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Archaeo News 

It is often difficult to find some news about the most recent archaeological meetings, digs and breathtaking discoveries. As we are particularly interested in prehistoric and megalithic monuments, we are trying to collect every bit of information about them and to put it inside this website.
In these pages you can find the latest news about those special events, people and places mainly related to Europe's most ancient heritage.
Latest news:

Stonehenge 'complete circle' evidence found
Famous Utah rock art may be much recent than was thought
Neolithic oven discovered in Croatia
Unique figurines found in Turkey
Oldest metal object found to date in Middle East
Humans were eating snails 30,000 years ago
Stone tools point to diversity of traditions among early humans
Earliest human burial site uncovered in Cyprus
Remains of two bodies found in Bronze Age Scottish grave
Complex Neolithic site unearthed in Kent
British schoolboy archaeologists make amazing discovery
Illegal landscaping threatens Bronze Age burial site
Finland's love of milk dates back to the Stone Age
Citizen archaeologists help rediscover British Bronze Age
Technology boom 50,000 years ago correlated with less testosterone

  

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30 August 2014

  Stonehenge 'complete circle' evidence found

Evidence that the outer stone circle at Stonehenge was once complete has been found - parch marks in the grass, in an area that had not been watered, have revealed places where two 'missing' huge sarsen stones may once have stood. Previous scientific techniques such as geophysics failed to find any evidence.
     Historians have long debated whether Stonehenge was a full or incomplete circle, with some arguing a lack of stones in the south-west quadrant is proof it was never complete. A scientific paper which adds weight to the 'complete' theory has been published in the latest issue of the journal Antiquity. The parch marks - areas where the grass does not grow as strongly as in other areas during hot, dry weather - were first noticed in July last year.
     Susan Greaney, from English Heritage, said the discovery seemed to indicate the positions of missing stones. "If these stone holes actually held upright stones then we've got a complete circle," she said. "A lot of people assume we've excavated the entire site and everything we're ever going to know about the monument is known. But actually there's quite a lot we still don't know and there's quite a lot that can be discovered just through non-excavation methods," Ms Greaney added.
     Ms Greaney said a high resolution geophysical survey conducted a few years ago had failed to pick up evidence of the holes. "It's great that people who know the site really well and look at it every day were able to spot these parch marks and recognise them for what they were. We maintain the grass with watering when it's very dry in the summer, but our hosepipe doesn't reach to the other side of the stone circle. If we'd had a longer hosepipe we might not have been able to see them," she concluded.
     Tim Daw, the English Heritage steward who spotted the parch marks, said: "I was standing on the public path looking at the grass near the stones and thinking that we needed to find a longer hosepipe to get the parched patches to green up. A sudden lightbulb moment in my head, and I remembered that the marks were where archaeologists had looked without success for signs that there had been stone holes, and that parch marks can signify them. Not being archaeologists we called in the professionals to evaluate them. I am still amazed and very pleased that simply really looking at something, that tens of thousands of people had unwittingly seen, can reveal secrets that sophisticated machinery can't."

Edited from BBC News (30 August 2014)

