The steppe tang of elite tastes in Wulfstan’s Estland and Uighur Qocho

Adrian Poruciuc (1996:247–248) pulls out some startling details in Germanic traveller Wulfstan of Hedeby’s description of late 9th century Estland, one of two contemporary travelogues about northern Europe inserted into the “Alfred the Great” Old English translation of Gallaecian priest Paulus Orosius’ 5th century Historiae adversus Paganos:

Wulfstan says he once left the Danish port of Hedeby (Hǣðum) and sailed east, first to the mouth of the Vistuala (Wisle) in the land of the Slavs (Winedas cf.  … ⇒

Tocharians weren't first: Early Tarim foragers and a western Kunlun route to Tibet

Tocharians weren’t first: Early Tarim foragers and a western Kunlun route to Tibet

The earliest well-dated archeological site in the hyper-arid Tarim Basin and its implications for prehistoric human migration and climatic change

WenXia Han, LuPeng Yu, ZhongPing Lai, David Madsene, & Shengli Yang (2014)

Quaternary Research 82(1): 66–72; doi:10.1016/j.yqres.2014.02.004

The routes and timing of human occupation of the Tibetan Plateau (TP) are crucial for understanding the evolution of Tibetan populations and associated paleoclimatic conditions. Many archeological sites have been found in/around the Tarim Basin,  … ⇒

Deer carried a Plasmodium malaria to the Americas

Deer carried a Plasmodium malaria to the Americas

Hidden in plain sight: Cryptic and endemic malaria parasites in North American white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus)

Ellen S. Martinsen, Nancy McInerney, Heidi Brightman, Ken Ferebee, Tim Walsh, William J. McShea, Tavis D. Forrester, Lisa Ware, Priscilla H. Joyner, Susan L. Perkins, Emily K. Latch, Michael J. Yabsley, Joseph J. Schall and Robert C. Fleischer

Science Advances 05 Feb 2016: Vol.  … ⇒

Worse than useless

There are more downsides than wastefulness to having photoreceptors adapted for the surface when you dwell in subterranean darkness. Poly & Boucher (1996:191) catalogue some of the miseries of surface fish who’ve stumbled into the underworld:

A depigmented and unusual Semotilus atromaculatus has been collected from Lorenz Cave, Perry Co., Mo. (SIUC 23159). The snout was noticeably shorter, the mouth appeared almost subterminal (vs. terminal normally) and the isthmus was much wider in the hypogean S.  … ⇒

An Austronesian signature in mainland East Africa?

An Austronesian signature in mainland East Africa?

From the recent Busby et al. bioRxiv preprint “Admixture into and within sub-Saharan Africa” (14):

We infer direct admixture from Eurasian sources in two populations from Kenya, where specifically South Asian populations (GIH, KHV) are the most closely matched surrogates to the minor sources of admixture (Figure 5). Interestingly, the Chonyi (1138CE: 1080-1182CE) and Kauma (1225CE: 1167-1254CE) are located on the so-called Swahili Coast, a region where Medieval trade across the Indian Ocean is historically documented [Allen,  … ⇒