history

Aztec skull rack may reveal thousands of decapitated human heads

Aztec skull rack may reveal thousands of decapitated human heads

Archaeologists in Mexico have revealed a skull rack found in the ruins of the Templo Mayor complex in Tenochtitlan. This is in modern Mexico City where the Museo del Templo Mayor now resides. As the museum displays history above, so do archaeologists continue to excavate below. Their most recent find is a skull rack built between 1485 and 1502, coming in at a cool 40-feet (12-meters) by 112-feet (34-meters), packed full of human skulls. Archaeologists on the case believe they've found the "Huey Tzompantli", or Main skull rack of the complex.

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Dinosaur footprints found strolling a German beach together

Dinosaur footprints found strolling a German beach together

Biologists uncover dinosaur tracks in formation with one another, suggesting carnivores walked amongst one another. What these ca. 50 footprints suggest, say biologist Pernille Venø Troelsen, is that these prints could have belonged to "two social animals, perhaps a parent and a young." These tracks were first revealed to the public back at this year's XIII Annual Meeting of the European Association of Vertebrate Paleontologists in Opole, Poland. It was there that Troelsen first showed the prints excavated between 2009-11 in a Bückeberg Formation in Münchehagen in Germany.

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Dinosaur discovered: see this fluffy poodle dragon with wings

Dinosaur discovered: see this fluffy poodle dragon with wings

Today scientists have reported finding a dinosaur that's unlike any they've found before. University of Edinburgh paleontologist Steve Brusatte called this dinosaur a "fluffy feathered poodle from hell." This creature was discovered in Zhenyuan County in Gansu, China. "Zhenyuanlong" means dragon of Zhenyuan - though it doesn't look like any of the wide variety of mythical flying beasts we're used to seeing. This dinosaur looks more like a chicken. A chicken with velociraptor claws and teeth in what eventually evolved into a beak.

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NASA puts never-before-seen Challenger, Columbia shuttle wreckage on display

NASA puts never-before-seen Challenger, Columbia shuttle wreckage on display

As this weekend's failed launch of the latest SpaceX mission demonstrates, space travel and exploration remains a difficult endeavor. It is perhaps fitting then that weekend also saw the opening of a new exhibition from NASA at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida. On display to the public for the first time ever are pieces of space shuttle wreckage from the Challenger and Columbia missions and their doomed flights. While missions like the recent SpaceX fortunately don't put human lives directly at risk, NASA's new display is part of a fitting tribute to the two crews that were lost.

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Spike-back worm Hallucigenia’s head found after 38 years

Spike-back worm Hallucigenia’s head found after 38 years

The creature you're about to see lived on Earth about 508 million years ago, and today we get to see its head for the first time. We get to see its head in the right place for the first time, to be more precise. Before now, scientists had this lovely little beast upside-down and backwards. Not entirely unheard of when dealing with creatures that aren't as simple to identify as birds or mammals of many types, this creature was displayed wrong. Now, 38 years after its discovery here in modern times, "Hallucigenia" can stand upright.

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Neanderthals may be more related to us than we realize

Neanderthals may be more related to us than we realize

Today a study headed by Svante Pääbo has been published with information about a new Neanderthal ancestor connection. An early "modern human" was found in Peştera cu Oase, Romania. This Oase individual's genome was sequenced and found to be between 6 and 9% derived from neanderthals. This is a higher percentage neanderthal than any other modern human sequenced thus far. In our entire history of studying modern humans, we've never seen one with so much neanderthal inside. While this doesn't mean we're necessarily a whole lot more neanderthal than we thought, it changes our perception on when neanderthals died out entirely.

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Eldest human ancestor has Lucy beat at 3.4 million years old

Eldest human ancestor has Lucy beat at 3.4 million years old

The fossilized remains of a jaw and teeth are discovered near the origin of the previous eldest human ancestor, Lucy. This jaw belonged to a species by the name of Australopithecus deyiremeda. This species would have existed between 3.3 and 3.5 million years ago, putting it at an age when Lucy's species Australopithecus afarensis could have walked the Earth. This oldest species is now one of three species that existed in eastern Africa more than 3 million years ago more closely related to humans than to chimps. The third was Kenyanthropus platyops, having lived in Kenya at roughly the same time.

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See the world’s oldest stone tools up close

See the world’s oldest stone tools up close

A newly published paper suggests that the oldest known tools pre-date the previous record holders by 700,000 years. This places the first tools squarely in the hands of pre-humans, likely in the palms of our ancestors, well before the previous record holders: Homo habilis. These tools were found in a dried up river bed in Kenya, where similar tools have been found that ranged thousands of years forward - the ones found here may have been the first. As should be obvious, these tools are just about as rudimentary a set of tools as you're ever going to see.

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