  Famous Utah rock art may be much recent than was thought

Since the original Barrier Canyon rock art panel, known as the Great Gallery, was first discovered by scientists in Utah's Canyonlands National Park (USA), experts have debated how old the images are, and what culture created them. Some archaeologists have theorized that the rock art may be as much as 4,000 to 7,000 years old. But new chemical analysis, combined with some other geological detective work, suggests it was painted much more recently, and may even be little more than 1,000 years old.
     "The painting of the Great Gallery occurred during a window between late Archaic time, around 1 CE, through the introduction of maize and the bow and arrow to Utah, and on to the peak of the Fremont culture ca.1100 CE," writes a team of archaeologists in a recent issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
     Rock art is notoriously difficult to date, but paintings on rock, or pictographs, like those found at the Great Gallery, usually offer an advantage, because they have pigments that can be tested. But previous research at Barrier Canyon had found that the pigments contained no organic materials, and couldn't be radiocarbon dated. However, new technology - known as optically stimulated luminescence dating - has proven extremely useful in determining when mineral deposits that have been buried were last exposed to sunlight, and for how long.
     An international team of researchers, led by Utah State University archaeologist Joel Pederson, first set about setting a maximum age for the Great Gallery, by using luminescence to date the layers of sediment on the canyon floor. The team found two strata that revealed important geological events. The first was a thick layer of flood-driven sediment that filled the canyon high above the level of the Great Gallery, up until about 8,000 years ago. Over the following 5,000 years, most of this layer eroded away, eventually exposing the sandstone panel in the canyon for the first time. Therefore, the team writes, "the art is incontrovertibly younger than the top" of that layer. Then, their analysis showed, a second, newer layer of sediment was laid down between 3,000 and 800 years ago. This became the modern canyon floor. Taken together, these dates seem to disprove the oldest proposed dates for the gallery, the archaeologists say. "This reasoning alone makes an early Archaic (>5000 BCE) origin for the Great Gallery improbable, and any older hypotheses are ruled out," they write.
     But then there was the matter of how young could the artwork be. To find a minimum date, Pederson's team focused on that remnant of the Great Gallery that had collapsed in an ancient rockfall. The researchers tested quartz grains from the face of the fallen rock, as well as the sediment that the boulder landed on. Both of the luminescence dates returned the same date range: about 900 years old. Since the Great Gallery must have been painted before the rockfall, the scientists conclude, "these three convergent dates provide a very solid minimum age constraint of 1100 CE, the height of the Fremont culture."
     Finally, the luminescence technique provided one last data point that allowed the team to  determined that the face of the rockfall had been exposed to sunlight for at least 700 years before it collapsed, putting the approximate date of the artwork's creation in the 5th century. Judging conservatively, the team concludes that Canyonlands' Great Gallery was created between 900 and 2,000 years ago.
     This is the period, Pederson's team points out, when immigrant groups from the Four Corners region were thought to have first moved into the area north of the Colorado River, introduced local foragers to the game-changing practices of agriculture and village settlement patterns. Some experts suspect that this interaction gave rise to the Fremont culture, which in time developed its own distinctive, more geometrical rock art style. So rather than being the signature of a single, elusive group, the Barrier Canyon Style may be the artistic expression of multiple cultures as they mingled to form a larger and more enduring society, they say.

Edited from Western Digs (August 2014)

  Neolithic oven discovered in Croatia

Prehistoric experts in Croatia have found a 6,500-year-old oven. It was unearthed in a ancient home during an archeological dig at a Neolithic site in Bapska, a village in eastern Croatia. Experts say the oven provided cooked food, hot water and central heating for their dwelling, just like a modern-day Aga cooker.
     Marcel Buric - from the Department of Prehistoric Archaeology at Zagreb's Faculty of Philosophy - said the find was significant because the kiln was covered to protect the rest of the building from fire.
     Mr Buric said: "This discovery is important. Because the houses of this period are made of wattle and daubed with a roof made of hay using an open fireplace was dangerous. But a roofed fireplace, like the one in Bapska, besides being safer, also had other advantages. It was permanently heated all day long and as the residents came home after a day in the fields they ate hot food cooked by the oven, washed in warm water, and went to sleep in a room heated by the same kiln. Just like some kitchen ovens today."
     Archaeologists also found a smelted piece of iron ore by the kiln, thought to date back thousands of years before man learned to smelt and work iron. But elsewhere in the same prehistoric house, scientists found the scene of a more sinister fire. The cremated remains of a baby aged around 15 months are believed to be the result of a human sacrifice. Mr Buric said: 'We know that such sacrifices were made to ensure the growth of crops by giving a life and putting it back into the earth. The more treasured the life, say a baby, the better the result, or so they thought.'
     Earlier excavations on the site had revealed a set of deer antlers on the walls of one home, believed to be the world's first known hunting trophy.

Edited from Mail Online (25 August 2014)

28 August 2014

  Unique figurines found in Turkey

Excavations ongoing in the ancient city of Patara in the southern province of Antalya have revealed two figurines dating to approximately 3,000 and 7,000 BCE. According to reports, the stone figurines reveal the connection between the Bronze Age and Anatolian cultures.
     One figurine is made of earthenware, and highlights the importance of the Patara Port in ancient times. The figurine from the eastern Mediterranean depicts the goddess Astarte, goddess of fertility. Although it reflects the artistic features of Ionian civilisation, the Astarte figurine was found along with Cypriot ceramics.
     The head of the excavations, Professor Havva İşkan Işık at Akdeniz University’s Archaeology Department, said the history of Lycia would be rewritten with these new findings.

