Giant, Weird-Looking Fish With ‘Startled’ Eyes Washes Up on Aussie Beach

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Giant, Weird-Looking Fish With ‘Startled’ Eyes Washes Up on Aussie Beach

This Is ‘Lola,’ a 5,700-Year-Old Woman Whose Entire Life Is Revealed in Her ‘Chewing Gum’

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This Is ‘Lola,’ a 5,700-Year-Old Woman Whose Entire Life Is Revealed in Her ‘Chewing Gum’



Originally published on Live Science.

Student discovers 5,000-year-old sword hidden in Venetian monastery

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Student discovers 5,000-year-old sword hidden in Venetian monastery

The sword was mistakenly thought to be medieval. It is now thought to come from eastern Anatolia and to be about 5000 years-old – one of the oldest swords ever found.

The sword was mistakenly thought to be medieval. It is now thought to come from eastern Anatolia and to be about 5000 years-old – one of the oldest swords ever found.
(Image: © Ca’ Foscari University of Venice/Andrea Avezzù)

A keen-eyed archaeology student made the find of a lifetime when she spotted one of the oldest swords on record, mistakenly grouped with medieval artifacts in a secluded Italian museum.

The ancient sword was thought to be medieval in origin and maybe a few hundred years old at most — but studies have shown that it dates back about 5,000 years, to what is now eastern Turkey, where swords are thought to have been invented, in the early Bronze Age.

The weapon was spotted in November 2017 by Vittoria Dall’Armellina, who was then a doctoral student in archaeology at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. She had made a day trip to the monastery on San Lazzaro degli Armeni, a tiny island on the edge of the Venetian lagoon.

The visit had nothing to do with her studies, and she’d never been there before. “It was a pleasure trip,” Dall’Armellina told Live Science in an email.

When she spotted the sword among the medieval artifacts on display in the monastery’s small museum, Dall’Armellina was sure she’d seen its distinctive shape before, she said.

She’d written her master’s thesis on social status in the early Bronze Age, and her studies had included high-status grave goods, such as ancient weapons.

“I thought that I knew that type of sword and that I was certain it was contemporary with those of Arslantepe and Sivas,” she said, referring to swords from the east of Anatolia, now eastern Turkey, which date to about 3000 B.C. and are thought to be the oldest in the world.

Related: The 22 weirdest military weapons

The ancient sword was spotted in the monastery museum on San Lazzaro degli Armeni by doctoral student Vittoria Dall'Armellia. Father Serafino Jamourlian researched how it got there.

The ancient sword was spotted in the monastery museum on San Lazzaro degli Armeni by doctoral student Vittoria Dall’Armellia. Father Serafino Jamourlian researched how it got there. (Image credit: Ca’ Foscari University of Venice/Andrea Avezzù)

Gift from Armenia

Dall’Armellina and scientists from Ca’ Foscari University set out to find out more about the mysterious sword.

They contacted the monastery at San Lazzaro degli Armeni, which has been a center for the Mekhitarist congregation of Armenian Catholic monks since 1717.

Research into the monastery’s archives by Father Serafino Jamourlian revealed that the sword had been sent in a donation of gifts from an Armenian art collector named Yervant Khorasandjian, to a monk named Ghevond Alishan, known as Father Leonzio, about 150 years ago.

Alishan was a famous poet and writer who was a friend of the famed English art critic John Ruskin; Alishan died in 1901, and his belongings passed on to his monastery.

According to a document that accompanied the donation, handwritten in Armenian and dating from the second half of the 19th century, the sword was found at Kavak, a settlement near the  ancient Greek colony of Trebizond on the Black Sea coast now Trabzon in eastern Turkey.

After Alishan’s death, the sword found its way into the monastery’s museum, where it was eventually placed in a cabinet of medieval artifacts.

Related: 12 bizarre medieval trends

It’s taken more than two years of detailed study, including metallurgical research, to verify that both the construction and composition of the sword are similar to those of the ancient swords found in eastern Turkey. In the meantime, Dall’Armellina has now completed her archaeology doctorate.

Scientific studies of the sword show it is made from copper hardened with small amounts of arsenic – an alloy used before true bronze was invented by mixing copper and tin.

