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Ancient skeleton with ‘extremely rare form of dwarfism’ dating back 5,000 years unearthed in China
A Himalayan lake is known for its many skeletal remains. How they got there has been a mystery for many years. Now, scientists at Penn State resorted to radiocarbon dating to reveal this ancient secret.
Scientists determine the age of dinosaur bones by dating the fossils and the The million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton known as Sue stands on.
In a kinder world, archaeologists would study only formal cemeteries, carefully planned and undisturbed. No landslides would have scattered the remains. No passersby would have taken them home as souvenirs, or stacked them into cairns, or made off with the best of the artifacts. The lake, which is formally known as Roopkund, is miles above sea level in the Himalayas and sits along the route of the Nanda Devi Raj Jat, a famous festival and pilgrimage. Bones are scattered throughout the site: Not a single skeleton found so far is intact.
Since a forest ranger stumbled across the ghostly scene during World War II, explanations for why hundreds of people died there have abounded. These unfortunates were invading Japanese soldiers; they were an Indian army returning from war; they were a king and his party of dancers, struck down by a righteous deity.
A few years ago, a group of archaeologists suggested , after inspecting the bones and dating the carbon within them, that the dead were travelers caught in a lethal hailstorm around the ninth century. In a new study published today in Nature Communications , an international team of more than two dozen archaeologists, geneticists, and other specialists dated and analyzed the DNA from the bones of 37 individuals found at Roopkund.
They were able to suss out new details about these people, but if anything, their findings make the story of this place even more complex.
New technique provides accurate dating of ancient skeletons
When paleontologist Mary Schweitzer found soft tissue in a Tyrannosaurus rex fossil , her discovery raised an obvious question — how the tissue could have survived so long? The bone was 68 million years old, and conventional wisdom about fossilization is that all soft tissue, from blood to brains , decomposes. Only hard parts, like bones and teeth, can become fossils. But for some people, the discovery raised a different question. How do scientists know the bones are really 68 million years old?
A new way of dating skeletons by using mutations in DNA associated with geography will avoid the difficulties and inaccuracies sometimes.
By Colin Barras. One of these vertebrae does not belong to Lucy. In November , palaeoanthropologists Donald Johanson and Tom Gray made the discovery of a lifetime near the village of Hadar in Ethiopia: dozens of fossil fragments belonging to a single hominin skeleton dating back 3. Once the fragments had been pieced together, the skeleton was declared to be of the species Australopithecus afarensis. But the skeleton became known as Lucy, inspired by a Beatles song that blasted out of a cassette player as the researchers celebrated their discovery that evening.
Forty years later, thanks to its age and completeness, Lucy remains an important specimen. It shows, for instance, that our distant ancestors began to walk upright on two legs long before they developed big brains. Williams had been working with Marc Meyer at Chaffey College in Rancho Cucamonga, California, on the spinal column of another early hominin, Australopithecus sediba , and so the two researchers decided to study the fragment.
So Williams and Meyer did a comparative study that included vertebrae from other Australopithecus fossils. To satisfy a personal hunch, Williams also added vertebrae from other animals known to have lived in the Hadar region 3. The results showed, surprisingly, that the fragment may not have belonged to Australopithecus at all. Also, there was no sign of a baboon skeleton at the site where Lucy was discovered in , says William Sanders at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Even so, Sanders wants to see the analysis in detail before he accepts that the vertebra fragment really does belong to a baboon. Trending Latest Video Free.
A simple approach to dating bones
The remains are of a human who would have suffered from a very uncommon form of dwarfism around 5, years ago. All of the skeletons were found with their hands on top of their bodies apart from the skeleton with dwarfism. This medical term covers a range of conditions that affect bone development but most people know it as dwarfism.
lifetime near the village of Hadar in Ethiopia: dozens of fossil fragments belonging to a single hominin skeleton dating back million years.
An international research team led by geoscientists from Heidelberg University studied the remains of the approximately year-old woman. The uranium-thorium dating technique was used to determine the age of the fossil record, which provides important clues on the early settlement history of the American continent. Nine other prehistoric skeletons had already been discovered in this intricate submerged cave system near the coast in the eastern part of the peninsula.
According to Prof. Dr Wolfgang Stinnesbeck, the leader of the research team, not all of the ten skeletons were complete, but they were well preserved. They offer valuable archaeological, palaeontological and climatic information about the American continent and its first inhabitants, the Paleoindians. Stinnesbeck, who teaches and conducts research at the Institute of Earth Sciences of Heidelberg University.
To the researchers, the head shape is an indication that two morphologically different groups of Paleoindians must have lived in America at the same time.
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Osteological evidence comes from submerged caves and sinkholes cenotes near Tulum in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. Here we report on a new skeleton discovered by us in the Chan Hol underwater cave, dating to a minimum age of 9. This is the third Paleoindian human skeleton with mesocephalic cranial characteristics documented by us in the cave, of which a male individual named Chan Hol 2 described recently is one of the oldest human skeletons found on the American continent.
The new discovery emphasizes the importance of the Chan Hol cave and other systems in the Tulum area for understanding the early peopling of the Americas. The new individual, here named Chan Hol 3, is a woman of about 30 years of age with three cranial traumas. There is also evidence for a possible trepanomal bacterial disease that caused severe alteration of the posterior parietal and occipital bones of the cranium.
This is the first time that the presence of such disease is reported in a Paleoindian skeleton in the Americas. This supports the presence of two morphologically different Paleoindian populations for Mexico, coexisting in different geographical areas during the Late Pleistocene-Early Holocene. Editor: Michael D. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Data Availability: All relevant data are within the paper and its Supporting Information files. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
Revealing the new face of a 3.8-million-year-old early human ancestor
Interest in the origins of human populations and their migration routes has increased greatly in recent years. A critical aspect of tracing migration events is dating them. Inspired by the Geographic Population Structure model that can track mutations in DNA that are associated with geography, researchers have developed a new analytic method, the Time Population Structure TPS , that uses mutations to predict time in order to date the ancient DNA.
At this point, in its embryonic state, TPS has already shown that its results are very similar to those obtained with traditional radiocarbon dating. We found that the average difference between our age predictions on samples that existed up to 45, years ago, and those given by radiocarbon dating, was years. This study adds a powerful instrument to the growing toolkit of paleogeneticists that can contribute to our understanding of ancient cultures, most of which are currently known from archaeology and ancient literature,” says Dr Esposito.
Samples from the bones were quickly sent for radiocarbon dating to confirm Chatters As a result, the skeleton was dated to +/- 60 C14 yrs bp by R. Ervin.
Little Foot is a big deal. However, Little Foot has caused quite a stir among the scientific community, and no one could agree on how old he is. According to their results, Little Foot died 3. In a different section to Little Foot, paleontologists also discovered an assemblage of early stone tools, which are thought to be some of the oldest known from South Africa.
While there is no doubt that the site is millions of years old, the precise age of the specimens has been contentious. Although many agreed with an estimate of 3 million years, scientists were keen to attempt to place a more accurate date on the skeleton using a technique called isochron burial dating. This method involves measuring the ratios of different forms, or isotopes, of the elements aluminum and beryllium in the rocks surrounding the fossil. When the rock goes underground, the atoms begin to decay at a known rate, which is assumed to be constant.
By looking at the ratios of these isotopes, scientists can therefore estimate how long a sample has been buried for. According to their measurements, Little Foot is 3. Scientists are still conducting detailed analyses of the skeleton, which should hopefully offer some further clarity on this issue.