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  • Shine on Harvest Moon | BEYONDbones
    planets orbit in nearly the same plane Because the moon formed from a collision between Earth and a Mars sized object it orbits Earth with five degrees of Earth s orbital plane Had the moon formed with the Earth it would orbit in the plane of Earth s equator Thus the sun all the planets and even our moon always appear near the ecliptic in the sky On winter and spring evenings the ecliptic forms a steep angle to the horizon In the northern hemisphere this is particularly true in March as winter turns to spring With that steep angle the moon s daily displacement along the ecliptic causes it to rise just over an hour later each day For example moonrise on March 29 2010 in Houston was at 7 33pm CDT while on the next night the Moon rose at 8 40 On summer and autumn evenings however the ecliptic intersects the horizon at a shallow angle For observers in the northern hemisphere this is especially true in September when summer turns to autumn With that shallow angle the time of moonrise does not change as much due to the moon s daily displacement along the ecliptic If the moon is rising in the east at dusk it will rise only about a half hour later for several days in a row For example moonrise on Wednesday night September 22 is at 6 44pm CDT The Moon rises on Thursday September 23 at 7 14pm and on Friday September 24 at 7 45pm photo credit Jay Scott Photography This was a great help to early farmers bringing in the harvest On a typical evening work would have to cease at nightfall A full moon though meant that a new source of light rose right as the sun set

    Original URL path: http://blog.hmns.org/2010/09/shine-on-harvest-moon/ (2016-02-12)
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  • Silk Road Q&A with Curator Dirk | BEYONDbones
    invested with heavy historical implications The earliest twills known derive from the region between Turkey and the Caucasus where they were dated to the late 4th 3rd millennium BC and they are found in abundance from the late 2nd millennium BC in Europe particularly at the site of Hallstatt Here miners left residues of their clothing and occasionally themselves in the protective environment of Austrian salt mines As the Hallstatt culture occupied a territory which classical authors would associate with Celts only a few centuries later it is generally presumed that the miners here and the warriors and others buried in the neighboring cemetery were also Celts or proto Celts The easternmost finds of twill dating from the centuries around 1000 BC or somewhat later are the fragment from Qizilchoqa and many others like it from the same cemetery some very Scottish looking true twills are unknown in China until well into the 1st millennium AD The Qizilchoqa twill is virtually identical to the textile fragments recovered from Hallstatt with respect to both style and technique hence one of the arguments employed by the tabloid press for placing kilted Celts in the Tarim Basin We are not talking simply of the diffusion of a particular weaving and color pattern As Elizabeth barber writes the regular combination of plaids and twills n the same cloth and the similar play of wides and narrows in the plaids moves us into a border zone where it s harder to imagine the sum total as accidental There is also a similarity in the weight of the cloth Of course there are differences between the Hallstatt and the Qizilchoqa materials for example Hallstatt employed only two colors while the Qizilchoqa plaids used from three to six colors In addition there are even differences among the Tarim plaids Irene Good has noted that the weaving traditions of Zaghunluq and Qizilchoqa are themselves considerably different even though they both ate to the period before the middle of the first millennium BC The Qizilchoqa Hami fragment appears to derive from a hairy rather than a wooly fleece and would seem to come from a different breed of sheep than that found at Zaghunluq there are also differences in the crafting of the cloth e g the Zaghunluq twill involved hopping over three stems of the warp rather than the more typical two as found at Qizilchoqa In weighing the similarities between the European and East Central Asian material Barber concludes that the two are related yet also makes it clear that neither is derived from the other How do we connect the two textile traditions Elizabeth Barber has deduced that the twill plaid recovered from the northern Tarim may be placed within the context of Indo European migrations As we have already recounted one of the most popular theories of Indo European origins would locate their homeland in the steppelands encompassing Ukraine and southern Russia a region which would have been in direct contact with the Caucasus whence we obtain some of our earliest evidence for twills In this model the earliest Indo Europeans would have known plaid and carried it west into central and western Europe where it would later emerge among the Celts of the Hallstatt culture it would also have been carried eastward across the steppe where it would have been introduced by Indo Europeans here identified as the Tocharians into the Tarim Basin Preservation How do you keep the mummies preserved while they are on display We maintain a constant temperature and humidity within the museum and the exhibit hall Are these mummies considered to be the best preserved in the world Even better than the Egyptian mummies They are among the best preserved mummies in the world This makes them stand out not only for this reason but also because these individuals were mummified by nature rather than by human agency What role did the climate play in preservation Climate and the environment were the main reasons some of the remains became mummies The best preserved mummies tend to be dressed very warmly This has led archaeologists to suggest that these individuals died in the winter Their bodies would then have been freeze dried first then cooked and parched during the summer If any moisture was left in the bodies that would have been removed by the minerals present in the desert The rivers descending from the mountains carry lots of minerals DNA Were both the Y chromosome and Mitochondrial DNA analyses done on the male mummies My understanding is that they were not mtDNA analysis allows one to retrace the lineage of the individual studied through the maternal line While it would connect a male to his female ancestors it would not provide a link with his descendants since none would have inherited his mtDNA Photo credit Wang Da Gang Is the baby linked by DNA to the woman The baby is about 1000 years younger and was buried in a cemetery about 250 300 miles away from that where the woman was found They were not immediate family They could be distant relatives like you and I would be Have studies been done to determine where the mummies were born or grew up Are they all considered to have been born and raised where they were found That type of study is referred to as isotopic analysis and it can tell us where a person grew up To the best of my knowledge this has not been done yet on these mummies Has any testing been done in the region to determine if the Y chromosome markers from the male mummies are present in the living population In paper published in early 2010 we find that Y chromosome research was carried out of seven male individuals from the Xiaohe cemetery The paper is available online in open access format at the time of writing this reply Go here The researchers state p 6 The Y chromosome haplogroup of the seven males