Edited from Hurryiet Daily News (19 August 2014)

27 August 2014

  Oldest metal object found to date in Middle East

A copper awl, the oldest metal object found to date in the Middle East, was discovered during excavations at Tel Tsaf. The tool dates to the late 6th or early 5th millennium BCE, moving the date that people of the region are known to have used metals back by several hundred years.
     Tel Tsaf, a Middle Copper Age village dated to about 5200-4600 BCE, is near the Jordan River, south of the Sea of Galilee. The site was first documented in the 1950s, and excavations began at the end of the 1970s, revealing mud-brick buildings, and a large number of silos in which wheat and barley were stored. In the courtyards, many roasting ovens filled with burnt animal bones were discovered, along with numerous other artefacts - among them items made of obsidian from Anatolia or Armenia, shells from the Nile River in Egypt and other areas around the Mediterranean, figurines of people and animals, and pottery unlike that found almost anywhere else in the region.
     The awl is only 4 centimetres long - a cone-shaped piece of copper, which would originally have been set in a wooden handle. It was found during a previous excavation, in the sealed grave of a woman about 40 years old, dug inside of a silo. Around her waist was a belt made of 1,668 ostrich-egg shell beads. The burial has been described as one of the most elaborate seen in the region from that era.
     While the grave, the woman's skeleton, and the beaded belt were all previously reported in scientific journals, the little awl was only reported on recently, after its chemical components were analysed. This artefact is important, because until now researchers believed that area residents began to use metals only in the Late Chalcolithic period - the second half of the 5th millennium BCE. Chemical examination shows the copper may have come from the Caucasus, some 1,000 kilometres from Tel Tsaf. The processing of a new raw material coming from such a distant location is unique to Tel Tsaf, and provides additional evidence of the importance of this site in the ancient world.

Edited from Science Daily (21 August 2014)

  Humans were eating snails 30,000 years ago

Palaeolithic humans of present-day Spain were eating snails as much as 30,000 years ago - 10,000 years earlier than inhabitants of other Mediterranean regions, according to Javier Fernández-López de Pablo and colleagues from the Catalan Institute of Human Palaeo-ecology and Social Evolution.
     The researchers discovered land snail shell remains dating to about 30,000 years ago at the site of Cova de la Barriada, a pair of rock shelters near Benidorm, in south-eastern Spain. Groupings of complete shells from a large species were found in three levels of the site, along with stone artefacts and other animal remains.
     The snails appear to be associated with prehistoric human-constructed structures that may have been used to cook the snails, which were likely roasted in embers of pine and juniper. This points to previously undiscovered patterns of invertebrate use, and may highlight a broadening of the human diet in the Upper Palaeolithic in the Mediterranean basin. Land snails are common in the Late Pleistocene and Holocene archaeological record, but it is still unknown when and how they were incorporated into human diets.
     Diet change is a widely debated research topic of the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition. Studies suggest that, in many areas of Europe, the first anatomically modern humans had a broader diet than Neanderthals, however, this view has been called into a question by the increasing body of evidence indicating that Neanderthals also relied on a varied range of resources. Unlike the increasing evidence for the consumption of marine molluscs amongst the Neanderthals, there is a no clear signal of land snail exploitation during the Middle Palaeolithic.
     In the Mediterranean, such an early occurrence contrasts with the neighbouring areas of Morocco, France, Italy and the Balkans, where the systematic nutritional use of land snails appears approximately 10,000 years later. The appearance of this new subsistence activity in the eastern and southern regions of Spain coincides with other demographically driven transformations in the regional archaeological record, such as the significant increase of the number of sites and beginning of the production of portable art.

Edited from PLOS One, Popular Archaeology (20 August 2014)

