In the days of Columbus, dead men could tell no tales.  Today, dead men can tell us a lot and science has just taken that forensic interrogation to new heights.

A team of researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison is extracting the details of the lives of crew members who remained on the island of Hispaniola after the second voyage of Christopher Columbus to America in 1493-94.
New exciting proof that Cleopatra was of African descent and killed her sister!


Yes, if you believe the BBC. The story, reported by AFP, the Times, and the Daily Telegraph, goes like this: In the 1920s a tomb at Ephesus in Turkey was opened which contained a single skeleton. The skull was removed, measured, and subsequently lost. More recently, a team of Austrian archaeologists have reexamined what's left of the skeleton, determining it to be the body of an apparently healthy young
I am continually amazed and amused by the wonderful metaphors and similes generated by users of the English language. The phrase "Are you talking to me or chewing a brick?" is a 'hard-man' phrase, contrastive with 'wet-lettuce' phraseology. But after reading this week's New Scientist, I shall never view 'chewing a brick' in quite the same light again.

For people who may be asking what does 'chewing a brick' actually mean ?  -

During the television program Ulysses which aired in Italy on Saturday the 28th of February, the well-known scientific divulgator Piero Angela stated that a secret drawing, a youthful self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci, had just been discovered. Actually, the Leonardo3 ( research center in Milan, Italy, had published its own edition of the Codex of Flight (book interactive software) in the October of 2007: this work included the digital restoration of page 10, revealing the underlying portrait. The same center had also created a 3D reconstruction of the image.

At the beginning of 2007, within the Leonardo3 research center, Massimiliano Lisa (the center's President) had noted the resemblance between the Self-Portrait and the sanguine at page 10.

A biochemical analysis of a rare Clovis-era stone tool cache recently unearthed in the city limits of Boulder, Colo., indicates some of the implements were used to butcher ice-age camels and horses that roamed North America until their extinction about 13,000 years ago, according to a University of Colorado at Boulder study.

The study is the first to identify protein residue from extinct camels on North American stone tools and only the second to identify horse protein residue on a Clovis-age tool, said CU-Boulder Anthropology Professor Douglas Bamforth, who led the study. The cache is one of only a handful of Clovis-age artifact caches that have been unearthed in North America, said Bamforth, who studies Paleoindian culture and tools. 
Roman artefacts which are nearly two thousand years old with similarities to ancient remains found at Pompeii in Italy will be examined at the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s ISIS neutron source in Oxfordshire this weekend.    Researchers hope to learn more about English heritage by discovering whether the items were imported from southern Italy, or manufactured using similar techniques in Britain.
The Archaeopteryx is experiencing a phoenix-like reascent to fossil celebrity status.  The disovery of this clearly birdlike dinosaur in 1861 lent ethos to Darwin’s brand new Theory of Evolution.  In December, the Thermopolis, WY archaeopteryx fossil was escorted to the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource laboratory for synchrotron X-ray analysis.  According to researcher Uwe Bergmann, "What you normally can't see are the chemical elements from the original organism that might still be present in the fossil. Using X-ray fluorescence imaging, we can bring these elements to light, getting a better look at the fossil and learning more about the original animal.”
It's not quite a "Book of the Dead" but a 14th century brick oven uncovered by archaeologists in Spain found a unique  use for animal bones just the same - strengthening city fortifications.   The scientists report that the animal bones were burnt in the oven and mixed with other materials to produce a protective coating that strengthened the grand medieval walls of what is today Granada, Spain.  It must have worked pretty well since Granada and the surrounding territory were the last bastion of Islamic Iberia during that period.

In a study scheduled to appear in the Jan. 15 issue of Analytical Chemistry, scientists describe how they found these materials thanks to their new testing method.
HUMANS have actively changed the coats of domestic animals by cherry-picking rare genetic mutations, causing variations such as different colours, bands and spots, according to a new study. 

Although the study was carried out on pigs, the results can explain the evolution in the coat colors of all domesticated animals as they all express the same melanocortin-1 receptor (MC1R) gene, one of the genes that controls coat colour in animals. 

The study also explains for the first time why there is a stark contrast between the coat colors of wild and domestic animals and gives further insight into the process of evolution, particularly since animals were first domesticated about 10,000 years ago. 
A researcher from the University of Leicester has identified what looks to be the oldest archaeological evidence for chemical warfare--from Roman times.  At the meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America, Simon James presented CSI-style arguments that about twenty Roman soldiers, found in a siege-mine at the city of Dura-Europos, Syria, met their deaths not as a result of sword or spear, but through asphyxiation.