2,500-Year-Old Mummified Crocodile Yields Surprises

2,500-Year-Old Mummified Crocodile Yields Surprises

The ancient Egyptians mummified not only people, but also their animals. Even huge crocodiles became a part of this process. One of them was examined recently in the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities (Rijksmuseum van Oudheden) and scientists were surprised by what they saw.

According to a Rijksmuseum van Oudheden press release, the three-meter-long (9.84ft.) mummy was examined with a new 3D CT scanner. It was first examined in 1996 with an older type of CT scanner and this earlier scan revealed that the mummy, which was believed to belong to one crocodile, was in fact two large crocodiles wrapped-up together. However, the new 3D CT scan results showed another surprise, that apart from the “two crocodiles previously spotted inside the wrappings, the mummy also contains dozens of individually wrapped baby crocodiles.”

Scan with baby crocodiles shown in blue. ( Interspectral)

The discovery is a huge surprise to the museum, especially since these mummies are very rare examples of the mastery of crocodile mummification. Moreover, the scans showed amulets placed inside the linen wrappings and helped the researchers understand more about the mummified animals - like their physical features, ages, and the process of drying their bodies and covering them in linen. The modern 3D CT scanner allowed the researchers to examine every single detail of the mummies.

  • Ritual and Burial: The Strange and Elaborate Ways Humans Prepared Animals for the Afterlife
  • 70 Million Mummified Animals in Egypt Reveal Dark Secret of Ancient Mummy Industry

The museum decided to take advantage of this discovery, and from November 18, 2016, visitors can now experience an interactive virtual autopsy on the crocodile(s) mummy and an ancient Egyptian priest too. As the curator stated in the museum’s press release:

“What was intended as a tool for museum visitors, has yet produced new scientific insights. When we started work on this project, we weren't really expecting any new discoveries. After all, the mummy had already been scanned. It was a big surprise that so many baby crocodiles could be detected with high-tech 3D scans and this interactive visualization.”

Scanning the crocodile mummies in 2015. ( Mike Bink )

Egyptologists who work at the museum suppose that the crocodiles were mummified together due to an ancient Egyptian religious tradition connected to rejuvenation and life after death. Another possible explanation could be that when ancient Egyptians needed to give an offering to the god Sobek there was no giant crocodile available, so they decided to create the expected form using two animals, bits of wood, plants, rope, and wads of linen.

The cult of Sobek, the god of the Nile, army, crocodiles, and fertility, was popular since the Old Kingdom period. He was a patron of the city Crocodilopolis, known in Egyptian as “Shedet.” Sobek was described as an aggressive and violent deity, whose personality was like the biggest Nile crocodiles during ancient times. One of the most magnificent centers of his cult was located in Kom Ombo, in southern Egypt. The temple was built during the Ptolemaic Period and stayed active until the end of the Roman period.

  • The Mystery of the Screaming Mummy
  • Mummifying Millions: The Canine Catacombs and the Animal Cult Industry of Ancient Egypt

Detail of a depiction of Sobek, the ancient Egyptian crocodile god. Source: Brooklyn Museum

Animal mummies are a fascinating part of the history of ancient Egypt. In 2015, a team of researchers discovered an unbelievably large animal cemetery. As Liz Leafloor reported in May 2015 for Ancient Origins:

“In what is described as Egypt’s “dark secret,” a staggering 70 million mummified animals have been found in underground catacombs across Egypt, including cats, birds, rodents, and even crocodiles. But surprises awaited a research team when they scanned the animal-shaped mummies and found many of them empty!”

Leafloor writes that the team of radiographers and Egyptologists from the University of Manchester used “the latest medical imaging technology to scan hundreds of elaborately-prepared animal mummies which were collected from over thirty sites across Egypt during the 19th and 20th centuries […] The University of Manchester program used CT scans and X-rays to look into 800 mummies, dating between 1000 B.C. and 400 A.D.”

A crocodile mummy. ( National Museums Liverpool )

The survey was featured in a BBC program by Horizon entitled “70 Million Animal Mummies: Egypt's Dark Secret.” Leafloor explained that the documentary examines “the practices of animal mummification in ancient Egypt, and how so many creatures ended up bound and buried in catacombs.”


    Extinct Caribbean bird yields DNA after 2,500 years in watery grave

    Scientists have recovered the first genetic data from an extinct bird in the Caribbean, thanks to the remarkably preserved bones of a Creighton's caracara from a flooded sinkhole on Great Abaco Island.

    Studies of ancient DNA from tropical birds have faced two formidable obstacles. Organic material quickly degrades when exposed to heat, light and oxygen. And birds' lightweight, hollow bones break easily, accelerating the decay of the DNA within.

    But the dark, oxygen-free depths of a 100-foot blue hole known as Sawmill Sink provided ideal preservation conditions for the bones of Caracara creightoni, a species of large carrion-eating falcon that disappeared soon after humans arrived in the Bahamas about 1,000 years ago.

