DNA from ancient Phoenician stuns scientists

A wax figure of "The Young Phoenician Man of Carthage" is seen during the opening of a special exhibition at the American University of Beirut (AUB) Archaeological Museum in Beirut January 29, 2014. (REUTERS/Jamal Saidi)

A wax figure of “The Young Phoenician Man of Carthage” is seen during the opening of a special exhibition at the American University of Beirut (AUB) Archaeological Museum in Beirut January 29, 2014. (REUTERS/Jamal Saidi)

A study of the first DNA obtained from an ancient Phoenician reveals that the man had European ancestry.

The research team, which was co-led by Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith of the University of Otago in New Zealand, sequenced the first complete mitochondrial genome of 2,500-year-old Phoenician buried in North Africa. Experts studied a man dubbed the “Young Man of Byrsa” or “Ariche,” whose remains were taken from a sarcophagus in the ancient city of Carthage, just outside Tunis, the Tunisian capital. Carthage was the center of the Phoenician civilization.

Analysis shows that the man belonged to a rare European haplogroup – a genetic group with a common ancestor – indicating that his maternal ancestry is linked to locations on the North Mediterranean coast, probably on the Iberian Peninsula.

Related: Archaeologists think they’ve found Aristotle’s tomb

The findings offer the earliest evidence of the European mitochondrial haplogroup U5b2c1 in North Africa, according to Matisoo-Smith, dating its arrival to at least the late sixth century B.C.

“U5b2c1 is considered to be one of the most ancient haplogroups in Europe and is associated with hunter-gatherer populations there,” she explained, in a press release. “It is remarkably rare in modern populations today, found in Europe at levels of less than one per cent. Interestingly, our analysis showed that Ariche’s mitochondrial genetic make-up most closely matches that of the sequence of a particular modern day individual from Portugal.”

Researchers note that, while the Phoenicians are thought to have originated from the area that is now Lebanon, their influence spread across the Mediterranean and the Iberian Peninsula. The Spanish cities of Malaga and Cadiz, for example, were founded by Phoenicians.

Related: Scientists unearth 5,000-year-old Chinese beer recipe

Experts analyzed the mitochondrial DNA of 47 modern Lebanese people and found none were of the U5b2c1 lineage. U5b2c1 has already been found in two ancient hunter-gatherers recovered from an archaeological site north-Western spain, according to Matisoo-Smith.

“While a wave of farming peoples from the Near East replaced these hunter-gatherers, some of their lineages may have persisted longer in the far south of the Iberian peninsula and on off-shore islands and were then transported to the melting pot of Carthage in North Africa via Phoenician and Punic trade networks,” she said, in the press release.

The study was published in the journal Plos One.

School-bus-size giant squid may be lurking deep in the sea

On Oct. 1, 2013, a 30-foot-long giant squid washed ashore in the Spanish community of Cantabria.

On Oct. 1, 2013, a 30-foot-long giant squid washed ashore in the Spanish community of Cantabria. (Enrique Talledo, www.enriquetalledo.com)

Steeped in mystery, the elusive, deep-sea-dwelling giant squid, with eyes the size of basketballs, may be larger than it has gotten credit for. In fact, the monster cephalopod may grow to be longer than a school bus, researchers say.

Specimens recognizable as giant squid (Architeuthis dux) have been found washed up onshore since at least 1639. However, these sea monsters — which some people say inspired the legend of the giant kraken, though not all scientists agree — are so elusive that they were largely thought to be mythical until they were first photographed alive in their natural environment in 2004.

Ever since giant squid were discovered, there has been considerable speculation as to how large they can get. In a previous analysis of more than 130 specimens, scientists said that none exceeded 42 feet (13 meters) in length. Suggesting that giant squid could grow larger was “a disservice to science,” they said.

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Still, prior studies estimated that hundreds of thousands of giant squid may live in the ocean, which would suggest that there are plenty of chances for giant squid to grow larger than previously suggested, said Charles Paxton, a fisheries ecologist and statistician at the University of St Andrews in Scotland.

Now, a statistical analysis from Paxton suggests that giant squid may plausibly reach 65 feet (20 m) in total length. This new study extrapolated the maximum sizes this species might reach by both examining a variety of categories of data and examining as much data taken directly from specimens of the creature as was available.