23 August 2014

  Stone tools point to diversity of traditions among early humans

The biggest ever comparative study of stone tools dating to between 130,000 and 75,000 years ago found in the region between sub-Saharan Africa and Eurasia shows marked differences in the way stone tools were made, reflecting a diversity of cultural traditions. The study identified at least four distinct populations, each relatively isolated from each other with their own different cultural characteristics.
     Researchers took over 300,000 measurements of stone tools from 17 archaeological sites across North Africa, including the Sahara, and combined the stone tool data with a model of the North African environment during that period which showed that the Sahara was then a patchwork of savannah, grasslands and water, interspersed with desert. They also mapped out known ancient rivers and major lakes. They were then able to draw new inferences on the contexts in which the ancient populations made and used their tools, showing how early populations of modern humans dispersed across the Sahara along the ancient rivers and watercourses.
     Lead researcher Dr Eleanor Scerri, visiting scholar at the University of Oxford, says: "This is the first time that scientists have identified that early modern humans at the cusp of dispersal out of Africa were grouped in separate, isolated and local populations. Stone tools are the only form of preserved material culture for most of human history. These stone tools reveal how early populations of modern humans dispersed across the Sahara just before they left North Africa. While different populations were relatively isolated, we were interested to find that when connected by rivers, they share similarities in their tool-making suggesting some interaction with one another."
     Dr Scerri continues: "Not much is known about the structure of early modern human populations in Africa, particularly at the time of their earliest dispersals into Eurasia. Our picture of modern human demography around 100,000 years ago is that there were a number of populations, varying in size and degree of genetic contact, distributed over a wide geographical area. This model of our population history supports other theories recently put forward that modern humans may have first successfully left Africa earlier than 60,000-50,000 years ago, which had been the common view among scholars. Our work provides important new evidence that sheds light on both the timing of early modern human dispersals out of Africa and the character of our interaction with other human species, such as Neanderthals."
     Co-author Dr Huw Groucutt says: "The question of whether there was an early successful exit from Africa has become one of whether any of the populations discovered in this paper went in and out of Africa for some or all of this time. A crucial next step involves fieldwork in areas such as the Arabian Peninsula to understand how these populations spread into Eurasia."

Edited from PhysOrg (18 August 2014)

  Earliest human burial site uncovered in Cyprus

Archaeologists have discovered what they believe could be one of the earliest documented formal human burials found on the island of Cyprus. The burial of an adult individual, probably a male, was found in a tightly flexed position in a grave cut into a larger, somewhat earlier pit.
     Similar sites in Cyprus have shown that the island was in early and consistent contact with the mainland Neolithic, and was colonised far earlier than previously believed. Human remains, however, had been elusive at all early Neolithic sites.
     Previously, parts of an infant burial were recovered, and elements representing several individuals were recovered from Neolithic wells. At one site numerous human remains were recovered in a large pit, and a flexed individual adjacent to a cat burial also was documented.
     The newly-discovered site was especially rich in stones, animal bones and chipped stone, compared with the fill of the larger pit. The site is in the foothills of the Troodos Mountains in the Paphos region, in the very west of the island - rather than near the coast, which is a more common Neolithic pattern.
     Many unique features are present, including circular plastered platforms, a huge chipped stone assemblage, and well-preserved palaeo-economic data, including cattle, which previously had not been documented on Cyprus until the Bronze Age. Animal bones include a predominance of deer, followed by pig. The partial remains of two other structures have been revealed, making a total of six. Over 300,000 items have been recovered to date.

Edited from Cyprus Mail (14 August 2014)

22 August 2014

  Remains of two bodies found in Bronze Age Scottish grave

Archaeologists have discovered the remains of at least two bodies in a Bronze Age burial cist under a pile of rocks known as Ricky's Cairn, located in a remote area of the west Highlands (Scotland). They were previously aware of one body in the ancient grave on the Ardnamurchan peninsula but they have now found more bones than could belong to another person.
     A skull found during an earlier archaeological dig at Swordle in 2010 was dated as being from around 1700 BCE. The bones discovered during the Ardnamurchan Transition Project team's visit to the area this summer have now been sent away for radiocarbon dating.
     Team leader Ollie Harris, who is a lecturer in archaeology at the University of Leicester, said: "In the majority of Bronze Age cists, we would expect to find one person buried in a crouching position on their side, but examining the remains in this cist strongly suggests the presence of two or more people. This was an exciting find. One of our main aims this year was to find out about what we thought was a single body, so to come back and find probably two people is very interesting as it offers a different perspective on Bronze Age burials."
     He added that they also found another jet bead in the grave. Three were found in 2010 and they are believed to be part of a necklace. They also unearthed a flint scraper, which they believe to have been used for removing fat from hides, and small pieces of flint debitage, which is the waste material produced in the making of early stone tools.
     The team also excavated the Neolithic tomb of Cladh Andreis, a 200ft long mound of rocks leading from the tomb, which they describe as the tail of the monument, and a small Bronze Age cist cut into the side of the tail.
     Mr Harris said the small Bronze Age cist had been a new find this year. He said: "This cist had been heavily robbed. There were just a few scraps of bone in it, but we are hoping we can get a radiocarbon date from them." He added that they had previously worked on Cladh Andreis, which was built around 3,700 BCE, from 2006 to 2010. "This year we found bits of teeth, human remains from various bodies and a leaf-shaped arrowhead," said the archaeologist.
     