    Florida Museum of Natural History postdoctoral researcher Jessica Oswald extracted and sequenced genetic material from a 2,500-year-old C. creightoni femur from the blue hole. Because ancient DNA is often fragmented or missing, Oswald had modest expectations for what she would find -- maybe one or two genes. But instead, the bone yielded 98.7% of the bird's mitochondrial genome, the set of DNA that most living things inherit only from their mothers.

    "I was super excited. I would have been happy to get that amount of coverage from a fresh specimen," said Oswald, lead author of a study describing the work and also a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Nevada, Reno. "Getting DNA from an extinct bird in the tropics is significant because it hasn't been successful in many cases or even tried."

    The mitochondrial genome showed that C. creightoni is closely related to the two remaining caracara species alive today: the crested caracara, Caracara cheriway, and the southern caracara, Caracara plancus. The three species last shared a common ancestor between 1.2 and 0.4 million years ago.

    At least six species of caracara once cleaned carcasses and picked off small prey in the Caribbean. But the retreat of glaciers 15,000 years ago and the resulting rise in sea levels triggered extinctions of many birds, said David Steadman, Florida Museum curator of ornithology.

    C. creightoni managed to survive the sweeping climatic changes, but the arrival of people on the islands ultimately heralded the species' demise, as the tortoises, crocodiles, iguanas and rodents that the caracara depended on for food swiftly disappeared.

    "This species would still be flying around if it weren't for humans," Steadman said. "We're using ancient DNA to study what should be modern biodiversity."

    Today, the islands host only a fraction of the wildlife that once flourished in the scrubland, forests and water. But blue holes like Sawmill Sink can offer a portal into the past. Researchers have collected more than 10,000 fossils from the sinkhole, representing nearly 100 species, including crocodiles, tortoises, iguanas, snakes, bats and more than 60 species of birds.

    Sawmill Sink's rich store of fossils was discovered by cave diver Brian Kakuk in 2005 in his quest for horizontal passages in the limestone. The hole was not a popular diving spot: Thirty feet below the surface lay a 20-foot-thick layer of saturated hydrogen sulfide, an opaque mass that not only smells of rotten egg, but also reacts with the freshwater above it to form sulfuric acid, which causes severe chemical burns.

    After multiple attempts, Kakuk, outfitted with a rebreather system and extra skin protection, punched through the hydrogen sulfide. His lamp lit up dozens of skulls and bones on the blue hole's floor.

    Soon after, Kakuk and fellow cave diver Nancy Albury began an organized diving program in Sawmill Sink.

    "This was found by someone who recognized what it was and never moved anything until it was all done right," Steadman said.

    Though the hydrogen sulfide layer presented a foul problem for divers, it provided excellent insulation for the fossils below, blocking UV light and oxygen from reaching the lower layer of water. Among the crocodile skulls and tortoise shells were the C. creightoni bones, including an intact skull.

    "For birds, having an entire head of an extinct species from a fossil site is pretty mind-blowing," Oswald said. "Because all the material from the blue hole is beautifully preserved, we thought at least some DNA would probably be there."

    Since 2017, Oswald has been revitalizing the museum's ancient DNA laboratory, testing methods and developing best practices for extracting and analyzing DNA from fossils and objects that are hundreds to millions of years old.

    Ancient DNA is a challenging medium because it's in the process of degradation. Sometimes only a minute quantity of an animal's original DNA -- or no DNA at all -- remains after bacteria, fungi, light, oxygen, heat and other environmental factors have broken down an organism.

    "With ancient DNA, you take what you can get and see what works," Oswald said. "Every bone has been subjected to slightly different conditions, even relative to other ones from the same site."

    To maximize her chance of salvaging genetic material, Oswald cleans a bone, freezes it with liquid nitrogen and then pulverizes it into powder with a rubber mallet.

    While previous studies required large amounts of bone, Oswald's caracara work showed ancient DNA could be successfully recovered at a smaller scale.

    "This puts an exclamation point on what's possible with ancient DNA," said Robert Guralnick, Florida Museum curator of bioinformatics. "We have new techniques for looking at the context of evolution and extinction. Beyond the caracara, it's cool that we have an ancient DNA lab that's going to deliver ways to look at questions not only from the paleontological perspective, but also at the beginnings of a human-dominated planet."

    Steadman, who has spent decades researching modern and extinct biodiversity in the Caribbean, said some questions can only be answered with ancient DNA.

    "By understanding species that weren't able to withstand human presence, it helps us better appreciate what we have left -- and not just appreciate it, but understand that when these species evolved, there were a lot more things running and flying around than we have today."

    Other co-authors are Julia Allen of the University of Nevada, Reno Kelsey Witt of the University of California, Merced Ryan Folk of the Florida Museum and Nancy Albury of the National Museum of the Bahamas.


