Category Archives: AFRICA

‘Extinct Fossil Fish’ Dating Back 420 Million Years Found Alive in Madagascar

‘Extinct Fossil Fish’ Dating Back 420 Million Years Found Alive in Madagascar

Shark hunters have found a 420m year-old ‘extinct’ four-legged fossil fish alive in ocean

Shark hunters have rediscovered a population of fish that predates dinosaurs that many believed to be extinct. The “four-legged fossil fish” known as the coelacanth, has been found alive and well in the West Indian Ocean off the coast of Madagascar, according to Mongabay News.

Their re-emergence is partly because of fishermen using gillnets in their shark-hunting expeditions.

As they continue to target sharks for their fins and oil these deep-sea nets can reach where the fish gathers, around 328 to 492 feet below the water’s surface.

The species, which dates back 420 million years, was thought to have been extinct until 1938.

But the conservation news site said scientists were shocked to find a member of the “Latimeria chalumnae” species still alive, with its eight fins, a specific spotting pattern on the scales and huge bodies.

A recent study in the SA Journal of Science indicated that the coelacanths might face a new threat to survival with the uptick in shark hunting, which began booming in the 1980s.

Researchers wrote in the paper: “The jarifa gillnets used to catch sharks are a relatively new and more deadly innovation as they are large and can be set in deep water,” the researchers noted in their paper.

“They fear that the coelacanths are now at risk for ‘exploitation’, particularly in Madagascar.

“There is little doubt that large mesh jarifa gillnets is now the biggest threat to the survival of coelacanths in Madagascar.”

The lead author of the study Andrew Cooke told Mongabay News he and the others were shocked at the increase of accidental captures of the creature.

Newsweek reported he said: “When we looked into this further, we were astounded [by the numbers caught]…even though there has been no proactive process in Madagascar to monitor or conserve coelacanths,”

Coelacanths or Latimeria are carnivorous fish that live up to 60 years and grow as large as 6.5 feet and weigh approximately 198 pounds.

Their study suggests that Madagascar is the “epicentre” of various coelacanth species and says vital conservation steps are taken to preserve the ancient species.

But Madagascan government marine researcher Paubert Tsimanaoraty Mahatante told the site he is not concerned with the species becoming a hot commodity among hunters.

He reportedly said: “Catching a coelacanth is totally uncommon and people are in some ways even afraid to catch something so uncommon. So I don’t think that coelacanths are being targeted deliberately,”

But Cooke and his team want to continue educating people about the unique species based on around 40 years of research.

The paper in the SA Journal of Science provides is first comprehensive account of Madagascar coelacanths and shows the existence of a regionally important population.

Pre-Human Fossils Suggest Mankind Emerged From Europe Rather Than Africa

Pre-Human Fossils Suggest Mankind Emerged From Europe Rather Than Africa

The common lineage of great apes and humans split several hundred thousand earlier than hitherto assumed, according to an international research team headed by Professor Madelaine Böhme from the Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment at the University of Tübingen and Professor Nikolai Spassov from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

The researchers investigated two fossils of Graecopithecus freybergi with state-of-the-art methods and came to the conclusion that they belong to pre-humans. Their findings, published today in two papers in the journal PLOS ONE, further indicate that the split of the human lineage occurred in the Eastern Mediterranean and not — as customarily assumed — in Africa.

Present-day chimpanzees are humans’ nearest living relatives. Where the last chimp-human common ancestor lived is a central and highly debated issue in palaeoanthropology. Researchers have assumed up to now that the lineages diverged five to seven million years ago and that the first pre-humans developed in Africa.

According to the 1994 theory of French palaeoanthropologist Yves Coppens, climate change in Eastern Africa could have played a crucial role. The two studies of the research team from Germany, Bulgaria, Greece, Canada, France and Australia now outline a new scenario for the beginning of human history.

Dental roots give new evidence

The team analyzed the two known specimens of the fossil hominid Graecopithecus freybergi: a lower jaw from Greece and an upper premolar from Bulgaria. Using computer tomography, they visualized the internal structures of the fossils and demonstrated that the roots of premolars are widely fused.