Edited from The Press and Journal (14 August 2014)

  Complex Neolithic site unearthed in Kent

A Neolithic ditch which became a huge funerary monument when it was enlarged with an outer ring during the Bronze Age has been found on housing development grounds in Kent (England). Archaeologists suspect a 'sacred way' could have led to a henge 6,000 years ago at Iwade Meadows, to the west of the Kent industrial town of Sittingbourne. Positioned on a north-west slope, the 30-metre diameter structure is one of several prehistoric monuments above the Ridham fleet stream running through the centre of the site.
     "Its purpose is not known," said Dr Paul Wilkinson, of excavators SWAT Archaeology. "But it may be that the monument was reused as an enclosure for stock management at this time or could formally have been used as a 'sacred way' leading to the Neolithic henge. The monuments are in a location that would have formerly had extensive views to the Swale Estuary and the Island of Sheppey beyond."
     "The archaeological evidence suggests that the outer ditch may have originated in the Neolithic and been later transformed in the Bronze Age into a funerary monument with the addition of the inner ring. The outer ring has an entrance facing north-east suggesting that it may have originated as a henge-type monument - a ceremonial gathering place of which Stonehenge is our most well known example," added Dr Wilkinson."The inner ring appears to be later and is an unbroken circuit. This may be associated with a Bronze Age burial, as a barrow, though no burials have yet been found. A second smaller monument lies close to the larger rings and may be a secondary barrow dating to the Bronze Age."
     "While the monuments may have fallen out of use for their primary function by the middle Bronze Age they seem to have still been significant landscape features, as a track from the north-east is seen to have been extended to the causeway entrance of the outer ring. The importance of the location in the Neolithic period is reinforced by the rare findings of a series of pits close to the monuments that may indicate the area was being used before the construction of the monument or represents activity associated with it," Dr Wilkinson concluded.

Edited from Culture24 (12 August 2014)

20 August 2014

  British schoolboy archaeologists make amazing discovery

It shows that you can never start a love of archaeology too early. On a site in Kirkhaugh, Northumberland (England) a local group with the lengthy title of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership's Altogether archaeology Project, had encouraged local school children to take part.
     This particular group of youngsters, ranging from 7 to 10 years old, uncovered what they thought was just a plain piece of plastic. On closer examination it actually proved to be made of gold! The piece they found is known as a hair tress and was worn as an ornament in the hair. as well as being identified and dated at approx. 2,300 BCE, it is also very rare to find, with only 10 other examples in the UK.
     One of the young archaeologists, Sebastian, was quite excited "We did some work on the Copper Age at school, which was really interesting. But to take part in the actual excavation, and to find things, was awesome!" Paul Frodsham, leader of the project, put the find into a bit more perspective "All archaeological sites are important in their own way, but this is exceptional. It can be regarded as marking the very start of mineral exploitation in the North Penninnes, leading in due course to Roman exploitation of lead and silver".

Edited from Express, Daily Mail (4 August 2014)

  Illegal landscaping threatens Bronze Age burial site

In Plymstock, a suburb of Plymouth (Devon, England), lies an ancient woodland, which is subject to a Protection Order, to prevent unauthorised felling of trees.
     Added to this, evidence has been previously uncovered to show that the area  has also been a Bronze Age burial ground and was the location for an unexplored long barrow. Reason enough to protect our heritage you may think. But none of this seems important to the new land owner, RPB Vehicle Solutions, who have already cut down a large number of protected trees.
     Local residents alerted Plymouth City Council's planning department to the dangers  any they have told the owner, in no uncettain terms, to stop removing trees without the Council's permission.
     This area has already proved to be quite productive in terms of artefacts , one of which, known as the Elburton Urn, dates to between 2,050 and 1,500 BCE and has prided of place at the city museum.
     Win Scutt, a former lecturer at Plymouth College, is very concerned about the burial site and also the barrow, the location of which has been kept secret t prevent looting. He is quoted as saying "In my view the site is at risk of what the owner is doing, but until it's scheduled as an ancient monument there is no way to protect it. It's not about artefacts, it's about what information it can reveal to us. I stringly feel it could be the most important early Bronze Age site in Plymouth, if not the South west".

