The Selling of Stan

The remains of a tyrannosaurus rex, famously nicknamed "Stan" after being excavated by the commercial fossil outfit Black Hills Institute in 1992, has been sold for US$ 31.8 million. Stan went for more than twice the adjusted value of Sue, the most complete T. rex yet found, which sold for over $8.3 million in 1997. Stan's buyer has not been announced.

While Sue ended up in a museum, no one knows where Stan is going -- the lessons he can teach scientists might disappear forever into a private owner's collection. Paleontologists are concerned that Stan is just the most prominent example of a recent trend for fossils going to auction houses instead of scientists. In addition, the simple idea that one can sell such fossils is concerning. Fossils may be morphing from priceless scientific artifacts to tradeable commodities.

Grant was an Anti-Semite

During the American Civil War, Ulysses S. Grant expelled all Jews from the military district he had control over. He wanted to end illegal smuggling and trading of Southern cotton. Such trading, Grant thought -- without any evidence -- was completely controlled by Jews. Get rid of Jews, get rid of the problem. So in 1863 he issues General Order no. 11: Grant required that all the Jews in Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee, be rounded up and forced to walk to another district. President Abraham Lincoln countermanded the General Order on January 4, 1863.

Brazil's superstar soccer player in the late 1950s, Garrincha, helped lead his team to the 1958 World Cup trophy. But when Brazil beat Sweden 2-1 in the final game to win the cup, Garrincha did not celebrate. He had been under the impression that the World Cup was a round robin with Brazil playing all other teams twice. Garrincha helped his team score its two world-cup-winning goals (including scoring one goal himself) without realizing the game's importance.

Ancient DNA Suggests Little Ancient Andean Migration

A recent study of ancient human DNA in the Andes of South America looked at DNA samples from 22 sites, dating between 7,000 BCE to 1500 CE. They found an unusual trend: except in the large urban centers, the genetic profile of Andean people remained the same over 2,000 years.

Somewhat surprising given the various cultures and empires that rose and fell over the time period studies. This is the region that saw the Chavin (900 - 200 BCE), then Moche (00s - 600s CE), Nazca (100 BCE - 800 CE) Tiwanaku and Wari (till 1000s CE), Chimu (900 - 1470 CE), and finally the most famous Inca (1400s - 1500s CE). The changing political and cultural forces did not seem to impact people's DNA, however.

Iroquois Woodland Village Excavated in Canada

Excavation of an Iroquoian village site in southeastern Canada ahead of a road construction project has uncovered over 35,000 artifacts. Representatives of the Six Nations of the Grand Reserve, the Haudenosaunee Development Institute, and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation have been working with archaeologists throughout the process. The village has been dated to between 1300 and 1600 CE. There were five important villages known to have been in this area around this time -- perhaps archaeologists are working on one of them? The remains of several longhouses have been found suggesting it was a permanent settlement. There have also been ceramics for food preparation and cooking, stone tools, and a broad range of items for daily living. The site also produced one artifact dating back 4,000 years ago.

Coastal Amazonian Diets Analyzed

An international team of researchers studied the diets of people who lived between 200 CE and 1000 CE on Brazil’s Amazon coast. Using statistical models and analysis of the chemical composition of their bones, the results suggested that people ate mostly terrestrial plants and animals. This is surprising since they were studied specifically based on their living in coastal areas. Rodents such as those from the guinea pig family, the agouti, and the paca; the brocket deer; and catfish are all thought to have been consumed, in addition to wild and cultivated plants such as cassava, corn, and squash.

Succession Crises Happen To Everyone

Even dictators! A major factor behind the 1989 coup d'etat that overthrew the Paraguayan dictator Alfredo Stroessner was concern that his sons would succeed him as dictator. One was a cocaine addict, and the other a pilot, who was widely loathed for being gay. Rather ironic that these two sons were seen as the only succession choices because after Stoessner's fall, it became public knowledge that he had often cheated on his wife, and fathered multiple illegitimate children.

Puritans in the United States originally banned women and children from wearing high heels because they associated the shoes with witchcraft. If a woman was convicted of having tricked a man into marriage using heels, she was (according to the law) to be punished the same as if she was convicted of witchcraft.

Argentinians eat gnocchi on the 29th day of the month. It even has a name, Dia de Ñoquis. You can guess the translation. Gnocchi Day is a tradition now, but it used to be a necessity: since payday was often the first day of the month, families would run out of money by the 29th and only have potatoes to eat. Thanks to a wave of Italian immigrants in the 1800s, Argentinians knew that potatoes plus flour produce a filling meal of gnocchi. It is also traditional to put a peso under each dish at the table. For an extra lucky (and rich) future. Now, Gnocchi Day is when families come together to share a meal, and many restaurants offer special menus.

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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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