Pre-Human Fossils Suggest Mankind Emerged From Europe Rather Than Africa
The lower jaw of the 7.175 million-year-old Graecopithecus freybergi (El Graeco) from Pyrgos Vassilissis, Greece (today in metropolitan Athens).

“While great apes typically have two or three separate and diverging roots, the roots of Graecopithecus converge and are partially fused — a feature that is characteristic of modern humans, early humans and several pre-humans including Ardipithecus and Australopithecus,” said Böhme.

The lower jaw, nicknamed ‘El Graeco’ by the scientists, has additional dental root features, suggesting that the species Graecopithecus freybergi might belong to the pre-human lineage. “We were surprised by our results, as pre-humans were previously known only from sub-Saharan Africa,” said Jochen Fuss, a Tübingen PhD student who conducted this part of the study.

An upper premolar found in the Balkans. Scientists say it is 7.24 million years old. (Wolfgang Gerber, University of Tübingen)

Furthermore, Graecopithecus is several hundred thousand years older than the oldest potential pre-human from Africa, the six to seven million-year-old Sahelanthropus from Chad. The research team dated the sedimentary sequence of the Graecopithecus fossil sites in Greece and Bulgaria with physical methods and got a nearly synchronous age for both fossils — 7.24 and 7.175 million years before the present. “It is at the beginning of the Messinian, an age that ends with the complete desiccation of the Mediterranean Sea,” Böhme said.

Professor David Begun, a University of Toronto paleoanthropologist and co-author of this study added, “This dating allows us to move the human-chimpanzee split into the Mediterranean area.”

Environmental changes as the driving force for divergence

As with the out-of-East-Africa theory, the evolution of pre-humans may have been driven by dramatic environmental changes. The team led by Böhme demonstrated that the North African Sahara desert originated more than seven million years ago. The team concluded this based on geological analyses of the sediments in which the two fossils were found. Although geographically distant from the Sahara, the red-coloured silts are very fine-grained and could be classified as desert dust. An analysis of uranium, thorium and lead isotopes in individual dust particles yields an age between 0.6 and 3 billion years and infers an origin in Northern Africa.

Moreover, the dusty sediment has a high content of different salts. “These data document for the first time a spreading Sahara 7.2 million years ago, whose desert storms transported red, salty dusts to the north coast of the Mediterranean Sea in its then form,” the Tübingen researchers said. This process is also observable today. However, the researchers’ modelling shows that, with up to 250 grams per square meter and year, the amount of dust in the past considerably exceeds recent dust loadings in Southern Europe more than tenfold, comparable to the situation in the present-day Sahel zone in Africa.

Fire, grass, and water stress

The researchers further showed that, contemporary to the development of the Sahara in North Africa, a savannah biome formed in Europe.

Using a combination of new methodologies, they studied microscopic fragments of charcoal and plant silicate particles, called phytoliths. Many of the phytoliths identified derive from grasses and particularly from those that use the metabolic pathway of C4-photosynthesis, which is common in today’s tropical grasslands and savannahs. The global spread of C4-grasses began eight million years ago on the Indian subcontinent — their presence in Europe was previously unknown.

“The phytolith record provides evidence of severe droughts, and the charcoal analysis indicates recurring vegetation fires,” said Böhme. “In summary, we reconstruct a savannah, which fits with the giraffes, gazelles, antelopes, and rhinoceroses that were found together with Graecopithecus,” Spassov added

“The incipient formation of a desert in North Africa more than seven million years ago and the spread of savannahs in Southern Europe may have played a central role in the splitting of the human and chimpanzee lineages,” said Böhme. She calls this hypothesis the North Side Story, recalling the thesis of Yves Coppens, known as East Side Story.

The findings are described in two studies pubished in PLOS ONE titled “Potential hominin affinities of Graecopithecus from the Late Miocene of Europe” and “Messinian age and savannah environment of the possible hominin Graecopithecus from Europe.”

Africa’s Oldest Human Grave Found, Toddler Buried With Pillow 78,000 Years Ago

Africa’s Oldest Human Grave Found, Toddler Buried With Pillow 78,000 Years Ago

A village in East Africa buried a boy aged around 3 years old 78,000 years ago. Its caretakers dug a shallow pit, curled its small body, and may have rested its head on a pillow before committing the body to the earth.

