Stunning ‘erotic’ fresco unearthed in Pompeii bedroom (PHOTOS)

A “sensual” depiction of a legendary Spartan queen having sex with a swan has been unearthed in the ruins of the ancient Roman city of Pompeii. Further evidence, not that it was needed, that people just love erotic pictures.

The newly discovered fresco, which captures a scene from classical mythology, was found in a bedroom in the town that was destroyed when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD.

READ MORE: New Pompeii remains reveal final moments of people trying to escape horrifying volcano

It depicts the figure of Leda being impregnated by the Roman god Jupiter, who has taken the form of a swan. The incredibly detailed artwork shows Leda protecting the swan with her cloak as he sits on her lap.

Archaeologists uncovered the, incredibly vivid, fresco on Friday during works to bolster Pompeii’s structures after rains and wear-and-tear caused some ruins to collapse, the body that oversees the ancient site said.

Depictions of Leda and Jupiter were not uncommon in Pompeii but the archaeological park’s director Massimo Osanna praised the discovery as exceptional because the skilled artist had painted it to make it appear that Leda was looking at whoever entered the bedroom.

READ MORE: Exploding heads & boiling blood: Vesuvius eruption deaths far grislier than previously believed

“Leda watches the spectator with a sensuality that's absolutely pronounced,” Osanna told Italian news agency ANSA.

He noted the fresco's context in the Greek “myth of love, with an explicit sensuality in a bedroom where, obviously beside sleep, there could be other activities.”

The painting was found in an opulent house where another splendid fresco was discovered earlier this year. Osanna said one theory is that the owner was a rich merchant who wanted to display his good taste by filling his house with myth-inspired art.

Leda is an important figure in classical mythology. She was said to have borne children fathered by the god Zeus, the Greek version of Jupiter, and by a mortal king of Sparta. She is the mother of Helen of Troy and the twins Castor and Pollux.

Centuries after the destruction of Pompeii the story of the swan's seduction of Leda became a favoured subject in Renaissance Italy and inspired works by Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci.

The fresco is the latest in a series of impressive recent finds in Pompeii. Last month graffitti was discovered that shifted the timeline of the catastrophic eruption by several months while the separate discovery of six skeletons huddled together shed further light on how people reacted as Vesuvius laid waste to their world.

READ MORE: Ancient graffiti shows we’ve been wrong about Pompeii doomsday date all along

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VIDEO depicts disturbing extent of Antarctic ice melt since 1976

Scientists have been issuing apocalyptic-level warnings over the melting ice caps for years, and now a new data-based animation highlights just how much ice has broken off Antarctica in recent decades.

The visualization by science animators Pixel Movers & Makers shows the accelerated level at which Antarctic icebergs have been melting since 1976 in just 51 seconds.

Pixel Movers & Makers @PixelMnM

Replying to @PixelMnM

We've been looking forward to making this!

Iceberg flux from Antarctica from 1976-2017.

Most icebergs travel counter-clockwise around Antarctica before travelling north through "Iceberg Alley" to the ACC. @kevpluck @MarloWordyBird

The alarming clip highlights the region’s recent disastrous climate change events, such as the journey of B-15, the world’s largest iceberg. It broke away in 2000, measuring a colossal 3,250 square kilometers wide (1,250 square miles) – or about the size of Connecticut.

READ MORE: Build that wall: Climate scientists propose walling off Antarctic ice sheets to protect them

Also captured is the collapse of the Larsen B ice shelf in 2002 – a 3,250 square kilometers (1,250 square mile), 20 meter (720 ft) thick area of the Antarctic Peninsula that splintered and collapsed over a month.

Insufficient sleep in children is associated with poor diet, obesity and more screen time

A new study conducted among more than 177,000 students suggests that insufficient sleep duration is associated with an unhealthy lifestyle profile among children and adolescents.

Results show that insufficient sleep duration was associated with unhealthy dietary habits such as skipping breakfast (adjusted odds ratio 1.30), fast-food consumption (OR 1.35) and consuming sweets regularly (OR 1.32). Insufficient sleep duration also was associated with increased screen time (OR 1.26) and being overweight/obese (OR 1.21).

"Approximately 40 percent of schoolchildren in the study slept less than recommended," said senior author Labros Sidossis, PhD, distinguished professor and chair of the Department of Kinesiology and Health at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. "Insufficient sleeping levels were associated with poor dietary habits, increased screen time and obesity in both genders."

The study results are published in the Oct. 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that children 6 to 12 years of age should sleep nine to 12 hours on a regular basis to promote optimal health. Teenagers 13 to 18 years of age should sleep eight to 10 hours.

Population data were derived from a school-based health survey completed in Greece by 177,091 children (51 percent male) between the ages of 8 and 17 years. Dietary habits, usual weekday and weekend sleeping hours, physical activity status, and sedentary activities were assessed through electronic questionnaires completed at school. Children who reported that they usually sleep fewer than nine hours per day, and adolescents sleeping fewer than eight hours per day, were classified as having insufficient sleep. Anthropometric and physical fitness measurements were obtained by physical education teachers.