    Original URL path: http://blog.hmns.org/2010/09/silk-road-questions/ (2016-02-12)
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  • Homeosaurus a Living Fossil | BEYONDbones
    back in the preceding Period the Triassic Today a homeosaur descendant the Tuatara still lives along the coast of New Zealand No other family of Jurassic reptile has lasted so long with such little change How did they do it What s the secret behind homeosaur survival We don t know yet What do you think 0 0 0 This entry was posted in Paleontology and tagged dinos dinosaurs homeosaurs homeosaurus Jurassic Paleontology triassic Tuatara by Bob Bookmark the permalink About Bob The Museum s Curator of Paleontology world renowned Dr Robert T Bakker or as some call him Bob is the leader of the handful of iconoclastic paleontologists who rewrote the book on dinosaurs three decades ago Along with other noted paleontologists Bakker has changed the image of dinosaurs from slow moving slow witted cold blooded creatures to at least in some cases warm blooded giants well equipped to dominate the Earth for 200 million years Dr Bakker can be found all over the globe notably leading the Museum s paleontology field program View all posts by Bob 2 thoughts on Homeosaurus a Living Fossil Kenya Flater on September 18 2010 at 11 39 am said Thanks I ve

    Original URL path: http://blog.hmns.org/2010/09/homeosaurus-a-living-fossil/ (2016-02-12)
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  • Make Your Own Great Grape Jelly! | BEYONDbones
    Entire books on making jams were published in the late 1600s In the United States early settlers picked native fruits and preserved them with honey or maple sugar Apple parings provided pectin when needed Apple butter was invented in this country in the early 1900 s by the Smucker family at their cider mill And in 1917 Paul Welch obtained a patent for a pureed grape product he called Grapelade His first batch was sent to our troops in France during WWI and after the war the demand continued Today strawberry jam and grape jelly are far and away the most popular varieties of fruit preserves in the US Other popular flavors are raspberry jam orange marmelade and apple jelly In addition to all the fruit flavors jams and especially jellies can be flavored with vegetables or herbs mint or jalapenos for example are often added to a base of apple jelly So I hope you are intrigued enough by this ancient art to want to try it for yourself I have spent the last few weekends picking and processing over 30 pounds of wild mustang grapes And I m hoping that I can find time this coming weekend to do another batch Grape Vineyard photo credit marfis75 There are several species of wild grape native to Harris County but most do not have edible fruit Mustang grapes Vitis mustangensis are one of the most common grapes in our area and are easily recognizable by the leaves which are covered with a grayish white wool on the underside so these leaves are NOT the best for making stuffed grape leaves The fruit looks very much like domestic Concord grapes dark purple almost black when ripe often with a bluish bloom on their surface The peel slips easily off the whitish

    Original URL path: http://blog.hmns.org/2010/09/make-your-own-great-grape-jelly/ (2016-02-12)
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  • Fossil Snake Scan: Preliminary Results | BEYONDbones
    known in a scientific collection in the USA According to preliminary analysis this snake is believed to be closely related to Boavus indelmani a booid snake described in the late 1930 s We the Museum s paleontology curatorial staff along with Hussam Zaher professor and curator of the collections of Herpetology and Paleontology at the Museu de Zoologia of the Universidade de São Paulo were hoping that getting a look at the underside of this unique fossil as well as the inside of bones like the skull would shed some light on the evolutionary history of the species and it s relationship to booid snakes like pythons and boas Check out the hospital s video of the scan in action below Can t see the video Click Here It s possible that the fossil provides a key link between snakes that use small bites to eat and higher snakes that can swallow prey whole The scan was successful and we re still analyzing the data We hope to have some additional information posted here soon The 50 million year old snake fossil scanned today at The Methodist Hospital See a full set of images from the scanning process on Flickr

