team from Deccan College in India successfully recreated a genome from an individual buried in a cemetery at the site of Rakhigarhi, in Haryana, India. They were able to get enough undamaged DNA by patiently re-sampling the skeleton over 100 times and pooling the results.

It has been known that there are cultural connections between the Indus River Valley Civilization and Iranian civilization. It has even been theorized that the hunter-gatherers who lived in the ecologically rich valley learned farming from Iran. The recent study therefore compared the Rakhigarhi remains to genomes from 523 genetically sampled from Gonur in Turkmenistan and Shahr-i-Sokhta in Iran.

Their analysis showed that the genes associated with this individual's Iranian ancestry came from before the time when farmers and hunter-gatherers in the area separated from each other. This individual's Iranian ancestors left before farming spread through Iran, meaning that the Indus River Valley civilization did not learn farming from Iran but independently decided to give up hunting and gathering for farming. The genetic analyses also found that 11 individuals from the 523 belonged to the same genetic group as the Indus River Valley Civilization remains. That suggests that the 11 were migrants, or near descendants of migrants, from the Indus River Valley.

Some of these textiles are a bit more obscure, so I looked them up. A byssus is a bundle of filaments secreted by many species of bivalve mollusk that function to attach the mollusk to a solid surface. The filaments can be worked into a (very expensive) textile, but its mostly died out. Qiviut is yarn made form the "inner wool" of a muskox. Chiengora is yarn made from dog hair. Salish Wool is a subtype of chiengora. It comes from the now-extinct Salish Wool Dog, which was a domesticated dog bred that was bred by the Coast Salish peoples of what is now Washington State and British Columbia to have a white, long-haired coat.

The "Boring Billion" Years

The term the "Boring Billion" refer to the approximately one billion-year period between 1.8 and 0.8 Ga in Earth's history, during the Proterozoic Eon. Earth's oceans were a soup of one-celled organisms, multicellular algae and fungi, and the land was barren rock until around the end of the Boring Billion, when land began to be colonized by cyanobacteria and proto-lichens. In short, it was a comparatively slow period of biological evolution and what had evolved was not very interesting by modern standards. Other nicknames for the Boring Billion include the "Barren Billion", "Dullest Time on Earth", and "Earth’s Middle Ages."

Very Early Aboriginal Site Found in Northwestern Australia

One of the earliest sites showing Aboriginal occupation of northwestern Australia — dating to some 50,000 years ago — has been discovered at the Drysdale River catchment in the Kimberley region of Australia. They also found evidence of an early ax production industry at the Minjiwarra site, which had previously been interpreted as a dune feature indicating a break in Aboriginal occupation. The "dune feature" is actually a sedimentary flood feature which built up over 50,000 years. It preserves early, intermediate and more recent occupation by Aboriginal people. Minjiwarra was settled even through the peak of the Ice Age 19,000 years ago, when environmental conditions were especially cold and dry.

A unique mural decorated with sculpted figures depicting a smiling toad perched above a human face has been discovered at the 3,800-year-old site of Vichama. It was once a center of Peru's prehistoric Caral culture. Researchers theorize that since in Andean civilization, toads represented water, perhaps the face below the toad represents humans waiting for water, or perhaps receiving water from the toad.

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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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