Scientific studies of the sword show it is made from copper hardened with small amounts of arsenic – an alloy used before true bronze was invented by mixing copper and tin. (Image credit: Ca’ Foscari University of Venice/Andrea Avezzù)

Before bronze

One of the surprises is that the weapon is made of arsenical copper, an alloy of copper and arsenic used about 5,000 years ago, before true bronze was invented by alloying copper and tin.

“I was pretty sure of the antiquity of the sword,” Dall’Armellina said. But “when the results of the analysis revealed that the material was arsenical copper, it was a great satisfaction.”

The style of construction of the sword, known as its typology, and its metallic composition indicate that the artifact dates from an early stage of the Bronze Age.

The researchers also found that the sword was constructed in a similar way to that of the twin swords found at the ancient palace at Arslantepe, an archaeological site in eastern Turkey. Those have been firmly dated to about 5,000 years ago, according to a statement by the university.

Archaeologists think swords were invented in that region, and the sword from San Lazzaro degli Armeni is now thought to be an early example — perhaps even the oldest.

Similar ancient swords have been found in eastern Anatolia, while a different style of sword from the same period has been found in barrow graves, known as kurgans, in the adjoining northern Caucasus region, Ca’ Foscari University archaeologist Elena Rova told Live Science.

“It seems that in this area, between the northern Caucasus and eastern Anatolia, the sword was invented, and there were at least two typological variants,” Rova said.

“Local chiefs were buried with a lot of weapons and other precious objects,” she said. “They probably wanted to emphasize their status as warriors, and the sword was one of the symbols.”

Originally published on Live Science.


The First Evidence of ‘Head Cones’ Found in 3,300-Year-Old Egyptian Tomb

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The First Evidence of ‘Head Cones’ Found in 3,300-Year-Old Egyptian Tomb

Ancient Maya kingdom with pyramid discovered in southern Mexico

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Ancient Maya kingdom with pyramid discovered in southern Mexico

Do you know what makes tribal Borneo women beautiful?

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Do you know what makes tribal Borneo women beautiful?

| Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

When people talk about beauty, what comes to mind? Generally, its fair skin, long legs, silky hair, and pointed noses. Western media has done a lot to influence what we think is beautiful. Yet if we look past this bias, we find that not everyone has the same beauty ideals.

In Sarawak indigenous beauty is far different from the Eurocentric beauty standards. What makes an indigenous Sarawakian woman beautiful may be seen as ‘savage’ by many today because of our heavily Westernised interpretation of beauty. However, once upon a time, these beauty marks were highly sought after in their own communities. They are still appreciated today, despite the fact that many indigenous women no longer adhere to them.

Many of these beauty marks will sadly fade in time as modern-day life dictates a more practical approach. Before that happens, we’ve put together a list to remind us that beauty always lies in the eyes of the beholder.

So, in conjunction with International Women’s Day, we’re taking the opportunity to share with the world the unique beauty marks of Sarawak’s indigenous women.

Ring Ladies of Semban

In the region of Bengoh, 400 meters above sea level, lies a quaint village called Kampung Semban. As this village is nestled in the mountains, it is no wonder that it is nicknamed “the village above the clouds”.

The Semban people are a sub-tribe of the Bidayuhs. What sets them apart are the copper-coiled rings that adorn the forearms (ruyang) and calves (rusung) of their women. As of 2020, five women were recorded still wearing these rings, wherein only 4 are still active, which makes the ringed ladies of Semban an extremely rare sight.

Many centuries ago, Semban ladies started wearing these rings from as young as 10 years old. Even though the practice was not imposed on them, the girls chose to wear rings because according to pagan customs, only girls with the rings were allowed to attend festive ceremonies and dance, and who wants to miss a dance?

Wearing these rings made the young Semban ladies more beautiful. They are never taken off, even while doing daily chores such as tending the fields or taking showers. As a result, wearing them can be painful. However, to the Semban women, it was worth the pain because beauty precedes everything. And because the rings made them more beautiful, it also made it easier for them to find husbands.

The practise of wearing these rings slowly faded when formal education was introduced to the village in 1969. Girls were not allowed to wear them to school and because of this, many chose to take them off or not wear them at all after school or at weekends and during the holidays.

The older generations of Semban still find these rings attractive but the younger generation does not and it’s only a matter of time before the practise dies out.

Long Ears of the Orang Ulu

The longer the earlobes, the more beautiful they are. This is what the traditional Orang Ulu believe. To them, long earlobes accentuate a woman’s beauty and will attract more men to marry them. Back in the olden days, it was common to see women of Orang Ulu walking around Sarawak with long earlobes.

