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Going to be a wierd February.

Veverka's Blog for Heritage Interpreters

With so much to discover, learn and experience, turn the page then...

1 February 2023 Hi and welcome to my first February 2023 blog. I have a lot going on for 2023- new courses and working on new textbooks. My new book and course: Heritage Economics: A Guide for Interpreters, Planners, Site Managers, and Educators is at the Publishers (MuseumsEtc - London) and shoulld be out in early spring.  I have a new course on Economics for Heritage Interpreters now too:  More on the new book when it's available.

Other Big News - Beginning this year my 2023 issue of InterpNEWS,  will only be available by SUBSCRIPTIONS.
 Don't get scared, subcriptions will only be $20.00 a year.  You can go to the updated InterpNEWS website for details - and to subscribe early if you'd liike.


 Mar/April Issue: Interpreting Cowgirls and women who ruled the wild west.  Our May/June Issue - Secrets of the
Deep.  Subscriptions are only $20.00/Year for all issues.


InterpNEWS Jan/Feb 2023 Issue
Legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers Now Available.

  In this issue:

-Buffalo Soldiers -Legend and Legacy     
-Buffalo Soldiers -The National Park Service     
-Why Buffalo Soldiers Served Among the Nation's First Park Rangers - Alexis Clark  
-The Archeology of Buffalo Soldiers and Apaches in the Southwest – NPS    
-The Role of "Buffalo Soldiers" in the Native-American Wars - Patty Inglish  
-Memoirs of a World War II Buffalo Soldier - Abby Callard   
-How the ‘Buffalo Soldiers’ helped turn the tide in Italy during World War II -Robert Hodges, Jr.
-10 Facts About Buffalo Soldiers   
- Cathay Williams -Female Buffalo Soldier   
- Black Cowboys: The Unsung Heroes of the Frontier   
-The African American Women of the Wild West  

f you’d like to subscribe to InterpNEWS for 2023 and receive this new issue you can visit the InterpNEWS website for an overview of recent (free) issues and the issues planned for 2023 and subscribe  to InterpNEWS at the bottom of the page.


Updated two climate courses for 2023.  Start a course anytime - complete the course at your own pace with live online support via zoom or skype.

1. Interpreting the Climate Crisis - 2023
2. Interpretive Planning for Programs, Exhibits, Panels and Related Services To Help You to Interpret Climate Change and Global Warming Issues to Your Audiences, Communities and Regions.

13 Units, 4 CEU's $250.00. Our Climate Change special resource issues will be included.
Interpretive Planning for Climate Change (

Visit my new Climate Crisis/interpretation Resource Center:


Is ET Real? - Some say YES!

The answer may be hanging in our art galleries or painted on ancient walls.

With this new "fun" course we'll look at whats been left behind for evidence and watch the US Navy fighter jets chasing one (and video taping it).  For more about this unique course check out the web site.


New Interpretive Stories to Share

What is brain fog?
By Joanna Thompson published 13 days ago

Mental fuzziness can be frustrating and can be caused by lack of sleep
or even an underlying illness.

Chronic brain fog is usually described as having difficulty focusing,
mild confusion, "fuzzy" or sluggish thoughts, forgetfulness and a general
sense of fatigue. (Image credit: Jorm Sangsorn via Getty Image)

Have you ever been so tired you couldn't think straight, or gotten stuck rereading the same sentence over and over? For people who live with brain fog, these experiences are part of everyday life.

But what exactly is brain fog? And is it a cause for concern?

Officially, "brain fog" isn't a medical term. "It's the colloquial jargon that patients now use to try to communicate to their doctor what's going on," Amy Arnsten(opens in new tab), a neuroscientist at the Yale School of Medicine, told Live Science.

The term is typically used to describe a constellation of persistent symptoms, including difficulty focusing, mild confusion, "fuzzy" or sluggish thoughts, forgetfulness and a general sense of fatigue. Most people have some passing familiarity with these sensations, but if these feelings become chronic they can affect a person's quality of life.

Just because brain fog lacks a strict clinical definition doesn't mean it isn't real. "I see [persistent] brain fog as a sign that something is amiss," Sabina Brennan(opens in new tab), a neuroscientist and author of the book "Beating Brain Fog(opens in new tab)" (Orion Publishing Group, 2021), told Live Science in an email.

What causes brain fog?

Patients presenting with brain fog may have an underlying health condition. It could be caused by some mild structural or functional damage to an area of the brain known as the prefrontal cortex, which is involved in cognitive processes such as planning and decision making. This region, which covers part of the frontal lobe, "is the most recently evolved part of our brains," Arnsten said, "and it has different neurotransmission than some of our older, more traditional circuits, like in sensory cortexes." These delicate neural circuits may be particularly sensitive to inflammation caused by infection or head trauma.

