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Iron Age study targets British DNA mystery

Iron Age study targets British DNA mystery

Science
A project to sequence DNA from about 1,000 ancient remains could resolve a genetic mystery involving people from south-east Britain.A recent study showed that the present-day genetic landscape of Britain was largely laid down by the Bronze Age.But Prof David Reich told the BBC that this wasn't the end of the story.During the Iron Age or Roman Period, the DNA of people in the south-east diverged somewhat from that of populations in the rest of the Britain.Prof Reich told BBC News: "We are initiating an effort to follow up on this observation - and more generally to provide a fine-grained picture of population structure of Iron Age and Roman Britain - using a study that will be on a scale of 1,000 newly reported British samples."This, he explained, "would be far larger than any previously re...
Scientists study the brains of bats while they fly

Scientists study the brains of bats while they fly

Science
April 10 (UPI) -- Scientists at Johns Hopkins University have successfully recorded the brain activity of free flying bats.The breakthrough, detailed in the journal eLife, could help scientists study the brains of animals as they behave naturally -- untethered and free of cumbersome equipment."If you want to understand how the brain operates in the real world, you have to have the animal moving through the world in a natural way," Melville Wohlgemuth, a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins, said in a news release. "This idea of recording the brain without wires is brand new. And no one has used it to understand how an animal senses the world and reacts to that information."Until now, scientists have only been able to study the brain activity of animals as they perform basic -- and often co...
Antarctic expedition hopes for Ernest Shackleton bonus

Antarctic expedition hopes for Ernest Shackleton bonus

Science
Media playback is unsupported on your deviceA scientific expedition will next year try to find the Endurance, the ill-fated ship of Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton. The vessel sank in 1915, crushed by sea-ice in the Weddell Sea and lost in 3,000m of water. Shackleton and his crew were forced into lifeboats to make an extraordinary and heroic escape across the Southern Ocean. UK researcher Prof Julian Dowdeswell will lead the international effort.He expects to have the cruise on station in January/February. Locating the shipwreck is not the primary goal of the expedition; the major objective is to visit and study the Larsen C Ice Shelf, which last July calved one of the biggest icebergs ever recorded in Antarctica. But because Larsen is so close to the last known position of the En...
Finger bone points to early human exodus

Finger bone points to early human exodus

Science
New research suggests that modern humans were living in Saudi Arabia about 85,000 years ago.A recently discovered finger bone believed to be Homo sapiens was dated using radio isotope techniques. This adds to mounting evidence from Israel, China and Australia, of a widespread dispersal beyond Africa as early as 180,000 years ago.Previously, it was theorised that Homo sapiens did not live continuously outside Africa until 60,000 years ago.The study is published in Nature Ecology and Evolution.Previous digs in the Arabian interior have uncovered tools which could have been used by early Homo sapiens. But skeletal evidence of their presence has been lacking.A trace of evidenceResearchers working at the Al Wusta site in Saudi Arabia came across a single intermediate phalanx (the middle of the ...
Big increase in Antarctic snowfall

Big increase in Antarctic snowfall

Science
Media playback is unsupported on your deviceScientists have compiled a record of snowfall in Antarctica going back 200 years. The study shows there has been a significant increase in precipitation over the period, up 10%. Some 272 billion tonnes more snow were being dumped on the White Continent annually in the decade 2001-2010 compared with 1801-1810. This yearly extra is equivalent to twice the water volume found today in the Dead Sea. Put another way, it is the amount of water you would need to cover New Zealand to a depth of 1m. Dr Liz Thomas presented the results of the study at the European Geosciences Union (EGU) General Assembly here in Vienna, Austria. The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) researcher said the work was undertaken to try to put current ice losses into a broader context...