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Woman the hunter: Ancient Andean remains challenge old ideas of who speared big game – Science Magazine

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An artist’s depiction of a female hunter 9000 years ago in the Andean highlands of Peru

Matthew Verdolivo/UC Davis IET Academic Technology Services

When archaeologists discovered the bones of a 9000-year-old human in a burial pit high in the Andes, they were impressed by a tool kit of 20 stone projectile points and blades stacked neatly by the person’s side. All signs pointed to the discovery of a high-status hunter. “Everybody was talking about how this was a great chief, a big man,” says archaeologist Randy Haas of the University of California (UC), Davis.

Then, bioarchaeologist Jim Watson of the University of Arizona noted that the bones were slender and light. “I think your hunter might be female,” he told Haas.

Now, the researchers report that the burial was indeed that of a female, challenging the long-standing “man the hunter” hypothesis. Her existence led them to reexamine reports of other ancient burials in the Americas, and they found 10 additional women buried with projectile points who may also have been hunters. “The message [of the new finding] is that women have always been able to hunt and have in fact hunted,” says archaeologist Bonnie Pitblado of the University of Oklahoma, Norman, who was not part of the study.

The “man the hunter hypothesis,” which prevailed after an influential symposium in Chicago in 1966, held that during the course of human evolution, men hunted and women gathered—and they seldom switched those gender roles. Some researchers challenged the notion, and ancient female warriors have been found recently, but archaeological evidence of women hunting has been scant. And the idea that all hunters were male has been bolstered by studies of the few present-day groups of hunter gatherers, such as the Hadza of Tanzania and San of southern Africa. In those cultures, men hunt large animals and women gather tubers, fruits, nuts, and seeds.

Haas and his team, including local Aymara colleagues, weren’t intending to study female hunters. They discovered the fossilized remains of six individuals in burial pits at the archaeological site of Wilamaya Patjxa at 3925 meters’ altitude on the windswept altiplano of southern Peru. Two people were buried with stone tools. One person, likely 17 to 19 years old, was accompanied by four projectile points that would have been attached to short spears for hunting, several cutting blades, a possible knife, and scraper tools likely used for processing animal hides and meat. The 20 stone tools and ochre, which can be used to tan hides, were neatly stacked next to the top of one individual’s thigh bone, as if they had been held in a leather pouch that had disintegrated. Another person, likely 25 to 35 years old at death, was buried with two projectile points. The pits also held bone fragments of Andean deer and camelids, such as vicuña or guanaco.

The researchers figured out the sex of the bones using a new forensics method developed by co-author Glendon Parker of UC Davis. The technique analyzes whether an individual’s tooth enamel carries a male or female version of a protein called amelogenin. The individual with the impressive toolkit was female; the other person with hunting tools was male. Studies of isotopes of carbon and nitrogen in the woman’s teeth showed she ate a typical hunter’s diet of animal meat and plants.

Others find the evidence of a female hunter convincing. “It’s a smoking gun,” says archaeologist Meg Conkey of UC Berkeley, who was not part of the study. “But skeptics might say it’s a one-off.”

Haas anticipated that concern: In a search of reports of burials at 107 other sites in the Americas older than 8000 years, he found 10 other women and 16 men also buried with hunting tools. This meta-analysis suggests “early big-game hunting was likely gender neutral,” he and his colleagues report today in Science Advances.

Robert Kelly of the University of Wyoming applauds the discovery of the female hunter but isn’t convinced by many of the other potential cases. He points out that having tools in the same grave as a person doesn’t always mean they used them in life. Two burials were female infants found with hunting implements, for example. Buried tools could also have been offerings from male hunters to express their sorrow, he says.

Pitblado says that even if not all of those female remains belonged to hunters, the meta-analysis suggests women have long been capable of hunting, and provides hints about where to look more closely for evidence. Human ecologist Eugenia Gayo of the University of Chile agrees. Such research could help answer questions such as “What were the type of environments where everybody got involved in the hunting?” she says.

It shouldn’t be surprising that women could hunt, Pitblado adds. “These women were living high up in the Andes, at 13,000 feet full time,” she says. “If you can do that, surely you can bring down a deer.”

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Footage shows catastrophic collapse of iconic Puerto Rico telescope – Global News

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Dramatic video from Puerto Rico captures the moment when a 816-tonne platform came crashing down on the Arecibo Observatory, shattering one of the world’s largest telescopes and striking a crushing blow to the global scientific community.

The catastrophic collapse happened on Dec. 1, less than two weeks after the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) warned that such a disaster was imminent. The NSF had already shuttered operations at the facility after a suspension cable snapped and slashed a hole in the dish last month.

Read more:
Massive Puerto Rico radio telescope collapses after cables snap

The telescope was the largest of its kind when it opened in 1963, and it has contributed to all manner of astronomical discoveries over the years, from asteroids to planets to mysterious radio signals in space. It also won a place in pop culture as the set for such films as Contact and GoldenEye, the first James Bond movie starring Pierce Brosnan.

