October 13, 2012. Last Tuesday one of the world's leading experts on Neanderthals, Jean-Jacques Hublin, spoke at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. The founder and director of the Department of Human Evolution at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, Hublin also spoke with Chronicle science writer Eric Berger about the latest research into the closest ancestor of modern humans, who died out about 30,000 years ago.
Q. We've learned a lot about Neanderthals in the last decade, like how some bred with humans, and we've also begun to look at their genetics. How has the field progressed?
A. First of all, it's because of the wealth of material that's been unearthed, both in Europe but also in the Near East and Central Asia and now in Southern Siberia. It's probably now the best documented fossil group of hominins. There are also new techniques now to study fossils. And of course there is genetics. For the first time it is now possible to have the genome for an extinct group of hominins.
Q. What have we learned about the Neanderthals from genetics?
A. Having the sequencing of both the Neanderthal and the Denisovan, who were a closely related sister group to the Neanderthals, gives us not just an understanding of who were the Neanderthals, and what kind of creatures they were, but also an understanding of what the modern humans are. That is because until now it was possible only to compare the genome of humans with chimpanzees that got separated from us 6 or 7 million years ago. So we could only say that all the changes that we saw in the human genome, that changes that differentiated humans from apes, had occurred in the last 6 million years. Now it's possible to know what happened in the last 300,000 or 400,000 years when humans and Neanderthals diverged. This completely changes the picture.
Q. How so?
miércoles, 17 de octubre de 2012
|A historical Google Earth image from 2007 showing the animal-shaped geoglyph in Russia. CREDIT: Image copyright 2012 Geoeye, copyright 2012 GIS Innovatsia, courtesy Google Earth.|
The animal-shaped stone structure, located near Lake Zjuratkul in the Ural Mountains, north of Kazakhstan, has an elongated muzzle, four legs and two antlers. A historical Google Earth satellite image from 2007 shows what may be a tail, but this is less clear in more recent imagery.
Excluding the possible tail, the animal stretches for about 900 feet (275 meters) at its farthest points (northwest to southeast), the researchers estimate, equivalent to two American football fields. The figure faces north and would have been visible from a nearby ridge.
"The figure would initially have looked white and slightly shiny against the green grass background," write Stanislav Grigoriev, of the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of History & Archaeology, and Nikolai Menshenin, of the State Centre for Monument Protection, in an article first detailing the discovery published last spring in the journal Antiquity. They note that it is now covered by a layer of soil.
Fieldwork carried out this past summer has shed more light on the glyph's composition and date, suggesting it may be the product of a "megalithic culture," researchers say. They note that hundreds of megalithic sites have been discovered in the Urals, with the most elaborate structures located on a freshwater island about 35 miles (60 km) northeast of the geoglyph [...] livescience.com/
Link 2: Hallazgo impactante en Rusia: un dibujo similar a las líneas de Nazca
Arqueólogos de la Academia Rusa de Ciencias han anunciado el descubrimiento del que podría ser el geoglifo de mayor edad hasta ahora conocido, un “monumento único en la antigüedad”: la figura de un enorme alce creada por el hombre prehistórico hace unos 8.000 años y que se encuentra en la ladera de una montaña, a 860 metros de altitud, en el Parque Nacional de la Cordillera de Zyuratkul, en el Raion de Satkinsky, en la parte sur de los Montes Urales...