Agriculture
Growing Healthier Tomato Plants
Microbes at the Gas Pump
Cleaning Up Fish Farms
Amphibians
Newts
Poison Dart Frogs
Salamanders
Animals
Hot Pepper, Hot Spider
Vampire Bats on the Run
Return of the Lost Limbs
Behavior
Homework blues
Night of the living ants
Pollution at the ends of the Earth
Birds
Roadrunners
Finches
Eagles
Chemistry and Materials
Cold, colder and coldest ice
Atomic Drive
Toxic Dirt + Avian Flu = Science Fair Success
Computers
A New Look at Saturn's rings
Two monkeys see a more colorful world
Play for Science
Dinosaurs and Fossils
A Big, Weird Dino
Dino Bite Leaves a Tooth
An Ancient Spider's Web
E Learning Jamaica
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
Earth
Earth from the inside out
A Grim Future for Some Killer Whales
A Great Quake Coming?
Environment
Will Climate Change Depose Monarchs?
Plastic Meals for Seals
Hazy with a Chance of Sunshine
Finding the Past
A Long Trek to Asia
Watching deep-space fireworks
Ancient Art on the Rocks
Fish
Tilapia
Angler Fish
Nurse Sharks
Food and Nutrition
Symbols from the Stone Age
In Search of the Perfect French Fry
Healing Honey
GSAT English Rules
Pronouns
Finding Subjects and Verbs
Adjectives and Adverbs
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
The Annual GSAT Scholarships
Ministry of Education Announces 82 GSAT Scholarships for 2010
GSAT Practice Papers | GSAT Mathematics | Maths
GSAT Exams Jamaica Scholarships
GSAT Practice Papers | GSAT Mathematics | Maths
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
42,000 students will sit for the GSAT Exam in two weeks
GSAT Mathematics
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
10 Common Mistakes When Preparing for the GSAT Math Test
42,000 students will sit for the GSAT Exam in two weeks
Human Body
Heart Revival
Sea Kids See Clearly Underwater
Teen Brains, Under Construction
Invertebrates
Starfish
Termites
Insects
Mammals
Weasels and Kin
Little Brown Bats
Asiatic Bears
Parents
What Not to Say to Emerging Readers
Expert report highlights the importance to parents of reading to children!
How children learn
Physics
Einstein's Skateboard
Project Music
Thinner Air, Less Splatter
Plants
Farms sprout in cities
Fast-flying fungal spores
Fastest Plant on Earth
Reptiles
Gila Monsters
Lizards
Iguanas
Space and Astronomy
Sun Flips Out to Flip-Flop
Asteroid Moons
Saturn's Spongy Moon
Technology and Engineering
Beyond Bar Codes
Model Plane Flies the Atlantic
Musclebots Take Some Steps
The Parts of Speech
Problems with Prepositions
Adjectives and Adverbs
Pronouns
Transportation
Middle school science adventures
Robots on a Rocky Road
Charged cars that would charge
Weather
Science loses out when ice caps melt
Watering the Air
A Dire Shortage of Water
Add your Article

Sahara Cemetery

Paleontologist Paul Sereno and his team were looking for dinosaur bones in West Africa in 2000 when they stumbled upon something unexpected. First, a member of the crew spotted the fossilized armor plates of a crocodile sticking out of the sandy desert. Soon after that, someone else found a foot-long shard of an ancient cow skull. Then came the whopper. "Look, it's human!" a team member shouted. "Part of the skull!" Everyone was surprised. "A stone tool surfaced, and we realized we were sampling the skeletons and tools of ancient human occupants of the Sahara and the animals that filled their world," wrote Sereno in his log about the expedition, which took place in the country of Niger (pronounced nee-ZHER). Further exploration revealed what appeared to be a massive cemetery next to an ancient lakebed. Human skeletons lay scattered in the sand. Many were intact and undisturbed. Among the bodies lay animal and fish bones, arrowheads, harpoons, green jasper tools, jewelry, and other artifacts. All were between 5,000 and 9,000 years old, a period that marked the beginning of the Holocene epoch in Earth's history. The team returned to the site to dig for human remains in 2003 and again in the fall of 2005. With more than 170 skeletons unearthed so far, the cemetery is one of the richest and best-preserved sources of Holocene remains ever discovered in the region. "It's enormous," says Elena Garcea, an archaeologist from Cassino University in Italy, who is also working on the site. "I've never seen such a big cemetery from that early of a period anywhere in North Africa or the Nile Valley or West Africa." Because the graveyard promises to give insight into a long list of mysteries, the researchers nicknamed it Enigma. Garcea says that the team's findings are already shaking up theories about human history and revealing new details about what life was like for people in West Africa during the early Holocene. Changing times The jackpot of information is especially exciting for archaeologists because our ancestors were going through a lot of changes at the time. Around 10,000 years ago in the Middle East, Sereno says, people started making pottery and grinding and polishing stones instead of just flaking them into tools. They also began raising animals and tending crops. These advances were major steps toward modern civilization. And scientists have long assumed that people had to take these steps before they could give up their nomadic life and settle down in communities supported by agriculture. Enigma suggests that people in Africa took a different path. Some of the first ceramic bowls on record appear in the region, Sereno says, and people started grinding stones early, too, just as they did in the Middle East. Fossilized animal bones, however, show that the people who buried their dead at Enigma and lived along the nearby lake didn't start raising cattle until 5,000 years ago, Sereno says. And they didn't start to sow crops until 3,000 years ago. An enormous number of catfish bones at the site show that the people were primarily fishers. They also probably gathered plants for food. That's interesting because although the Sahara is a desert now, it appears that the region was once lush and wet. Interesting stories The skeletons and artifacts found at Enigma have plenty of other interesting stories to tell. One skeleton was 6 feet 4 inches tall, Sereno says. A male and female skeleton lying together reveal a double burial. Jewelry and other objects lay alongside some of the bodies. And a large number of the excavated skeletons were of young people, says Jeff Stivers, who worked as a field technician on the 2003 and 2005 expeditions. "This is obviously a small sample from a larger population, and we'll have a better idea later, but people were dying at very young ages," Stivers says. "There were no modern medicines or a lot of other things we take for granted today that sustain people's lives." Further analyses of bones will help researchers learn more about the types of activities people did, what they ate, what kinds of diseases they had, how old they were when they died, and more. Scientists are also hoping to extract fragments of DNA that might reveal relationships between these ancient populations and groups of people still living in Africa today. For now, archaeologists are hustling to collect as much information as possible. Enigma is a fragile site. The harsh desert sun and biting winds are eroding what's left of the remains. And pillaging, or theft of artifacts, is always a fear. "It's a race against time," Sereno says. "There are only a handful of sites like this left today. We want to make sure we excavate the majority of it carefully before people come to know where it is."

Sahara Cemetery
Sahara Cemetery








Designed and Powered by HBJamaica.com™