    The 1,500-year-old recipe that shows how Romans invented the burger 15

    Rightly or wrongly, the Romans have been credited with bringing many things to Britain: from roads and pavements to heated baths and indoor plumbing. But an ancient Roman text gives them credit for a quintessentially American invention – the burger.

    A recipe from the ancient Roman cookbook, Apicius, written by an unknown author during the late 4th or 5th century AD, details a dish called ‘Isicia Omentata’ made of minced meat, pepper, wine, pine nuts and a rich fish-based sauce (Garum), all formed into a patty.

    More like this

    It has long been known that the Romans brought ‘fast food joints’ – or thermopolia as they called them – to Britain. In large towns people wanted access to quick food during their lunch break and vendors selling chicken legs, lamb chops and shellfish became commonplace.

    Joe Jackson, dressed as a Roman Centurion, makes a Roman Burger at Birdoswald Roman Fort in Cumbria © Picture by Dave Thompson / Route OnePhotography / English Heritage

    © Picture by Dave Thompson / Route OnePhotography / English Heritage

    “We all know that the Romans left a huge mark on Britain, fundamentally altering the British diet forever,” says Food Historian Dr Annie Gray. “Street food became available en masse, and many of our favourite foods were introduced, including Isicia Omentata, what can be seen as the Roman forefather to today’s burger.”

    According to Dr Gray, the Roman burger was “decidedly more upmarket” than many of today’s offerings, with a “richer and more complex” recipe than the plain beef version most common today.

    “Since our ‘Roman Burger’, other similar recipes can be seen throughout history,” she adds. “There were the more flat or meatball-like Medieval ‘Pompeys’ or ‘Rissoles’, Georgian ‘Patties’ which popularised fried mince meat, and, by the end of the Victorian era, we see the first proper Hamburger. Burgers aren’t a modern invention – rather, a staple throughout the centuries that has evolved.”

    More than 10,000 soldiers would have been based at forts such as Birdoswald at the peak of Roman occupation along Hadrian’s Wall. Having access to tasty, convenient food was vitally important as they patrolled the frontier and vendors serving fast food would have been commonplace in large towns.

    The recipe (makes four Roman burgers):

    500g minced meat
    60g pine kernels
    Three tsp. Garum (a salty fish sauce – you can use a fish based sauce found in the supermarket, or just regular salt)
    Ground pepper
    Handful of coriander
    Juniper berries (optional)
    Caul fat (optional)

    Method

    Grind up the pine kernels, and then mix in with the minced meat and other ingredients. Shape the mixture into patties, wrap this in Caul Fat if preferred. Cook over a medium heat or BBQ for five minutes on each side. Serve plain or in a flat bread bun.

    Venue

    Birdoswald Roman Fort - English Heritage

    Carlisle, Cumbria

    Birdoswald Roman Fort stands high above a meander in the River Irthing, in one of the most picturesque settings on Hadrian's Wall. A Roman fort, turret and milecastle can all be seen on this excellent stretch of the Wall.


    4 The Serbian Skull Tower

    The Serbian city of Nis welcomes all of its guests with a lovingly built tower . of skulls.

    The Skull Tower, aka Cele Kula, dates back to 1809, when Serbia was still under Ottoman control. The First Serbian Uprising wasn't going too well, and the rebels were waging a losing battle against 36,000 surly, mustachioed Turks. But rebel leader Stevan Sindelic wasn't about to let his men be immortalized on the bitch side of history. During one desperate last stand at Cegar Hill, he fired a round into a keg of gunpowder inside a fully stocked armory, triggering a massive explosion which killed him and his men . along with all the Turkish soldiers storming their trenches.

    Hellbent on posthumous revenge, the Turks collected the slain rebels' bodies and decapitated them. 952 rebel heads were skinned, and the skins filled with straw and sent to Constantinople as trophies. The skulls were used to decorate a 15-foot-high stone tower which the Turks built right at the entrance of the town.

    The Skull Tower was intended as a reminder to never mess with the Ottomans, but this showed a fundamental lack of understanding of human nature: Now armed with a kickass "blaze of glory" story and a metal as fuck skull tower, the Serbs doubled down. In 1815, they rebelled again, ultimately winning independence in 1830.

    It eventually occurred to the city of Nis that having a real-life Dio album cover staring at them 24/7 is cooler on paper than in practice, so in 1892 they built a modest chapel around it as a kind of architectural NSFW tag.

    Related: 5 Crazy Real Churches You Had No Clue Existed


    Extinct Caribbean bird yields DNA after 2,500 years in watery grave

    Scientists recovered DNA from this 2,500-year-old extinct Caribbean bird, Caracara creightoni. The DNA-decaying heat and light of the tropics and birds' light, breakable bones have posed challenges to studies of ancient DNA. This work "puts an exclamation point on what's possible," said study co-author Robert Guralnick. Credit: Florida Museum photo by Kristen Grace

    Scientists have recovered the first genetic data from an extinct bird in the Caribbean, thanks to the remarkably preserved bones of a Creighton's caracara from a flooded sinkhole on Great Abaco Island.

