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Tree rings helped scientists date ancient Greek eruption

Tree rings helped scientists date ancient Greek eruption

Science
Aug. 17 (UPI) -- Tree ring analysis has helped scientists pinpoint the date of Thera's eruption. The volcano on the Greek island of Santorini erupted sometime during the 15th or 16th century BC, but scientists have previously been frustrated by discrepancies between radiocarbon and archaeological evidence of the ancient eruption's precise timing. "It's about tying together a timeline of ancient Egypt, Greece, Turkey and the rest of the Mediterranean at this critical point in the ancient world -- that's what dating Thera can do," Charlotte Pearson, an assistant professor of dendrochronology at the University of Arizona, said in a news release. The latest findings, analysis of carbon in tree rings traced to the time of the eruption, have revealed an agreement, or overlap, between the timeli...
Amber fossil suggests ancient beetle pollinated evergreen cycads

Amber fossil suggests ancient beetle pollinated evergreen cycads

Science
Aug. 16 (UPI) -- A newly analyzed amber fossil has offered the earliest evidence of a plant-pollinator relationship between cycads and insects. Pollinators bring to mind flowering plants. Modern pollinators, bees and butterflies, are seen flying from flower to flower. But before angiosperms emerged, a group of evergreen gymnosperms called cycads dominated the landscape. Those cycads didn't boast flowers, they did have pollen. And as the newly described amber fossil revealed, ancient boganiid beetles helped transport that pollen. "Boganiid beetles have been ancient pollinators for cycads since the age of cycads and dinosaurs," Chenyang Cai, research fellow at the University of Bristol, said in a news release. "Our find indicates a probable ancient origin of beetle pollination of cycads at ...
Ancient tsunamis may explain prehistoric mass graves

Ancient tsunamis may explain prehistoric mass graves

Science
Aug. 15 (UPI) -- Ancient tsunamis could explain a handful of prehistorical mass graves in the Pacific, Mediterranean and northern Scotland. Researchers at the University of New South Wales were first inspired to search for evidence of ancient tsunamis after observing the aftermath of recent disasters. "Basically, when you look at recent events such as the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami you see that there is a dire need for rapid burials when survivors are overwhelmed with the number of dead," archaeologist James Goff told UPI. "So it was a very simple question: What about ones in prehistory? Surely they faced the same problems, even more so given their lack of aid coming in. So where are the mass burials?" Goff and his colleagues went looking for evidence tsunami-relatied mass casualties in th...
Ancient fish fossils reveal origin of the vertebrate skeleton

Ancient fish fossils reveal origin of the vertebrate skeleton

Science
July 31 (UPI) -- New X-ray images of ancient fish fossils have helped scientists solve a 160-year-old mastery about the origins of the vertebrate skeleton. Heterostracans are a group of fossil fishes that lived 400 million years ago. The heterostracan fossil record has offered the oldest evidence of mineralized skeletons among vertebrates. But scientists have struggled to determine what type of tissue heterostracan skeleton's were made of. Bone, cartilage, dentine and enamel all mineralize as they develop, gaining strength and rigidity. But millions of years later, these fossilized tissues are difficult to distinguish -- until now. Scientists at the universities of Manchester and Bristol used CT scanning technology, featuring high energy X-rays, to image the internal structure of heterost...
Researchers isolate ancient parvovirus from human remains

Researchers isolate ancient parvovirus from human remains

Science
July 13 (UPI) -- Scientists have isolated an ancient sample of the parvovirus from human remains, which could provide researchers with detailed knowledge of extinct genetic diversity and viral phylodynamics. An international collaborative of researchers recently reported their analysis of ancient human parvovirus samples taken from the dental and skeletal remains of 1,578 people who lived between 500 and 6,900 years ago. They published the findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Airborne and bloodborne human parvovirus B19 is responsible for multiple illnesses, including the childhood rash known as fifth disease, chronic anemia in AIDS patients, arthritis in the elderly, aplastic crisis in people with bone marrow-related illness and hydrops fetalis in pregnant wo...