But brain fog can accompany a whole host of conditions. Inflammatory diseases such as multiple sclerosis or lupus can induce chronic brain fog, as well as bacterial infections like Lyme disease. Patients with depression or anxiety may be familiar with scattered, muddled feelings associated with brain fog. High blood pressure, low blood sugar, head injuries and sleep deprivation can all produce the effect, as can the onset of menopause. Even some medical treatments can induce brain fog — for example, certain blood pressure medications, sleep aids and chemotherapy.

But perhaps the most high-profile cause of brain fog currently is long COVID. People with long COVID can experience lingering symptoms weeks, months or even years after their initial SARS-CoV-2 infection. One of the most common symptoms reported by these patients is chronic brain fog.

A 2022 study published in the journal Nature(opens in new tab) found that COVID-19 can cause abnormalities and up to 2% more rapid gray matter loss in certain regions of the brain, including the prefrontal cortex. This, in turn, can impact people's cognitive abilities. "We found that the infected participants showed a greater decline in their ability to perform complex tasks compared with non-infected participants," Gwenaëlle Douaud(opens in new tab), first author of the study and a neuroscientist at the University of Oxford's Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences told Live Science in an email.

Can you treat brain fog?
The good news is that, in most cases, brain fog is treatable. "The human brain is pretty resilient," Brennan said.

Identifying the underlying cause is key to addressing brain fog. If mental fuzziness is due to stress or lack of sleep, then something as simple as a good night's rest can alleviate it (though this is, of course, easier said than done). In addition, lifestyle changes such as exercise, eating well and stimulating the mind with puzzles can help minimize some cognitive cloudiness, according to Brennan.


Which animals have entered the 'Stone Age'?
By Meg Duff published 12 days ago

Humans aren't the only species that has entered the Stone Age. Who else is in the club?

Bearded capuchins are in their own "stone age," as they use rocks as tools.
Here a bearded capuchin cracks open a coconut with a stone.en a coconut
with a stone. (Image credit: Dorit Bar-Zakay via Getty Images)

From ants(opens in new tab) to fish(opens in new tab) to crows(opens in new tab), many animals use rocks as tools. But until recently, only humans and our hominin relatives had a recognized archaeological record of stone tool use. Now, the scientific community acknowledges that hominins have company. So which species have entered their own archaeological "stone age," so to speak?

It turns out, the Stone Age isn't the most exclusive club. Chimpanzees, capuchin monkeys and long-tailed macaques have also joined: archeological remains now document that they were using stone tools in the past. Sea otters(opens in new tab) may be next.

In each of the primate species, tool use is a socially learned behavior. "It has become part of their culture," said Katarina Almeida-Warren(opens in new tab), a primate archaeologist at the University of Oxford who studies chimpanzees. Different groups use different tools. Some chimpanzee groups, for example, use a 'hammer' rock dropped on an 'anvil' rock to crush nuts, Almeida-Warren told Live Science.

Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) have been using hammer and anvil tools for millennia. According to research published in 2007 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences(opens in new tab), chimpanzees in the Ivory Coast wielded these tools 4,300 years ago. "The 'Chimpanzee Stone Age' pre-dates the advent of settled farming villages in this part of the African rainforest," the researchers wrote in the study.

Capuchin monkeys (Sapajus libidinosus) in Brazil also use stone tools to crack nuts; researchers have discovered nut-cracking stones used by capuchins up to 3,000 years ago. Their tool styles changed over millennia in response to different foods, according to findings in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution(opens in new tab).

Then, on a beach in Thailand, a team found stone tools that were once used by Burmese long-tailed macaques (​​Macaca fascicularis aurea) to open shells. These tools were likely employed between 1950 and 2004, according to a 2016 paper in the Journal of Human Evolution(opens in new tab).

It's unclear how these primates came to use stone tools. In the case of the chimps, early stone tools suggest that their "percussive material culture" was inherited by a common ancestor of humans and chimps, the researchers wrote in the study. However, it's also possible that humans and chimps learned how to use stone tools independently of each other; that appears to be the case with the other animals known to use stone tools.

"Stone tools have this mystique," said Tiago Falótico, a biologist and primatologist at the University of São Paulo who was a co-author of the capuchin tools study. But entering a "stone age" does not mean that a group will follow a human trajectory anytime soon, he told Live Science. Nor does it indicate that stone tool users are necessarily smarter than other animal tool users. "You can have the same cognition with stones or wood or leaves," Falótico said.