    Studies of ancient DNA from tropical birds have faced two formidable obstacles. Organic material quickly degrades when exposed to heat, light and oxygen. And birds' lightweight, hollow bones break easily, accelerating the decay of the DNA within.

    But the dark, oxygen-free depths of a 100-foot blue hole known as Sawmill Sink provided ideal preservation conditions for the bones of Caracara creightoni, a species of large carrion-eating falcon that disappeared soon after humans arrived in the Bahamas about 1,000 years ago.

    Florida Museum of Natural History postdoctoral researcher Jessica Oswald extracted and sequenced genetic material from a 2,500-year-old C. creightoni femur from the blue hole. Because ancient DNA is often fragmented or missing, Oswald had modest expectations for what she would find—maybe one or two genes. But instead, the bone yielded 98.7% of the bird's mitochondrial genome, the set of DNA that most living things inherit only from their mothers.

    "I was super excited. I would have been happy to get that amount of coverage from a fresh specimen," said Oswald, lead author of a study describing the work and also a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Nevada, Reno. "Getting DNA from an extinct bird in the tropics is significant because it hasn't been successful in many cases or even tried."

    The mitochondrial genome showed that C. creightoni is closely related to the two remaining caracara species alive today: the crested caracara, Caracara cheriway, and the southern caracara, Caracara plancus. The three species last shared a common ancestor between 1.2 and 0.4 million years ago.

    At least six species of caracara once cleaned carcasses and picked off small prey in the Caribbean. But the retreat of glaciers 15,000 years ago and the resulting rise in sea levels triggered extinctions of many birds, said David Steadman, Florida Museum curator of ornithology.

    DNA analysis showed that Caracara creightoni, left, was a close relative of Caracara cheriway, or the crested caracara, right. C. creightoni was about the size of modern caracaras but had a bigger bill and a stronger bite. Credit: Florida Museum photo by Kristen Grace

    C. creightoni managed to survive the sweeping climatic changes, but the arrival of people on the islands ultimately heralded the species' demise, as the tortoises, crocodiles, iguanas and rodents that the caracara depended on for food swiftly disappeared.

    "This species would still be flying around if it weren't for humans," Steadman said. "We're using ancient DNA to study what should be modern biodiversity."

    Today, the islands host only a fraction of the wildlife that once flourished in the scrubland, forests and water. But blue holes like Sawmill Sink can offer a portal into the past. Researchers have collected more than 10,000 fossils from the sinkhole, representing nearly 100 species, including crocodiles, tortoises, iguanas, snakes, bats and more than 60 species of birds.

    Sawmill Sink's rich store of fossils was discovered by cave diver Brian Kakuk in 2005 in his quest for horizontal passages in the limestone. The hole was not a popular diving spot: Thirty feet below the surface lay a 20-foot-thick layer of saturated hydrogen sulfide, an opaque mass that not only smells of rotten egg, but also reacts with the freshwater above it to form sulfuric acid, which causes severe chemical burns.

    After multiple attempts, Kakuk, outfitted with a rebreather system and extra skin protection, punched through the hydrogen sulfide. His lamp lit up dozens of skulls and bones on the blue hole's floor.

    Soon after, Kakuk and fellow cave diver Nancy Albury began an organized diving program in Sawmill Sink.

    "This was found by someone who recognized what it was and never moved anything until it was all done right," Steadman said.

    Ornithologist David Steadman holds the Caracara creightoni femur used for radiocarbon dating and ancient DNA analysis. Previous studies of ancient DNA relied on much bigger samples of bone, Steadman said. Credit: Florida Museum photo by Kristen Grace

    Though the hydrogen sulfide layer presented a foul problem for divers, it provided excellent insulation for the fossils below, blocking UV light and oxygen from reaching the lower layer of water. Among the crocodile skulls and tortoise shells were the C. creightoni bones, including an intact skull.

    "For birds, having an entire head of an extinct species from a fossil site is pretty mind-blowing," Oswald said. "Because all the material from the blue hole is beautifully preserved, we thought at least some DNA would probably be there."

    Since 2017, Oswald has been revitalizing the museum's ancient DNA laboratory, testing methods and developing best practices for extracting and analyzing DNA from fossils and objects that are hundreds to millions of years old.

    Ancient DNA is a challenging medium because it's in the process of degradation. Sometimes only a minute quantity of an animal's original DNA—or no DNA at all—remains after bacteria, fungi, light, oxygen, heat and other environmental factors have broken down an organism.