According to a new study, the discovery of the child’s grave has revealed the earliest recorded traces of early humans burying their dead in Africa.

“It’s beautifully excavated … and there can be no dissension that it’s a burial,” says Paul Pettitt, a palaeolithic archaeologist at Durham University who studies ancient mortuary practices and was not involved with the work. “It shows that the tradition of burying some of the dead … probably arose from a common custom amidst Homo sapiens in Africa.”

Intentional burials are relatively rare in the archaeological record before about 30,000 years ago. Previously, the oldest suspected burials in Africa dated to 74,000 and 68,000 years ago—in South Africa’s Border Cave and in Taramsa, Egypt, respectively. In Eurasia, burials of modern humans and Neanderthals up to 120,000 years old have been found, but those involved peoples who contributed little to humans living today.

The new grave was found in 2013 under the rocky overhang of a cave called Panga ya Saidi along the coastline of southeastern Kenya. Archaeologists and local workers noticed an unusual, pit-shaped undulation of sediment within the walls of one of their trenches.

The cave site of Panga ya Saidi, in Kenya’s Kilifi County is seen in this undated photograph.

When they inspected it, a small bone fell out—and promptly turned to dust. Realizing they had found an extraordinarily delicate fossil, the archaeologists spent the next 4 years painstakingly digging and casting the fragile bones in plaster. Two teeth later analyzed at the National Museums of Kenya unambiguously identified the body as a human child.

The researchers then sent the remains to a lab at the National Center for Research on Human Evolution in Burgos, Spain, for further analysis. Virtually sorting through the layers of bone and dirt using computerized tomography, scientists analyzed the bones.

They couldn’t determine how the child had died, but its position suggested caretakers had deliberately curled it into a fetal position before placing it into a shallow pit, explains the study’s senior author, Michael Petraglia, an archaeologist at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.

The skeleton’s torqued shoulder indicates it was likely wrapped tightly in a shroudlike material, and the way the skull twisted and bent inside its grave suggests it may have been propped up on some sort of pillow that slowly decayed.

Scientists used computerized tomography to peer through layers of sediment to reveal the delicate fossils within.

A technique that tells scientists when sediments were last exposed to light revealed the remains were deposited about 78,000 years ago, making this the oldest known human burial site in Africa, the researchers report today in Nature.

Emmanuel Ndiema, an archaeologist at the National Museums and one of the study’s co-authors, named the child Mtoto, after the same word in Swahili. The remains have since been returned to the National Museums.

Africa's Oldest Human Grave Found, Toddler Buried With Pillow 78,000 Years Ago
An artist’s illustration depicts how Mtoto may have been laid to rest in its grave.

As complex symbolic behaviours, including jewellery use and ochre pigment painting, are thought to have arisen in Africa, the birthplace of our species, about 125,000 to 100,000 years ago, it’s reasonable to think that human burial may have also emerged there and spread around the world with early migrants from the continent, Petraglia says. It’s not clear though, he says, whether Neanderthals independently began to bury their dead or the roots of burial-related behaviours go back to the common ancestor of humans and Neanderthals.

Nearly half of such ancient burials involve children, Petraglia points out. Dying young may have been seen then, as now, as particularly tragic, prompting the community to commemorate the death. “Here we have a child where the legs are pulled up to the chest, in a small pit—it’s almost like the womb,” Petraglia says.

Julien Riel-Salvatore, an anthropologist at the University of Montreal, agrees that the level of care that went into Mtoto’s burial suggests a child’s death was especially poignant.

“The idea that people would go out of their way to preserve the child’s body, which would slow its decay and protect it from scavengers, reflects the fact that people cared deeply about their children,” he says.

More burials from the region and time period will need to be discovered before researchers can start to puzzle out the significance that burial held to these ancient humans, says Louise Humphrey, an anthropologist at the National History Museum in London. Still, she says, the tenderness of the burial in Panga ya Saidi reveals “an expression of personal loss”—a sorrow that transcends time.

What is this bizarre structure found in the Egyptian desert?

What is this Bizarre structure found in the Egyptian desert?