“I’ve been interested in the last few years about investigating the hard science behind sea monsters,” Paxton said.

The data Paxton analyzed included 164 measures of mantle (body) length; 39 measures of standard length, which included the lengths of their bodies as well as the lengths of the longest of their arms; and 47 measures of total length, which included the lengths of their bodies as well as the lengths of the tentacles. (Tentacles are squid limbs that often end in teeth and hooks, and are usually significantly longer than squid arms.)

Paxton also examined 46 instances where beak, or mouth, size was measured along with mantle length. He found that beak size could help predict mantle length, confirming previous studies.

All in all, Paxton found that it was statistically plausible that giant squid could have mantle lengths of about 10 feet (3 m) and total lengths of 65 feet, “and that’s a conservative analysis,” he said.

“I am extrapolating here, and extrapolation can sometimes be a bit sketchy,” Paxton said. “But I think these are fairly safe extrapolations. I genuinely think that giant-squid size has been underestimated.”

Paxton noted that there are claims that giant squid can grow to be 100 feet (30 m) long. “I don’t think giant squid can get that big, but while a measurement of a giant squid total length of 19 meters [62 feet] can be questioned, I’d say it certainly wasn’t impossible,” Paxton said.

Some scientists have suggested that squid parts may stretch over time, leading to overestimates of the animal’s size.

To help resolve that question, “there are people in New Zealand and Spain who fairly regularly collect specimens of giant squid, and I’d like them to see just how stretchy they are postmortem,” Paxton said.

Another study, reported in 2015 in the journal PeerJ, suggested that it’s human nature to exaggerate the sizes of the ocean’s giants. The study found that people overestimate measurements for whales, sharks and squid.

As to why giant squid might grow as large as they do, “perhaps it makes them less likely to be eaten by sperm whales,” Paxton said. “It’d be interesting to find out if they do ever reach a size where they cannot ever be eaten by sperm whales.”

Paxton detailed his findings online May 17 in the Journal of Zoology.

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Stranded, rarely seen beaked whale has strange fang

The beaked whale was found washed up on Waitpinga beach in southern Australia.

The beaked whale was found washed up on Waitpinga beach in southern Australia. (South Australian Museum)

A dead whale that washed up on a southern Australia beach has something peculiar in its mouth: a sharp and pointy fang, say the researchers who examined it.

The whale, identified as a Hector’s beaked whale (Mesoplodon hectori), was found south of Adelaide on Waitpinga beach in February. For the past 25 years, the South Australian Museum has done necropsies (an animal autopsy) on “as many [stranded] whales as it can from its shores,” but the museum’s researchers didn’t expect to find anything unusual when they examined this particular whale — a female juvenile, said Catherine Kemper, a senior research scientist in mammals at the South Australian Museum.

Instead, the researchers found an “intriguing” fang, which has never been seen before in a Hector’s beaked whale, Kemper told Live Science in an email.

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It’s possible that the tooth is vestigial — that is, much like a human’s appendix or wisdom teeth, it was useful in an ancestor, but isn’t useful anymore, she said. Or, maybe it’s an evolutionary throwback, also known as an atavism, meaning it was present in ancestors, but still pops up from time to time, much like a human baby born with a tail, reported the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

“All whales are derived from animals that had more teeth,” Kemper said. “What’s happened with time is [that] some of them have evolved. They have lost teeth because they have specialized their feeding to not need them.”

However, it’s difficult to say exactly what is going on, largely because scientists know little about beaked whales, said Nicholas Pyenson, a curator of fossil marine mammals at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, who has not seen the new specimen.

Case in point — this is only the third Hector’s whale the museum has collected, Kemper told ABC.

“Beaked whales, they’re among the most mysterious groups of whales,” Pyenson told Live Science. Some beaked whale species are only known to science because their skulls have washed ashore, he said.

“They’re hard to see in the wild, they live off shore, Pyenson said. “They dive very deep into the ocean and don’t surface too much.”

Yet, beaked whales are some of the most species-rich groups of whales, Pyenson said. And although scientists don’t know much about them, they’re famous for their weird teeth, he said.

For instance, the male strap-toothed whale (Mesoplodon layardii) has teeth that curve up and over its snout, preventing it from opening its mouth more than a few inches, Pyenson said. Other whales have extremely long teeth that might be used for male-male sparring, “which we infer happens deep underwater because you find scars all along the bodies of males that wash up,” he said.

