Researchers Discover Neanderthal Child Was Devoured by a Giant Bird

The oldest human remains discovered in Poland were found a few years ago, but it’s only recently that scientists have uncovered the unfortunate fate of the Neanderthal to whom they once belonged.

It was only this year that researchers discovered that the bones, found amid the remains of animals, actually were once those of a Neanderthal child. A Neanderthal child, it turns out, that was eaten by a giant Ice Age-era bird, reported Science in Poland.

The bones, determined to be phalanges from the child’s hand, were dotted with dozens of holes and that was the clue that led researchers to determine what happened to the body.

“Analyses show that this is the result of passing through the digestive system of a large bird,” said Prof. Paweł Valde-Nowak of the Institute of Archeology of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, according to Science in Poland. His team discovered the bones in Poland’s Ciemna Cave. “This is the first such known example from the Ice Age.”

The bones are the oldest human remains ever discovered in Poland by about 50,000 years.

Scientists think that the bird may have attacked and eaten the 5 to 7-year-old child. It may also have fed on the child after it had deceased.

Science in Poland reports that the team’s identification of the bones was confirmed by two anthropologists, Dr. Anita Szczepanek of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków and Prof. Erik Trinkaus of Washington University in St. Louis.

The 1-centimeter long bones are poorly preserved, precluding the possibility of DNA analysis. However, the scientists are confident that they are the remains of an ancient Neanderthal child.

“We have no doubts that these are Neanderthal remains, because they come from a very deep layer of the cave, a few meters below the present surface,” said Valde-Nowak. “This layer also contains typical stone tools used by the Neanderthal.”

Though the phalanges were discovered years ago, recent detailed laboratory analysis identified the remains as human.

Up until this discovery, the oldest human remains yet discovered in Poland were three Neanderthal molars found in Stajnia Cave in the Kraków-Częstochowa Upland, which were estimated to be between 42,000 and 52,000 years old.

Neanderthals (Homo Neanderthalensis) a close relative of modern man (Homo sapiens) are thought to have appeared in Europe about 300,000 years ago before mostly dying out by about 35,000 years ago, according to Science in Poland.

The discovery of the child’s bones is significant for scientists seeking to learn more …read more

Source:: Time – Science


How Neil Armstrong’s Moon Spacesuit Was Preserved for Centuries to Come

Nearly 50 years after the Apollo 11 mission, TIME photographed Neil Armstrong’s spacesuit in the Smithsonian Institution lab where it is being restored

What might be the most celebrated suit of clothing ever made cost an awful lot for the exceedingly short time it was used. The price tag: $670,000 in 2018 dollars. The useful life: about two and a half hours. The clothing in question: the spacesuit Neil Armstrong wore when he stepped on the moon 50 years ago next July.

On Earth, the suit—complete with its life-supporting backpack—weighed about 180 pounds, but fortunately it wasn’t intended to be used principally on Earth. It was meant for the one-sixth gravity of the moon, where it would tip the scales at only 30 pounds.

Marco Grob for TIMENearly 50 years after the Apollo 11 mission, TIME photographed Neil Armstrong’s spacesuit in the Smithsonian Institution lab where it is being restored

Either way, that’s a lot to wear and the suit came by its weight rightly, since it was composed of no fewer than 21 layers of cloth and neoprene and glass coated threads, all designed to keep lunar astronauts safe from the lunar heat (260° F in direct sunshine) and lunar cold (-280° F in shadow). Then too, there was the risk of micrometeorites that could puncture a less-robust suit like a BB fired through tissue, leading to a deadly depressurization.

It’s no surprise that so sturdy a garment would survive the passage of half a century with ease—but not without damage. Hot air, cold air, humid air, dry air, micropollution, the tug of Earthly gravity and the simple aging and degradation of materials manufactured in the mid-1960s, have all led to slow-motion damage. In preparation for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing and the suit’s permanent display in a climate-controlled case, the Smithsonian Institution has engaged a team of restoration scientists to stabilize and further preserve it for the coming centuries.

As thorough as their work will be, there will be flaws they will not touch: the occasional crooked stitch, a mark of the seamstresses who manufactured each lunar suit largely by hand; the odd frayed edge that may have been caused by rough handling over the years, or may—no one knows—have been the result of the scrape by a sample shovel or a snag on the lunar module ladder during those two and a half hours Armstrong was outside.

Marco Grob for TIMENeil Armstrong’s spacesuit glove in the Smithsonian Institution lab where it is being restored

And …read more

Source:: Time – Science


U.S. and Russian Astronauts Blast Off to the International Space Station

(BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan) — A duo of astronauts from the U.S. and Russia has blasted off for a mission on the International Space Station.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos’ Alexei Ovchinin lifted off as scheduled at 2:40 p.m. (0840 GMT; 4:40 a.m. EDT) Thursday from the Russia-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan atop a Soyuz booster rocket. Their Soyuz spacecraft will dock at the orbiting outpost six hours later.

It’s the first space mission for Hague, who joined NASA’s astronaut corps in 2013. Ovchinin spent six months on the station in 2016.

Relations between Moscow and Washington have sunk to post-Cold War lows over the crisis in Ukraine, the war in Syria and allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential vote, but Russia and the U.S. have maintained cooperation in space.

…read more

Source:: Time – Science