miércoles, 26 de febrero de 2014

Reopening of the Prehistory Museum Blaubeuren May 2014

Vídeo YouTube por urmu el 5/02/14 añadido a Paleo Vídeos > Prehistoria Universal > L.R.2.6 nº 30.

The oldest known human representation of the world is the new star! 

The figure measures nearly six inches, is 40,000 years old and emphasizes what is necessary for the creation and survival of mankind since time immemorial: a sweeping pelvic and a nourishing breast (Latin: mamma). The Venus of Hohle Fels, the oldest known human representation of the world, is the new star of the Prehistory Museum in Blaubeuren [...] ice-age-europe.eu

Great Gouda! World's oldest cheese found - on mummies

Remains discovered with mummies in China prove to be oldest known samples of cheese.

Clumps on the neck of this mummy from an ancient burial ground in the Chinese desert turned out to be ancient cheese, the oldest yet found .(Photo: Wang da Gang)
Vintage Gouda may be aged for five years, some cheddar for a decade. They're both under-ripe youngsters compared with yellowish clumps – found on the necks and chests of Chinese mummies – now revealed to be the world's oldest cheese.

The Chinese cheese dates back as early as 1615 BC, making it by far the most ancient ever discovered. Thanks to the quick decay of most dairy products, there isn't even a runner-up. The world's best-aged cheese seems to be a lactose-free variety that was quick and convenient to make and may have played a role in the spread of herding and dairying across Asia.

"We not only identified the product as the earliest known cheese, but we also have direct … evidence of ancient technology," says study author Andrej Shevchenko, an analytical chemist at Germany's Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics. The method was "easy, cheap … It's a technology for the common people."

The cheese, like the mummies, owes its existence to the extraordinary conditions at Small River Cemetery Number 5, in northwestern China. First documented by a Swedish archaeologist in the 1930s, it sits in the fearsome Taklamakan Desert, one of the world's largest. A mysterious Bronze Age people buried dozens of their own atop a large sand dune near a now-dry river, interring their kin underneath what looks like large wooden boats. The boats were wrapped so snugly with cowhide that it's as if they'd been "vacuum-packed," Shevchenko says.

The combination of dry desert air and salty soil prevented decay to an extraordinary degree. The remains and grave goods were freeze-dried, preserving the light-brown hair and strangely non-Asian facial features of the dead along with their felt hats, wool capes and leather boots. Analysis of the plant seeds and animal tissues in the tombs showed the burials date to 1450 to 1650 BC.

Some of the bodies had oddly shaped crumbs on their necks and chests. By analyzing the proteins and fats in these clumps, Shevchenko and his colleagues determined that they're definitely cheese, not butter or milk. It's not clear why people were buried with bits of cheese on their bodies, Shevchenko says, though perhaps it was food for the afterlife.

The analysis also showed the mummies' cheese was made by combining milk with a "starter," a mix of bacteria and yeast. This technique is still used today to make kefir, a sour, slightly effervescent dairy beverage, and kefir cheese, similar to cottage cheese.

If the people of the cemetery did indeed rely on a kefir starter to make cheese, they were contradicting the conventional wisdom. Most cheese today is made not with a kefir starter but with rennet, a substance from the guts of a calf, lamb or kid that curdles milk. Cheese was supposedly invented by accident when humans began carrying milk in bags made of animal gut.

Making cheese with rennet requires the killing of a young animal, Shevchenko points out, and the kefir method does not. He argues that the ease and low cost of the kefir method would have helped drive the spread of herding throughout Asia from its origins in the Middle East. Even better, both kefir and kefir cheese are low in lactose, making them edible for the lactose-intolerant inhabitants of Asia. The new results are reported in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science.

Scientists have found fragments of cheese-making strainers in Poland that date back more than 7,000 years, and there are Danish pots from 5,000 years ago that hold what may be butter or cheese, says bioarchaeologist Oliver Craig of the University of York in Britain. But he agrees that Shevchenko's team has good evidence that their cheese is the record-holder for age.

Craig is more cautious about the new study's suggestion that the cheese was made with kefir starter rather than rennet. That's harder to prove, he says, because the proteins could have decayed too much to provide a definitive answer. He thinks a study of animal bones or pottery is needed to confirm that the cheese at the cemetery was part of a technological spread across Asia.

