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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Antikythera Mechanism Shipwreck Revisited: Human Skeleton Over 2,000 Years Old Discovered at Site

      Parts of a 2,000-plus-year-old skeleton have been recovered from the shipwreck which contained an early analog computer, the Antikythera Mechanism, which we discussed here at Partial Ellipsis of the Sun in 2014.



      Researchers found the skeleton last August during their ongoing excavation of the wreck, which lies on the ocean floor off the Greek island of Antikythera in the Aegean Sea.



      “Against all odds, the bones survived over 2,000 years at the bottom of the sea, and they appear to be in fairly good condition,” Dr. Hannes Schroeder, DNA expert, of the Natural History Museum in Copenhagen, Denmark, said.







     The discovery consists of a partial skull with three teeth, arm and leg bones, and several parts of ribs as reported yesterday in Nature. They are the first bones to be recovered from the wreck, particularly exciting during this era of DNA sequencing.


       The passenger or crew member “was trapped in the ship when it went down and he or she must have been buried very rapidly or the bones would have (been) gone by now.” Some of the bones remain on the seafloor, but others have been brought to the surface for analysis.



      If the research team, which is led by experts from Woods Hole, can recover DNA from the skeleton, they may be able to confirm the individual’s gender and hair and eye color, as well as his or her ethnicity and geographic origin.







      The wreck, which is believed to be of a Greek trading or cargo ship, is the largest ancient shipwreck ever discovered. Since its discovery by sponge divers in 1900, divers have recovered extraordinary artifacts including glassware, gold jewelry,



marble statues and an ancient weapon known as a "dolphin,"


a lead and iron artifact that weighs about 220 pounds. "Dolphins" were defensive weapons that were dropped from the ship’s yard, a spar on the mast, onto the deck of an attacking ship, such as a pirate vessel. 

      The Antikythera Mechanism remains the star of the seafloor find, at least so far.




       These are the best of (DNA) times. . .


Speaking of times, we are close to the 3-year anniversary of Partial Ellipsis of the Sun on October first!

Steph




27 comments:

  1. Congrats on three great years, Scientific Steph. Here's to many more happy orbits!

    Two questions:
    1. What is the porpoise of a dolphin?
    2. Why is everybody so antikythera? I myself am prokythera. I feel a kinship with the kyth era.

    LegoWhoSubscripesToProKythEraPopularMechanisms

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    1. Great video on how the Antikythera Mechanism works, Lego. Thank you.

      Kyth era, hahaha. Bet you're not Antipasto either?!

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    3. Good bet, Steph. I cannot imagine anyone not being propasto, propesto, propasta, propastry, propastrami, proPascal, proPassword...

      LegoIsNotProPass/FailHoweverAndPrrefersALetterGrade(AndNotFLetterGrade)

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    4. Punning aside, Lego, is your question about the porpoise of a dolphin channeling Ben Franklin?

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    5. Are you implying. jan, that cetaceans played a part in the sinking of the Duc de Duras?

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    6. No, just referring to the story about when Franklin observed the Montgolfier's first balloon ascension, and someone asked, ""What possible use are balloons?", and he answered, "What use is a newborn baby?"

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    7. Hmmm... Just noticed that today is the anniversary of the battle that resulted in that sinking.

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  2. I will be away on October first, so will send my anniversary wishes now. I recently had my third anniversary, too. We are (almost) blog twins!

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    1. I'm not sure why, but I can't get comments to post if I sign in as http://topofjcsmind.wordpress.com.

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    2. Thanks for the good wishes, Joanne, and happy blog anniversary to you, too.

      Blogger and WordPress sometimes don't play well together, unfortunately.

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  3. Analog? Slide rules don't have teeth. I'm not really prepared to defend this point.

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    1. Alternatively, how many sides does a circle have?

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    2. No teeth? Slide rules bit many of my freshman chem classmates in the butt 46 years ago.

      And circles have no sides. Or, infinitely many. Oh, man, I think I just blew my mind...

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    3. You can't put slipstick on a pig, Paul?

      My brain can't handle circular reasoning after 8 p.m.

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  4. Forget about the individual’s gender, hair or eye color, ethnicity or geographic origin. What can the DNA tell us about his position on the ship?

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    1. And why he/she was so well-preserved and others weren't. . .

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    2. Sodium Benzoate ... I have it on good authority ...

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  5. Replies
    1. Great video and I don't see what's so goofy about the title but that's just me.
      Dumb question:
      Does 'my DNA' ever exist anywhere as a six-foot-long strand?

      Two 'degree' signs?

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    2. No, there is no six-foot strand. But each diploid nucleated cell (i.e., pretty much all non-gamete line cells except red blood cells) contains 46 chromosomes, each about 3-4 cm long, for a total of about 6 feet of DNA per cell.

      On the other hand, most of the cells in your body aren't human cells at all, they're bacteria in your gut.

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    3. Paul, must be cat eyes. °°

      jan, gut-wrenching. I didn't realize we had that many bacteria in our guts.

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  6. New post on "Geological Society of America Meets in Denver: Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Warming (PETW) and Comparisons to Today's Global Warming" is now up.

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