Instead, stone tools are valuable to the research community because they last. Knowing that primate tools may appear in excavations is important for archaeologists and anthropologists to consider. "There's a lot of debate surrounding who's done what," Almeida-Warren said.


Massive megalodon tooth discovered in Chesapeake Bay by 9-year-old fossil hunter
By Harry Baker published 13 days ago

A 9-year-old girl from Maryland, who has collected more than 400 fossilized shark teeth, discovered a 5-inch megalodon gnasher on Christmas Day.

Molly Sampson holds the 5-inch megalodon tooth she
discovered at Calvert Cliffs State Park in Maryland.
(Image credit: Alicia Sampson)

A 9-year-old fossil hunter who has collected more than 400 shark teeth along the Maryland coastline has found an enormous chomper belonging to a megalodon — the largest shark to ever swim Earth's oceans.

Molly Sampson fished out the 5-inch-long (13 centimeters) tooth on Christmas Day (Dec. 25), 2022, in shallow water on a beach at the Calvert Cliffs State Park in the Maryland region of Chesapeake Bay, Newsweek(opens in new tab) originally reported.

Molly and her older sister Natalie are both avid fossil hunters(opens in new tab) and each received a new pair of chest-high waders for Christmas to help them search for paleontological treasures, the girls' mother Alicia Sampson told Live Science in an email. After opening their presents on Christmas morning, the pair immediately set out with their father Bruce to test out their new gear. On the walk down to the beach, Molly exclaimed that she was "looking for a Meg," and within half an hour of wading in the shallows she had found what she was looking for, Alicia said.

The Sampsons took the enormous tooth to Stephen Godfrey(opens in new tab), a curator of paleontogloy at Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons, who confirmed that it belonged to a megalodon (Otodus megalodon). Godfrey described the find as a "once-in-a-lifetime" discovery, Alicia said.

Megalodons roamed Earth's oceans during the Neogene period (23 million to 2.6 million years ago). The gigantic sharks likely grew to up to 65 feet(opens in new tab) (20 meters) long and were the fastest sharks to ever exist. But these apex predators were likely driven to extinction by the emergence of the smaller but more successful great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias).

"Dr. Godfrey explained to Molly that the shark would've been the size of a Greyhound bus," Alicia said. "Molly didn't know what that was so she looked it up and could not believe it."

Like modern-day sharks, megalodon sharks had cartilaginous skeletons, which do not fossilize well. As a result, most of what scientists know about the enormous predators comes from their teeth, like the one Molly found, which have a harder composition and were preserved in ancient seafloor sediments after falling out the giant sharks' mouths.

Molly is not the only child to discover a megalodon tooth. In May 2022, a 6-year-old boy in the U.K. found a 4-inch-long (10 cm) megalodon tooth on a beach in Sussex, England. But unlike other paleontology prodigies, Molly has come across multiple megalodon teeth.


Squid and human brains develop the same way despite diverging
500 million years ago
By Ben Turner published 12 days ago

It seems that the blueprint for complex brain development remains the

same, despite 500 million years of divergent evolution.

Longfin squid embryos at a late stage of development.
(Image credit: Kristen Koenig)

Scientists who watched nerve cells connect inside the eyes of growing squid have uncovered a remarkable secret — the cephalopods’ brains independently evolved to develop in the same way ours do.

The discovery, made using high-resolution cameras focused on the retinas of longfin squid (Doryteuthis pealeii) embryos, reveals that, in spite of 500 million years of divergent evolution, the basic blueprint for how complex brains and nervous systems evolve may be the same across a wide range of species.

The intelligence of cephalopods — a class of marine animals that includes octopuses, squid and cuttlefish — has long been a subject of fascination among biologists. Unlike most invertebrates, these animals possess remarkable memories; use tools to solve problems; excel at camouflage; react with curiosity, boredom or even playful malevolence to their surroundings; and can dream, if the ripples of colors that flash across their skin as they sleep are any indication.

Now, this new study, published Dec. 5, 2022 in the journal Current Biology, suggests that key parts of the formula for advanced intelligence, on Earth at least, remain the same.

"Our conclusions were surprising because a lot of what we know about nervous system development in vertebrates has long been thought to be special to that lineage," study senior author Kristen Koenig, a molecular biologist at Harvard University, said in a statement. "By observing the fact that the process is very similar, what it suggested to us is that these two [lineages] independently evolved very large nervous systems using the same mechanisms to build them. What that suggests is that those mechanisms — those tools — the animals use during development may be important for building big nervous systems."


Radio signal from 8 billion light-years away could reveal the secrets
of the universe's 'dark age'
By Ben Turner published 8 days ago

Astronomers detected a radio signal from deeper in space than ever

before, using a cosmic trick first predicted by Einstein.

The Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope, located in Pune, India,
received the record-breaking signal. (Image credit: National Centre for Radio Astrophysics)

By using warped space-time as a magnifying glass, astronomers have picked up the most distant signal of its kind from a remote galaxy, and it could blow open a window into how our universe formed.

The record-breaking radio frequency signal, picked up by the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) in India, came from the galaxy SDSSJ0826+5630, located 8.8 billion light-years from Earth, meaning the signal was emitted when the universe was roughly a third of its current age.

The signal is an emission line from the universe's most primordial element: neutral hydrogen. In the aftermath of the Big Bang, this element existed throughout the cosmos as a turbulent fog from which the first stars and galaxies eventually formed. Astronomers have long searched for distant signals from neutral hydrogen in the hope of finding the moment the first stars began to shine. However, given the extraordinary distances involved, those signals have proven difficult to spot.

Now, a new study, published Dec. 23 in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society,(opens in new tab) shows that an effect called gravitational lensing could help astronomers spot evidence of neutral hydrogen.

"A galaxy emits different kinds of radio signals," study lead author Arnab Chakraborty(opens in new tab), a cosmologist at McGill University in Canada, said in a statement(opens in new tab). "Until now, it's only been possible to capture this particular signal from a galaxy nearby, limiting our knowledge to those galaxies closer to Earth."

The 'dark age' of the universe

Forged roughly 400,000 years after the beginning of the universe when protons and electrons first bonded to neutrons, neutral hydrogen populated the dim early cosmos throughout its so-called dark age — an epoch before the first stars and galaxies came into existence.

When stars do eventually form, they blast out fierce ultraviolet light that strips the electrons from much of the hydrogen atoms in the space surrounding them, thus ionizing the atoms so they're no longer neutral. Eventually, young stars lose their ultraviolet intensity, and some of the ionized atoms recombine into neutral hydrogen. Detecting and studying neutral hydrogen can provide an insight into the lives of the earliest stars, as well as the time before stars existed.

Neutral hydrogen emits light at a characteristic wavelength of 21 centimeters. But using neutral-hydrogen signals to study the early universe is a tough task, as the long-wavelength, low-intensity waves often get drowned out across vast cosmic distances. Until now, the farthest 21 cm hydrogen signal detected was 4.4 billion light-years away.

Gravitational lensing peers into the past

To find a signal at double the previous distance, the researchers turned to an effect called gravitational lensing.


Royal tomb discovered near Luxor dates to time when female pharaoh
co-ruled ancient Egypt
By Owen Jarus published 8 days ago

The tomb dates from a period when ancient Egypt was co-ruled by

the female pharaoh Hatshepsut and Thutmose III.

The tomb, located here, was found in October 2022 by a team of archaeologists
exploring the Wadi Gabbanat el-Qurud, near Luxor. (Image credit: Courtesy
of the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities)

Archaeologists in Egypt have discovered a 3,500-year-old royal tomb near Luxor. The tomb was likely constructed at a time when Hatshepsut, a female pharaoh, co-ruled ancient Egypt.

"Partial inscriptions and ceramic evidence suggest this was constructed during the joint-reign of Thutmose III and Hatshepsut," archaeologists said in a statement.

The tomb was excavated by a team of archaeologists from the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and the New Kingdom Research Foundation mission, which is affiliated with the MacDonald Institute for Archaeological Research at the University of Cambridge. The team found the tomb in October 2022 while exploring an area near Luxor called the Wadi Gabbanat el-Qurud, which is located near the Valley of the Kings.

Thutmose III was a child, possibly only 2 years old, when he came to the throne around 1479 B.C., and Hatshepsut, his stepmother, acted as his regent and later co-ruler until her death around 1458 B.C. Their joint reign saw the construction of a temple at Deir el-Bahri and a successful Egyptian expedition to a place known as Punt — which may have been located in East Africa.

The newfound tomb contains multiple burials, and "the architecture, as currently understood, indicates the tomb was altered several times shortly after it was first constructed," the team said in the statement.


Is the Yellowstone supervolcano really 'due' for an eruption?
By Joe Phelan published 8 days ago

Yellowstone's supervolcano last erupted 70,000 years ago.
Will it erupt again anytime soon?

A hydrothermal feature at Yellowstone National Park.
(Image credit: zrfphoto via Getty Images)

The Yellowstone Caldera — the cauldron-like basin at the summit of the volcano — is so colossal that it is often called a "supervolcano," which, according to the Natural History Museum(opens in new tab) in London, means it has the capacity to "produce a magnitude-eight eruption on the Volcanic Explosivity Index, discharging more than 1,000 cubic kilometers [240 cubic miles] of material."