To some viewers, it looks like a landing strip for extraterrestrial spacecraft — or perhaps the portal to a parallel universe, if not an ancient monument to a benevolent deity who had a keen eye for design and symmetry.

But what people are actually seeing in the desolate reaches of the Egyptian desert, just a short distance from the shores of the Red Sea is in fact an environmental art installation. And it’s been baffling tourists and armchair travelers since it was constructed in March 1997.

Danae Stratou, Alexandra Stratou, and Stella Constantinides worked as a team to design and build the enormous 1 million square foot (100,000 square meters) piece of artwork — called Desert Breath — to celebrate “the desert as a state of mind, a landscape of the mind,” as stated on the artists’ website.

What is this Bizarre structure found in the Egyptian desert?
Desert Breath, as seen on Google Maps.

Constructed as two interlocking spirals — one with vertical cones, the other with conical depressions in the desert floor — Desert Breath was originally designed with a small lake at its center, but recent images on Google Maps show that the lake has emptied.

The entire structure, in fact, is slowly disintegrating as the sand that forms the art piece slowly blows off its cone-shaped hills and fills in its depressions, making it “an instrument to measure the passage of time.”

The art piece joins other mysterious images and environmental artworks that fascinate viewers on Google Earth, Google Maps, and other online platforms.

For example, the wind-blown steppes of Kazakhstan are home to a large pentagram etched into the Earth’s surface on the shores of a desolate lake.

The five-pointed figure bedeviled viewers’ imaginations until it was revealed to be the outline of the roads in a Soviet-era park.

The star was a popular symbol in the U.S.S.R., and Kazakhstan was part of the former Soviet Union until that union dissolved in 1991.

And etched onto the desert floor of New Mexico are two large diamonds surrounded by a pair of overlapping circles.

This is reportedly the site of a hidden bunker belonging to the Church of Scientology, according to the author of a book on the religious group.

The creators of Desert Breath have no political or cult-like aspirations, however: “Located … at the point where the immensity of the sea meets the immensity of the desert, the work functions on two different levels in terms of viewpoint: from above as a visual image, and from the ground, walking the spiral pathway, a physical experience.”

Egyptian mummy believed to be of a male priest turns out to be a pregnant woman

Egyptian mummy believed to be of a male priest turns out to be a pregnant woman

According to the AFP, X-rays of a 2,000-year-old Egyptian mummy kept at Poland’s National Museum since 1917 showed the remains of a woman with long, curly hair who died between 26 and 30 weeks pregnant.

Marzena Ozarek-Szilke, an anthropologist at the Warsaw Mummy Project, was examining a CT scan of a mummy at the National Museum in the Polish capital when she spotted something peculiar.

“When I looked at the lesser pelvis of our mummy I was interested in what was inside… I thought I saw a tiny foot,” Ozarek-Szilke said.

Egyptian mummy believed to be of a male priest turns out to be a pregnant woman
X-ray images showed a little foot in the belly of the world’s first pregnant Egyptian mummy

She asked her husband, an archaeologist who also worked on the project, to take a look.

“My husband looked at the picture and as a father of three, he said: ‘Well, that’s a foot’. At that moment … the whole picture started to come together,” Ozarek-Szilke told Reuters.

The mummy came to Poland in the 19th century when the nascent University of Warsaw was creating an antiquities collection. For decades, it was thought the mummy belonged to an ancient Egyptian priest named Hor-Dehuti.

However, in discovery revealed in the Journal of Archaeological Science on Thursday, scientists at the Warsaw Mummy Project said the mummy was in fact a woman in her twenties who was between 26 and 28 weeks pregnant.

The cause of death is not clear, but Ozarek-Szilke said the pregnancy may have had something to do with it.

“It is possible that the pregnancy itself contributed to the death of this woman. Now we have modern medicine, women who are between 20 and 30 weeks pregnant and something happens to the pregnancy, they have a chance to be rescued. It used to be impossible,” she said.

The discovery sheds some light on the little-known role of children in ancient Egypt and the religious beliefs of the time, but also raises many questions, according to Wojciech Ejsmond, co-director of the Warsaw Mummy Project.