A greater proportion of males than females (42.3 percent versus 37.3 percent) and of children compared with adolescents (42.1 percent versus 32.8 percent) reported insufficient sleep duration. Adolescents with an insufficient sleep duration also had lower aerobic fitness and physical activity.

"The most surprising finding was that aerobic fitness was associated with sleep habits," said Sidossis. "In other words, better sleep habits were associated with better levels of aerobic fitness. We can speculate that adequate sleep results in higher energy levels during the day. Therefore, children who sleep well are maybe more physically active during the day and hence have higher aerobic capacity."

The authors noted that the results support the development of interventions to help students improve sleep duration.

"Insufficient sleep duration among children constitutes an understated health problem in Westernized societies," Sidossis said. "Taking into consideration these epidemiologic findings, parents, teachers and health professionals should promote strategies emphasizing healthy sleeping patterns for school-aged children in terms of quality and duration."

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Egypt: New discovery of ancient mummified creatures found near Pyramid of Giza

EGYPT archaeologists have discovered dozens of mummified cats and scarab beetles in seven ancient tombs near the Great Pyramid of Giza, the latest discovery in the region.

The seven tombs, found south of Cairo, were investigated by local archeolists in Egypt.

Inside were dozens of mummified cat and scarab beetle remains, thought to have been untouched.

A door inside was also found inside which is thought to have never been opened, with plans to open it for the first time in the next few weeks.

The discovery was found close to the Pyramid of Giza, one of the most famous sites in the world.

Dating back more than 4,000 years, the tombs were found at Saqqara which was once though to be the necropolis for the capital, Memphis.

The tombs are thought to date back to the Fifth Dynasty, between 2,500 BC and 2,350 BC.

This is the same period of time when the Pyramid of Giza was built.

The cat was often held in the highest esteem in Egypt, with many found mummified thousands of years later.

They were thought to represent Bastet, a half-cat half-woman goddess.

Egypt: Pyramid of Giza cat discoveryEgypt: Dozens of mummified animals were found in the seven tombs near Cairo (Image: Reuters)

Egyptian Minister of Antiquities Dr Khaled El-Enany announced the discovery on Twitter.

He wrote: “#Tens of #cats #mummies were unearthed in #Saqqara #necropolis along with 100 wooden #gilded #statues of #cats and a bronze one dedicated to the cat #goddess #bastet.”

Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, said: "The [mummified] scarab is something really unique. It is something really a bit rare.

"A couple of days ago, when we discovered those coffins, they were sealed coffins with drawings of scarabs. I never heard about them before."

More discoveries are expected to be found in the same region, with a buried ridge recently uncovered which has revealed the latest findings.

The true purpose of the Great Pyramids has been 'discovered'

A number of recent discoveries in Egypt have recently been found surrounding the Pyramid of Giza location.

Earlier this year, 800 tombs dating back to the same time period were found at an ancient burial ground.

A 4,000-year-old tomb near Giza was also opened for the first time, dating back to the Sixth Dynasty.

The Tomb of Mehu not only contains the body of the King’s advisor but also of his son, Meren Ra and his grandson Heteb Kha.

The discoveries are part of a tourist drive to entice travellers back to the region.

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Could a 4,500yo ramp solve the mystery of Egypt’s Great Pyramid?

Part of what makes Egypt’s pyramids such iconic wonders of the world is the mystery surrounding their construction. Now, a new discovery could shed light on the methods used to create the epic structures.

The ramp system was uncovered at Hatnub, an ancient quarry site in the Eastern Desert in Egypt.

READ MORE: Fertility secrets of the Pharaohs: 4,400-year-old tomb discovered in Egypt (VIDEO)

Archaeologists from the French Institute for Oriental Archaeology in Cairo and the University of Liverpool in England believe the large, steep ramp was used to transport alabaster stones from the quarry, and that this system was also used to construct the Great Pyramid.

“We discovered an extremely well preserved ramp leading up out of the quarry, with traces of post holes that will enable us to reconstruct in more detail the ancient technologies of stone haulage and extraction,” Dr Roland Enmarch said.  

The ramp is flanked by two staircases where ropes would have been tied to the post holes.

@RT_com Fertility secrets of the Pharaohs: 4,400-year-old tomb discovered in https://on.rt.com/8ye7

Three Giza Pyramids were built for ancient Egypt’s pharaohs - Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure. The largest is the Great Pyramid, built for Khufu.

“The study of the tool marks and the presence of two [of] Khufu’s inscriptions led us to the conclusion that this system dates back at least to Khufu’s reign, the builder of the Great Pyramid in Giza,” Yannis Gourdon, co-director of the joint mission at Hatnub said. This suggests ancient Egyptians were able to move large stones up steep slopes during this time

Happy childhood memories linked to better health later in life

People who have fond memories of childhood, specifically their relationships with their parents, tend to have better health, less depression and fewer chronic illnesses as older adults, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.

