Hexbyte Glen Cove Ancient DNA study reveals large-scale migrations into Bronze Age Britain

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Previous finds at Cliffs End Farm. Credit: Wessex Archaeology

A major new study of ancient DNA has traced the movement of people into southern Britain during the Bronze Age. In the largest such analysis published to date, scientists examined the DNA of nearly 800 ancient individuals.

The new study, led by the University of York, Harvard Medical School, and the University of Vienna, shows that people moving into southern Britain around 1300‒800 BC were responsible for around half the genetic ancestry of subsequent populations.

The combined DNA and suggests that, rather than a violent invasion or a single migratory event, the genetic structure of the population changed through sustained contacts between mainland Britain and Europe over several centuries, such as the movement of traders, intermarriage, and small scale movements of family groups.

The study finds evidence that the new migrants became thoroughly mixed in to the Southern British population in the period 1000‒875 BC.


The researchers say the origin of these migrants cannot yet be established with certainty, but they are most likely to have come from communities in and around present-day France.

The Middle to Late Bronze Age was a time when settled farming communities expanded across the landscapes of southern Britain, and extensive trade routes developed to allow the movement of metal ores for the production of bronze.

These new networks linked wide-ranging regions across Europe, as seen from the spread of objects and raw materials.


The study’s lead archaeologist Professor Ian Armit, from the University of York, said: “We have long suspected, based on patterns of trade and shared ideologies, that the Middle to Late Bronze Age was a time of intense contacts between communities in Britain and Europe.

“While we may once have thought that long-distance mobility was restricted to a few individuals, such as traders or small bands of warriors, this new DNA evidence shows that considerable numbers of people were moving, across the whole spectrum of society.”

Some of the earliest genetic outliers have been found in Kent, suggesting that the south-east may have been a focus for movement into Britain. This resonates with previously published isotope evidence from archaeological sites like Cliffs End Farm, where some individuals were shown to have spent their childhoods on the Continent.

Celtic languages

The new DNA evidence may also shed light on the long-standing question of when early Celtic languages arrived in Britain.

Since population movement often drives linguistic change, the new DNA evidence significantly strengthens the case for the appearance of Celtic languages in Britain in the Bronze Age. Conversely, the study shows little evidence for large-scale movements of people into Britain during the subsequent Iron Age, which has previously been thought of as the period during which Celtic languages may have spread.

Professor David Reich, from Harvard Medical School, said: “These findings do not settle the question of the origin of Celtic languages into Britain. However, any reasonable scholar needs to adjust their best guesses about what occurred based on these findings.

“Our results militate against an Iron Age spread of Celtic languages into Britain—the popular “Celtic from the East’ hypothesis—and increase the likelihood of a Late Bronze Age arrival from France, a rarely discussed scenario called “Celtic from the Centre.'”

Lactase persistence

A further unexpected finding of the study is a large increase in the frequency of the allele for lactase persistence (a genetic adaptation that allowed people to digest dairy products) in Bronze Age populations in Britain relative to the Continent.

Co-senior author of the study Professor Ron Pinhasi, a physical anthropologist and ancient DNA specialist from the University of Vienna, said “This study increases the amount of ancient DNA data we have from the Late Bronze and Iron Age in Britain by twelvefold, and Western and Central Europe by 3.5-fold.

“With this massive amount of data, we have for the first time the ability to carry out studies of adaptation with enough resolution in both time and space to allow us to discern that natural selection occurred in different ways in different parts of Europe.

“Our results show that dairy products must have been used in qualitatively different ways from an economic or cultural perspective in Britain than they were on the European continent in the Iron Age, as this was a time when lactase persistence was rising rapidly in frequency in Britain but not on the Continent.”

Although the new DNA evidence sheds most light on Britain, the data also indicate population movements between different parts of continental Europe, confirming what archaeologists have long suspected—that the Late Bronze Age was a period of intense and sustained contacts between many diverse communities.

The study, “Large-scale migration into Britain during the Middle to Late Bronze Age,” is published in Nature.

More information:
Nick Patterson et al, Large-scale migration into Britain during the Middle to Late Bronze Age, Nature (2021). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-04287-4

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Climate crisis puts oil in the crosshairs, but dependence persists

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Reducing the dependence of the global economy on oil is a colossal task.

