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Thursday, March 26, 2020


Science knows since a while that, in Eastern Europe, humans (hunters-gatherers) made circlular structures "built" with mammoth' bones associated with "artefact assemblages" (P). These features date back to across the Upper Palaeolithic (i.e. 22 - and more - thousands years ago) (P).

They consist of a ring of mammoths' bones with a diameter of various meters usually surrounded by "a series of large pits" thought to have been used for "the storage of food or bone fuel, rubbish disposal or simply as quarries for loess [a wind-created silt like sediment] used to construct the [very same] features" (P).

The structures are commonly reckoned as "to be the remains of dwellings that offered shelter during long, full glacial winter seasons or possibly year round" (P).

A recent research on a freshly dug out structure, though, challenges that view in a way supporting alternative hypothesis, like that which sees the mammoth-bones circles being "monumental architecture or possible ceremonial features" (P). 
The studied mammoth-bones circle with a diameter of 12.5 meters (41 feet), indeed, has no obvious entrance and shows a characteristic that "seems incongruous for a putative dwelling" (P): the "relative scarcity of minute debitage" (P), namely the production waste created during the making of tools from stones and rocks.

The feature is located at the already famous (for this kind of structures) Kostenki 11 site (aka Anosovka 2) which is close to the Don River, near the city of Voronezh, in the European south-western Russia (51°23′08′′ north, 39°03′05′′ east) (P).

Said that, dear reader, this dumb blog has its own hypotesis about how and why the mammoth-bones circles have been made by humans. See the following cartoon.

Two gatherers-hunters and a mammoth-bones circle (by @sciencemug)
Two hunters-gatherers and a circle of mommoth-bones (by @sciencemug)

[Meat pic by Clker-Free-Vector-Images is under Pixabay Licence (source Pixabay); adapted by @sciencemug]

Paper (P) 
Pryor,A.J.E., Beresford-Jones, D.G., Dudin, A.E., Ikonnikova, E.M., J.F., Hoffecker, and Gamble ,C. (2020). The chronology and function of a new circular mammoth-bone structure at Kostenki 11 | Antiquity | Cambridge Core 94,323-341

Thursday, March 12, 2020


Soo, dear reader, parrots can understand probabilities, and that's news 'cause so far only great apes (including you, humans) were thought to have such an ability.

A study (P) indeed shows that kea (Nestor notabilis) are capable of "true statistical inference" (P) and this "has important implications not only [to understand] how intelligence evolves, but also for research focused on creating [...] artificial general intelligence" (P).

But, dear reader, this dumb blog has evidence - see the following cartoon - that parrots' porpbabilities reading skills are not at all that good...

Parrots discuss about investments, stock market and probabilities (by @sciencemug)
Parrots and probabilities (by @sciencemug)

[Kea parrot (Nestor notabilis) pic by Murray Dawson is under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license (source: Wikimedia Commons); adapted by @sciencemug]

Wanna see another cartoon 'bout parrots and the fact that they are altruistic? Check this out!

Paper (P)
Bastos, A.P.M., and Taylor, A.H. (2020). Kea show three signatures of domain-general statistical inference. Nat Commun 11, 1–8.

Sunday, March 8, 2020


Italy's comment about the epidemic of coronavirus SARS-CoV-2:

"I've already kicked out a crown* once, I'll do it again!"
- Italy -

 *Crown, in Italian, means "corona".

[Italy pic by Milenioscuro is under Creative Commons Attribuzione-Condividi allo stesso modo 3.0 Unported; Italy's flag pic is a public domain one; Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 pic by CDC is a public domain one; all pics adapted by @sciencemug]

Thursday, March 5, 2020


Soo, dear reader, a study (P) shows that New York's rats genome changed a lot "from the presumed ancestral range of brown rats in rural north east China [suggesting] a genetic component behind the adaptation of rats in response to human activity" (P).

More in detail, brown rats (aka Rattus norvegicus) have been able to conquer urban environments, like the Big Apple, and exploit human resources and by-products by mutating some of their "genes associated with metabolism, diet, organ morphogenesis and locomotory behavior" (P).

In the following cartoon, though, this dumb blog shows you the true reason why brown rats evolved in such a way.

A New York brown rat explains why it genetically adapted to the Big Apple (by @sciencemug)
A New York brown rat explains why it genetically adapted to the Big Apple (by @sciencemug)

[Rat pic by G. Scott Segler is under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license (source: WikiMedia Commons); adapted by @sciencemug]

Paper (P)
Harpak, A., Garud, N., Rosenberg, N.A., Petrov, D.A., Combs,  M., Pennings, P.S., and Munshi-South, J. (2020). Genetic Adaptation in New York City Rats | bioRxiv.