    "With ancient DNA, you take what you can get and see what works," Oswald said. "Every bone has been subjected to slightly different conditions, even relative to other ones from the same site."

    To maximize her chance of salvaging genetic material, Oswald cleans a bone, freezes it with liquid nitrogen and then pulverizes it into powder with a rubber mallet.

    This photo shows an overhead view of the sinkhole where scientists and divers recovered fossils including crocodiles, tortoises, snakes, birds and bats. Credit: Photo Courtesy Of Curt Bowen, Advanced Diver Magazine

    While previous studies required large amounts of bone, Oswald's caracara work showed ancient DNA could be successfully recovered at a smaller scale.

    "This puts an exclamation point on what's possible with ancient DNA," said Robert Guralnick, Florida Museum curator of bioinformatics. "We have new techniques for looking at the context of evolution and extinction. Beyond the caracara, it's cool that we have an ancient DNA lab that's going to deliver ways to look at questions not only from the paleontological perspective, but also at the beginnings of a human-dominated planet."

    Steadman, who has spent decades researching modern and extinct biodiversity in the Caribbean, said some questions can only be answered with ancient DNA.

    "By understanding species that weren't able to withstand human presence, it helps us better appreciate what we have left—and not just appreciate it, but understand that when these species evolved, there were a lot more things running and flying around than we have today."

    The researchers published their findings in Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.


    2,500-Year-Old Mummified Crocodile Yields Surprises - History

    By Charlotte Karp For Daily Mail Australia 06:01 BST 30 Sep 2019 , updated 05:03 BST 01 Oct 2019

    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • e-mail
    • e-mail
    • e-mail
    • WhatsApp
    • flipboard
    • fbmessenger
    • native
    • 414 shares
    • The glamorous 5'4" woman took down the huge beast to save her daughter
    • Krys Pawlowski, along with her husband, started a career as crocodile hunters
    • She became a celebrity known for red lipstick, great aim, and taxidermy skills
    • According to legend, the petite mum-of-three only missed three shots in her life

    A struggling immigrant family's lives were changed forever when the glamorous matriarch picked up a rifle and shot a crocodile between the eyes.

    Krystyna 'Krys' Pawlowski had been crocodile hunting for two years when she shot the 8.6-metre monster in 1957 on the McCarther Bank in the Norman River, Queensland.

    Hunters had tried to get this croc for decades and were astounded that a 'lady' did what no man could.

    That shot would make the family famous because at 8.6 metres, the reptile was, and still is, the biggest ever killed or captured in Australia.

    Krys's famous croc-hunting career started in 1955 in Kaumba, in Queensland's Gulf Country when a 12-foot reptile started creeping up on her three-year-old daughter, Barbara.

    'My brother came out and saw it and yelled "Barbara, crocodile!" and my father grabbed a rifle and shot it between the eyes,' Krys's son George Pawlowski told Daily Mail Australia.

    The Polish immigrants, who came to Australia in 1949 and had been struggling to get by, realised they'd struck gold when they took the beast to be skinned.

    'An old-timer in the town helped us skin the crocodile and we sent it off to a dealer in Brisbane and finished off getting 10 pounds for it,' Mr Pawlowski said.

    'In those days 13 pounds was the basic weekly wage, so Dad (Ron Pawlowski) thought they were on to something.'

    Krys would go to find fame as 'One Shot', the petite 5'4'' crocodile hunter who would kill up to 10,000 reptiles over a 15-year hunting career with her husband - all while wearing long red nails.

    Legend had it the mother-of-three only missed three shots in her lifetime and was able to hit a moving crocodile with ease - despite having never fired a rifle before she arrived in Australia just six years before her famous crocodile kill.

    She was also able to skin the reptiles faster than anyone else, and she would usually do it right after the kill - on the spot amid the mangroves and mosquitoes.

    'She was better than me with a pistol and she was much better with a rifle at moving targets from a boat,' Ron once told reporters.

    'We both could hit a bottle top at 100 yards, but Krys could shoot through the same hole the second time.'

    After taking the 8.6-metre monster down, Ron built a small boat out of scraps and called it 'Joey' and the family started their new lives as crocodile hunters.

    Krys became an international celebrity known for her blonde hair, glamorous style, impeccable aim, and taxidermy expertise.

    Related Articles

    'My parents were both legends in their own right, but my mother was something else,' Mr Pawloski recalled.

    'She'd be up to her waist in thick mud but she always had lipstick on and the red nail polish - I think it contrasted with what she did for a living, and made her feel a bit different.'

    He also explained fashion was important to his croc-hunter mother, and said she'd get home and change out of her muddy greens into traditional 50s dresses to relax around the house.

    'Even though I spend hours, day and night, wading thigh-deep through mud and swamps, it's good to catch a glint of my nail polish as I pull the trigger of the rifle,' Krys once told reporters in Brisbane, champagne in-hand.