To put that into perspective, the 1991 eruption of Pinatubo in the Philippines, arguably the most powerful volcanic eruption in living memory, was rated a 6 on the Volcanic Explosivity Index, making it, according to the Natural History Museum, "around 100 times smaller than the benchmark for a supervolcano."

So should we be worried? Will Yellowstone erupt anytime soon?

Is Yellowstone "due" for an eruption?
Media reports have often claimed that Yellowstone is due to erupt. They claim that because the last eruption of the supervolcano was 70,000 years ago(opens in new tab), it's bound to blow soon. But that's not how volcanoes work.

"This is perhaps the most common misconception about Yellowstone, and about volcanoes in general. Volcanoes don't work on timelines," Michael Poland(opens in new tab), a geophysicist and the scientist-in-charge at Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, told Live Science in an email. "They erupt when there is enough eruptible magma beneath the surface, and pressure to cause that magma to ascend.

"Neither condition is in place at Yellowstone right now," he added. "It's all about that magma supply. Cut that off, and the volcano won't erupt."

Many volcanoes go through cycles of activity and inactivity, Poland said. More often than not, a volcano's activity is a direct consequence of the magma supply. "Some volcanoes do seem to have regular eruptions, but this is because the magma supply is relatively constant — think Kilauea in Hawaii or Stromboli in Italy," Poland said.

Related: The 11 biggest volcanic eruptions in history

So where does the idea of Yellowstone being "overdue" for an eruption come from, then?

"I suspect the 'overdue' idea comes from the concept of earthquakes," Poland said. "Earthquakes happen as stress accumulates on faults, and in many places this stress accumulates at relatively constant rates due to, for example, plate motion. That being the case, you might expect earthquakes to occur at somewhat regular intervals. It is, of course, more complicated than that — there are many variables at play — but for that reason, it makes more sense to say that a fault is 'overdue' for an earthquake."

Poland also noted that "supervolcanoes" — a term he considers somewhat crude and sensationalist — are "no more or less temperamental" than other volcanoes. So, how do experts keep an eye on Yellowstone's subterranean activity so that, in the case of a major volcanic eruption, warnings can be given?

"Yellowstone is very well monitored by a variety of techniques," Poland said. "It is covered in terms of seismicity and ground deformation. We track the temperatures of some thermal features, although this is not an indicator of volcanic activity, but rather of the behavior of specific hydrothermal areas. We look at overall thermal emissions from space, collect gas and water to assess chemistry over time, and track stream/river flow and chemistry."


Domesticated chickens could wipe out their wild ancestors — by having sex with them
By Harry Baker published 9 days ago

A new study has revealed that red junglefowl, the wild ancestors of chickens,
are losing their genetic diversity as they mate with their domesticated counterparts.

A mating pair of wild red junglefowl (female on left, male on right).
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Red junglefowl are under threat from domesticated chickens that want to mate with them, a new study shows. These wild birds, the ancestors of domesticated chickens, risk losing their genetic diversity because they are breeding with farmed chickens that putter around their natural habitat.

If this crossbreeding continues, it could threaten junglefowl's survival in the future, which would likely have knock-on effects for their domestic counterparts.

Between 6,000 and 8,000 years ago, humans began to farm red junglefowl (Gallus gallus) for the first time in China and other parts of Southeast Asia. As farmers selectively bred individuals with desirable traits, such as having more meat or producing more eggs, junglefowl gradually evolved into what we now know as chickens (G. g. domesticus), which are a subspecies of red junglefowl. The practice of farming chickens was then eventually adopted all over the globe.

Today, there are five wild subspecies of red junglefowl: G. g. gallus, which live in India, Bangladesh and Southeast Asia; G. g bankiva, on the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra; G. g. jabouillei, native to Vietnam; G. g. murghi, which are found in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan; and G.g. spadiceus, which live in Myanmar and Thailand. All of these subspecies can successfully breed with domesticated chickens, meaning that chickens' genes, which were artificially selected by farmers, can be introduced to wild populations. Scientists call this type of genetic mixing introgressive hybridization, or introgression.

As chicken farming has intensified around the world due to increased demand for meat and more efficient farming practices, the amount of introgression between chickens and wild junglefowl is believed to have increased significantly, but until now nobody had studied this in detail.


