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Link: The excavation of buried articulated Neanderthal skeletons at Sima de las Palomas (Murcia, SE Spain) (Walker et al)
At Sima de las Palomas del Cabezo Gordo (Murcia, Spain) remains of several Neanderthals have been excavated recently. From about 50,000 years ago articulated parts of 3 adult skeletons (including skulls with mandibles, vertebral column, rib cages, shoulder blades, hip bones, upper and lower limbs, hands and feet, often in anatomical connexion) were excavated from the lower part of a cemented accumulation of scree and large stones (éboulis) sloping downwards and inwards into the cavity, along with burnt bones of large mammals and Mousterian implements. The excavation of the skeletons is the subject of this paper (palaeoanthropological skeletal descriptions are soon to be published elsewhere). Behind the cemented scree there accumulated a layer of ﬁner sediment containing burnt animal bones, followed by more ﬁne sediment that ﬁlled the cavity up to the overhanging rock roof and contained isolated teeth and unburnt bone fragments of Neanderthals, including 3 mandibles, as well as Mousterian implements and faunal remains, all dating from before 40,000 years ago. Altogether, at least 9 Neanderthals are represented by ﬁnds from the site (including 3 unstratiﬁed mandibles), ranging from babies to adults. Dating methods include radiocarbon, uranium-series, and optical luminescence. Pollen analysis implies conditions less severe than those of the Heinrich 4 cold oscillation at 40,000 years ago.
Link: Brain, Repair Thyself: Studies Highlight Brain’s Resiliency to Damage
New research released today demonstrates the brain’s remarkable capacity to repair itself. The animal studies, which propose ways to prevent or limit damage after blood and oxygen deprivation and blood clots, were presented at Neuroscience 2011, the Society for Neuroscience’s annual meeting and the world?s largest source of emerging news about brain science and health.
Link: New model more accurately describes migratory animals’ extinction risk
Athens, Ga. – Predicting the risk of extinction is a complicated task, especially for species that migrate between breeding and wintering sites. Researchers at the University of Georgia and Tulane University have developed a mathematical model that may make such predictions more accurate. Their work appears in the early online edition of the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.
Link: Environmental projects get more than half a billion dollars
For once, there is good news for the environment: a flurry of international conservation initiatives and environmental research projects were given the green light last week. They were backed with more than half a billion US dollars in grants from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) in Washington DC, the world’s largest funder of environmental projects.
Link: New fossils of oldest American primate
Johns Hopkins researchers have identified the first ankle and toe bone fossils from the earliest North American true primate, which they say suggests that our earliest forerunners may have dwelled or moved primarily in trees, like modern day lemurs and similar mammals.
Link: Study shows left side of brain more active in immoral thinking
Because the brain is so complex, researchers are forced to devise all manner of different types of tests in trying to understand not just how it works, but which parts of it do what. To that end, a diverse group of scientists from several universities across the U.S. got together to work on the problem of which parts of the brain, if any specifically, are involved in analyzing and making moral judgments. To find out, or at least learn more, they devised three experiments meant to test the busyness of the brain, measured by blood flow, to certain regions, when presented with immoral situations. They have published the results of what they found in the journal Frontiers in Evolutionary Neuroscience.
Link: Social gene spotted in 20 seconds, say researchers
Researchers say people can spot whether a complete stranger has a certain “social gene” in just 20 seconds.
Two variants of the “oxytocin receptor gene” have been linked with social traits.
People judging the empathy of strangers – by studying the way they listened to people – predicted the genetic variant, a University of Toronto study showed.
The hormone oxytocin has a role in birth, production of milk and bonding between mother and baby.