    Mr Pawlowski backed up his father's claim and said his mother actively refused to be 'put down' by her male counterparts.

    'There was this guy up north who said no one could skin a croc faster than him.

    'They had a competition one day, and she'd skinned the croc, cleaned it, salted it, rolled it up and was having a coffee before he was anywhere near finishing.'

    Mr Pawlowski said his parent's profession rubbed off on his siblings, and recalled finding his brother Stefan hovering over one of the deadly creatures one day.

    'He was so proud of himself for taking down such a big one, but I looked at him and said "that's the closest I've seen anyone to a croc that's still alive".

    'And it was - it's two eyes were open and staring at me. I've never seen anyone move so quickly - he screamed and jumped up, and shot it again to make sure it was dead.'

    Despite the obvious dangers with croc hunter parents, Mr Pawlowski insisted he never felt as though his life was at risk.

    'We never felt threatened,' he said.

    'You know, people ask what my life as a crocodile hunter's kid was like and how dangerous it was and all that, but it was just life.'

    Mr Pawlowski explained that crocodiles weren't aggressive when he was a child, claiming they largely left he and his family alone.

    'Tourists have agitated the crocodiles by not reading the signs, or by baiting them in the hopes that they'll jump out of the water - they've been taught to do that.'

    Over time, Mr Pawlowski said his parents tired of shooting the creatures and began to work on conservation.

    'Back then, conservation wasn't really something people spoke about,' he shared.

    'They were shooting a lot of them and realised it was threatening the reptiles, so they set up the first crocodile conservation farms in the country, and possibly the world.'

    Mr Pawlowski said his family's greatest legacy is their work with conservation, and explained their work laid the foundations for conservation all over the world.

    He is writing a book on his experiences growing up surrounded by saltwater crocodiles.


    Secrets of the Mysterious Ancient Egyptian Animal Mummies Revealed

    “You can’t see them very well on the old scans unless you know they’re there, says curator Dr Lara Weiss, “and we never expected to find this.”

    A visualization of the inside of the crocodile mummy. The two adolescent crocodiles are gray, while the babies are rendered in blue. Image courtesy Interspectral.

    The non-invasive scans were made using the aptly-named Inside Explorer, a technology by Swedish visualization software company Interspectral. Besides the crocodile mummy, a priest mummy named Ankhhor was also scanned. The insides of both can now be viewed by visitors to the renovated Egyptian galleries, in the form of a “visual autopsy” on touch-screen devices at the museum.

    Recommended Reading

    RELATED ARTICLES

    Thought to be about 25 years old when she died of suspected cancer, she was found preserved in permafrost, with two men also discovered nearby.

    Buried around her were six horses, saddled and bridled and said to have been her spiritual escorts to the next world, along with a meal of sheep and horse meat.

    Archaeologists also found ornaments made from felt, wood, bronze and gold as well as a small container of cannabis and a stone plate on which coriander seeds were burned.

    From her clothes and possessions including a 'cosmetics bag', scientists were able to recreate her fashion and beauty secrets.

    She was dressed in a long shirt made from Chinese silk, and had long felt sleeve boots with a beautiful decoration on them.

    At this time Chinese silk was only ever found in royal burials of the Pazyrk people, and since it was more expensive than gold it gave an indication of her wealth and status.

    Elders in the Altai Mountains have long called for the mummified remains to be reburied on the Ukopk plateau

    Elders insisted that the worst flooding in 50 years in Altai and a series of earthquakes were caused by the dead princess

    Her head was completely shaved, and she wore a horse hair wig on top of which was a carving of a wooden deer.

    The princess's face and neck skin was not preserved, but the skin of her left arm survived.

    But the most exciting discovery was her elaborate body art, which many observers said bore striking similarities to modern-day tattoos.

    On her left shoulder was a fantastical mythological animal made up of a deer with a griffon's beak and a Capricorn

    s antlers. The antlers themselves were decorated with the heads of griffons.

    The mouth of a spotted panther with a long tail could also be seen, and she had a deer's head on her wrist.

    Elders in the Altai Mountains have long called for the mummified remains to be reburied on the Ukopk plateau to 'stop her anger which causes floods and earthquakes'.

    They insisted that the worst flooding in 50 years in Altai and a series of earthquakes were caused by the dead princess.

    Recently Russian scientists discovered that her death is likely to have been caused by cancer but that she also suffered a suspected fall from a horse late in her life.

    She is believed to have been between 25 and 28 years old and about 1.62 metres tall.

    Her remains were treated by the same scientists in Moscow who preserved the body of former Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin.

    The plans to reinter the body back into the ground in the Russia's Altai Mountains and honour her with her own special mausoleum.

    Work could start on the 2,500 metre high Ukok Plateau next year

    Princess Ukok spent most of the past two decades at a scientific institute in Novosibirsk. Then she was moved to a specially designed chamber at the Republican National Museum in Gorno-Altaisk, but elders objected to her remains going on public display.

