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Cleaning Up Fish Farms
Flush-Free Fertilizer
Tree Frogs
Hearing Whales
Bee Disease
The nerve of one animal
Listen and Learn
Surprise Visitor
Chemistry and Materials
A Spider's Silky Strength
Hitting the redo button on evolution
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Programming with Alice
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Look into My Eyes
Dinosaurs and Fossils
Early Birds Ready to Rumble
Digging Dinos
Dinosaurs Grow Up
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Watering the Air
Slower Growth, Greater Warmth
Coral Islands Survive a Tsunami
The Down Side of Keeping Clean
A Change in Leaf Color
Acid Snails
Finding the Past
Watching deep-space fireworks
Stone Age Sole Survivors
Of Lice and Old Clothes
Electric Catfish
Food and Nutrition
Moving Good Fats from Fish to Mice
In Search of the Perfect French Fry
Food for Life
GSAT English Rules
Whoever vs. Whomever
Who vs. Whom
Adjectives and Adverbs
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Math of the World
Human Body
Walking to Exercise the Brain
A Long Trek to Asia
Flu Patrol
Hermit Crabs
African Ostrich
Raise a Lifelong Reader by Reading Aloud
How children learn
Children and Media
Dreams of Floating in Space
Hold on to your stars, ladies and gentlemen
Black Hole Journey
Flower family knows its roots
When Fungi and Algae Marry
Plants Travel Wind Highways
Copperhead Snakes
Space and Astronomy
A Dead Star's Dusty Ring
A Darker, Warmer Red Planet
Baby Star
Technology and Engineering
Spinach Power for Solar Cells
A Clean Getaway
Switchable Lenses Improve Vision
The Parts of Speech
What is a Noun
Adjectives and Adverbs
Problems with Prepositions
Tinkering With the Basic Bike
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Troubles with Hubble
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Arctic Melt
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Symbols from the Stone Age

As modern-day people, we like to think we're pretty smart, especially compared with our ancestors who lived many thousands of years ago. Now, some anthropologists say that our ancestors may have been smarter than we usually give them credit for. Rocks recently found in a cave in Israel suggest that people were using objects and colors to represent other things more than 90,000 years ago. This kind of symbolic thinking—where, for example, the color red might stand for danger or a shape for a certain animal—was long thought to be a more recent development. In the Qafzeh Cave in Israel, Erella Hovers of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem looked at human remains dating back more than 90,000 years. Among some of the oldest skeletons, the researchers found 71 pieces of a type of pigment called red ocher along with ocher-stained stone tools. Chemical analyses suggest that the ocher had been heated. Hovers and her coworkers suspect that people brought lumps of ocher to the cave, heated them up, and used them with mollusk shells for symbolic reasons when they buried their dead. Even today, some cultures use red to symbolize fertility or life. Other researchers argue that using ocher was only a preliminary step. They think that real symbolic culture developed only about 50,000 years ago. More advanced kinds of symbolism, such as books and magazines, didn't come along until much later than that.—E. Sohn

Symbols from the Stone Age
Symbols from the Stone Age

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