'Monster cane toad' dubbed 'Toadzilla' found in Australia
By Jennifer Nalewicki published 8 days ago

Rangers in Australia stumbled upon a giant cane toad

resembling a "football with legs"

The portly cane toad is likely a record breaker, weighing in at a
whopping 6 pounds (2.7 kilograms). (Image credit: Queensland Department
of Environment and Science)

A jumbo-size cane toad (Rhinella marina) captured in Queensland, Australia, has tipped the scales at a whopping 6 pounds (2.7 kilograms), earning it the nickname "Toadzilla" and likely making it the largest example of the species on record.

Rangers stumbled upon the hefty amphibian on Jan. 19 in Conway National Park while they were conducting track work. They announced their discovery via a tweet, writing that they were "shocked to find a monster cane toad" that weighed as much as a rooster.

"I just couldn't believe it to be honest — I've never seen anything so big," Kylee Gray, a ranger for the Queensland Department of Environment and Science, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)(opens in new tab). "It flinched when I walked up to it and I yelled out to my supervisor to show him. [It looked] almost like a football with legs."

Gray described the find as "a big warty, brown, ugly cane toad just sitting in the dirt," and she and her colleagues think it was a female, "due to the size, and female cane toads do grow bigger than males."

The official largest known toad on record is a cane toad (also called a marine toad) found in 1991, also in Australia, that weighed 5 pounds, 13 ounces (2.65 kg), according to Guinness World Records.

After weighing the portly toad found at the national park, rangers euthanized it "due to the environmental damage they cause," they wrote in the tweet.

"A cane toad that size will eat anything it can fit into its mouth," Gray told ABC, "and that includes insects, reptiles and small mammals."

CNN(opens in new tab) reported that the toad's remains have been sent to the Queensland Museum for further analysis.


Stunning CT scans of 'Golden Boy' mummy from ancient
Egypt reveal 49 hidden amulets
By Jennifer Nalewicki published 5 days ago

Stunning CT scans of 'Golden Boy' mummy from ancient Egypt
reveal 49 hidden amulets

A series of images from the study, including CT scans that "digitally unwrapped
" the mummy. (Image credit: S.N. Saleem, S.A. Seddik, M. El-Halwagy)

Incredibly detailed computed tomography (CT scans) of the so-called "Golden Boy" mummy from ancient Egypt have revealed a hidden trove of 49 amulets, many of which were made of gold.

The young mummy earned its nickname because of the dazzling display of wealth, which included a gilded head mask found in the mummy's sarcophagus. Researchers think he was about 14 or 15 years old when he died because his wisdom teeth had not yet emerged.

The Golden Boy was originally unearthed in 1916 at a cemetery in southern Egypt and has been stored in the basement of The Egyptian Museum in Cairo ever since. The mummy had been "laid inside two coffins, an outer coffin with a Greek inscription and an inner wooden sarcophagus," according to a statement(opens in new tab).

While analyzing the scans, the researchers found that the dozens of amulets, comprised of 21 different shapes and sizes, were strategically placed on or inside his body.

Those included "a two-finger amulet next to the [boy’s] uncircumcised penis, a golden heart scarab placed inside the thoracic cavity and a golden tongue inside the mouth," according to the statement.

The mummy was also wearing a pair of sandals, and a garland of ferns was draped across his body, according to the statement.

"This mummy is a showcase of Egyptian beliefs about death and the afterlife during the Ptolemaic period," Sahar Saleem(opens in new tab), the study's lead author and a professor of radiology at the Faculty of Medicine, Cairo University in Egypt, told Live Science in an email.

While researchers aren't sure of the mummy's true identity, based on the grave goods alone, they think he was of high socioeconomic status.

The amulets served important roles in the afterlife.

"Ancient Egyptians believed in the power of amulets … and they were used for protection and for providing specific benefits for the living and the dead," Saleem said. "In modern science, this is explained by energy. Different materials, shapes and colors (e.g. crystals) provide energy with different wavelengths that could have [an] effect on the body. Amulets were used by ancient Egyptians in their lives. Embalmers placed amulets during mummification to vitalize the dead body."

For example, the teenage mummy's tongue was capped in gold "to enable the deceased to speak" and the sandals "were to enable the deceased to walk out of the tomb in the [afterlife]," Saleem said.

However, one amulet in particular stood out to Saleem: the golden heart scarab placed inside the torso cavity. She wound up creating a replica of it using a 3D printer.

"It was really amazing especially after I 3D printed [it] and was able to hold it in my hands," Saleem said. "There were engraved marks on the back that could represent the inscriptions and spells the priests wrote to protect the boy during his journey. Scarabs symbolize rebirth in ancient Egyptians and [were] in the form of a discoid (disc-shaped) beetle."


Stone Age child may have been buried with a wolf
By Jennifer Nalewicki published November 07, 2022

Considering Finland's highly acidic soil, archaeologists were surprised to find animal fur and feathers buried alongside a child from the Stone Age.