    The first sketches of the plans for the new mausoleum were presented by Akai Kine, the zaisan (leader) of the Teles ethnic group, and president of the Spiritual Centre of the Turks Kin Altai.

    He told the Siberian Times: 'According to the drafts, the mummy will be put in her original resting place, and on the top will be build funerary monument.

    'The mausoleum will be located on the Ukok plateau in the place where the mummy was found by archaeologists in 1993.

    'These are the first options for the future mausoleum. Publishing them, we want to start a public discussion in the media.

    'There is no State decision on reburial of the Princess. But we have the main thing - we believe that this revered woman will be reburied.'

    Local political leaders accept that she should be reburied.

    Under the proposals put forward for the mausoleum the elders say any project should meet three basic requirements.

    Akai Kine said: 'Firstly, the body should be reposed in the site of the original burial.

    'Second, the mausoleum mound must be made according to the traditions that were followed when the Princess was buried.


    DNA sequence of extinct ancient cattle uncovered

    Researchers, based in Ireland and Britain, have found the complete mitochondrial DNA genome sequence of ancient wild cattle using a sample from a 6,700 year-old bone.

    They assembled the mitochondrial DNA sequence from the well-preserved foreleg bone of an aurochs, originally discovered in a cave in Derbyshire. The team's findings are published in this latest issue of the journal PLoS ONE.

    The researchers, from University College Dublin, Trinity College, Dublin, Oxford University and Sheffield and Leeds Universities, extracted the DNA using recently developed DNA sequencing technology. This new DNA sequencing method can extract vast amounts of genetic information very rapidly and was performed at the UCD Conway Institute of Biomolecular and Biomedical Research at University College Dublin.

    The mitochondrial DNA genome sequence traces maternal inheritance but the researchers hope the next stage will be to assemble the full nuclear DNA genome of the aurochs. The researchers' success in determining the first mitochondrial genome sequence raises hopes of reopening the Ancient Biomolecules Centre at the University of Oxford. The centre was mothballed in 2005 but, to further develop this research project at Oxford, the team needs specially filtered laboratories to prevent ancient samples being contaminated by modern DNA.

    Co-author Dr Ceiridwen Edwards, a researcher in Ancient DNA Studies at Oxford University, said: 'This finding heralds what we hope will be the start of a very exciting project to explore the evolutionary history of aurochs and modern cattle. We used newly developed DNA technologies that allow us to extract genetic information much more quickly than we have previously been able to do. This area of research could have implications not only for archaeologists but also for farmers engaged in modern day cattle rearing. In time, we hope to work on sequencing the DNA genomes of thousands of ancient cattle breeds.'

    Co-author Professor David MacHugh from University College Dublin said: 'Our results demonstrate the incredible promise that next-generation DNA sequencing holds for archaeogenetics.'

    Previous studies have suggested that ancient aurochs, which lived in the Near East (modern day Iran, Iraq and Syria) and across Europe and Asia, are the ancestor of modern cattle. However, comparisons of European aurochs mitochondrial DNA with modern European cattle suggests that the level of cross-breeding between domestic cattle and the wild, fierce European aurochs must have been very low.

    Professor Mark Pollard, Director of Oxford University's Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, said: 'We need more research into ancient DNA if we are to complete the jigsaw of evolutionary development, not only of cattle but also other species. In the long term, we hope that an Oxford led team could conduct an ambitious DNA project into the migration of plants, livestock and humans across Britain, from the end of the Ice Age to the modern day.'

    Story Source:

    Materials provided by University of Oxford. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


    Exhibit's CT-scanned mummies give new look at old world

    Conservator J.P. Brown, from the Department of Anthropology, Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, shows an interactive display of a CT scan of a mummy at the Los Angeles' Natural History Museum. Visitors to Los Angeles' Natural History Museum will have an opportunity to find out what's really underneath a mummy's elaborate wrapping when the exhibition "Mummies: New Secrets From the Tombs" opens on Sept. 18. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

    Ever wonder what's really underneath that 5,000-year-old mummy's elaborate wrapping? There will be a rare chance to find out when "Mummies: New Secrets From the Tombs" opens Sept. 18 at Los Angeles' Natural History Museum.

    Exhibition organizers didn't actually cut open any of the nearly two dozen specimens from South America and Egypt going on display. (Well, except for one they needed to repair after someone who opened it more than a hundred years ago damaged it significantly. They've left it open as an example of how not to handle a mummy.)

    They gave each of the others a full-body CT scan to discover just what is under that fancy cloth stitching. What they found, among many other things, were the popular hairstyles of the day, the clothes people who lived 2,000 to 5,000 years ago preferred to be buried in and the jewelry they took to their graves with them.