Edited from The Herald (2 August 2014)

  Finland's love of milk dates back to the Stone Age

Evidence has been found to prove that animal domestication occurred in one of the earth's harshest environments much earlier than previously thought. A combined team from the Universities of Bristol (England) and Helsinki (Finland) have been examining examples of Corded Ware pottery found in the northern parts of Finland.
     The pieces examined were cooking pots dated at 3,900 to 3,300 BCE and also approx. 2,500 BCE. Astonishingly the pots from 2,500 BCE contained traces of milk fats. This proved that the inhabitants at that time, despite a climate where it can snow for up to four months of the year, had domesticated animals.
     This evidence is in line with research in other, milder, climates to mark the transition from hunter/fisher culture. The Team Leader, Dr Lucy Cramp, from the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology at Bristol University, is quoted as saying "This is remarkable evidence which proves that four and a half thousand years ago Stone age people must have been foddering and sheltering domesticated animals over harsh winters, in conditions that even nowadays we would find challenging".
     Her colleague, Dr Volker Heel, went on to add "Our results show a clear link between an incoming pre-historic population, milk drinking and the ability to digest milk in adulthood, still visible in the genetic distribution of modern Finland, which remains one ogf the highest consumers of dairy products in the world".

Edited from ScienceDaily (29 July 2014)

11 August 2014

  Citizen archaeologists help rediscover British Bronze Age

The British Museum's Bronze Age Index - an illustrated card catalogue containing over 30,000 records of Bronze Age tools and weapons - complements the current Portable Antiquities Scheme Database of metal object finds. Begun in the early 20th century, it was the first catalogue of its kind, and probably the first British archaeology initiative to call on public help with documenting British prehistory.
     Following in the footsteps of creators of the Index, the museum is once again calling on the public to help research this extremely important resource. Since late 2013, the digitisation of the entire Index has been undertaken by the MicroPasts project, employing help from 'citizen archaeologists' to assist in transcribing the information contained on these cards. By undertaking these transcriptions, it will be possible to incorporate the Index's 30,000 records rapidly into the PAS database, which on its own includes nearly one million objects collected by the public, usually by metal-detectorists. Additionally, people are helping create 3D models of objects, many of which are recorded by the Index.
     The result will be the largest national database of prehistoric metal finds anywhere in the world, and a near-comprehensive view of what we currently know about such finds in the UK. Metal finds are not only crucial forms of evidence for dating Britain's prehistoric past, but also tell us a great deal about prehistoric society and economy. The creation of this database will allow for the rethinking of almost everything we currently know about the use of metal in Bronze Age Britain, giving us a more comprehensive view of our prehistoric past.
     To find out out more about MicroPasts, or help with the research, visit the project's web site at micropasts.org

Edited from The British Museum (4 August 2014)

  Technology boom 50,000 years ago correlated with less testosterone

Modern humans appear in the fossil record about 200,000 years ago, but it was only about 50,000 years ago that we find widespread evidence of bone and antler tools, heat-treated and flaked flint, projectile weapons, grindstones, fishing and birding equipment and a command of fire.
     Scientists have shown that, at around the same time that culture was blossoming, human skulls changed in ways that indicate a lowering of testosterone levels. The study is based on measurements of more than 1,400 ancient and modern skulls.
     "The modern human behaviours of technological innovation, making art and rapid cultural exchange probably came at the same time that we developed a more cooperative temperament," said lead study author Robert Cieri, a biology graduate student at the University of Utah USA.
     Heavy brows were out, rounder heads were in, and those changes can be traced directly to testosterone levels acting on the skeleton, according to Duke anthropologist Steven Churchill, who supervised Cieri's early work on the subject. What they can't tell from the bones is whether these humans had less testosterone in circulation, or fewer receptors for the hormone.
     The research team included animal cognition researchers Brian Hare and Jingzhi Tan, who say this argument is in line with what has been established in non-human species. In a classic study of Siberian foxes, animals that were less wary and less aggressive toward humans took on a different, more juvenile appearance and behaviour after several generations of selective breeding.
     "If we're seeing a process that leads to these changes in other animals, it might help explain who we are and how we got to be this way," says Hare, who also studies differences between aggressive chimpanzees - our closest ape relatives - and mellow, free-loving bonobos. Their social interactions are profoundly different and, relevant to this finding, their faces are different, too.
     "If prehistoric people began living closer together and passing down new technologies, they'd have to be tolerant of each other," Cieri says. "The key to our success is the ability to cooperate and get along and learn from one another."

Edited from ScienceDaily (1 August 2014)

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