Without more specimens, it’s hard to say whether this whale’s pointy fang is a common variation, an evolutionary throwback or something else, Pyenson said.

“It’s definitely weird, but I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a throwback, because these [whales] already have teeth, [this one] just seems to have had an extra, strange tooth,” he said.

Copyright 2016 LiveScience, a Purch company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Facebook denies ‘systematic’ content bias, but admits possibility of rogue employees

Image result for Facebook denies ‘systematic’ content bias, but admits possibility of rogue employees

NOW PLAYINGWill Facebook take conservatives’ concerns seriously?

Facebook says that it has found no evidence of ‘systematic’ political bias related to its Trending Topics section, but acknowledges the possibility that rogue employees could have impacted the controversial feature.

The tech heavyweight has been thrust into the spotlight following a Gizmodoreport that stories about conservative topics were prevented from appearing in Facebook’s trending module.

“Our investigation could not exclude the possibility of isolated improper actions or unintentional bias in the implementation of our guidelines or policies,” wrote Facebook’s General Counsel Colin Stretch, in a letter to Sen. John Thune, chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, who is investigating the allegations of political manipulation.

Citing an unnamed former journalist that worked on Trending Topics, Gizmodo reported earlier this month that stories about the CPAC meeting, Mitt Romney, Rand Paul, and other conservative topics were prevented from appearing in the trending module. The stories were trending organically among Facebook’s users, the report said.

Related: Facebook says there is ‘no evidence’ of anti-conservative bias on Trending Topics

Facebook reiterated its recent denial of any bias regarding political content in the letter to Thune.

“Our investigation has revealed no evidence of systematic political bias in the selection or prominence of stories included in the Trending Topics feature,” wrote Stretch. “In fact, our analysis indicated that the rates of approval of conservative and liberal topics are virtually identical in Trending Topics.”

However, in an attempt to improve the service and “minimize risks where human judgment is involved,” Facebook is making a number of changes to Trending Topics, according to the general counsel. The company has already updated its guidelines and conducted refresher training for all reviewers, he explained. It is also implementing “additional controls and oversight” around the review team, as well as “robust escalation procedures.”

Additionally, the social network, which has more than 1.6 billion users, isdropping its reliance on news outlets to help determine what gets posted as a trending topic.

Related: Facebook recognizes its ‘trust problem’ with conservatives, Perino says

In the letter to Thune, Facebook said that reviewers accepted topics related to both the 2015 and 2016 CPAC events. “In 2016, although topics related to CPAC were accepted on other days of the conference, one topic related to CPAC itself was not accepted on its first day, March 2, 2016,” he wrote. “Our investigation concluded that this decision was likely the result of the fact that on that day — the day after the Super Tuesday electoral contests — reviewers accepted at least 15 topics related to the Republican presidential primary.”

The firestorm over the Gizmodo report prompted Facebook to invite leading conservatives to the company’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., last week to discuss the allegations. Following the meeting, Dana Perino, co-host of Fox News Channel’s “The Five,” said that Facebook recognizes that it has a “trust problem” with conservatives.

Several unnamed former Facebook “news curators” told Gizmodo that they were told to artificially “inject” certain stories into the trending news section, even if they weren’t popular enough to justify inclusion. In some cases the stories weren’t even trending at all, according to the report.

The former curators, who were all contractors, also were reportedly instructed to not add news about Facebook into the trending section. The curators interviewed by Gizmodo worked for the social network across a timespan from mid-2014 to December 2015.

Related: Facebook CEO Zuckerberg wants to tear down neighboring homes

In the letter, Stretch said that Facebook’s Trending Topics “injection tool,” which is rarely used today, was used more frequently in the past to address limitations in the module. “We found no evidence that the injection tool was used to advance any particular political agenda,” he wrote. “Over time, adjustments to the trending algorithm have dramatically reduced the need for its use.”

The general counsel explained that Facebook uses algorithms to “surface” trending topics and personalize them for each user. However, Stretch explained that human intervention is also needed to overcome current limitations in the algorithm. “To sort the meaningful trends from gibberish and duplicates, and to write headlines and descriptions in clear, natural-sounding language,” he wrote.

