Archive for July, 2009

7 tales of cities lost or found

Publication:   Date: July 30, 2009   View Article

The Lost City of Z, a fabled metropolis of unimagined riches deep in the Amazon rain forest, has eluded explorers for centuries. But recently documented traces of a well-planned constellation of walled settlements arranged around central plazas and linked together with arrow-straight roads in the Upper Xingu region of the Brazilian Amazon may be the civilization that gave birth to the legend, scientists say. Check out this and six more tales from cities lost and found.

Venice “Ancestor” City Mapped for First Time

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 30, 2009   View Article

The outline of an ancient Roman city buried beneath cropland near Venice, Italy, has been mapped in detail for the first time with the aid of aerial photography, a new study says.

Until now the ancient city of Altinum, which dates back at least to the first century B.C., was known only from historical records and a few minor excavations.

Good times of the animal kind

Publication:   Date: July 27, 2009   View Article

Few humans would disagree that a good chuckle every now and again feels good. Monkeys, dogs and fish get a kick out of life as well, says Jonathan Balcombe, a senior research scientist with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, D.C. He has written several research papers and books on animal pleasure, including “Exultant Ark: A Pictorial Tour of Animal Pleasures,” due out next year. Check out an overview of good times in the animal kingdom.

Ancient Barley Could Help Farmers Adapt to Changing Climate

Publication: By John Roach   Date: July 27, 2009   View Article

DNA has been recovered from an ancient form of barley that persisted for more than 3,000 years and the tastes of five civilizations in Egypt’s upper Nile, according to a new study.

The barely was particularly well-adapted to the region’s parched climate, allowing it to trump more bountiful but less hardy varieties, according to genetic analyses of the preserved grains.

The finding could assist efforts to breed modern crops that are able to survive a drying climate, noted plant researcher Robin Allaby, an associate professor at the University of Warwick in the UK.

“If we find genes that have evolved to cope with arid conditions, we can then look to transferring those genes, or replicating those genes in modern varieties,” he explained to me in an e-mail exchange.


Comet Impacts Triggered Ice Age Extinctions?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 21, 2009   View Article

Rare diamonds found buried on an island near southern California strengthen the controversial idea that comet impacts wiped out huge beasts and an early human culture in North America about 12,900 years ago.

Similar “nanodiamonds” found in sediments across North America were presented earlier this year as proof that space rocks colliding with Earth led to the ancient mass extinction.

More Rhinos Hacked Apart as Horn Demand Spikes

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 13, 2009   View Article

Bloody and incomplete, their horns hacked away by poachers, rhinoceros carcasses are appearing in greater numbers, due to growing Asian demand and international trade, groups say.

In Zimbabwe, for example, gangs of poachers use rifles to shoot the one-ton animals and then hack off the horns with axes, according to an account from Save the Rhino, a London-based conservation group.

Moon Photos: Lunar Orbiter’s First Pictures Released

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 8, 2009   View Article

Deep shadows fill the pockmarked terrain of the lunar highlands south of Mare Nubium, or Sea of Clouds, in the first images of the moon returned from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which were released on July 2.

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