Friday, January 15, 2016

In the News: What We Leave Behind

Fig.1. Colosseum in Rome, Italy
Credit: David Iliff, 2007. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0)

Although Ötzi the Iceman offers scientists an unprecedented view of early European life, such direct physical evidence is not always available. This week, researchers used parasites to track Romans, mammoth bones to study Arctic dwellers, and more to overturn previously held assumptions about the ancient world.

  • While spreading across continents, the Romans brought their sanitation systems, aqueducts, and other structures fit for the modern, hygienic Roman. Unfortunately, the abundance and diversity of parasites found at Roman ruins show that such measures might not have been helpful: “Friends, Romans, Countrymen, Lend Us Your Toilets (Without Parasites),” NPR (07 January 2016)

  • One persistent museum curator in 1938 discovered a “living fossil” hidden in a fisherman’s catch - an animal which evolved into its mostly modern form around 400 million years ago: “Animated Life: The Living Fossil Fish,” New York Times (22 December 2015)


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