The Orang Ulu consists of the Kayan, Kenyah, Kelabit, Lun Bawang, and many other small tribes, commonly live in the lower-lying inland areas of northeastern Sarawak.

Using sharpened bamboo sticks, parents would pierce their children’s ears at just a few months old. After piercing, they wear brass earrings to elongate their earlobes. As they grow older, these brass earrings are replaced with heavier ones, weighing up to 500 grams a pair. These earrings then stretch out the earlobes, preferably reaching their shoulders and beyond.

This process is painful and their ears may even bleed and become infected. However, according to those who went through the process, the feeling of getting their earlobes to reach their shoulders left them elated.


Elongated earlobes are a symbol of beauty to the wearer. It is also said that the longer the earlobes are, the more significant the individual is to the tribe.

Sadly, with modernisation, the younger generation no longer practices this tradition. The elders do not blame their grandchildren for refusing to follow in their footsteps as they need to assimilate with the city and such signs of beauty don’t sit well with modernity.

Flat Foreheads of the Melanau women

Once upon a time, the Melanau people of Mukah and Bintulu deemed round faces as beautiful. Parents went to great extremes to get their children to grow up looking “moon-faced”.

To achieve this desired feature, a young infant had to go through ‘melipih beleang’, a process that flattens their foreheads with a device called ‘jak’.

The jak is a flat wooden bar that is 24cm long and 9cm wide. A soft pad is then attached to the centre of the bar, which is placed in the middle of the baby’s forehead. This is connected to a T-shaped strap of cloth with strings. These strings are then guided into a hole in the middle of a copper coin or a wooden disc.

This contraption is then strapped around the heads of infants while they sleep. By twisting the coin or disc, pressure is gradually applied to the babies’ foreheads. If the baby woke up or started crying, pressure would slowly be released. Each application usually lasts for 15 minutes and it takes between 10 to 20 uses of the jak to achieve the desired ‘moon-face’ effect.

Mothers will start using jak on their infants when they are as young as two weeks old because their bones are still quite malleable. Even though this process is painful and dangerous, the girls won’t remember the pain as they were too young when they went through it.

The Melanau people believe that round faces have the perfect head shape to don the serebang (golden tiara).

Tattooed women of the Kayan Tribe

Even though many tribes don tattoos, in the Kayan tribe, it was mostly the women who got them. These tattoos are called ‘tedek’. Girls would get tattooed as young as ten years old, and it was considered a rite of passage into adulthood.

The Kayan tribe are mainly settled along the Baram, Bintulu, and Rajang River in Sarawak.

The tattooing process begins with the girl’s fingers and the upper part of her feet. Within a year, her upper arms and thighs would be covered. It can take up to four years to complete the whole tattooing process, depending on the woman’s endurance level to pain. Only once her tattoos are complete can she be eligible for marriage.

The more tattoos a woman has, the more beautiful she is considered to be. Tattoos symbolise their identity, courage, beauty, and social status. The Kayan also believe that these tattoos will become their guiding lights in the darkness of the afterlife.

After the arrival of missionaries into Sarawak, there was a negative connotation attached to tattoos, mainly because of the influence of Abrahamic religions. However, recently there has been a resurgence of the tattoo culture led by younger generations who modernise traditional motifs to assimilate with the current world. If you’d like to learn more about the significance and symbolism of tribal tattoos in Sarawakian culture, you can read our article here.

What people may deem as a ‘thing of the past’ still holds a lot of cultural significance. Even though we see less of these beauty marks today, their allure remains alive in the eyes of many elder Sarawakians.

They are also deeply appreciated by the younger generations who are putting a lot of effort into keeping their culture and heritage alive through stories and art.

Can people spread coronavirus after they recover?

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Can people spread coronavirus after they recover?

Low-level viruses

It is not uncommon for viruses to persist at low levels in the body even after someone recovers from an illness, said Ebenezer Tumban, a virologist at Michigan Tech University. For example, Zika virus and Ebola virus are known to stick around for months after patients recover, Johnson noted.

The test that the four patients from Wuhan, China, underwent looks for genetic fragments of the virus in the body, Tumban said. The Tamiflu they were taking could have pushed the number of viral copies in their bodies down to just a few, he said. At that point, the test would not have been sensitive enough to detect the virus.

