mid-morning 01.10.17

Oldest Evidence of Silk Found in 8,500-Year-Old Tombs. Jiahu in the middle of Henan Province in central China. Revealed by chemical analysis of silk proteins. The previous oldest silk was 5,000 years old.

The wild, extinct supercow returning to Europe. Yeah! Bring back the aurochs! Tauros programme using selective breeding on the Maronesa cow.

“Alien megastructure” signal may be due to star eating a planet. How pedestrian.

The Search for Aliens Has Become a Grassroots Movement for Billionaires. The usual suspects: Yuri Milner, Elon Musk, Robert Bigelow. I need to create alerts to keep up with these guys and their space junk. Milner is the one I miss the most news on. In all of the election turmoil, I’d missed this altogether: China Powers Up World’s Largest Radio Telescope To Begin Search For Alien Life. Five Hundred Metre Aperture Spherical Telescope. (FAST.) Three years just to calibrate? Damn.

Earliest Human Presence in North America Dated to the Last Glacial Maximum: New Radiocarbon Dates from Bluefish Caves, Canada. Humans occupied the site as early as 24,000 ago. “The results offer archaeological support for the ‘Beringian standstill hypothesis’, which proposes that a genetically isolated human population persisted in Beringia during the LGM and dispersed from there to North and South America during the post-LGM period.”

Kurt Eichenwald is a creepy nut and no one should listen to him. Sadly, he might be an excellent example of cancer that has devoured the Democratic Party. Neoliberalism hollowed the party out to leave broken creatures like Eichenwald with outsized presences.

80,000 year old Homo spaiens teeth in South Asia

The breathless reporting that these 80,000 year old Homo sapiens teeth from China changing everything was getting on my nerves this week. Fortunately, this Scientific American article puts the news into perspective, noting that Petraglia has been saying the 60k Out of Africa date is obsolete for years, linking several previous stories.

It’s definitely interesting that introgression from Neandertals in western Asia still stands at 60k though. The detail about the cavities in these teeth is intriguing too. What the hell were they eating?

Rise domestication at Baligang site in Nanyang Basin in China 8,300 years ago

Rise domestication at Baligang site in Nanyang Basin in China 8,300 years ago.

They have confirmed, based on morphological characteristics of the rice, that rice had been domesticated in the region before 6300 BCE, although a lack of evolution in grain shape suggests that the people there were still a long way off from forming an agricultural economy.

They’re hoping for more details from other sites in future to figure out how much earlier gathering rice switched to domestication.

20,000 year old pottery identified in China

Some pottery found in south China in excavations from previous decades has been dated to 20,000 years ago. The site was Xianrendong cave in south China’s Jiangxi province. The conclusion they’re reaching is that pottery was developed before agriculture was.

Of course I’m going to be that fringe character that has to ask, maybe this means they need to look harder for earlier evidence of agriculture. Water and…. Lard? Bone beads? Grains?

The whole thing seems weird. Wonderful, but weird… and probably destined to get a lot weirder.  My hunch in the years to come that origin of agriculture will be pushed back if the date on these pottery shards are true.

Red Deer Cave people

Human Remains from the Pleistocene-Holocene Transition of Southwest China Suggest a Complex Evolutionary History for East Asians.

Mysterious Chinese Fossils May Be New Human Species.

‘Red Deer Cave people’ may be new species of human.

I’d seen mention of the Red Deer people for a few years now. After the Denisovans turned up, I failed to remember them, although I eagerly anticipated some interesting fossils that had already been discovered in China being re-examined in this new context. The new paper states that no genetic material has been recovered from these bones. All that is know so far is that these bones have archaic features that are unusual for that time and region. They might be Denisovans, have Denisovan admixture, or have a different lineage altogether.

The most remarkable part is that these bones are between 14,300 and 11,500 years old, which is really damned recent.

Grow your own Buddha

My old pal Damien has a song “Test Tube Jesus”((Yes, i oughta post it.)) Now it seems we might be able to clone Siddhartha, from a fragment of skull kept as a relic in a miniature pagoda unearthed in Nanjing, China.

It surprises me how earnest the story seems that this bone fragment could be from the actual historical Buddha. After all, with all of the fragments of the True Cross and mummified fingers of saints out there, how credible is this claim? The holy relic business was quite profitable back in the day.