Clues to Lost Prehistoric Code Discovered in Mesopotamia
by Owen Jarus
Clay balls from Mesopotamia have revealed clues to a lost code that was used for record-keeping about 200 years before writing was invented. Archaeologists are using CT scanning and 3D modelling to crack a lost prehistoric code hidden inside clay balls, dating to some 5,500 years ago.
The balls, often called “envelopes” by researchers, were sealed and contain tokens in a variety of geometric shapes — the balls varying from golf ball-size to baseball-size. Only about 150 intact examples survive worldwide today…
(read more: Live Science)
photo by Anna Ressman/Oriental Institute, Univ. of Chicago
Carnivorous Plant Ejects Junk DNAby Paul Gabrielsen
The carnivorous humped bladderwort (Utricularia gibba), found on all continents except Antarctica, is a model of ruthless genetic efficiency. Only 3% of this aquatic plant’s DNA is not part of a known gene, new research shows. In contrast, only 2% of human DNA is part of a gene.
The bladderwort, named for its water-filled bladders (shown left) that suck in unsuspecting prey, is a relative of the tomato. Since their evolutionary split 87 million years ago, both plants have experienced episodes of genetic duplication where the plants’ DNA doubled in size…
(read more: Science/AAAS)
(photos: L - Eye of Science/Science Source; R - Bruce Salmon)