The trending section, which appears to the right of the Facebook news feed, was introduced in January 2014. Facebook describes the module as a product “designed to surface interesting and relevant conversations in order to help you discover the best content from all across Facebook.”

Thune, who met with Stretch May 18, described the company’s letter as a step in the right direction. “Facebook has recognized the limitations of efforts to keep information systems fully free from potential bias, which lends credibility to its findings,” he said, in a statement Monday. The company, he added, “has been forthcoming about how it determines trending topics, and steps it will take to minimize the risk of bias from individual human judgment.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

Tour 3D Pluto in new portable virtual-reality view

Viewers can explore distant Pluto with a new addition to the New York Times virtual reality app, using only a smartphone and a Google Cardboard virtual reality viewer (or just the smartphone).

Viewers can explore distant Pluto with a new addition to the New York Times virtual reality app, using only a smartphone and a Google Cardboard virtual reality viewer (or just the smartphone). (New York Times)

Get your Google Cardboards ready, because it’s time to take a 3D trip to Pluto.

The new 7-minute Pluto tour, narrated by the science writer Dennis Overbye of the New York Times, is available for download from the Times’ virtual reality app, and can be viewed through a Google Cardboard headset or on a plain smartphone screen for those who don’t have one.

The film, called “Seeking Pluto’s Frigid Heart,” walks viewers through the arrival of the New Horizons spacecraft to Pluto last July before dropping them down on the surface and pointing out many alien geographic features on the surprisingly complex body. It’s possible to look around 360 degrees to see the full extent of the dwarf planet, its largest moon, Charon, and the far-off shining of the sun.

You can download the New York Times VR App here (there are options for both Android and Apple) to see the awesome 3D Pluto views. You can also see a modified version in a computer browser.

The vivid 3D view, so different from the few pixels we had seen before New Horizons’ approach, was pieced together for the film from New Horizons’ data, with help from the Universities Space Research Association’s Lunar and Planetary Institute in Texas. Even now, only around half of the images and measurements have been beamed back to Earth from the spacecraft; new data will be coming until October, and scientists will be hard at work analyzing it for a long time after.

The Times sent free Cardboards to all of its print subscribers last November andplans to send them to select online subscribers as well; Google also offers Cardboards for sale online and instructions for how to build your own (even out of a pizza box).

Original article on Space.com.

Alien megastructure? Dimming star may have less exotic explanation

Cascading comets around a distant star.

Cascading comets around a distant star. (NASA/JPL/CaltechNASA/JPL/Caltech)

A mysterious darkening star might not be home to an alien megastructure after all. Instead, the dimming that apparently occurred over the course of a century may actually have resulted from how telescopes and cameras have changed over time, researchers said.

Last fall, a star named KIC 8462852 made news when scientists found unusual fluctuations in the object’s light. The star is an otherwise-ordinary F-type star, slightly larger and hotter than Earth’s sun; it sits about 1,480 light-years away from Earth in the constellation Cygnus.

But astronomer Tabetha “Tabby” Boyajian of Yale University in Connecticut and her colleagues, along with citizen scientists from the Planet Hunters crowdsourcing program, found something odd. They discovered dozens of strange instances of the star darkening over a 100-day period when they analyzed data from NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope.

The dimming events blocked up to 22 percent of the light from KIC 8462852, now nicknamed “Tabby’s Star,” making these events far too substantial to be caused by planets crossing (or “transiting”) the star’s face. Scientists also ruled out several other possible explanations, such as an enormous dust cloud.

Such analyses raised the possibility that astronomers had detected signs of alien life — specifically, a Dyson sphere, a megastructure built around a star to capture as much of the sun’s energy as possible to power an advanced civilization. (In science fiction, Dyson spheres — which are named after mathematician and physicist Freeman Dyson — are often depicted as solid shells around stars, but they could also be spherical swarms of giant solar panels.)

So far, astronomers at the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institutein California analyzing Tabby’s Starwith the Allen Telescope Array havenot detected any radio signals that would indicate the presence of an alien civilization. Scientists at SETI International in San Francisco and their colleagues have also failed to detect any laser signals from Tabby’s Star.

