Science and Medicine

First Plant Material Found on Ancient Hominids’ Teeth

The teeth had not been exposed to the elements since death, they also harbored another thing not discovered before in early hominins—areas of preserved tartar buildup around the edges of the teeth.

A 2 million-year-old mishap that befell two early members of the human family tree has provided the most robust evidence to date of what at least one pair of hominids ate.

A team of researchers including Peter Ungar, Distinguished Professor of anthropology at the University of Arkansas, reports its findings June 27 in the journal Nature.

Almost 2 million years ago, an elderly female and young male of the species Australopithecus sediba fell into a sinkhole, where their remains were quickly buried in sediment. In 2010, anthropologist Lee Berger of the Institute for Human Evolution at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, and his colleagues described the remains of this newly characterized creature. Now a team of scientists has studied the teeth of these specimens, which proved to have unique properties because of how the hominins died.

“We have a very unusual type of preservation,” Ungar said. “The state of the teeth was pristine.”

Read more: First Plant Material Found on Ancient Hominids’ Teeth

 

1969 Fireball Meteorite Reveals New Ancient Mineral

A fireball that tears across the sky is not just a one-time skywatching event—it can reap scientific dividends long afterward.

A fireball that tears across the sky is not just a one-time skywatching event—it can reap scientific dividends long afterward. In fact, one that lit up Mexico’s skies in 1969 scattered thousands of meteorite bits across the northern Mexico state of Chihuahua. And now, decades later, that meteorite, named Allende, has divulged a new mineral called panguite.

Panguite is believed to be among the oldest minerals in the solar system, which is about 4.5 billion years old. Panguite belongs to a class of refractory minerals that could have formed only under the extreme temperatures and conditions present in the infant solar system.

The name of the titanium dioxide mineral, which has been approved by the International Mineralogical Association, honors Pan Gu, said in Chinese mythology to be the first living being who created the world by separating yin from yang (forming the earth and sky).

Read more: 1969 Fireball Meteorite Reveals New Ancient Mineral

   

Night Owls May Suffer from ‘Social Jet Lag’

People who prefer to wake up earlier lead happier and healthier lives than their night owl

People who prefer to wake up earlier lead happier and healthier lives than their night owl counterparts, according to a new study.

The study’s lead author Renée Biss, a PhD student with the University of Toronto’s department of psychology and the Rotman Research Institute, says morning people are more likely to possess greater positive emotion.

The study, published in the journal Emotion, involved two groups of adults: one younger group of 435 people between the ages of 17 to 38 and an older group with 297 participants between the ages of 59 to 79. Participants were asked to fill out questionnaires regarding their sleeping routines, emotional state, overall health, and preferred time of day.

“We collected younger and older adults’ responses as they came in to our lab to participate in various aging and cognition research studies over a two year period,” Biss said.

Findings indicate that older adults are more likely to be earlier risers. However, among both younger and older adults, those who wake earlier report greater levels of happiness than their peers.

Read more: Night Owls May Suffer from ‘Social Jet Lag’

   

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