    Original URL path: http://blog.hmns.org/2010/09/fossil-snake-scan-preliminary-results/ (2016-02-12)
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  • An evolutionary link? Fossil Snake Scan tomorrow! | BEYONDbones
    group that includes pythons boas and their relatives Indeed it retains a mosaic of primitive and derived skull characters that can be also found in pythons boas and a relictual group of New World booids the tropidophiids providing an unique opportunity to better understand the evolution of skull features in this group The opportunity to study this fossil has been a privilege for me and I predict it will become central in the debate related to higher level macrostomatan snake phylogeny and interrelationships One hot topic in that debate is the evolution of macrostomatan features in higher snakes i e the ability to ingest large prey as a whole Most macrostomatan features are already present in this exquisite fossil but some seem to be intermediate between the conditions shown by non macrostomatan and clearly macrostomatan snake lineages However those characteristics are better visualized through CT scanning which provides clear and detailed views of the endocranium as well as tridimensional views of all bones that are visible only on the prepared side of the fossil Although probably not there limb vestiges are even more difficult to prepare traditionally but can be clearly and steadily visualized in a CT scan CT imaging will thus help provide a detailed view of the morphology of the skull as well as check for limb vestiges This Northern water snake by Carly Art on Flickr is not related to the one we re scanning tomorrow We ll have photos of the fossil and the scanning on Flickr as soon as possible Tomorrow at 10 am the fossil will undergo a 64 slice CT scan at The Methodist Hospital giving Zaher and the rest of us a peek at the previously unseen inside and underside The cross sectional images will allow him to examine the internal structure

    Original URL path: http://blog.hmns.org/2010/09/an-evolutionary-link-fossil-snake-scan-tomorrow/ (2016-02-12)
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  • Science in Action: Live Tweeting Fossil Snake Scanning Friday | BEYONDbones
    in Wyoming Snake Eye by Care SMC on Flickr Zaher professor and curator of the collections of Herpetology and Paleontology at the Museu de Zoologia of the Universidade de São Paulo is currently in Houston to investigate this unique fossil which is thought to be the evolutionary link between snakes who take a lot of small bites to eat their prey and snakes who swallow their prey whole a la the famed alligator hungry python linked above This Friday at 10 am the fossil will undergo a 64 slice CT scan at The Methodist Hospital giving Zaher a peek at the previously unseen inside and underside The cross sectional images will allow him to examine the internal structure of the snake s brain cavity to more accurately place it within the context of snake evolution We ll be there to bring you the science as it is uncovered by live tweeting follow hmns and snakefossil the scanning process on Friday morning We ll also be getting behind the scenes pictures for our Flickr photostream and a video reaction from Zaher once the fossil has been scanned that we ll post as soon as we can Check out the blog tomorrow

    Original URL path: http://blog.hmns.org/2010/09/science-in-action-live-tweeting-fossil-snake-scanning-friday/ (2016-02-12)
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  • Mummies of the Tarim Basin | BEYONDbones
    were used to wrap the coffins After they had dried the hides sealed the coffin tight as a drum so that not even a speck of sand could enter the burial Mair 2010 47 At the surface large wooden obelisks were driven into the ground Those accompanying the tombs of females are pointed in angular fashion while those over male graves are shaped like paddles Speculation based on similar grave decorations in northern Europe suggests the possibility that each obelisk is a sexual symbol perhaps to demonstrate the individual s virility or fertility Xiaohe Cemetery Obelisk The most famous of the mummies from Xiaohe is the Beauty of Small River She is 1 52 meters in height about 5 feet and wears a fine felt hat and fashionable leather boots Around her waist is a white woolen string skirt and she is shrouded in a bulky woolen cloak with tassels She was covered with ephedra branches and grains of wheat The presence of ephedra a mildly psychoactive medicinal plant used by numerous Central Eurasian peoples suggests that she was being conveyed to the spirit world Beauty of Xiaohe Wang Da Gang Archaeologists have not been able to find any trace of settlements within several kilometers of the cemetery adding to the mysteries of who these people were where they came from and what happened to them The 2008 discovery of the Northern Cemetery about fifteen kilometers to the southwest of Xiaohe cemetery revealed such close similarities between its occupants and those of Xiaohe that archaeologists believe that the peoples were of the same or similar cultures Had they both been located near oases or tributaries of now dry branches of a river Only future excavations and analysis will shed light on these mysteries Don t miss Secrets of the Silk Road open now at HMNS See strikingly well preserved mummies tall in stature and fair in complexion that have lain in the parched Tarim Basin of western China for 3 800 years along with 150 objects drawn from the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Museum and the Xinjiang Institute of Archaeology in Urumqi Bibliography Mair Victor The Archaeology of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region In Secrets of the Silk Road Exhibition Catalogue 27 52 Santa Ana CA Bowers Museum 2010 Li Chunxiang et al Evidence that a West East admixed population lived in the Tarim Basin as early as the early Bronze Age BMC Biology 2010 8 15 February 17 2010 http www biomedcentral com 1741 7007 8 15 accessed May 1 2010 Nicholas Wade A Host of Mummies a Forest of Secrets New York Times March 15 2010 http www nytimes com 2010 03 16 science 16archeo html accessed May 1 2010 7 0 0 This entry was posted in Anthropology and tagged HMNS marco polo mummies Secrets of the silk road Silk Roads Tarim Basin Xiaohe by Steven Bookmark the permalink About Steven Steven never dreamed his first job out of college would be in public relations and on

    Original URL path: http://blog.hmns.org/2010/09/mummies-of-the-tarim-basin/ (2016-02-12)
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