The climate crisis has put the end of oil onto the agenda, but achieving that is a colossal task given the world economy’s deep dependence on petroleum.

“In 2021, several developments showed clearly that (the petroleum) industry doesn’t have a future,” said Romain Ioualalen at the activist group Oil Change International.

The International Energy Agency warned in May that an immediate halt to new investment in fossil projects is needed if the world is to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and to stand any chance of limiting warming to 1.5C.

The call was a revolution for an agency created in the wake of the first 1970 oil shock to protect the of rich, oil-consuming nations.

Another major moment in 2021 was the emergence at the COP 26 climate summit in Glasgow of a coalition of nations that pledged to phase out oil and , although no major oil and gas producing nation joined that group.

“It is no longer taboo to talk about the end of the extraction of hydrocarbons during international climate summits,” said Oil Change International’s Ioualalen.

And —which still represent 80 percent of energy consumed—were explicitly blamed for driving climate change, which was not the case when the Paris climate pact was reached in 2015.

More recently, environmental defenders scored a symbolic victory when oil giant Shell decided to exit the development of the controversial Cambo oil field off Scotland saying the investment case was “not strong enough”.


“We’ve known for several years that the end of crude oil … is near,” said Moez Ajmi, an energy specialist at professional services firm EY.

“But is the world ready to live without oil? It is still very dependent in my view.”

The IEA also believes that oil demand is still set to rise. It expects it to reach its pre-pandemic level of just under 100 million barrels per day next year.

With crude prices having rebounded in the past months, oil producers are rolling in cash and can afford to pursue new projects.

“Any talk of the oil and gas industries being consigned to the past and halting new investments in oil and gas is misguided,” OPEC leader Mohammed Barkindo said recently.

The head of French oil firm TotalEnergies, Patrick Pouyanne, said he’s “convinced the transition will take place because there is a real awareness, but it will take time.”

He believes the issue is being approached from the wrong end. Instead of focussing on reducing oil, attention should be shifted towards consumption.

Demand for fossil fuels “will decline because consumers have access to new products like electric vehicles,” said Pouyanne.

In the first half of the year, accounted for 7 percent of global auto sales, according to BloombergNEF. While that is still a small percentage, it is growing fast.

‘Transformational year’

Oil Change International’s Ioualalen said that arguments put forward by oil companies and producing nations are cynical and focus on the short term.

“They’re trying to justify an unsustainable trajectory at any cost,” he said.

“We’re still far from a decarbonised economy, of course, but it is the energy system investments that are made today that will lead us there,” said Ioualalen.

Whatever the horizon for the end of petroleum, industry players are still only willy-nilly preparing for it as pressure upon them mounts.

US oil majors ExxonMobil and Chevron were long holdouts but finally announced this year investments into the energy transition.

“2022 has the potential to be a truly transformational year,” said Tom Ellacott, senior vice president for corporate analysis at energy research and consultancy firm Wood Mackenzie.

“It’s clear that sitting on the decarbonisation sidelines isn’t an option” given the increasing pressure on the oil industry.

Experts believe that 2022 will see more investment in wind and solar power as well as technology to capture carbon emissions from fossil fuel power plants and factories.

© 2021 AFP

Climate crisis puts oil in the crosshairs, but dependence persists (2021, December 26)
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Hexbyte Glen Cove Heavy rains displace thousands in northeast Brazil

Hexbyte Glen Cove

This handout picture taken on December 12, 2021 and released by the Brazilian presidency showings a flooded area in Itamaraju, in the south of Bahia State, Brazil, after heavy rains.

More than 11,000 people have been displaced in the Brazilian state of Bahia due to flooding, with authorities scrambling Saturday to provide relief to residents without alternate housing.

The have killed 17 since November, including the latest death on Thursday, the state’s civil protection agency said.

A total of 4,185 people were seeking shelter, according to data released by the agency on Friday, after the rains struck 19 cities particularly hard, including Guaratinga, Itororo and Coaraci in the state’s south.

The agency reported that a total of 11,260 people had been forced to flee their homes.

The Bahia and mounted a joint operation on Saturday, in collaboration with other states, to mobilize personnel, aircraft and equipment, as well as provide relief to residents in the flooded areas.

