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Weekly Top Stories: A Quick Catch Up On What You Missed

Weekly Top Stories: A Quick Catch Up On What You Missed

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In last week’s top stories; doubts cast on Neo-Darwinist theory, where did you get your features from? European traits tracked, Nottingham’s man-made cave system, fantastic 5,000-year-old drum sculpture, new terracotta warriors, and the story of the Silver Shields of Alexander.

Darwin’s Natural Selection Theory May Not Be True

This arc of five hominin skulls has been used for over 100 years to prove that natural selection theory is totally random and accidental, but a new study shows this to be false for a malaria mutation.  (Smithsonian)

This arc of five hominin skulls has been used for over 100 years to prove that natural selection theory is totally random and accidental, but a new study shows this to be false for a malaria mutation.  ( Smithsonian)

Researchers from Ghana and the University of Haifa, Israel, have published a breakthrough study that questions randomness in Darwin’s natural selection theory, in the  Genome Research journal which may revolutionize human evolutionary history. According to the researchers, mutations have been misattributed to randomness, and this has been the backbone of the theory of evolution, until now. Instead, the researchers have been able to provide evidence of non-random mutations by showing “a long-term direct mutational response to environmental pressure.”

This is in direct contradiction to Darwin’s longstanding theory of natural selection, which argues that all  genetic mutations  are random and accidental, and attributes beneficial traits being passed on through generations of breeding. For long, this has been a key tenet of neo-Darwinism, but we can now safely postulate that one helpful genetic mutation was not random at all – the human hemoglobin S (Hbs) mutation that protects against  malaria.

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How Mixed Ancestries Shaped European Traits

European traits vary due to historic genetic influences. Here a blue-eyed, blonde-haired woman, typical traits of Estonia where the study is based.  (Jeremy Francis / Adobe Stock)

European traits vary due to historic genetic influences. Here a blue-eyed, blonde-haired woman, typical traits of Estonia where the study is based.  ( Jeremy Francis  / Adobe Stock)

An eye-opening  new study  appearing in the journal  Current Biology  delves into the extensive interactions between different ethnic groups that shaped the genomes of contemporary Europeans. The migrations of outside groups into Europe several thousand years ago made a decisive difference, and it was genetic mixing between migrants and previously established hunter-gatherer groups that ultimately created the people of the continent as they are seen today.

A team of genetic researchers from Italy and Estonia conducted this study, which examined thousands of genetic samples collected from currently living  Europeans, specifically those who live in the country of Estonia. They were seeking more detailed information about the groups that contributed  DNA to the modern individual, and what they uncovered was an incredibly complex history that left little doubt about how profoundly ancient migrations have impacted present reality.

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Nottingham’s 1000-year-old Man-made Caves Are Focus of Regeneration

Rock cut houses south of Nottingham Castle, with the castle building just visible above.  (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Rock cut houses south of Nottingham Castle, with the castle building just visible above.  ( CC BY-SA 4.0 )

A new project has been launched by archaeologists and historians from the University of Nottingham to make the city’s medieval underground cave network the focus of a regeneration plan for the city. The City of Caves Project that plans to highlight the city’s history as part of the regeneration of the Broad Marsh area is one of the biggest city center redevelopment projects in Europe, according to a  press release by the university  .

The project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), has archaeologists and experts in urban history and landscape planning working together with the group of partners leading the multi-million-pound redevelopment of the 20-acre (8 hectare) Broad Marsh area, including the old 1970s shopping center, reports  West Bridgford Wire  .

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5,000-year-old Drum Sculpture Declared ‘Most Important Piece of Prehistoric Art’

The Neolithic sculpture was found in an East Yorkshire grave, along with a bone pin and a chalk ball thought to be a child's toy.  Source: © Trustees of the British Museum

The Neolithic sculpture was found in an East Yorkshire grave, along with a bone pin and a chalk ball thought to be a child's toy.  Source: © Trustees of the British Museum

Archaeologists unearthed a highly unusual 5,000-year-old carved drum ‘sculpture’ made from stone during excavations near the village of Burton Agnes in Yorkshire in northern England. The object was discovered at the site of an old estate in the Yorkshire countryside in 2015, and experts have spent the last few years studying this unique item. They’ve called it one of the most significant examples of prehistoric art ever found on British soil.

The British Museum in London has only now  announced this remarkable discovery  , which is scheduled to go on display at the Museum on February 17. It will be included in an exhibition dedicated to the Neolithic site of Stonehenge, which will focus on that famed structure’s greater historical context.

The initial stages of construction at  Stonehenge were completed approximately 5,000 years ago, and the remarkable carved drum has been dated to that same time period.

While the shape of the small, compact, barrel-shaped object is undeniable, the chalk drum was not actually used as a  musical instrument  . It must instead be classified as a type of Neolithic stone  sculpture, and a most rare one indeed.

"This is a truly remarkable discovery, and is the most important piece of  prehistoric art  to be found in Britain in the last 100 years," stated Neil Wilkin, the British Museum curator who will be in charge of the upcoming "  World of Stonehenge  ” exhibition.

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Twenty-five “New” Chinese Terracotta Army Officers Unearthed Near Tomb!

China’s world-famous Terracotta Army, created over 2,000 years ago, was built to protect the first Chinese emperor on a site near Xian that covered 98 square kilometers (38 square miles). Source: David Davis / Adobe Stock

China’s world-famous Terracotta Army, created over 2,000 years ago, was built to protect the first Chinese emperor on a site near Xian that covered 98 square kilometers (38 square miles). Source:  David Davis  / Adobe Stock

Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of unified China, and the first Emperor of the Qin dynasty was buried with his now world-famous Terracotta Army, to protect him in the afterlife. For long, this has generated much excitement and interest, after being accidentally discovered by a group of local farmers from the Lintong County in Shaanxi Province of northwest China in 1974. Now,  China Global Television Network  has reported on the discovery of 25 more Terracotta Army warrior sculptures from Pit 1, outside the secret-tomb of the emperor.

Notably, these finds include the statue of a general and a middle-ranking army officer, which is a break from the norm. Pit 1 is the largest concentration of Terracotta Army figures, infantry soldiers and chariots, and covers an area of 14,260 square meters (153493 square feet).

The new Pit 1 finds include higher-ranking soldiers, identified from their more elaborate headgear. It is estimated that, at the end of the excavations at the site, a total of 6,000 pottery figures and horses will be added to the overall count. This is a small fragment of Qin Shi Huang’s actual territorial army, which was believed to have had at least 500,000 men by most estimates.

Pottery, bronze wares, as well as human and animal figurines made of gold, silver and bronze, have also been unearthed at Pit No.1 in China's Shaanxi Province.

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Silver Shields: Alexander's Crack Troops Who Betrayed Their New Master

The legendary Silver Shields of Alexander the Great went on to serve Eumenes as the house of Argead battled the Macedonian forces of Antigonus but in the end family trumped loyalty. (Honga)

The legendary Silver Shields of Alexander the Great went on to serve Eumenes as the house of Argead battled the Macedonian forces of Antigonus but in the end family trumped loyalty. ( Honga)

Could a ragtag team of elite troops in their later years, and a bureaucrat-turn-general take on the military powerhouse of the day? Eumenes, the Greek general, was tasked by Olympias (Alexander’s mother) to seek the aid of Alexander’s old troops, the Silver Shields, to assemble a force against the challenger to Alexander’s dynasty, Antigonus the One-Eyed. However, as Eumenes was to discover, common blood is thicker than blue blood. At the end of this amazing story, the Silver Shield troops chose their own families over Eumenes and his attempts to restore Argead dynasty.

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By Ancient Origins

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