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The observatory’s telescope consisted of a 816-tonne reflector dish platform suspended 137 metres above a massive, bowl-like dish, which measured 305 metres across.

Suspension cables holding up the platform snapped on Dec. 1, dropping the heavy platform on the dish with a tremendous crash.






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Aerial footage shows damage caused by Arecibo radio telescope collapse


Aerial footage shows damage caused by Arecibo radio telescope collapse

Video captured by the Arecibo control tower shows one of the three major cables snapping, causing the platform to swing down on the remaining cables before snapping them, too.

The footage shows the reflector dish platform falling apart in mid-air, while dragging down several support towers behind it.

Drone footage captured from one of the support towers shows the moment when the first cable snapped. The cable snapped at the tower, then the whole structure came crashing down, pulling other towers with it and cracking the bowl of the telescope. Large clouds of dust rose from the bowl after the catastrophe.

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Read more:
Mysterious radio signal from space traced to ‘zombie’ in our galaxy

Jonathan Friedman, who worked for 26 years at the facility and still lives nearby, described the awful sound of the collapse in an interview with the Associated Press.

“It sounded like a rumble. I knew exactly what it was,” he said. “I was screaming. Personally, I was out of control. … I don’t have words to express it. It’s a very deep, terrible feeling.”

Many scientists, Puerto Rico residents and other public figures mourned the telescope’s loss after it was closed, and again after it collapsed.

Ángel Vázquez, the telescope’s director of operations, said it was no surprise when the telescope fell apart early Tuesday.

“It was a snowball effect,” he said. “There was no way to stop it. … It was too much for the old girl to take.”

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Telescope Collapse – SaultOnline.com

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PUERTO RICO, USA – The Arecibo Observatory collapsed on December 1, 2020.

The telescope was the biggest of it’s kind in the world until China built a bigger one in 2016.

Its 305-meter main dish was on the ground while the suspended platform weighing in at 150 tons carried antennas and other equipment suspended over it.

One of the main cables supporting the platform broke in August and then the rest let go Tuesday.

During its lifespan, it made numerous discoveries and was used as a radar to ping near-earth asteroids. It would document size, spin, orbit, and rotation. Without this telescope, there is not another one in the world with the precision capability to do so.

There have been calls on social media to rebuild however no plans for the future of the telescope have been completed.

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NASA buying Moon dust for US$1 – CTV News

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The U.S. space agency NASA awarded contracts to four companies on Thursday to collect lunar samples for US$1 to $15,000, rock-bottom prices that are intended to set a precedent for future exploitation of space resources by the private sector.

“I think it’s kind of amazing that we can buy lunar regolith from four companies for a total of $25,001,” said Phil McAlister, director of NASA’s Commercial Spaceflight Division.

The contracts are with Lunar Outpost of Golden, Colorado for $1; ispace Japan of Tokyo for $5,000; ispace Europe of Luxembourg for $5,000; and Masten Space Systems of Mojave, California for $15,000.

The companies plan to carry out the collection during already scheduled unmanned missions to the Moon in 2022 and 2023.

The firms are to collect a small amount of lunar soil known as regolith from the Moon and to provide imagery to NASA of the collection and the collected material.

Ownership of the lunar soil will then be transferred to NASA and it will become the “sole property of NASA for the agency’s use under the Artemis program.”

Under the Artemis program, NASA plans to land a man and a woman on the Moon by 2024 and lay the groundwork for sustainable exploration and an eventual mission to Mars.

“The precedent is a very important part of what we’re doing today,” said Mike Gold, NASA’s acting associate administrator for international and interagency relations.

“We think it’s very important to establish the precedent that the private sector entities can extract, can take these resources but NASA can purchase and utilize them to fuel not only NASA’s activities, but a whole new dynamic era of public and private development and exploration on the Moon,” Gold said.

“We must learn to generate our own water, air and even fuel,” he said. “Living off the land will enable ambitious exploration activities that will result in awe inspiring science and unprecedented discoveries.”

Any lessons learned on the Moon would be crucial to an eventual mission to Mars.

“Human mission to Mars will be even more demanding and challenging than our lunar operations, which is why it’s so critical to learn from our experiences on the Moon and apply those lessons to Mars,” Gold said.

“We want to demonstrate explicitly that you can extract, you can utilize resources, and that we will be conducting those activities in full compliance with the Outer Space Treaty,” he said. “That’s the precedent that’s important. It’s important for America to lead, not just in technology, but in policy.”

The United States is seeking to establish a precedent because there is currently no international consensus on property rights in space and China and Russia have not reached an understanding with the United States on the subject.

The 1967 Outer Space Treaty is vague but it deems outer space to be “not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.”

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