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Human history preserved in tree rings of prehistoric wooden wells

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This image shows Neolithic wooden water wells. (Credit: Willy Tegel, Rengert Elburg, Dietrich Hakelberg, Harald Stäuble, Ulf Büntgen. Early Neolithic Water Wells Reveal the World's Oldest Wood Architecture. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (12): e51374 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0051374)

Prehistoric farming communities in Europe constructed water wells out of oak timbers, revealing that these first farmers were skilled carpenters long before metal was discovered or used for tools.

The research published Dec. 19 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Willy Tegel and colleagues from the University of Freiburg, Germany, contradicts the common belief that metal tools were required to make complex wooden structures.

The wooden water wells...

Tracking the origins of HIV

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Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) may have affected humans for much longer than is currently believed. Alfred Roca, an assistant professor in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois, thinks that the genomes of an isolated West African human population provide important clues about how the disease has evolved.

HIV is thought to have originated from chimpanzees in central Africa that were infected with simian immunodeficiency virus...

Study of pipestone artifacts overturns a century-old assumption

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In the early 1900s, an archaeologist, William Mills, dug up a treasure-trove of carved stone pipes that had been buried almost 2,000 years earlier. Mills was the first to dig the Native American site, called Tremper Mound, in southern Ohio. And when he inspected the pipes, he made a reasonable -- but untested -- assumption. The pipes looked as if they had been carved from local stone, and so he said they were. That assumption, first published in 1916, has been repeated in scientific...

Crisis in Syria has Mesopotamian precedent, experts say

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Dec. 18, 2012 — Research carried out at the University of Sheffield has revealed intriguing parallels between modern day and Bronze-Age Syria as the Mesopotamian region underwent urban decline, government collapse, and drought.

Dr Ellery Frahm from the University of Sheffield's Department of Archaeology made the discoveries by studying stone tools of obsidian, razor-sharp volcanic glass, crafted in the region about 4,200 years ago.

Dr Frahm used artefacts unearthed from...

Scientists 'surprised' to discover very early ancestors survived on tropical plants, new study suggests

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New research suggests that between three million and 3.5 million years ago, the diet of our very early ancestors in central Africa is likely to have consisted mainly of tropical grasses and sedges. (Credit: © timur1970 / Fotolia)

Researchers involved in a new study led by Oxford University have found that between three million and 3.5 million years ago, the diet of our very early ancestors in central Africa is likely to have consisted mainly of tropical grasses and sedges. The...

Tracing humanity's African ancestry may mean rewriting 'out of Africa' dates

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Dec. 13, 2012 — New research by a University of Alberta archeologist may lead to a rethinking of how, when and from where our ancestors left Africa.

U of A researcher and anthropology chair Pamela Willoughby's explorations in the Iringa region of southern Tanzania yielded fossils and other evidence that records the beginnings of our own species, Homo sapiens. Her research, recently published in the journal Quaternary International, may be key to answering questions about early...

Your Christmas tree and its genome have remained very much the same over the last 100 million years

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The genome of conifers such as spruce, pine, and fir has remained very much the same for over 100 million years. (Credit: © Goinyk Volodymyr / Fotolia)

A study published by Université Laval researchers and their colleagues from the Canadian Forest Service reveals that the genome of conifers such as spruce, pine, and fir has remained very much the same for over 100 million years. This remarkable genomic stability explains the resemblance between today's conifers and fossils dating...

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Unexplained artifacts

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Evolution

Timeline: Human Evolution

Biggest Dinosaurs

The 10 Biggest Dinosaurs

Fossils 

Fossil Formation: How Do Fossils Form?
 

Book review

Dinosaurs Encyclopedia

Book Review

Dinosaurs: The Most Complete, Up-to-Date Encyclopedia for Dinosaur Lovers of All Ages ... WRITTEN BY A PROFESSIONAL paleontologist specifically for young readers, this guide to the Dinosauria is packed...