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  • Reconstructing ancient hominid behavior | BEYONDbones
    can try to do so by working with what we know Consider your own actions say earlier today When you left your home this morning you might have placed a cup and a plate in the kitchen sink thinking that you would do the dishes later What if you never came back The cup and the dish would be a clue that you had eaten and where Better yet a chemical analysis of the residue in your cup could identify what you drank Similarly the behavior of our ancestors who made artifacts traditionally a role reserved for members of the genus Homo can also be reconstructed They have left many traces of their own For example the earliest artifacts made by humans that are still retrievable today are stone tools They represent a kind of fossilized human behavior that can tell us a lot about the capabilities of the species who made them Different kinds of tools require different levels of skill to manufacture The earliest tools were extremely simple most of us could reproduce them today Pick up two river pebbles smash them together a few times and voilà you have an Oldowan chopper as these oldest known tools are called If you want to replicate a hand axe or one of the even more complex stone tools used by our immediate ancestors things get a little more complicated Instead of just a few intermediate steps dozens if not hundreds of these steps had to be taken to get to the finished product Each step along the way reflects our ancestors behavior The increasing complexity of stone tools implies a growing intelligence and the ability to teach the next generation how to make tools Sourcing stone tools tells us where the materials came from That information combined with the

    Original URL path: http://blog.hmns.org/2008/01/reconstructing-ancient-hominid-behavior/ (2016-02-12)
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  • Neanderthals on the Move | BEYONDbones
    in West and Eastern Europe the Middle East and even Siberia Currently we do not know of any Neanderthal remains in Australia the Americas or Africa Here s what we do know Neanderthal people were named after the Neander river valley in Germany where their fossilized remains were first discovered and studied in 1856 As more Neanderthal fossils were found and studied it became clear that Neanderthal people and modern humans co existed for thousands of years Neanderthal people were around as long ago as 250 000 years ago and survived until about 28 000 years ago They may have even survived through 24 000 years ago However scientists still differ as to when Neanderthal extinction occurred By comparison modern humans people like you and me left Africa around 125 000 years ago and were present in the Levant 90 000 years ago as evidenced in finds from the Jebel Qafzeh cave in Israel Most scientists believe that the Neanderthal population in Europe was small and stable for a very long time Things started to change with the arrival of modern humans whose numbers continued to increase slowly as they migrated out of Africa and into other continents including Europe Evidence from the same region indicates that our ancestors and Neanderthals both lived in the same region for quite a while Questions have arisen regarding the nature of this coexistence Was it friendly Did they have offspring together Did our ancestors wipe out the Neanderthal people did they starve them to death by being more efficient hunters or were Neanderthalers genetically swamped We ll examine this topic further in the next post Until then what do you think What would it be like to come face to face with a Neanderthal Could you coexist with them peacefully 0 0 0

    Original URL path: http://blog.hmns.org/2008/02/neanderthals-on-the-move/ (2016-02-12)
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  • 10,000 BC: The Story Behind the Date | BEYONDbones
    000 B C humans had made it to the Americas There is plenty debate about when exactly modern humans made it to the New World The people traditionally believed to be walking around here 12 000 years ago are called the Clovis people Our current understanding of who got here first has changed but that is a topic for a future blog The Clovis people were hunters and gatherers and they left behind a good number of archaeological sites throughout North America By this time mammoths and mastodons are becoming extinct Some scientists point an accusing finger at human hunters others blame that event on a meteorite In the Old World the New Stone Age or Neolithic had begun With it we see the beginnings of animal domestication With animal and plant domestication our ancestors began agriculture This was a major shift away from the traditional hunting and gathering way of life This change laid the foundation for sedentary lifestyles as the practice of living in one spot is called Architecture starts first very humbly However these very first dwellings and food storage areas eventually culminate in the mile high sky scrapers of the 21st century By 10 000 B C the earliest pottery is produced in Japan On mainland Asia developments are not far behind stable agricultural communities dot the countryside in what is now China Further West in what is now Israel and Lebanon the Natufian people are experimenting with plants as well setting the stage for agriculture in this part of the world In Europe people to move further north as the last Ice Age comes to an end So what does 10 000 B C really represent Rampaging herds of mammoths A myriad of busy workers building pyramids A threatening tête à tête between a human

    Original URL path: http://blog.hmns.org/2008/02/10000-bc-the-story-behind-the-date/ (2016-02-12)
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  • Timkat, an Ethiopian Epiphany celebration | BEYONDbones
    colorful event during which he blessed the assembled masses as well as the tabots or copies of the Ark of the Covenant that were brought before him After a series of prayers the Patriarch accompanied by representatives of other Orthodox churches dipped processional crosses in a large pool of water Immediately after this water is used to bless the gathered masses the logistics involved are interesting and stand in stark contrast to the pomp and circumstance used in the proceedings up until then Since the pool is located inside a fenced off area the Patriarch simply used a garden hose dipped into the pool to spray the blessed water onto as many people as possible See photo at left After a brief pause of mediation and musical performances the patriarch then proceeded to bless the priests who had gathered carrying their church s tabots By the time this takes place the priests dressed in very colorful outfits have been patiently waiting for hours while supporting the tabot on top of their head Once this blessing has occurred the ceremony winds down and the thousands of faithful disperse Timkat is celebrated by Christians throughout the country Places like Aksum the seat of Ethiopia s Christian community and Lalibela home to the famous rock hewn churches are also bustling with pilgrims during Timkat The continuation of these century old celebrations is yet another example of what Ethiopians call living history 0 0 0 This entry was posted in Lucy s Legacy and tagged Addis Ababa Aksum Anthropology Ark of the Covenant Epiphany Ethiopian Orthodox Church HMNS Lucy tabots Timkat by Dirk Bookmark the permalink About Dirk As curator of anthropology Dirk is responsible for the museum s artifact collection and is involved in its temporary and permanent anthropology exhibits Dirk is an