An artist's impression of what the child may have looked like. Researchers
think a dog or wolf was buried alongside the deceased. (Image credit: Tom Björklund)

A Stone Age burial in Finland holds the remains of a child, as well as an assortment of grave goods, bird feathers, canine hairs and plant fibers, giving archaeologists insight into burial practices from that time period.

First discovered in 1991 in Majoonsuo, an archaeological site near the town of Outokumpu in eastern Finland, the grave contains the teeth of a child, who, based on a dental analysis, died between the ages of 3 and 10. Archaeologists from the Finnish Heritage Agency(opens in new tab), a cultural and research institution in Helsinki, determined it was a grave site based on red ochre — an iron-rich soil commonly associated with burial sites and rock art — that had stained a gravel roadway. The agency’s excavation team examined the site in 2018 and determined that it was "at risk of destruction," according to a statement(opens in new tab).

Based on the trapezoidal shape of two arrowheads made of quartz, the archaeologists determined that the grave dates to the Mesolithic period, or Middle Stone Age, roughly 8,000 years ago. After analyzing soil samples, the researchers discovered barbules from the feathers of waterfowl that could have been used to create a bed of down feathers for the child; they also found a single falcon feather fragment. This falcon feather may have been fletching that helped guide an arrow, or perhaps a decoration on a garment, the researchers said.

At the base of the burial lay 24 fragments of mammalian hair. While many of the hairs were badly degraded, the researchers determined that three came from a canine, possibly a wolf or a dog that may have been laid at the feet of the child as part of the burial. It's also possible that the canid hairs came from clothing, such as footwear crafted from dogskin or wolfskin, worn by the child, the teams noted.


Primordial asteroids are like giant space pillows and could be harder
to destroy than previously thought
By Ben Turner published 5 days ago

The asteroid has survived in space for nearly as long as the solar system has existed

The rubble pile asteroid as imaged by the Hayabusa 1 probe in
2005. (Image credit: JAXA)

Dust collected from the surface of an ancient, peanut-shaped and "potentially-hazardous" asteroid has revealed that some space rocks are much bouncier and harder to destroy than first thought — posing concerns about Earth’s long-term safety.

The analysis of three tiny dust particles — gathered from the surface of the 1640-foot-long (500 meters) rubble pile asteroid Itokawa — shows that the cosmic wanderer has survived in space despite numerous collisions for at least 4.2 billion years. This means that not only are asteroids of the same type more likely to come into contact with our planet, but that smashing into them will probably not be the best way to deflect or destroy such space rocks.

A ‘giant cushion’ in space
Rubble piles are smashed up former asteroids birthed in the wake of giant impacts and consist of stones and boulders that are loosely gathered and bound together by gravity. Typically, almost half of a rubble pile asteroid’s volume is made up of empty space, leaving scientists curious about these space rocks’ shock-absorbing capabilities. Now, a new study, published Jan 23. in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has revealed that the heaps of space rock have survived for nearly as long as the solar system has existed.

"The huge impact that destroyed Itokawa’s monolithic parent asteroid and formed Itokawa happened at least 4.2 billion years ago. Such an astonishingly long survival time for an asteroid the size of Itokawa is attributed to the shock-absorbent nature of rubble pile material," lead author Fred Jourdan, a geochemist at the University of Curtin in Perth, Australia, said in a statement. "In short, we found that Itokawa is like a giant space cushion, and very hard to destroy."

The dust samples were collected from Itokawa in 2005 during the Japanese Space Agency’s Hayabusa 1 mission, which sent a probe on a 3.8 billion mile (6 billion kilometers) round-trip to land on the asteroid — scraping the tiny grains from its surface before safely returning them to Earth in 2010.

To analyze the samples, the researchers used two methods. In the first, called electron backscattered diffraction, the scientists blasted the dust grains with a beam of electrons, allowing the team to study the grains’ crystalline structure from the way the electrons diffracted off their surfaces. The second method, argon-argon dating, fired another beam at the grains — this time from a laser — to release argon gas, which revealed the asteroid’s age based on the extent of the gas’s radioactive decay.

The researchers found that Itokawa had been drifting around space for eons, easily outliving single-boulder asteroids which only have predicted survival times in the hundreds of thousands of years.

"We set out to answer whether rubble pile asteroids are resistant to being shocked or whether they fragment at the slightest knock," co-author Nick Timms, a geologist at the University of Curtin, said in the statement. "Now that we have found they can survive in the solar system for almost its entire history, they must be more abundant in the asteroid belt than previously thought, so there is more chance that if a big asteroid is hurtling toward Earth, it will be a rubble pile."


