How do I get off this ride?

Insects appear to be more intelligent and emotionally complex than we give them credit for. Perhaps, new research suggests, they are even conscious.

Trinity scientists, along with international colleagues, have explored the importance of sea travel in prehistory by examining the genomes of ancient Maltese humans and comparing these with the genomes of this period from across Europe. Previous findings from the archaeological team had suggested that towards the end of the third millennium BC the use of the Maltese temples declined.

Now, using genetic data from ancient Maltese individuals the current interdisciplinary research team has suggested a potential contributing cause. Researchers found that these ancient humans lacked some of the signatures of genetic changes that swept across Europe in this period, because of their island separation. Scientists concluded that physical topography, in particular seascapes played a central role as barriers to genetic exchange.

Read More

Two Inca children slated for ritual sacrifice more than 500 years ago quaffed a special soothing concoction that has gone undetected until now.

Those young victims, most likely a girl and a boy roughly 4 to 8 years old, drank a liquid that may have lightened their moods and calmed their nerves in the days or weeks before they were ceremonially killed and buried on Peru’s Ampato mountain, a new study suggests.

The youngsters’ bodies contained chemical remnants from one of the primary ingredients of ayahuasca, a liquid concoction known for its hallucinogenic effects, say bioarchaeologist Dagmara Socha of the University of Warsaw, Poland, and her colleagues (SN: 5/6/19). Analyses focused on hair from the girl’s naturally mummified body and fingernails from the boy’s partially mummified remains.

Read More

In 2021, the discovery of wood surviving in two post-holes in Structure Twelve reignited visitors’ questions regarding the availability and use of timber in the Orcadian Neolithic.

This has been a commonly asked question for a long time, particularly given the scale of the Ness of Brodgar buildings and the extent of the complex. Not to mention Orkney’s current, almost treeless, landscape.

Because of Skara Brae, it is also a question that predates the discovery of the Ness of Brodgar by over 150 years.

The answer, however, is relatively simple.

Read More

A fossilized tooth unearthed in a cave in northern Laos might have belonged to a young Denisovan girl that died between 164,000 and 131,000 years ago. If confirmed, it would be the first fossil evidence that Denisovans — an extinct hominin species that co-existed with Neanderthals and modern humans — lived in southeast Asia.

Two polished stone balls shaped about 5,500 years ago — linked to a mysterious practice almost unique to Neolithic Britain — have been discovered in an ancient tomb on the island of Sanday, in the Orkney Islands north of mainland Scotland.

A new study estimates that the low-tech method could capture almost half the carbon the UK needs to meet its climate goals—while also replenishing its agricultural soils.

Recently, I came across a paper by the great historian, and philosopher of technology, Lewis Mumford, titled ‘Authoritarian and Democratic Technics’ (ADT). Mumford, who was an expert on cities and architecture, publishing the monumental The City in History in 1961, had a unique insight into the way that technics operated in an urban environment. His essay is concerned with how technical systems, from ancient times to today, have the propensity to enable or resist authoritarianism.

The European Union debates a new law that could force platforms to scan all private messages for signs of child abuse. Its most prominent advocate is the actor Ashton Kutcher.

In its draft law to combat child sexual abuse, the EU Commission describes one of the most sophisticated mass surveillance apparatuses ever deployed outside China. Even if an AI scans your private messages, it remains warrantless mass surveillance of everyone. Once again, the EU Commission is using child protection as a pretext to introduce mass surveillance without any reason.