The Earth is so vast, archaeologists are still finding remnants of lost civilizations. Most recently, researchers discovered a Mayan city, hidden in the Guatemalan jungle, which is estimated to have been home to approximately 10 million citizens.
The Guardian reports that the researchers used a high-tech aerial mapping technique to find tens of thousands of hidden structures. They include Mayan houses, buildings, defense works, pyramids, an industrial-sized agricultural field and irrigation canals. At least four major Mayan ceremonial centers with plazas were also detected by the mapping technique.
News of the lost city, which was hidden in the jungle of Guatemala’s Peten region, was announced on Thursday by an alliance of US, European and Guatemalan archeologists who have been working in conjunction with Guatemala’s Mayan Heritage and Nature Foundation.
To supply the 10 million Mayan residents, massive food production would have been essential. Marcello A Canuto, a professor of anthropology at Tulane University, commented on this when he said, “That is two to three times more [inhabitants] than people were saying there were.”
The mapping technique is called Lidar, which stands for light detection and ranging. Contours hidden by dense foliage are found as the technology bounces pulsed laser light off the ground. The resulting images revealed that the Mayans altered the landscape in a drastic way. In some areas, 95 percent of the land was cultivated.
Said Francisco Estrada-Belli, a research assistant professor at Tulane University, “Their agriculture is much more intensive and therefore sustainable than we thought, and they were cultivating every inch of the land.” Estrada-Belli added that the ancient Mayas partly drained swampy road that hasn’t been farmed since.
Researchers suggest the civilization had a highly organized workforce. They predicted this based on the extensive defensive fences, ditch-and-rampart systems, and the constructed irrigation canals.
As The Guardian reports, the mapping — which revealed 810 square miles (or 2,100 square kilometers) of hidden civilization — expands the area that was intensively occupied by the Maya. The culture flourished between roughly 1,000 BC and 900 AD. Many descendants still inhabit the region.
Thomas Garrison, assistant professor of anthropology at Ithaca College in New York, used the Lidar data to look for one of the roads.
“I found it, but if I had not had the Lidar and known that that’s what it was, I would have walked right over it, because of how dense the jungle is.”
Garrison noted that the jungle grew over the abandoned Maya field and structures, rather than destroyed them. This is unlike some other ancient cities, whose fields, roads and outbuildings have been all but destroyed by the elements.
“The jungle, which has hindered us in our discovery efforts for so long, has actually worked as this great preservative tool of the impact the culture had across the landscape,” noted Garrison. The assistant professor says the finding “can’t be called anything other than a Maya fortress.”
To the researchers’ surprise, the structures were hiding in plain sight. “As soon as we saw this we all felt a little sheepish,” said Canuto, “because these were things that we had been walking over all the time.”
What else might be discovered with the Lidar technology? Only time will tell!
h/t The Guardian
Researchers Find 50,000-Year-Old Frozen Body of Extinct Woolly Rhino in Siberia
Researchers in Siberia have stumbled upon the 50,000 year-old remains of a rare woolly rhinoceros that was trapped in permafrost.
The remains of the woolly rhino were excavated from the Abyisky district of the Sakha Republic. The rhino was first discovered by a local in Siberia named Alexei Savin, Business Insider reported.
Savvin stumbled upon the remarkable find walking near the Tirekhtyakh River in Yakutia, Siberia last August.
It’s worth noting that this woolly rhino was found close to the site where a previous baby woolly rhino named Sasha was discovered back in the year 2014. Woolly Rhinos were once believed to have been prevalent in Europe, Russia and northern Asia thousands upon thousands of years ago until they ended up extinct.
Paleontologist Albert Protopopov of the Academy of Sciences of the Sakha Republic unveiled that the baby woolly rhino would have been approximately three to four years old when it died presumably from drowning.
The only other woolly rhino thus far that has been discovered in these regions — Sasha — was dated to be from around 34,000 years ago. However, Protopopov suggests that the newly discovered body could be anywhere from 20,000 to 50,000 years old.
However, despite the body being there for so long according to Protopopov “among other things, part of the internal organs are preserved, which in the future will make it possible to study in more detail how the species ate and lived.”
Protopopov further added, “Earlier, not even the bone remains of individuals of this age were found, not to mention the preserved carcasses of animals. As a rule, these were either cubs or adults.”
A fellow paleontologist Valery Plotnikov from the Academy of Sciences further adds, “We have learned that woolly rhinoceroses were covered in very thick hair. Previously, we could judge this only from rock paintings discovered in France. Now, judging by the thick coat with the undercoat, we can conclude that the rhinoceroses were fully adapted to the cold climate very much from a young age.”
Isaac Newton’s Secret “Burnt” Notes Included Theory That Great Pyramids Predicted Apocalypse
Sir Isaac Newton, one of the most famous scientists of recorded history, left behind a large body of work that is still vital in our understanding of the world today. However, as with many public intellectuals, he also had plenty of work that was never shared with the public, even after his death.
Now, for the first time ever, some of these unpublished notes are being auctioned off, and these notes contain some of his most wild theories, and includes his thoughts on the occult, alchemy, and biblical apocalypse theory. Newton was known to dabble in the more esoteric realms of study, but very little written evidence remains about his specific thoughts on mystical topics.