Still, in January, astronomer Bradley Schaefer of Louisiana State University reviewed archived photographic plates of the sky taken from 1890 to 1989 and found signs that Tabby’s Star had dimmed by about 20 percent over the past century. He noted that this finding was difficult to explain by natural means. For instance, Schaefer calculated that it would require 648,000 comets, each about 125 miles wide, passing by the star in the past century to cause such dimming.

Now, however, researchers suggest this seemingly century-long dimming trend might not be real. Instead, the apparent darkening may just be due to how astronomical instruments have changed over time.

In the new study, scientists pored over DASCH (Digital Access to a Sky Century @ Harvard) data. This is a collection of more than 500,000 photographic glass plates taken by astronomers at Harvard in Massachusetts between 1885 and 1993 that the university is digitizing.

“It is exciting that we have these century-old data, which are incredibly valuable for checks like this,” study lead author Michael Hippke, an amateur astronomer from the German town of Neukirchen-Vluyn, told Space.com.

The researchers looked not only at Tabby’s Star, but also at a number of comparable stars in the DASCH database. Results showed that many of these other stars experienced a drop in brightness similar to that of Tabby’s Star in the 1960s.

“That indicates the drops were caused by changes in the instrumentation, not by changes in the stars’ brightness,” study co-author Keivan Stassun at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, said in a statement.

“Now, what does that mean for the mystery? Are there no aliens after all? Probably not,” Hippke said in an email. “Still, the daylong dips found by Kepler are real. Something seems to be transiting in front of this star, and we still have no idea what it is.”

The best explanation so far for this dimming may be that a giant comet fragmented into thousands of smaller comets that are now crossing in front of Tabby’s Star, some scientists say. To help solve this celestial mystery, amateur astronomers around the world are working with the American Association of Variable Star Observers to find new dips in the star’s brightness, Hippke noted. Other groups, such as the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope, have also joined the effort, he said.

“Observing further dips in different colors can reveal information about the chemistry of the transiting object, which might confirm or reject a cometary origin,” Hippke said.

The scientists will detail their findings in the Astrophysical Journal.

World’s most unusual yacht could cost $250M to build

yahc 1

(Courtesy Gabriele Teruzzi)

Have an extra $250 million lying around? If so, you may one day be the proud owner of the most outrageously cool yacht on the seven seas.

Designed by Gabriele Teruzzi and named Shaddai — which means, loosely, “omnipotent” in Hebrew — the low, sleek vessel looks more like a piece of modern sculpture than a boat for rich people.

Shaddai will have all the accouterments that showy billionaires desire: oversize flat-screen TVs, a pool club, cushy hangout spaces and unparalleled views.

Its most striking feature is a sort of wing in back that rises 125 feet. It is topped off with a poshly outfitted master suite and 1,130-square-foot terrace that looks perfect for al fresco dining.

“To ascend from the ground has been a desire of humankind since the very beginning,” Teruzzi writes in an e-mail to The Post, explaining the thinking behind his luxury perch.

“The futuristic shape of the yacht is inspired by the most contemporary architecture.”

If sunbathing up high gets a little intense, you can always cool off in the glass-walled infinity pool — with a waterfall, of course.

And in case you start to yearn for ocean creatures, simply repair downstairs and move to a second pool to get a shark’s-eye view of a giant aquarium.

Yet to be built, since it is still in concept form, it rivals the most expensive apartment in New York City, a massive unit at 220 Central Park South, in potential cost. Though Teruzzi said he couldn’t estimate the construction bill, it would cost about $250 million to bring the rendering to reality, according to Alberto Mancini, owner of AM Yacht Design, where Teruzzi works. For his part, Teruzzi tackled this design as a personal project.

This article originally appeared on NYPost.com.

Watch the world’s biggest plane land in Australia

NOW PLAYINGWorld’s largest plane touches down in Australia

Tens of thousands of Australians turned out to gawk as the world’s largest plane descended into Perth’s airport on Sunday. The hulking Antonov An-225 cargo plane, which boasts six engines and wings that measure almost 300 feet long, was delivering a 100-plus-ton generator for a refinery. It landed smoothly with puffs of smoke from its many wheels.

It was an unusual aviation event, marking the first time the plane landed in Australia, and the moment spurred huge traffic delays around the airport as people came out to glimpse the enormous airplane, according to local media.

