Spiderweb Trapped in Amber

Awhile back I mentioned the discovery of a 120-115 million year old orb weaver trapped in amber. National Geographic and New Scientist both have a story on a spider web trapped in amber. The find dates to about 110 mya.

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More on Isisfordia duncani

Before I get to the good stuff I would like to beg for donations to help science education in America. So far, readers of afarensis have been genorous. You have donated $683 to the cause and I thiank you for that. However, more remains to be done. So if you like the following post, please consider donating – even $10 would help…
As I mentioned in a recent post a new crocodylian fossil has been discovered. Paleoblog and Hairy Museum of Natural History both have excellent posts on the subject. While reading the paper a couple of interesting things jumped out at me. Before I get to that, here is a picture of the fossil.
View image
I’m doing it as a pop up because it is way too beautiful to reduce …

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Interesting Anthropology News: and Other Stuff as Well

Three new species of lemurs have been discovered in Madagascar according to MSNBC. They are Microcebus jollyae – after Allison Jolly, Microcebus simmonsi and Microcebus mittermeieri. Microcebus mittermeieri is pictured below – cute little spud, although someone should tell it that it is impolite to stick your tongue out while having your picture taken!
More news below

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The Loom on the Hobbit

Zimmer has a post on a new article from the Journal of Evolutionary Biology (Could some kind soul send me a copy of the article?). From the Loom:

Now comes a different take, in a dense review published online today in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology. Gary Richards of the University of California at Berkeley argues that scientists who have tried to make sense of Homo floresiensis have not grappled yet with the full potential of the human genome to produce different sorts of bodies. They’ve been focused too much on this or that individual, when they should be considering the range of variations. Richards takes his own best shot, and comes away with the conclusion that the Hobbit is most likely a population of small-brained pygmy humans.

This is a must read for anyone interested in the Hobbit…

The Mountaineer Site: A Folsom House

The above is a picture from the Mountaineer Site in Colorado. It is a very fascinating site, according to an article in the June issue of the Mammoth Trumpet, because it represents the remains of a Folsom house. Current theory on the Folsom culture says they were exclusively residing in the plains (circa 10,000 – 8,000 years ago). This find, though, is in the mountains. More importanly, it was durable in construction:

The structure appears to have been constructed over a basin-shaped depression. This depression may have been scooped out or it may have been a natural depression that was used. We believe that upright poles, perhaps of aspen were then placed around the periphery in tipi fashion. Some smaller plant material was used to close parts of the gaps. Large slab-shaped rocks were then put around the outside of the poles forming the foundation and lower walls. Mud plaster then filled in remaining gaps in the walls. The structure burned firing some of the daub and cracking rock and collapsing. Fires are a natural part of the local environment and the burning likely occurred after the occupation.

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Europe Says Teach the Evidence

From the BBC News and Science:

A statement signed by 67 national science academies says evidence on the origins of life is being “concealed, denied, or confused” in some classes.

(the full statement is available here). Unfortunately, the article then goes on to give a large amount of space to Steve Fuller. If I didn’t know better, I’d think the piece was written by an american journalist (because of the wishy-washy he said, she said “style” of journalism)…
You can help teach the evidence or you can allow it to be “…concealed, denied, or confused…” the choice is yours!

Missouri’s Ancient Cultures – The Website

I received an issue of the Missouri Archaeological Society Quarterly (strangely enough it was a 2005 issue?). One article, among the many interesting articles, caught my attention. The story concerns a new website called MAC Quest which is designed to help teach 4th graders about Missouri’s ancient cultures. Mac Quest has sections for both teachers and students. The teacher section outlines several lesson plans. The student section contains a number of interesting pages, ranging from an overview of archaeology to maps showing the distribution of sites in Missouri by county (exact locations are not listed). For example, if you would like to know how many sites in Missouri have mastadon or musk ox you can find that info here. Finally, My favorite page The mysterious rock collection!!! asks you to help solve a mystery…