“What was the status of this child in the Egyptian religion? Did it have a soul, could it go to the afterlife on its own, could it be reborn in the afterlife… if it was not yet born?”

Ejsmond said scientists would study the mummy further to determine the cause of death and establish why the foetus was left in the body.

More Than 100 Burials Uncovered in Egypt’s Nile Delta

More Than 100 Burials Uncovered in Egypt’s Nile Delta

According to an Ahram Online report, 110 burials containing the remains of adults and children have been found at the Koum el-Khulgan archaeological site in the Nile Delta region of northern Egypt. 

Some of the graves discovered at the Koum el-Khulgan archaeological site in Dakahlia province were found still carrying the human remains inside.

The tombs were located approximately 150 kilometres northeast of Cairo, the ministry said, adding that at least 68 of these oval-shaped tombs belonged from the Predynastic Period that spanned between 6000-3150BC. 

Ancient burial tomb unearthed recently with human remains

As many as 37 rectangular-shaped tombs from an ancient era known as the Second Intermediate Period (1782-1570BC) were also unearthed. This dated back to the period when the Semitic of Hyksos ruled ancient Egypt, the ministry informed.

The remaining graves were found to belong to the Naqada III period that thrived between 3200BC to 3000BC.

Inside these ancient mystical tombs, archaeologists found human remains of adults and children as well as the funerary equipment and pottery objects, the Tourism and Antiquities Ministry said.

Artefacts found at the site include pottery, scarab amulets and jewelry.

Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Dr Mustafa Waziri said in a Facebook post that this discovery is an important historical and archaeological addition to the site, where among the tombs found are 68, dating back to the period of the civilization of Lower Egypt.

And as many as five tombs from the era of Naqada III and 37 tombs from the era of Hyksos were dugout. “The excavations will continue to reveal more secrets from this region,” he said.

An ancient burial tomb unearthed recently with human remains and and pottery

Uncovered remains of a baby

Meanwhile, the head of the Egyptian antiquities sector at the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Dr. Ayman Ashmawi, said that tombs are oval-shaped pits cut in the island’s sandy layer and contain people buried in a squatting position, most of whom lay on their left side with their head pointing westward.

Archaeologists uncovered the remains of a baby buried inside a pottery vase from the Bhutto 2 period, a small pot of spherical pottery was placed with it.

A pottery coffin was found inside a burial ground for a child, two brick tombs in the form of a rectangular building with the children’s burials and some funeral furniture, including a small pottery vase and silver rings, as well as the remains of a baby buried inside a large pottery pot were also excavated.

The funerary furniture was placed inside the pot, which was represented in a small black pottery vase. 

More Than 100 Burials Uncovered in Egypt’s Nile Delta
The graves were found at the Koum el-Khulgan archaeological site in Dakahlia province.

Mysterious Giant Objects Discovered Near The Egyptian Pyramids On The Giza Plateau

Mysterious Giant Objects Discovered Near The Egyptian Pyramids On The Giza Plateau

It would seem that near the famous pyramids in Egypt, everything has long been known. But, thanks to new technologies and clear high-quality images from space, new details began to be discovered.

Mysterious Giant Objects Discovered Near The Egyptian Pyramids On The Giza Plateau

At first glance, it seems to be nothing ordinary – pyramids, like pyramids…

But this is only at first glance. If you enlarge the details of this image, then you can find the barely guessed outlines of giant, clearly artificial rectangular formations that are located opposite the famous pyramids.

For example, at the pyramid of Mikerinos:

At the pyramid of Khafre:

What are these incomprehensible huge geometric objects protruding through the sand dunes?

It may well be that in the thickness of the limestone plateau, ancient artificial underground structures of the disappeared Egyptian civilization of the pharaohs are hidden from prying eyes.

We are sure that the Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt is well aware of these objects. 

Therefore, permits for archaeological work are issued only in strictly designated places and not at all free of charge, and the more promising such a site is in terms of finds, the larger the contributions (and the contributions, judging by a number of publications, are not at all weak). 

In addition, excavations at a number of sites are generally prohibited.

So the Egyptian land will keep its secrets and mysteries for a long time from ordinary inhabitants – you and us.

