Nice try, but not quite. We are learning Neanderthals were just as innovative and sophisticated as we fancy ourselves to be — raising questions about what it means to be human.
A tiny, engraved bone is changing how we think about Neanderthals, the heavily built Stone Age hominins who disappeared about 40,000 years ago.
Found in Einhornhöhle (or Unicorn) cave in northern Germany, the decorated deer phalanx, or toe bone, features a geometric pattern
. Researchers have said it’s the most definitive evidence yet that Neanderthals were capable of artistic expression — a sign of what archaeologists call complex behavior,
once thought unique to Homo sapiens.
What’s less clear is how Homo neanderthalensis learned these skills. The possibility that Neanderthals were just as cognitively advanced as Homo sapiens also may have implications
for why they died out
The aurora borealis, or northern lights, are Earth’s greatest light show
, dazzling those lucky enough to see them in the northernmost reaches of our planet.
It’s a phenomenon shared by other planets in our solar system, including the largest, Jupiter, which is bathed in spectacular color at its poles.
Characterized by massive pulsating X-ray flares, Jupiter’s northern lights were first discovered 40 years ago. Astronomers have long sought to explain the mechanism behind these auroras.
Now, an international team of scientists has announced they have solved what NASA has called “a powerful mystery.”
Plastic waste is a visible way humans contaminate rivers and oceans, but less noticeable forms of pollution can be just as perilous for aquatic life.
Traces of illegal drugs —
via sewage systems — can infiltrate waterways in urban areas. Researchers in the Czech Republic have investigated whether illicit drugs at levels found in bodies of freshwater alter fish behavior
In the study, the scientists found brown trout living in a tank of water containing methamphetamine for a period of eight weeks sought out water containing the drug — when given a choice — for four days after being transferred to meth-free water.
This behavior suggested the fish were experiencing withdrawal because they sought out the drug when it became available, according to researchers.
A spacewalk is the most dangerous job in space
. Imagine trying to focus on a memorized set of tasks while stepping out of an airlock and wearing a 300-pound spacesuit — with the glow of planet Earth and the sun and the dark void of the universe all around you.
Two Chinese astronauts
have completed the country’s second-ever spacewalk
and the first from the core module of China’s new space station. The mission
marked a huge achievement for the country, which has been excluded from the International Space Station
Back on Earth, though, a violent attack on two Chinese space scientists has drawn the wrong kind of attention to China’s celestial ambitions
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Scientists have pored over more than 300 fossils belonging to different members of the Homo genus, or the human family tree — including us, Homo sapiens — and reconstructed the Earth’s climate to see what conditions were like when these different species of human lived.
Colder, harsher climates were linked to larger bodies, such as those of well-built Homo neanderthalensis, while warmer climates were linked to smaller bodies, the scientists found.
For now, the team said, it’s unlikely that the current, human-induced climate crisis will dramatically impact our body sizes.
Here are some more mind-blowing reads.
— Holy cow! Scientists in Austria may have found an unlikely solution
to the problem of plastic pollution.
— Virgin Group founder Richard Branson will take a rocket-powered space plane
to the edge of space this weekend. If all goes according to plan, Branson will be the first billionaire to travel to space on a vehicle he helped fund
, beating fellow space baron Jeff Bezos by nine days.
— In fossilized dinosaur poop, researchers have found a creature unknown to science
. And it was preserved in three dimensions.
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