For about seven-eights of the Earth's history, its oceans were extremely rich in sulfides. This would have prevented animals and plants from surviving in 70% of the planet. But it was a great habitat for photosynthetic bacteria that require sulfides and sunlight to live. Known as purple and green sulfur bacteria (because those are the two colors it comes in) these single-celled microbes can only live in environments where they simultaneously have access to sulfides and sunlight. That they thrived in the sulfide-rich ocean has been confirmed with the finding of fossilized pigments of purple sulfur bacteria in 1.6 billion-year-old rocks from the McArthur Basin in Northern Australia.
Antarctica is a desert. It only gets about 2 inches of snow each year. The majority of Antartica’s snow and ice is older than you are.
This ancient lion is well-known in Georgia today, appearing on money and logos. The little lion comes from the kingdom of Colchis, 2300 - 2000 BCE. This nation in the Caucasus was known for its goldworking. It s also believed to be the basis for the ancient Greek legend of Jason and the golden fleece. What is the connection? Well, it is believed that the Colchians screened for gold in their rivers with the use of sheepskins, which would have collected tiny flakes of gold. Creating literal "golden fleeces." Archaeologists and geologists, having reproduced this method and studied how much gold would have been in regional water sources, have suggested this method would have indeed been viable.
Indigenous groups that paint their bodies tend to live in areas where there is an abundance of bloodsucking horseflies, mosquitoes, or tsetse flies. A study in 2019 showed that this was not a coincidence: painted stripes on the body protect skin from insect bites. A model with no stripes attracted ten times as many biting insects as a model with white stripes painted on. Interestingly, archaeological evidence suggests that body painting appeared before clothes, another way to protect against insect bites.
A tomb holding the remains of a man and a woman dating to 1,700 BCE has been found in southeastern Spain at the El Argar site of La Almoloya. Two bodies were placed in an ovoid jar under the floor of a large hall lined with benches that featured a podium before a hearth that provided warmth and light. The man, who died in his 30s, wore flared gold ear plugs and a silver ring. A copper dagger with four silver rivets was found near his remains. The woman, who was in her 20s, had a shortened, fused spine, a stunted left thumb. Examinations of her remains suggest she may have died of tuberculosis. She was buried wearing silver spirals in her hair, silver earlobe plugs with silver spirals, a silver bracelet, a silver ring, and on her head a silver diadem whose disc would have covered the tip of her nose. DNA testing of the remains of an infant discovered under another building at the site showed that the deceased were parents of this child, which would help to explain why the man and woman were buried together.
The Sumerian king list contains a single woman as ruler, called Kubaba (or Kugbau). She is sometimes listed as her own dynasty and sometimes combined with the 4th Sumerian dynasty of Kish (a Sumerian city). Early on she was also worshipped as a goddess. Perhaps frustratingly, perhaps suggesting that her position as queen was relatively unremarkable to the ancient Sumericans and their descendants, there is little evidence for how Kubaba the ruler was viewed at the time. Nor why she continued to be put down on Sumerian king lists kept by various cities.
To make it worse, there are two very different tones and texts that comment upon Kubaba's rule. In the first cuneiform record, which was a late text that gave the Sumerian king list then commented on the entries, it is mentioned how Kubaba became queen after being an alewife (or tavern keeper/beer brewer), and then it describes her efforts to properly reinstate the fish sacrifice in the sanctuary of Marduk (the city god of Babylon), for which she was appointed ruler. Basically very similar to the comments on other kings on the Sumerican king list. Kubaba is being presented as unexceptional. In the second cuneiform text that mentions Kubaba, a small omen text, it extremely specifically talks about intersex miscarriages, and that the omen (named for "Kubaba, who once ruled") is taken to mean "the ruin of the kingdom; a eunuch will rebel against the king." Not so positive. All this helps explain why what we know about Kubaba is contadictory, uncertain, and very intriguing!
Nile Crocodiles dig the deepest (known) burrows, going up to 39 feet (12 meters) below the earth. The deepest plant roots belong to the Shepherd's tree in Africa's Kalahari Desert, which can reach 223 feet (68 meters) deep.
The fossa is the largest carnivorous mammal on Madagascar. These animals look like a mix between a cat, dog, and a mongoose, and they can reach 6 feet in length. Fossa are an excellent example of the unique animal life that has developed on Madagascar due to its long isolation from other continents and its range of biomes.
A new study of Neanderthal ear bones suggests that the hominins were capable of hearing sounds similar to modern human speech. CT scans were used to produce 3-D models of fossilized ear bones of Neanderthals, modern humans, and early hominins thought to be Neanderthal ancestors. The researchers then measured how sound traveled through the ear canal, to the ear drum, through the middle ear bones, and into the inner ear. They determined that Neanderthals could hear a wider range of sounds than their ancestors, and had the capability to distinguish between consonant sounds. And like modern humans, Neanderthals could produce all the sounds in the frequency range they could hear.
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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