Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Bio-archaeologists pinpoint oldest Northern European human activity

16.12.2005


Scientists at the University of York used a ‘protein time capsule’ to confirm the earliest record of human activity in Northern Europe.



A team of bio-archaeologists from York were able to provide the final piece of scientific evidence which confirmed that primitive stone tools discovered in East Anglia dated back around 700,000 years – 200,000 years earlier than any other traces of human colonisation of northern latitudes.

Dr Kirsty Penkman and Dr Matthew Collins were part of an international team, headed by the Ancient Human Occupation of Britain (AHOB) project, which studied the worked flint flakes discovered two years ago in a cliff at Pakefield near Lowestoft, Suffolk.


After members of the international team used stratigraphy to indicate the likely age of the flints, the York scientists were called in to confirm the antiquity of the artefacts using a newly-refined technique of amino acid analysis. The technique measures the extent of deterioration of proteins in fossils found close to the flints - in this case, opercula, the tiny trap-doors that close a snail’s shell.

The results of the research are published in the latest edition of Nature today (Thursday 15 December 2005).

Dr Penkman, an Associate member of AHOB, said: “The amino acids were very securely contained in enclosed crystals of the opercula, unchanged by environmental factors other than normal internal protein degradation. In effect, they are a protein time capsule, enabling us to confirm the Pakefield opercula were significantly older than 500,000 years, the previous earliest date for humans north of the Alps.”

Dr Collins said: “The method relies upon measuring the products of decomposition, so we had to isolate a protein sample that was well protected and did not leak the products of decay.”

Dr Penkman added: "Helping to demonstrate the antiquity of the Pakefield site has been very exciting, and we are now trying to apply the same technique to more sites in Britain and overseas. A systematic survey will enable us to build a framework which records the extent of protein degradation in different sites, so that we can link the patchy terrestrial records of past climate change with the long continuous records from ice cores and marine sediments".

David Garner | alfa
Further information:
http://www.york.ac.uk/admin/presspr/pressreleases/earliestactivity.htm

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Bare bones: Making bones transparent
27.04.2017 | California Institute of Technology

nachricht Link Discovered between Immune System, Brain Structure and Memory
26.04.2017 | Universität Basel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Bare bones: Making bones transparent

27.04.2017 | Life Sciences

Study offers new theoretical approach to describing non-equilibrium phase transitions

27.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

From volcano's slope, NASA instrument looks sky high and to the future

27.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>