    "The latter period is more heavy on the bling," quipped exhibition curator JP Brown, pulling up images of a couple of 2,000-year-old, gilded, decked-out mummies on his tablet. Museum visitors can do the same on large table-top computers being placed alongside the mummies. They can even manipulate the computer scans so the mummy images appear almost 3-D.

    "Look, you can see her curls, you can see her do," the curator said excitedly as a scan of a 40-something woman from Egypt's Roman era came to life. Clearly visible under the elaborate headdress her coffin's top had been molded to match was a mop of short-cropped, curly hair that looked like it might have been just recently styled.

    The Gilded Lady, as she's known, hasn't been seen in public since the Chicago World's Fair of 1893. Nor have most of the other mummies that recently accompanied her from Chicago's Field Museum, where Brown is the conservator.

    They'll be on display in Los Angeles until Jan. 18 before moving on to exhibitions in Denver and other cities and then returning to the Field Museum where they are part of the largest collection of mummies in the United States.

    Conservator J.P. Brown, from the Department of Anthropology, Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, shows a CT scan of a mummy at the Los Angeles' Natural History Museum. Visitors to Los Angeles' Natural History Museum will have an opportunity to find out what's really underneath a mummy's elaborate wrapping when the exhibition "Mummies: New Secrets From the Tombs" opens on Sept. 18. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

    Accompanying them are several animal mummies that were buried with them, including a baboon and a crocodile. There are also pieces of sarcophagus, the large, stone burial tombs they were found in, 3-D molds of their bones, skulls and even toys.

    Those scans not only look below the wrappings but even below the mummies' clothes and skin, revealing that not every mummy from the ancient world led the luxurious life the Gilded Lady had.

    Two ancient mummies of Peruvian children are on display at Natural History Museum, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015, in Los Angeles. There will be a rare chance to find out when "Mummies: New Secrets From the Tombs" opens Sept. 18 at the museum. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

    One from Peru's Pacific coast, a woman in her late 20s, appears in her scan to be in her 80s or 90s. She's lost all but two of her teeth, suffers from painful arthritis of the spine and has hardened arteries.

    "This is telling you something about what a toll working in an agrarian society took on you," said Brown.

    It wasn't easy on children either.

    Another mummy is that of a Peruvian infant buried with its mother after both apparently perished during childbirth. Still another is a Peruvian child, about age 2, who was buried with several figurines, including one experts believe was a favorite toy. It resembles a gingerbread man.

    The reconstructed face of an Egyptian mummy known as the Gilded Lady is on display at Natural History Museum, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015, in Los Angeles. There will be a rare chance to find out when "Mummies: New Secrets From the Tombs" opens Sept. 18 at the museum. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

    From Egypt, there's a teenage boy named Minirdis, according to the inscription on his coffin, who was believed destined to be a priest like his father before he died 2,500 years ago.

    To display all this, the museum has divided its recently renovated ground-floor exhibition space into two tomb-like sections representing ancient Egypt and Peru. That was done to set off both the similarities and differences of the cultures that were a world apart.

    In ancient South America, for example, mummification was the standard burial technique, with entire families often laid to rest as one.

    A woman photographs an Egyptian mummy known as the Gilded Lady at Natural History Museum, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015, in Los Angeles. There will be a rare chance to find out when "Mummies: New Secrets From the Tombs" opens Sept. 18 at the museum. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

    Peruvian people of modest means took tools like fishing nets and sewing kits to the grave with them so they could keep toiling in the afterlife. Because it was expected to be hard work, their survivors often brought them large containers of beer. All of that is on display, although the containers are empty.

    In Egypt, on the other hand, getting mummified was an expensive deal that only the wealthy could afford. That's reflected, Brown said, in the elaborate treasures people accumulated throughout their lives just so they could take them to the grave with them.

    "It was sort of like saving up some sort of 401 (k) for the afterlife," he said with a smile.

    • An Egyptian mummy known as the Gilded Lady is reflected on the glass at Natural History Museum, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015, in Los Angeles. There will be a rare chance to find out when "Mummies: New Secrets From the Tombs" opens Sept. 18 at the museum.(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
    • Alexis Hyde, right, looks at an interactive display of a CT scan from a Peruvian mummy of a woman with two children at Natural History Museum, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015, in Los Angeles. There will be a rare chance to find out when "Mummies: New Secrets From the Tombs" opens Sept. 18 at the museum. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
    • An Egyptian mummy of a young boy is on display at Natural History Museum, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015, in Los Angeles. There will be a rare chance to find out when "Mummies: New Secrets From the Tombs" opens Sept. 18 at the museum. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
    • An Egyptian mummy known as the Gilded Lady is on display at Natural History Museum, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015, in Los Angeles. There will be a rare chance to find out when "Mummies: New Secrets From the Tombs" opens Sept. 18 at the museum. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

    Watch the video: 2,500 Year Old Mummified Crocodile Yields Surprises