Approximately 4,500 years ago, the dismembered remains of a Neolithic man and small child were buried together, in southeastern Poland. With them was buried a complete bear’s paw. It is quite unusual, as domesticated animals were the usual Neolithic burial companions in this part of Europe.
Traces of fire and a single cattle bone have also been found at the entrance to the burial niche, where the bear’s paw was uncovered. The artifacts in combination have led archaeologists to suggest that the bear’s paw was used for some sort of ritual at the burial’s entrance.
The box jellyfish’s sting causes severe headaches, vomiting, rapid heartbeat, pulmonary edema, and severe anxiety – its apparently so bad that some victims beg doctors to kill them. It is estimated that since 1954 box jellyfish have caused more the 5,500 deaths.
About 5,000 years ago, on Denmark’s Jutland Peninsula, wild boars were enjoying an unusual diet. Isotope analyses of wild board remains revealed that they were eating fish and other marine animals. The only way they could have gotten access to such food, researchers think, is if humans were deliberately feeding the boars seafood.
Why would they do that? Perhaps they used marine resources to domesticate the boars, a useful source of meat if they can be made tamer. Note that 5,000 years ago is before the agricultural revolution reached Denmark. So the locals were attempting animal domestication before they had adopted domesticated plants.
In 2018, paleontologists examined the fossil of a bird which had been discovered in northwest China a few years earlier. The new species, Avimaia schweitzerae, was around 115 million years old. In a fossil first, the bird was pregnant with an egg. But there was something wrong with the egg. It had too many layers – as many as six layers in some places. Scientists think this could be why the bird died. In modern birds, trauma can delay a female from nesting, and she can keep an egg inside herself for too long. Over time, her body adds unnecessary layers of shell around it. Known as “egg binding,” it smothers the embryo and often kills the mother.
But that was not the only surprise Avimaia schweitzerae had in store. When a bird prepares for egg-making, she stacks up on calcium in the medullary bone — something that has never been positively identified in a fossil bird before. Avimaia’s medullary region showed all the right signs. If confirmed, it would provide a unique link between avian reproduction and this bone.
Clay brick with a stamped cuneiform inscription and a dog’s pawprints.
From the ziggurat at Ur, 2112 BCE – 2004 BCE.