Some of the remaining manuscript notes are currently being auctioned by Sotheby’s. The notes have been through a lot, and are obviously burned. The auctioneers claim that the notes were damaged in a fire that is believed to have been started by a candle that was accidentally toppled by Newton’s dog, Diamond.
According to the auction listing, “These notes are part of Newton’s astonishingly complex web of interlinking studies – natural philosophy, alchemy, theology – only parts of which he ever believed were appropriate for publication. It is not surprising that he did not publish on alchemy, since secrecy was a widely-held tenet of alchemical research, and Newton’s theological beliefs, if made public, would have cost him (at least) his career.”
The notes currently have a leading bid of £280,000, the equivalent of about $375,000.
In the notes, Newton speaks on some far-out topics that would surprise modern thinkers. For example, Newton’s notes include a theory that ancient Egypt’s Great Pyramid of Giza predicted the apocalypse. While it is unclear what logic he used to get to his conclusion, the theory began with his study of how the pyramids were designed according to an ancient Egyptian unit of measurement called the royal cubit.
While studying the pyramids and the cubit, Newton believed he developed an insight into sacred geometry, which somehow aligned with the apocalypse predictions in the bible.
“He was trying to find proof for his theory of gravitation, but in addition the ancient Egyptians were thought to have held the secrets of alchemy that have since been lost. Today, these seem disparate areas of study – but they didn’t seem that way to Newton in the 17th century,” Gabriel Heaton, Sotheby’s manuscript specialist, told The Guardian.
“It’s a wonderful confluence of bringing together Newton and these great objects from classical antiquity which have fascinated people for thousands of years. The papers take you remarkably quickly straight to the heart of a number of the deepest questions Newton was investigating,” Heaton added.
Interest in alchemy and mysticism was not unusual for serious scholars at the time, in fact, it was recognized as a legitimate field of scientific study.
“The idea of science being an alternative to religion is a modern set of thoughts. Newton would not have believed that his scientific work could undermine religious belief. He was not trying to disprove Christianity – this is a man who spent a long time trying to establish the likely time period for the biblical apocalypse. That’s why he was so interested in the pyramids,” Heaton said.
Megalodon Fossils Show How Biggest-Ever Shark Had Nurseries All Over the World
The massive megalodon, the largest shark to ever roam the seas, had their own nursery areas all over the globe that allowed the apex predators to raise their young and populate the world prior to their extinction.
A new study, published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters, reveals that nurseries belonging to the massive creatures have been found in across vast geographic distances where fossils belonging to both young and old megalodons were discovered.
The five likely nurseries include sites off Spain’s east coast, two off the coast of the United States, and two in Panama.
Megalodon (Otodus megalodon), whose name means “large tooth,” lived between 23 million and 3.6 million years ago until it went extinct during a period of global cooling. For 13 million years, the megalodon was the king of the sea.
The megalodon was not only the largest shark in the world, but also the biggest fish – and quite possibly the most powerful predator – to ever exist. Its teeth alone measured 18 centimeters long, and evidence shows that it could have grown to reach up to 60 feet in length.
However, because megalodon bodies were mostly comprised of cartilage – which cannot fossilize – the shark’s teeth, vertebrae and fossilized feces have been the main way researchers have calculated the shark’s body measurements.
The existence of the nurseries shows that young megalodon were still quite susceptible to attacks by other predators.
To keep the young megalodon safe, their shark parents would give birth to their young in shallow, warm water nurseries located near coastlines. In these special regions, juvenile megalodon were able to access their prey while facing few dangers from rival predators.
“Our analyses support the presence of five potential nurseries ranging from the Langhian (middle Miocene) to the Zanclean (Pliocene), with higher densities of individuals with estimated body lengths within the typical range of neonates and young juveniles,” the scientists wrote in the abstract for the study.
“These results reveal, for the first time, that nursery areas were commonly used by O. megalodon over large temporal and spatial scales, reducing early mortality and playing a key role in maintaining viable adult populations,” the authors added.
The nurseries were ideal sites that allowed young megalodons to mature into adults in a process that took about 25 years.
Experts investigated 25 teeth belonging to megalodon that were found in the Reverté and Vidal regions in Tarragona, Spain. The study led to the conclusion that these locations were filled with sharks that had body lengths consistent with the normal range of newborns and young juveniles, measuring 13 feet in length for one-month-old sharks to 36 feet in length for older juveniles.
A separate study released in September found that a 52.5-foot-long adult megalodon had heads that measure up to 15.3 feet long, with dorsal fins measuring about 5.3 feet tall and tails reaching 12.6 feet. To put this into perspective, an adult human could stand on a shark’s back and be roughly the same height as the dorsal fin.
The study’s findings also reveal that the shark’s reliance on nurseries likely played a role in their demise, when the world cooled near the end of the Pliocene period and sea levels declined.
“Ultimately, the presumed reliance of O. megalodon on the presence of suitable nursery grounds might have also been determinant in the demise of this iconic top predatory shark,” the authors of the study noted.
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