Related: Mystery Mission: Air Force’s X-37B space plane nears 1 year in orbit

The plane, which measures about 275 feet long and is known for its ability to carry huge cargo loads, touched down under partly cloudy skies, and was greeted with sprays of water.

“It’s very rare to get something like this coming here,” David Eyre, president of the Aviation Association in Western Australia, said, according to 9news.com.au. The aircraft has a split tail and the nose can flip up for loading and unloading cargo.

On Twitter, the Perth airport wished the massive white, yellow, and blue plane a safe voyage out of Australia, writing: “It’s been a pleasure #AN225 Mriya! Safe travels home tomorrow.”

Watch a scuba diver give a giant shark a huge hug

diver shark

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It’s difficult not to feel your spine-tingle when you spot the scary fish make a beeline for a scuba diver.

But an amazing clip shows a brave scuba diver, swimming in the North Atlantic waters near Florida, cuddling up to a shark.

In a jaws-dropping twist, the diver reaches out and begins affectionately stroking the shark, which has since been nicknamed Blondie.

Instead of bearing a row of sharp teeth, Blondie almost gives a friendly smile to the camera as she swims through the ocean.

Adorably, Blondie nuzzles into the diver while he’s stroking her face.

Since the jawesome clip was posted online, there’s been speculation over what breed of fish features in the footage.

While some internet users have speculated whether or not it’s a harmless nurse shark, others are adamant that it’s a lemon shark.

Lemon sharks swim the subtropical Atlantic waters of Africa and America and often feed on smaller species of fish.

The International Shark Attack File notes that the lemon shark has carried out ten unprovoked attacks on humans, none of which were fatal.

The surprising video is a dramatic contrast to the terrifying footage of a shark knocking a paddleboarder into the sea which emerged last month.

In the shocking clip, Maximo Trinidad is seen surfing off the west coast of Florida when the spinner shark suddenly torpedos towards him.

The paddleboarder is sent sprawling backwards, almost landing on top of the predator.

As the shocked surfer clambers back onto the board, he screams with delight: “I got it on film!”

Maximo told CBS New York: “He landed on the side of my board and then I had to like jump over him so I won’t get bitten.

“It’s just a matter of a couple of feet. I mean, I could have ended up on top of him.”

The resilient surfer said his encounter should not prevent people from enjoying the ocean, and that people should remain aware of their surroundings.

The video was uploaded to Youtube by Maximo with the caption: “During lunch break and decent surf building with strong offshore winds I had an unexpected encounter of a spinner kind.”

Archaeologists discover world’s oldest axe

The world's oldest axe fragment, seen here under a microscope, is the size of a thumbnail.  (Australian Archaeology)

The world’s oldest axe fragment, seen here under a microscope, is the size of a thumbnail. (Australian Archaeology)

It’s less than half an inch long, but a small stone chip discovered in western Australia is a piece of the world’s oldest ground-edge axe, an archaeologist at the University of Sydney reports.

In fact, the axe’s creation likely coincides with the general time period when humans arrived on the continent, tens of thousands of years ago.

The axe fragment, which weighs just .16 grams, is nearly 50,000 years old, and was first unearthed at a site in Australia called Carpenter’s Gap in the 1990s. But it’s only recently that, after analysis, archaeologists have announced the significance of the discovery. The results are published in the journal Australian Archaeology.

Peter Hiscock, a professor at the University of Sydney and the lead author on the paper, said that the axe fragment dates to between 45,000 to 49,000 years old.

“This fragment is small, but it’s very distinctive,” Hiscock said in a videoexplaining the find. “It has a smooth surface, a high polish, that doesn’t occur naturally. It doesn’t occur by accident. Someone has to sit and grind the edge in order to make an axe.”

Hiscock said that before this discovery, the oldest known Australian axe was about 35,000 years old.

“This discovery is part of the grand out-of-Africa narrative,” Hiscock said. “Modern humans emerge from Africa, they spread across South Asia, and when they reach Australia, they create the oldest edge-ground axes in the world.”

Scientists used radiocarbon analysis to date the age of charcoal found at the same level of the archaeological site as the axe fragment, which is how they arrived at its age.

“The ancestors of Aboriginal people, arriving on the Australian shores, were adapting to the continent,” Hiscock added. “They were inventing new forms of tools to enable them to explore and settle the landscape.”