“We are fully mobilized, taking all measures to ensure the necessary support to the victims of the heavy rains that hit Bahia this Christmas,” the state’s governor, Rui Costa, said in a video message.

Flooding and traffic blocks were reported on 17 roads, with some caused by landslides and rockslides, the state’s infrastructure secretary reported.

December rainfall in Bahia’s capital Salvador totaled 250 millimeters (9.8 inches) through Friday, a figure five times the historic average, said.

© 2021 AFP

Heavy rains displace thousands in northeast Brazil (2021, December 26)
retrieved 27 December 2021
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Hexbyte Glen Cove Perfectly preserved dinosaur embryo was preparing to hatch like a bird

Hexbyte Glen Cove

This undated photo courtesy of Lida Xing and the University of Birmingham shows the oviraptorosaur embryo ‘Baby Yingliang’ found in the Ganzhou, Jiangxi Province, southern China.

Scientists on Tuesday announced the discovery of an exquisitely preserved dinosaur embryo from at least 66 million years ago that was preparing to hatch from its egg just like a chicken.

The fossil was discovered in Ganzhou, southern China and belonged to a toothless theropod dinosaur, or oviraptorosaur, which the researchers dubbed “Baby Yingliang.”

“It is one of the best dinosaur ever found in history,” University of Birmingham researcher Fion Waisum Ma, who co-authored a paper in the journal iScience, told AFP.

Ma and colleagues found Baby Yingliang’s lay below its body, with the feet on either side and back curled—a posture that was previously unseen in dinosaurs, but similar to modern .

In birds, the behavior is controlled by the central nervous system and called “tucking.” Chicks preparing to hatch tuck their head under their right wing in order to stabilize the head while they crack the shell with their beak.

Embryos that fail to tuck have a higher chance of death from an unsuccessful hatching.

“This indicates that such behavior in first evolved and originated among their dinosaur ancestors,” said Ma.

An alternative to tucking might have been something closer to what is seen in modern crocodiles, which instead assume a sitting posture with the head bending upon the chest up to hatching.

This undated illustration courtesy of Lida Xing and University of Birmingham shows a rendition of a close-to-hatching oviraptorosaur dinosaur embryo, which is based on the new specimen ‘Baby Yingliang’ found in the Ganzhou, Jiangxi Province, southern China.

Forgotten in storage

Oviraptorosaurs, which means “egg thief lizards,” were feathered dinosaurs that lived in what is now Asia and North America during the Late Cretaceous period.

They had variable beak shapes and diets, and ranged in size from modern turkeys at the lower end to massive Gigantoraptors, that were eight meters (26 feet) long.

Baby Yingliang measures around 27 centimeters (10.6 inches) long from head to tail, and lies inside a 17 centimeter-long egg at the Yingliang Stone Nature History Museum.

Researchers believe the creature is between 72 and 66 million years old, and was probably preserved by a sudden mudslide that buried the egg, protecting it from scavengers for eons.

It would have grown two to three meters long if it had lived to be an adult, and would have likely fed on plants.

The specimen was one of several egg fossils that were forgotten in storage for decades.

The research team suspected they might contain unborn , and scraped off part of Baby Yingliang’s egg shell to uncover the embryo hidden within.

“This dinosaur embryo inside its egg is one of the most beautiful fossils I have ever seen,” said Professor Steve Brusatte of the University of Edinburgh, part of the research team, in a statement.

“This little prenatal dinosaur looks just like a baby bird curled in its egg, which is yet more evidence that many features characteristic of today’s birds first evolved in their dinosaur ancestors.”

The team hopes to study Baby Yingliang in greater detail using advanced scanning techniques to image its full skeleton, including its skull bones, because part of the body is still covered by rock.

More information:
Waisum Ma et al, An exquisitely preserved in-ovo theropod dinosaur embryo sheds light on avian-like prehatching postures, iScience (2021). DOI: 10.1016/j.isci.2021.103516. www.cell.com/iscience/fulltext … 2589-0042(21)01487-5

© 2021 AFP

Perfectly preserved dinosaur embryo was preparing to hatch like a bird (2021, December 26)
retrieved 27 December 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-12-perfectly-dinosaur-embryo-hatch-bird.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

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