Some lovely face paint depicting all the intricacies of the bones that make up the human skull.

Some lovely face paint depicting all the intricacies of the bones that make up the human skull.

418-pound sculpture of Huehueteotl, a Mexican fire god, found at the top of the Pyramid of the Sun in the ancient city of Teotihuacan.

418-pound sculpture of Huehueteotl, a Mexican fire god, found at the top of the Pyramid of the Sun in the ancient city of Teotihuacan.

Astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson fields some of the questions on everyone’s mind after the meteor event in Russia.

We’ve All Got A Sixth Sense (In Fact We Have More Like Ten)

Everyone is familiar with the traditional 5 senses of the human body: sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing. At least that’s how I learned them in second grade. And most people’s education on the senses of the body stop there.

But there are several more senses that we’ve all experienced that don’t get as much credit, such as nociception (sensing pain), thermoception (sensing hot and cold temperatures), and chronoception (sensing the passage of time).

Here is my personal favorite other sense:

Proprioception

This is one of my favorites because I remember playing a lot of schoolyard games that tested the refinement of our sense of proprioception. This is the ability to know where different parts of your body are located without having to having to look and check.

The easiest way to test this is to shut your eyes and touch the tip of your nose with an index finger. If you end up poking yourself in eye, your sense of proprioception may not be as great as it could be. This is why this trick is used by police when testing for intoxication- excessive alcohol impairs this sense.

Lacking proprioception is known as “sensory ataxia”. One notable case kept a woman from walking without being able to look at her legs to know how to position them. This meant she could not move at all in low-light situations!

So obviously these senses are just as important as the “traditional” five.

CT scan of a fish lung taken by researchers at Cornell University.

CT scan of a fish lung taken by researchers at Cornell University.

A map of light pollution in Europe.

A map of light pollution in Europe.

Skeleton of Richard III Found

The remains found in a parking lot were confirmed today to be that of Richard III, famously portrayed as a hunchback in the Shakespeare play named after him.

The body was identified using a variety of techniques employed in archaeology, including chemical dating and comparison with historical records.

The bones were carbon dated (where the amount of radio active decay reveals an age range of an organic object) to between 1455 and 1540. This matched historical accounts that Richard died in battle in 1485. Examination of appearance of the bones revealed the individual to be male and in his late 20s to early 30s. Richard would have been 32 at the time of his death. The identity was also confirmed using the DNA of living relatives.

Although Richard was portrayed as deformed in many different ways, the skeleton only revealed signs of severe scoliosis, a curvature of the spine that would have made him appear inches shorter than he would have been if standing straight.

But the burial the remains were found in was not fit for a king.

The grave shows no signs of a coffin or even a burial shroud, and appeared rushed as the body was crammed into a too-small space.

Most interestingly, the remains exhibited many wounds that filled in the picture of what happened at Richard’s time of death. Called “humiliation” injuries, the skeleton showed wounds beyond the blows to the head that revealed a quick loss of consciousness and death shortly after. There were also signs of stabbing to the face and pelvis, notably through Richard’s rear end- hence the name “humiliation” wounds.

But such an undignified death will not be the end of Richard’s remains, as there is a plan for an elaborate reburial currently in the works.

A 1,600 year old teratoma (a tumor that develops tissues such as hair, skin and teeth) discovered in Spain, inside the pelvic cavity of a 30 year old woman, where it grew on her ovary. What remains of this teratoma is a few teeth and a boney casing. If you feel brave, google a picture of one with soft tissue intact.

A 1,600 year old teratoma (a tumor that develops tissues such as hair, skin and teeth) discovered in Spain, inside the pelvic cavity of a 30 year old woman, where it grew on her ovary. What remains of this teratoma is a few teeth and a boney casing. If you feel brave, google a picture of one with soft tissue intact.

New Technology Meets Ancient Artifacts

The BBC News website recently published this wonderful video displaying an example of how the ever-expanding tech world is aiding archaeologists in their ability to explore the distant past. 

The video here shows a group of researchers who utilized digital x-ray techniques along the lines of those used for MRIs of the human body to investigate what the structure of artifacts are before physically excavating them, which always poses a risk of irreparable damage.

This is a great example of how new technology is rapidly shaping archaeology today.

Tattooed right hand of a Chiribaya mummy from Peru.

Tattooed right hand of a Chiribaya mummy from Peru.