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Paleo-news archive: July-September 2008

Dolphin vertebra from Vanguard cave, Gibraltar. Credit: Clive Finlayson, Gibraltar Museum
Neanderthals 'enjoyed broad menu'
(Sep 24, 2008)

It seems Neanderthals enjoyed a wide range of foods – a much broader menu than had previously been supposed. Excavations in caves in Gibraltar once occupied by the ancient humans show they ate seal and dolphin [photo is of a dolphin vertebra found in one of the caves] when they could get hold of the animals. There are even indications that mussels were warmed to open their shells.

Read more. Source: BBC

Neanderthal birth reconstruction
Did we out-breed slow-maturing Neanderthals?
(Sep 9, 2008)

Neanderthal women had just as much trouble in childbirth as modern women – and their kids took just as long to grow up. Christoph Zollikofer and colleagues at the University of Zürich, Switzerland, have done the first three-dimensional reconstructions of the skulls of a newborn Neanderthal from Russia, and two toddlers from Syria. They found that the newborn's cranium was the same diameter as a modern human's.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Fossil leaf
Ancient trees recorded in mines
(Sep 9, 2008)

Spectacular fossil forests have been found in the coal mines of Illinois by a US-UK team of researchers. The group reported one discovery last year, but has since identified a further five examples. The ancient vegetation – now turned to rock – is visible in the ceilings of mines covering thousands of hectares.

Read more. Source: BBC

Mammoth skull. Image credit: F. Lacombat and R. Mol
'Rare' mammoth skull discovered
(Sep 2, 2008)

The "extremely rare" fossilised skull of a steppe mammoth has been unearthed in southern France. The discovery in the Auvergne region could shed much needed light on the evolution of these mighty beasts. Many isolated teeth of steppe mammoth have been found, but only a handful of skeletons exist; and in these surviving specimens, the skull is rarely intact.

Read more. Source: BBC

Neanderthal tools: rounded blade (lower left) and straighter flake (upper right). Image credit: Metin Eren
Tech-savvy Neanderthals couldn't blame their tools
(Aug 27, 2008)

Neanderthal stock is on the rise. A slew of recent studies have argued that the not-quite modern humans hunted, painted and communicated like their Homo sapiens cousins. Now new research suggests that Neanderthal technology was at least as good as that of early humans.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

fossil from Antarctica's Dry Valleys
Fossils date Dry Valleys' origin
(Jul 23, 2008)

Tiny fossils have helped refine the timing of the climate shift that gave rise to Antarctica's remarkable Dry Valleys, a landscape akin to Mars. The famously ice-free terrain enjoyed more benign, tundra-like conditions 14 million years ago – but then flipped to the intensely cold setting seen today. A Royal Society journal reports that their ancient lake-living shrimp-like creatures pinpoint the big switch.

Read more. Source: BBC


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