Alaskan sea otters were brought back from the brink of extinction.
Now wolves are hunting them.
By Ben Turner published 5 days ago

The wolves appear to be snatching otters from shallow waters

and rocks along the shore.

A wolf looks out along the shoreline on Pleasant Island, Alaska.
(Image credit: Oregon State University/Alaska Department of Fish and Game)

After eradicating their deer prey, wolves on a remote Alaskan island have turned to voraciously hunting and consuming sea otters as their main food source, a new study has revealed.

The discovery, made on the 20 square mile (52 square kilometers) Pleasant Island located roughly 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Juneau, Alaska, marks the very first time that sea otters (Enhydra lutris) have been documented as the primary food source for a land-based predator.

The wolf pack responsible for the otter carnage first swam to the island to begin hunting in 2013, subsequently causing the island's deer population to plummet. Yet after eliminating their main source of food from the island, the wolves (Canis lupus) didn't leave. Now, a study published Jan 23. in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences(opens in new tab), has tracked the pack since 2015 to reveal how the wolves adapted to eat otters.

"They aren't just scavenging sea otters that are dead or dying, they are stalking them and hunting them and killing them and dragging them up onto the land above the high tide line to consume them," study co-author Gretchen Roffler(opens in new tab), a wildlife research biologist at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said in a statement(opens in new tab).

To study the pack's eating habits, the researchers attached GPS collars to some pack members and collected 689 samples of wolf scat, much of which was found littered along the island's shoreline. By analyzing the DNA in the scat, the team could identify the wolves it came from and what they'd eaten. Between 2015 and 2020, deer dropped from being 75% to just 7% of the pack's diet. Sea otters, on the other hand, had shot up from 25% to 57% of the wolves' diet across the same timeframe.

The GPS collar data also confirmed that the wolves were not leaving the island to hunt elsewhere and that when they did hunt they did so by the shore — snatching unsuspecting otters from shallow water or ambushing them as they rested on rocks during low tide.


Never-before-seen pterosaur had nearly 500 teeth and ate like a flamingo
By Harry Baker published 3 days ago

A never-before-seen species of pterosaur had hundreds of hooked teeth that helped it filter its food in a similar way to living flamingos.

An artist's illustration of what the newfound species of pterosaur (Balaenognathus maeuseri)
may have looked like. (Image credit: Megan jacobs/University of Portsmouth)

During the late Jurassic, a pterosaur with an unusually shaped bill lined with hundreds of tiny, hooked teeth stalked the waters of what is now Bavaria, Germany. The now-extinct animal likely gulped down its seafood prey while wading in ancient ponds and lakes, just like flamingos chow down today, a new study shows.

The newfound species was accidentally unearthed at an abandoned mine in the Franconian Jura area of Bavaria, a hotspot for pterosaur fossils. The researchers had been attempting to uncover crocodile bones from a limestone slab when they stumbled across the new specimen, which was incredibly well preserved and contained a near-complete skeleton along with some intact ligaments. The remains are likely between 157 million and 152 million years old, based on the surrounding sediments.

In a study, published Jan. 21 in the German journal PalZ(opens in new tab), researchers described the new species, which had a number of striking features that set it apart from other pterosaurs — flying, bird-like reptiles that were cousins of the dinosaurs and roamed the skies during most of the Mesozoic era (252 million to 66 million years ago).

"The jaws of this pterosaur are really long and lined with small, fine, hooked teeth, with tiny spaces between them like a nit comb," study lead author David Martill(opens in new tab), a paleobiologist at the University of Portsmouth in the U.K., said in a statement(opens in new tab). The creature's bill had a shape similar to modern spoonbills in the genus Platalea and was slightly curved upward, he added. "There are no teeth at the end of its mouth, but there are teeth all the way along both jaws right to the back of its smile."

The specimen, which had a wingspan of around 3.6 feet (1.1 meters), contained 480 teeth that were between 0.08 and 0.43 inches (2 and 11 millimeters) long — the second-highest number of gnashers found in any pterosaur.

The hooked shape of the teeth was something "we've never seen before in a pterosaur," Martill said. "These small hooks would have been used to catch the tiny shrimp the pterosaur likely fed on — making sure they went down its throat and weren't squeezed between the teeth."

This is similar to how flamingos filter out tiny crustaceans and algae from muddy or silty water in shallow lakes and lagoons. The only difference is that flamingos use small, bristly hairs called lamellae to filter their food instead of hooked teeth.


Hi folks - well, that's it for this blog.  Hope you found something of interest. I'll start looking for more unusual stories to provoke you with. Any comments about my blog please feel free to let me know if you like it.

John Veverka -



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