Ancient streets in Rome revealed thanks to massive sinkhole

A gaping sinkhole opened up in Rome and unveiled ancient paving stones dating back to the time of Caesar, reports said.

The massive hole unexpectedly gave in last weekend close to the steps of the Roman Temple and has created a new archeological wonder in the Eternal City, The Sun reported.

The stones appear to have been used to create streets around the Pantheon in 27 BC, about 20 years after Julius Caesar was assassinated, the outlet reported. They were later paved over during a series of construction projects in the first century AD.

The stones have been miraculously well preserved, largely because they were surrounded by pozzolan, a type of dirt that has high amounts of silicon dioxide, which absorbs excess moisture and prevents rot, the outlet said.

The street stones were made from travertine — a building material common in ancient Rome that was also used to make the Colosseum, the outlet said.

Back then, the material was easily sourced from quarries outside of the city, the outlet said.

Sinkholes are common in Rome, mostly in the eastern part of the city, because materials were “quarried in ancient times,” Geologist Stefania Nisio told the outlet Adnkronos.

In 2019, there were 100 sinkholes and 175 in 2018.

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Ancient fossil tells the story of a squid-like creature attacking fish

Scientists believe they have discovered the oldest known example of a squid-like creature attacking its prey, found in a fossil dating back almost 200 million years.

The fossil was found on the Jurassic coast in Dorset in the 19th century and is currently kept within the collections of the British Geological Survey in Nottingham.

New analysis suggests it shows a creature, identified by researchers as a Clarkeiteuthis montefiorei, with a herring-like fish called Dorsetichthys bechei in its jaws.

Researchers say the position of the creature’s arms, alongside the body of the fish, point to it not being a quirk of fossilisation but instead the recording of an event.

They believe it dates from the Sinemurian period – between 190 and 199 million years ago – meaning it predates any previously recorded similar sample by more than 10 million years.

Professor Malcolm Hart, emeritus professor at the University of Plymouth, said: ‘Since the 19th century, the Blue Lias and Charmouth Mudstone formations of the Dorset coast have provided large numbers of important body fossils that inform our knowledge of coleoid palaeontology.

‘In many of these mudstones, specimens of palaeobiological significance have been found, especially those with the arms and hooks with which the living animals caught their prey.

‘This, however, is a most unusual if not extraordinary fossil as predation events are only very occasionally found in the geological record.

‘It points to a particularly violent attack which ultimately appears to have caused the death, and subsequent preservation, of both animals.’

The research was led by the University of Plymouth and involved the University of Kansas, as well as Dorset-based company The Forge Fossils.

In the analysis, the authors say the fossilised remains indicate a brutal incident in which the head bones of the fish were crushed by its attacker.

They believe the fish may have been too large for the squid-like creature, or became stuck in its jaws – leaving the deceased pair settling to the seafloor where they were preserved.

Or, the Clarkeiteuthis may have taken its prey to the seafloor to avoid the possibility of being attacked by another predator – suffocating as it entered waters low in oxygen.

The paper has been accepted for publication in Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association.

It will also be presented as part of Sharing Geoscience Online, a virtual alternative to the tradition general assembly held each year by the European Geosciences Union.

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Ancient piece of string reveals Neanderthals from 40,000 years ago were as ‘smart’ as modern humans – The Sun

THE world’s oldest piece of string has nailed the myth that Neanderthals were numbnuts.

The 40,000-year-old fragment of twine found on a piece of flint shows they had an understanding of complex technologies, numeracy and how to use plants.

It was fashioned from fibres from inside a pine tree and the technique could have been used to construct anything from clothing to bags, nets, mats, snares and even boats.

Researchers, who spent two years analysing the string, concluded: “It is difficult to see how we can regard Neanderthals as anything other than the cognitive equals of modern humans.”

They were long regarded as little more than brutish cavemen.

But the string, found at a Neanderthal site in Abri du Maras, France, confirms the modern scientific view that they were as sophisticated as  Homo sapiens.


The microscopic analysis showed the string was made from three bundles of fibres twisted together into one cord.

It could not have been created ­naturally according to Dr Marie-Hélène Moncel, from the National Museum of Natural History in Paris.

She said: “Neanderthals had a huge knowledge about the vegetation around the site and the clever behaviour to use everything. Furthermore, the production of cordage implies a cognitive understanding of numeracy.”

Her fellow researcher, US-based  Professor Bruce Hardy, said: “This is the oldest direct evidence of string.

“That doesn’t mean that it is the first time it was ever made. I suspect the technology goes much further back.

“Strings and rope can be used in many ways, tying tools on to a haft, snares, bags, nets and so on.”

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