After the antiviral treatment ended, the viruses may have begun replicating again at a low level, Tumban said. There would not have been enough of the virus to cause tissue damage, so the patients felt no symptoms. But the number of viral copies would have gotten high enough for the test to catch them again.

At that point, the individuals were likely not very contagious, Johnson said. Coughing and sneezing spews viral particles around, but these individuals were not coughing or sneezing. Their viral loads were also low. It would take more intimate contact to spread the virus.

“They should be careful in the household setting not to share drinks and make sure they’re washing their hands frequently,” she said. “But if they’re just a carrier, they shouldn’t be able to transmit outside of that close contact of shared beverage and food.”

Immunity implications

None of the study patients’ family members tested positive for coronavirus at the time of the paper’s publication. However, the authors noted that the patients were all medical professionals who took very careful precautions to avoid spreading the disease while at home.

Virus that persists in the body may elicit enough of an immune response to provide some protection against new infection, Johnson said. There are many questions about how long immunity would last, though, Tumban said. For example, the body maintains immunity against the coronaviruses that cause the common cold for only a year or two, he said. And there is always the possibility that the new coronavirus would mutate as it moves through populations, changing into a version that already-exposed immune systems can’t recognize.

“The challenge is, how fast does this mutate?” Johnson said.

More follow-up studies are needed to understand recovery from COVID-19, Johnson said. The individuals in the study from Wuhan were all of similar age and health status, and none experienced severe illness from COVID-19.

Future research should also look at viral loads within the lungs, Tumban said. A throat swab captures the virus only from the upper reaches of the respiratory tract, but the virus makes its home deep in the lungs. Sampling from the lungs is a more invasive procedure, involving washing fluid through the alveoli (small air sacs in the lungs) and testing that fluid for viral particles, Tumban said. Still, the study suggests that long-term monitoring of recovered patients and their contacts is important.

“One week or two weeks after, is the amount of virus in the blood or lungs going to come up to a higher concentration so that the person can transmit it to other people?” Tumban said. “That’s something that we still don’t know.”


Originally published on Live Science.

Here’s how long the coronavirus will last on surfaces, and how to disinfect those surfaces.

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Here’s how long the coronavirus will last on surfaces, and how to disinfect those surfaces.

Scientists figure out how new coronavirus breaks into human cells

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Scientists figure out how new coronavirus breaks into human cells

Zhou and his team used a tool called cryo electron microscopy, which employs deeply frozen samples and electron beams to image the tiniest structures of biological molecules. The researchers found that the molecular bond between SARS-CoV-2’s spike protein and ACE2 looks fairly similar to the binding pattern of the coronavirus that caused the outbreak of SARS in 2003. There are some differences, however, in the precise amino acids used to bind SARS-CoV-2 to that ACE2 receptor compared with the virus that causes SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), the researchers said.

“While some might consider the differences subtle,” Gallagher said, “they might be meaningful with respect to the strength with which each of those viruses stick.”

That “stickiness” could affect how easily a virus transmits from one person to another. If any given viral particle is more likely to enter a cell once it enters the human body, transmission of disease is more likely.

There are other coronaviruses that circulate regularly, causing upper respiratory infections that most people think of as the common cold. Those coronaviruses don’t interact with the ACE2 receptor, Gallagher said, but rather, they get into the body using other receptors on human cells.

Coronavirus structure implications

The structure of SARS-CoV-2’s “key” and the body’s “lock” could theoretically provide a target for antiviral drugs that would stop the new coronavirus from getting into new cells. Most antiviral drugs already on the market focus on halting viral replication within the cell, so a drug that targeted viral entry would be new territory, Gallagher said.

“There is no effective clinical drug that will block that interaction that I know of” that’s already in use, he said.

The viral spike protein is also a promising target for vaccines, because it’s the part of the virus that interacts with its environment and so could be easily recognized by the immune system, Gallagher said.

Even so, developing either drugs or a vaccine will be a challenging task. Treatments and vaccines not only have to prove effective against the virus, but must also be safe for people, Gallagher said. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials have said that the earliest a coronavirus vaccine could be available is in a year to a year and a half.

Originally published on Live Science.

‘Rapunzel Syndrome’ Caused Woman’s Odd Symptoms

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‘Rapunzel Syndrome’ Caused Woman’s Odd Symptoms