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RandiFan1290

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The World's Oldest Forest Has 385-Million-Year-Old Tree Roots

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/385-million-year-old-fossils-reveal-worlds-oldest-forest-had-modern-tree-roots-180973810/



At three trillion strong, Earth’s trees are estimated to outnumber the stars in the Milky Way. These woody wonders sponge carbon dioxide out of the skies, brace soil against erosion, cycle water through ecosystems and support countless forms of life. And we largely have their sophisticated root systems to thank.

Sprouting from the base of tree trunks, roots are the arboreal equivalent of a digestive tract, exchanging water and nutrients with surrounding soils. Roots literally anchor a plant, and the more extensive they are, the bigger and stronger the stuff above ground can grow. In their modern forms, they helped trees dominate their habitats—and spread across the globe.

“Roots maximize [a tree’s] physiological capacity,” says Christopher Berry, a paleobotanist at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom. “An efficient rooting system is key to being a successful tree.”

Now, new research from Berry and his colleagues suggests the modern versions of these stupendous structures are more deeply rooted in the arboreal family tree than ever thought before. Their team has uncovered Earth’s oldest known forest outside Cairo, New York, as detailed today in the journal Current Biology. At 385 million years old, the ancient woodland predates the rise of seed-producing plants, a group that includes almost all living trees. The Paleozoic forest is also home to the remnants of intricate tree root systems that bear an uncanny resemblance to those still around today.

Earliest known cave art by modern humans found in Indonesia

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/dec/11/earliest-known-cave-art-by-modern-humans-found-in-indonesia

Cave art depicting human-animal hybrid figures hunting warty pigs and dwarf buffaloes has been dated to nearly 44,000 years old, making it the earliest known cave art by our species.

The artwork in Indonesia is nearly twice as old as any previous hunting scene and provides unprecedented insights into the earliest storytelling and the emergence of modern human cognition.

Previously, images of this level of sophistication dated to about 20,000 years ago, with the oldest cave paintings believed to be more basic creations such as handprints.

Harvard study reveals ancient Mesoamericans knowledge about Earth's magnetism

https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2019/07/harvard-study-reveals-ancient-mesoamericans-knowledge-about-earths-magnetism/


The purpose of Mesoamerican potbelly statues have been the subject of debate among anthropologists for decades: Are they depictions of the ruling elite? A way to honor dead ancestors? Or perhaps portrayals of women giving birth?

As the various theories wound their way through academic circles, the surprising discovery four decades ago that many of the statues, found in Guatemala, are magnetized in certain spots added a new dimension to those discussions.

And a Harvard study suggests that where those areas show up is no accident.

Led by Assistant Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences Roger Fu, a team of researchers has shown that artisans carved the figures so that the magnetic areas fell at the navel or right temple — suggesting not only that Mesoamerican people were familiar with the concept of magnetism but also that they had some way of detecting the magnetized spots. The study is described in an April 12 paper published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.




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'A big jump': People might have lived in Australia twice as long as we thought

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/postcolonial-blog/2019/mar/11/a-big-jump-people-might-have-lived-in-australia-twice-as-long-as-we-thought


Extensive archaeological research in southern Victoria has again raised the prospect that people have lived in Australia for 120,000 years – twice as long as the broadly accepted period of human continental habitation.

The research, with its contentious potential implications for Indigenous habitation of the continent that came to be Australia, has been presented to the Royal Society of Victoria by a group of academics including Jim Bowler, the eminent 88-year-old geologist who in 1969 and 1974 discovered the bones of Mungo Lady and Mungo Man, the oldest human remains found in Australia.

Mungo Man, his remains discovered in a dry water bed in the Willandra Lakes district of New South Wales, lived some 42,000 years ago. He was a modern human or homo sapien, Indigenous to Australia, who was buried with sophisticated funerary rites including the use of fire and ochre.


Earlier contentious scientific research that pointed to human habitation in Australia up to 120,000 years ago – including in the Kimberley – has been largely dismissed.
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