Whether the cheese was common in its day, it's exceptional now. Usually if a dairy product is left to its own devices, "bacteria will get in and start to eat it away, liquefy it," Craig says. "It's just amazing it survived." Traci Watson / usatoday.com

Yimin Yang, Anna Shevchenko, Andrea Knaust, Idelisi Abuduresule, Wenying Li, Xingjun Hu, Changsui Wang, Andrej Shevchenko, Proteomics Evidence for Kefir Dairy in Early Bronze Age China, Journal of Archaeological Science, Available online 18 February 2014, ISSN 0305-4403, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2014.02.005

Actualización 03-03-14Hallado el queso más antiguo del mundo en China
Los responsables del descubrimiento calculan que podría tener unos 3.500 años de antigüedad

¿Se pueden imaginar cuánto tiene el queso conservado más antiguo? Pues ni más ni menos que 3.500 años. Investigadores alemanes lo han hallado en los sarcófagos de las momias en una necrópolis en China.

La necrópolis fue hallada en el desierto chino de Taklamakán en 1930 y durante varias décadas las momias estuvieron en un museo local, según informa USA Today.

Las momias fueron enterradas en una especie de barcas envueltas con piel vacuna. Precisamente fue esta protección, combinada con el aire seco y la tierra salada, lo que ha ayudado a conservar en un estado óptimo los objetos depositados en las tumbas.

Los trocitos de queso, ubicados sobre los pechos y los cuellos de las momias, datan del año 1615 antes de nuestra era. El análisis realizado recientemente ha confirmado que se trata precisamente de queso, no de leche o mantequilla.
Los especialistas desconocen por qué las momias fueron enterradas con este alimento, aunque probablemente se deba a una tradición propia de muchas civilizaciones antiguas de colocar comida, como pan y vino, en las tumbas de los fallecidos, para que coman en la vida de ultratumba.

Aunque el queso es un producto lácteo muy antiguo que se sabe que la humanidad ya elaboraba en el sexto mileno antes de nuestra era, hasta el momento no se habían encontrado sus restos, de ahí la importancia del descubrimiento en China. lavanguardia.com/

How Humans Went From Being One Shade to Many

Our primate ancestors that first lost most of their body hair were likely pale skinned, according to a new study that concludes our human forebears probably evolved darker skin later to safeguard against skin cancer and other problems that can result from too much sun exposure.

The study, published in the latest Proceedings of the Royal Society B, helps explain both the historical origins and biological significance of skin coloration in humans.

Author Mel Greaves, a professor at The Institute of Cancer Research in the U.K., told Discovery News that "the likelihood is that the common ancestor of hominins and chimps had pale skin."

Greaves explained that chimpanzees and many other primates, under their fur, have pale skin with pigment-producing cells restricted to hair follicles. Sometime between 2 and 3 million years ago, our primate ancestors in East Africa experienced a dramatic loss of body hair development that is retained by our primate cousins.

As for why the hair loss occurred, Greaves said that it was "almost certainly to facilitate heat loss by sweating in physically very active hunters, especially in the more open, dry and hot Savannah."

Indigenous humans from East Africa and throughout sub-Saharan Africa today all have black skin, however, and DNA reveals that these individuals evolved a gene, MC1R, associated with skin pigment production. Many scientists over the years, including Charles Darwin, theorized that black skin was acquired early in human evolution as an adaptation to limit UV radiation damage from sun exposure. [...] news.discovery.com

Actualización 23-03-14: Los negros fueron blancos y viceversa
Bajo su espeso pelaje, el chimpancé tiene una piel blanquecina. Si, en una pirueta de la evolución, el chimpancé perdiera el pelo que recubre su cuerpo, tal vez esa pálida piel tendría que adaptarse y pigmentarse para evitar el daño de los rayos ultravioletas. Es decir, nuestro pariente más próximo tal vez se volvería negro.

El ejemplo es muy burdo, pero puede servir de base para comenzar a explicar los cambios de pigmentación que, en el transcurso de millones de años, pudieron llevar a los homíninos -especies que caminan de forma erguida- a ser primero blancos, después negros y a que, más tarde, algunos volvieran nuevamente a ser blancos.

La clave de estos cambios, sugiere la genética, estaría en la pérdida del pelo que se produjo en el paso a la bipedestación: cuando, en los tiempos de colonización de la sabana, aquellos primeros homíninos comenzaron a caminar a dos patas, el extenuante ejercicio que hacían habría propiciado que fueran perdiendo su pelaje a fin de enfriar su temperatura. Pero estamos hablando de África, y esa piel blanca y desnuda sería, en aquellas latitudes, sumamente vulnerable a la intensidad de la radiación solar. Eso explicaría que, en torno a 1,8 millones de años atrás, la evolución favoreciera la fabricación de melanina y, consecuentemente, una intensa pigmentación. Ser negro sería una defensa.

Esta defensa, sugiere el profesor Mel Greaves, biólogo celular del Institute of Cancer Research en el Reino Unido, podría haber sido contra el cáncer de piel. En un artículo publicado en Proceedings of the Royal Society expone...