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 habitatsand spread across the globe.
Roots maximize [a trees] 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 Earths 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.
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.
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.
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.
Before now, angiosperms (flowering plants) were thought to have a history of no more than 130 million years. The discovery of the novel flower species, which the study authors named Nanjinganthus dendrostyla, throws widely accepted theories of plant evolution into question, by suggesting that they existed around 50 million years earlier. Nanjinganthus also has a variety of 'unexpected' characteristics according to almost all of these theories.
Angiosperms are an important member of the plant kingdom, and their origin has been the topic of long-standing debate among evolutionary biologists. Many previously thought angiosperms could be no more than 130 million years old. However, molecular clocks have indicated that they must be older than this. Until now, there has been no convincing fossil-based evidence to prove that they existed further back in time.
"Researchers were not certain where and how flowers came into existence because it seems that many flowers just popped up in the Cretaceous from nowhere," explains lead author Qiang Fu, Associate Research Professor at the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology, China. "Studying fossil flowers, especially those from earlier geologic periods, is the only reliable way to get an answer to these questions."
Recently analyzed data from NASAs Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission has revealed water locked inside the clays that make up its scientific target, the asteroid Bennu.
During the missions approach phase, between mid-August and early December, the spacecraft traveled 1.4 million miles (2.2 million km) on its journey from Earth to arrive at a location 12 miles (19 km) from Bennu on Dec. 3. During this time, the science team on Earth aimed three of the spacecrafts instruments towards Bennu and began making the missions first scientific observations of the asteroid. OSIRIS-REx is NASAs first asteroid sample return mission.
Data obtained from the spacecrafts two spectrometers, the OSIRIS-REx Visible and Infrared Spectrometer (OVIRS) and the OSIRIS-REx Thermal Emission Spectrometer (OTES), reveal the presence of molecules that contain oxygen and hydrogen atoms bonded together, known as hydroxyls. The team suspects that these hydroxyl groups exist globally across the asteroid in water-bearing clay minerals, meaning that at some point, Bennus rocky material interacted with water. While Bennu itself is too small to have ever hosted liquid water, the finding does indicate that liquid water was present at some time on Bennus parent body, a much larger asteroid.
The presence of hydrated minerals across the asteroid confirms that Bennu, a remnant from early in the formation of the solar system, is an excellent specimen for the OSIRIS-REx mission to study the composition of primitive volatiles and organics, said Amy Simon, OVIRS deputy instrument scientist at NASAs Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. When samples of this material are returned by the mission to Earth in 2023, scientists will receive a treasure trove of new information about the history and evolution of our solar system.
Read more: https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-s-newly-arrived-osiris-rex-spacecraft-already-discovers-water-on-asteroid
The suspicion is that the tiara - or diadem - was made by Denisovans who are already known to have had the technology 50,000 or so years ago to make elegant needles out of ivory and a sophisticated and beautiful stone bracelet.
The tiara maybe the oldest of its type in the world.
It appears to have had a practical use: to keep hair out of the eyes; its size indicates it was for male, not female, use.
Another theory, although related to tiaras made 20,000 years later by people living around river Yana in Yakutia is that they could have denoted the family or tribe of ancient man, acting like a passport or identity card.
The Tibetan Plateau is a tough environment. The average annual temperature is close to 0 °C, and on average its 4000 metres above sea level so the air is difficult to breathe. Most researchers assumed that humans didnt move onto the Tibetan Plateau until just 12,000 years ago and only occupied it permanently about 3600 years ago.
An archaeological site called Nwya Devu suggests otherwise. The site, which is on the Tibetan Plateau 4600 metres above sea level, has yielded thousands of stone tools, albeit few organic remains.
By using technology that establishes how many years have passed since the soil burying the tools was last exposed, archaeologists estimate that the oldest tools are between 40,000 and 30,000 years old. That means humans first occupied the Tibetan Plateau much earlier than we thought.