    Original URL path: http://blog.hmns.org/2008/02/timkat-an-ethiopian-epiphany-celebration/ (2016-02-12)
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  • The Ark of the Covenant and Aksum | BEYONDbones
    Aksum where it is said to reside in a small chapel near Maryam Seyon the main cathedral for all Ethiopian Orthodox Christians A priest acts as caretaker The closest the faithful get to seeing the Ark is in the ceremonies during which their church s tabot drawer or box said to contain copies of the Ten Commandments is brought out However even then it is difficult to discern any details as these tabots are usually wrapped in richly embroidered cloth Even the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church does not get to see the Ark in Aksum A once in a lifetime opportunity for very few people indeed 0 0 0 This entry was posted in Lucy s Legacy and tagged Aksum Anthropology Ark of the Covenant church Ethiopian Orthodox Christians HMNS King Menelik I King Solomon Lucy Queen of Sheba by Dirk Bookmark the permalink About Dirk As curator of anthropology Dirk is responsible for the museum s artifact collection and is involved in its temporary and permanent anthropology exhibits Dirk is an expert in human cultures he curates the Museum s Hall of the Americas and specializes in native American cultures like the Aztec and Maya View all

    Original URL path: http://blog.hmns.org/2008/02/the-ark-of-the-covenant-and-aksum/ (2016-02-12)
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  • We like dead things | BEYONDbones
    teacher workshops for a long time and overnight programs for kids for a few years but we are combining the two for the first time The program is sold out in fact it sold out almost immediately so we went ahead and posted the two overnights we scheduled for the following school year on the HMNS website The next event is scheduled for October when we are having a Dia de los Muertos overnight for teachers and in the spring the topic is Mummies Tombs and Catacombs which is all about death rituals in various cultures It was only after we finalized the plans that we noticed the 2008 2009 line up was all about death Not intentional but in the Museum business some times the dead people are the most interesting ones 0 0 0 This entry was posted in Education and tagged da vinci Education mummies teachers by Nicole Bookmark the permalink About Nicole Nicole has worked for HMNS in some capacity since 1996 whether part time full time or as a volunteer She taught for seven years in public school including four years in Fort Bend and a short stint overseas While she never taught science she

    Original URL path: http://blog.hmns.org/2008/03/we-like-dead-things/ (2016-02-12)
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  • Science While You Were Sleeping | BEYONDbones
    that climactic scene in Lord of the Rings Check out these spectacular photos from the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory of the recent Kilauea eruption If you re looking for life on Mars forget water try cellulose Here s a hint it looks like this Go kakapo go Five of these rare flightless and owl like parrots were born in southern New Zealand bringing the total number to 91 Wait you thought Harry Potter was fictional Silly muggle Tell that to the Ivy League participants in the U S s first intercollegiate Quidditch game Did you turn off the lights for Earth Hour Millions of people across the world and many major landmarks did Check out video of the lights going out here Pachycephalosaurs are some of the weirdest looking dinosaurs out there and their oddness has long left scientists puzzled about their behavior Huge domed foreheads look like they d be great for courtship combat but spindly little necks look like they d break way too easily Enter computer technology from the University of Alberta and the mystery may be solved 0 0 0 This entry was posted in Science and tagged dinosaurs endgangered environment geology kakapo Mars photos volcano

    Original URL path: http://blog.hmns.org/2008/03/science-while-you-were-sleeping/ (2016-02-12)
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  • Neanderthal Controversy | BEYONDbones
    the range of variation one would expect to find within a species in other words we are related to Neanderthals on a sub species level rather than being classified as two different species According to this interpretation the ability to interbreed with modern humans might have also spelled doom for the Neanderthals But if the two species interbred why don t we see the typical Neanderthal look today As time went by and interbreeding between our ancestors and Neanderthalers continued the thinking goes that the Neanderthalers genetic contribution to each new generation became ever smaller Eventually this percentage became so small that all people began to look like humans rather than a Neanderthal individual Scientists refer to this scenario as genetic swamping If this is what happened it would be possible for the two species to have interbred over many generations while also explaining why the influence of Neanderthaler genes can t be seen by the naked eye A child burial uncovered in Portugal is seen as evidence that admixture between the two groups must have been significant at least in such cul de sacs as the Iberian Peninsula providing more support for this position Others disagree and suggest that we use the nomenclature Homo neanderthalensis Here the term neanderthalensis is in the second position of the nomenclature referring to the species This is a scientist s way to say that the difference between humans and Neanderthalers is at the much more significant species level This has an important implication according to these proponents Neanderthal populations and Homo sapiens populations could not have produced fertile offspring Of the two positions just outlined most scientists prefer the second one and refer to DNA analysis for support DNA analysis of Neanderthal bones has been undertaken for a while A comparison of Neanderthal

    Original URL path: http://blog.hmns.org/2008/03/neanderthal-controversy/ (2016-02-12)
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