Anunnaki Metropolis More Than 200 Thousand Years Old Was Discovered In Africa And Rewrites History

Anunnaki Metropolis More Than 200 Thousand Years Old Was Discovered In Africa And Rewrites History

The Great Pyramid of Giza, which is just 5000 years old, is believed to be one of the world’s oldest structures. The megalithic temples in Malta, carbon-dated to 3500 BCE, are said to be the world’s oldest structures.

Right up until now, these were known as the first advanced civilizations. Michael Tellinger and Johan Heine have discovered a sight in Mozambique’s Maputo that dates back 200,000 years.

The site is thought to be part of an ancient city that spans 10,000 kms. It has roads joining complex circular structures with agricultural areas which indicate that it belonged to a highly advanced civilization.

They were always there, people noticed them before, but no one could remember who made them and why. Until recently, no one knew how many there were, now they are everywhere, there are thousands of them; no, hundreds of thousands! 

Michael Tellinger said:

When Johan introduced me to ancient stone ruins in southern Africa, I had no idea about the incredible discoveries made in a year or two, the photographs, artifacts, and evidence that no doubt accumulated by a lost and never seen civilization that predated all others, not for several hundred years, not for several thousand years, for many thousands of years. And these discoveries are so amazing that they are not easily digested by the current historical fraternity. It will require a complete paradigm shift in how we view our human history.

The Anunnaki metropolitan area is important due to the amazing amount of gold deposits

In the words of Michael Tellinger:

Thousands of ancient gold mines discovered over the past 500 years point to a lost civilization that has lived and mined gold in this part of the world for thousands of years. And if this is indeed the cradle of humanity, perhaps we are observing the activities of the oldest civilization on Earth.

This place is about 150 km from a superb port where sea trade could help support such a large population, but remember that we are talking about a metropolis almost 200,000 years ago. Some ruins of the metropolis, mostly stone circles, were buried in the sand and are visible only from a satellite or from an airplane. Some have been eroded by sand melting, exposing walls and foundations.

Coordinates of the metropolis on Google maps

When explorers first encountered these ruins, it was assumed that they were built by nomadic tribes such as the Bantu people as they moved south and populated the land throughout the 13th century. 

In early history, there was no record of any civilization capable of building a larger, populous community. Little effort was made to explore the site because the size of the ruins was not fully known.

Over the past 20 years, people like Kirill Gromnik, Richard Wade, Johan Heine, and others have discovered that these stone structures are not what they seem. In fact, it is now believed that the age of the ruins of ancient temples and astronomical observatories of a vanished ancient civilization is hundreds of thousands of years.

The circular ruins stretch over a huge area and can only be truly appreciated from the air or with the help of modern satellite imagery. Many of them are almost completely destroyed or covered with soil due to agriculture and climate change. Some of them have survived quite well, demonstrating large dimensions: the original walls in some places reach almost 1.5 meters in height and more than a meter in width.

Ruins of the Anunnaki metropolis

As for the entire city, or metropolis, it is obvious that it was a well-planned community, created by a highly developed civilization. The number of ancient gold mines suggests why the community chose this site. 

Roads have been found, some of which stretch for hundreds of kilometers, connecting settlements and terraced agriculture, very similar to those found in Inca settlements in Peru. But the answer to the question has not been found: how could this have been achieved by humans 200,000 years ago?

When science is silent

The explanation for this mystery can still be found, however, not among the official scientific postulates, but among others. The theory of ancient astronauts, Zecharia Sitchin, which speaks of the Anunnaki and their “mining work” on Earth, points to a possible explanation for this ancient metropolis. 

This is Sitchin’s theory, which speaks of time and civilization that existed on Earth long before all officially recognized ones, such as Egyptian, Sumerian, and so on. According to the generally accepted version of human history, the first civilization on Earth was the Sumerian, which appeared in southern Mesopotamia in 5000 BC. 

According to Sitchin’s theory of ancient astronauts, the history of the Earth begins with the arrival of the Anunnaki on our planet, approximately 450,000 BC. 

Zecharia also claims that the Anunnaki came to Earth in search of gold, which they needed to “restore” the atmosphere on their home planet – Nibiru. Long and difficult wars on Nibiru damaged the atmosphere, which began to threaten their lives.