Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Many human genes evolved recently

Human genes involved in metabolism, skin pigmentation, brain function and reproduction have evolved in response to recent environmental changes, according to a new study of natural selection in the human genome.

Researchers at the University of Chicago, US, developed a statistical test to find genomic regions that evolution has favoured over the last 15,000 years or so – when modern humans dealt with the end of the last ice age, the beginning of agriculture, and increased population densities.

Many of the 700 genes the researchers identified – especially those involved in smelling, fertility, and reproduction – are also suspected of having undergone natural selection during the divergence of humans and chimpanzees millions of years ago.

KV-63 not that big a deal
Well, so sayeth Zahi and Otto, to one degree or other. I believe I might have mentioned this in an initial post. Kings or Cooks?

Hawass has heard and even been the center of similar hype countless of times before and admits that “only 30 percent of our monuments have been excavated,” but doesn’t see this particular find as lastingly significant.

Otto Schaden, leader of the team that uncovered the find, generally agrees with Hawass’ estimation. Standing in front of the site, Schaden told et, “For all we know, even though they are buried here in the Valley of the Kings, they could be the king’s favorite cooks. It could be one of his nephews who never had a chance for a higher position. Who knows? You can speculate endlessly.”

Much of the speculation could end on March 10, when the tomb is officially opened and the contents of the seven sarcophagi inside are examined and photographed by Hawass, Schaden and their staffs.

More Egyptian boats story Red Sea timbers provide a raft of knowledge

THE oldest known remains of seafaring ships have been identified in a series of cave stores on the Red Sea coast of Egypt. Built of cedar and acacia wood, the ships had been attacked by marine worms, and the site seems to have been a shipbreaker’s yard dating to the middle of the second millennium BC.

The discovery, at Wadi Gawasis near the modern port of Safaga, also yielded boxes which give vital clues on Egyptian contact with the mysterious kingdom of Punt (The Times, January 31). The ship timbers there suggest that parts of pharaonic seagoing vessels were fabricated in the Nile Valley and transported overland for assembly on the coast, according to Cheryl Ward of Florida State University.

Might be some new information here, but basically it's the same discovery that's been heralded for months now.

And one more from Egypt Ancient war goddess statues unearthed in Egypt

A team of Egyptian and German archeologists has unearthed six statues of the lion-headed war goddess Sekhmet during restoration work at an ancient temple in the southern city of Luxor, officials said.

The team found the artifacts in the Kom Hitan area on the location of the 18th dynasty (1580-1314 BC) temple of pharaoh Amenhotep III on the west bank of the Nile, said Egyptian antiquities boss Zahi Hawas.

The black granite statues show Sekhmet sitting on a throne holding the "key of life" in her left hand. They were buried under the eastern wall of the temple's courtyard, Hawas said in a statement.

UD anthropologist finds signs of evolution in ancient skeleton

Recent analysis of a Stone Age skeleton shows that human brain size relative to body size had increased dramatically from ancestors by the Middle Pleistocene, about 260,000 years ago, Karen Rosenberg, chairperson and associate professor of anthropology at the University of Delaware, said.

Rosenberg, who analyzed the fossil with Lü Zuné of Peking University in Beijing and Chris B. Ruff, director of the Center for Functional Anatomy and Evolution at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, said the female skeleton, which was found at a site called Jinniushan in northeastern China 22 years ago, sheds new light on human evolution.

“This fossil belonged to one person from a time and place we didn't know very much about,” Rosenberg said. “What we were really interested in was what could this person tell us about relative brain size [and] body shape, and we could look at all of that in this specimen.”

1,700-year old tombs excavated in Anhui

Chinese archaeologists have discovered five tombs dating back more than 1,700 years in east China's Anhui Province.

Located in Huaibei City, the tombs were found during construction of a local project.

Archaeologists unearthed a bronze sword, some pieces of chinaware and painted earthenware from the five tombs, believed tobe built in the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220).