"We know that memory plays a huge part in how we make sense of the world -- how we organize our past experiences and how we judge how we should act in the future. As a result, there are a lot of different ways that our memories of the past can guide us," said William J. Chopik, PhD, from Michigan State University and lead author of the study. "We found that good memories seem to have a positive effect on health and well-being, possibly through the ways that they reduce stress or help us maintain healthy choices in life."

The findings were published in the journal Health Psychology.

Previous research has shown a positive relationship between good memories and good health in young adults, including higher quality of work and personal relationships, lower substance use, lower depression and fewer health problems, according to Chopik. He and his co-author, Robin Edelstein, PhD, from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, wanted to see how this would apply to older adults.

Also, much of the existing research focused on mothers and rarely examined the role of fathers in child development. Chopik and Edelstein sought to expand on the existing studies to include participants' reflections of their relationships with both parents.

The researchers used data from two nationally representative samples, the National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States and the Health and Retirement Study, with a total of more than 22,000 participants. The first study followed adults in their mid-40s for 18 years and the second followed adults 50 and over for six years. The surveys included questions about perceptions of parental affection, overall health, chronic conditions and depressive symptoms.

Participants in both groups who reported remembering higher levels of affection from their mothers in early childhood experienced better physical health and fewer depressive symptoms later in life. Those who reported memories with more support from their fathers also experienced fewer depressive symptoms, according to Chopik.

"The most surprising finding was that we thought the effects would fade over time because participants were trying to recall things that happened sometimes over 50 years ago. One might expect childhood memories to matter less and less over time, but these memories still predicted better physical and mental health when people were in middle age and older adulthood," said Chopik.

There was a stronger association in people who reported a more loving relationship with their mothers, noted Chopik, but that might change.

"These results may reflect the broader cultural circumstances of the time when the participants were raised because mothers were most likely the primary caregivers," said Edelstein. "With shifting cultural norms about the role of fathers in caregiving, it is possible that results from future studies of people born in more recent years will focus more on relationships with their fathers."

Chopik and Edelstein found that participants with positive childhood memories also had fewer chronic conditions in the first study of 7,100 people, but not in the second study of 15,200, making the results less straightforward

That may be because chronic conditions such as diabetes, thyroid disease and high blood pressure were rare in both samples, said Chopik. Future studies in this area could focus more closely on childhood memories in older adults with chronic conditions.

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Humanity has wiped out 60% of animal populations since 1970, report finds

Humanity has wiped out 60% of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles since 1970, leading the world’s foremost experts to warn that the annihilation of wildlife is now an emergency that threatens civilisation.

The new estimate of the massacre of wildlife is made in a major report produced by WWF and involving 59 scientists from across the globe. It finds that the vast and growing consumption of food and resources by the global population is destroying the web of life, billions of years in the making, upon which human society ultimately depends for clean air, water and everything else.

“We are sleepwalking towards the edge of a cliff” said Mike Barrett, executive director of science and conservation at WWF. “If there was a 60% decline in the human population, that would be equivalent to emptying North America, South America, Africa, Europe, China and Oceania. That is the scale of what we have done.”

“This is far more than just being about losing the wonders of nature, desperately sad though that is,” he said. “This is actually now jeopardising the future of people. Nature is not a ‘nice to have’ – it is our life-support system.”

“We are rapidly running out of time,” said Prof Johan Rockström, a global sustainability expert at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany. “Only by addressing both ecosystems and climate do we stand a chance of safeguarding a stable planet for humanity’s future on Earth.”

Many scientists believe the world has begun a sixth mass extinction, the first to be caused by a species – Homo sapiens. Other recent analyses have revealed that humankind has destroyed 83% of all mammals and half of plants since the dawn of civilisation and that, even if the destruction were to end now, it would take 5-7 million years for the natural world to recover.

The Living Planet Index, produced for WWF by the Zoological Society of London, uses data on 16,704 populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians, representing more than 4,000 species, to track the decline of wildlife. Between 1970 and 2014, the latest data available, populations fell by an average of 60%. Four years ago, the decline was 52%. The “shocking truth”, said Barrett, is that the wildlife crash is continuing unabated.

Wildlife and the ecosystems are vital to human life, said Prof Bob Watson, one of the world’s most eminent environmental scientists and currently chair of an intergovernmental panel on biodiversity that said in March that the destruction of nature is as dangerous as climate change.

“Nature contributes to human wellbeing culturally and spiritually, as well as through the critical production of food, clean water, and energy, and through regulating the Earth’s climate, pollution, pollination and floods,” he said. “The Living Planet report clearly demonstrates that human activities are destroying nature at an unacceptable rate, threatening the wellbeing of current and future generations.”

The biggest cause of wildlife losses is the destruction of natural habitats, much of it to create farmland. Three-quarters of all land on Earth is now significantly affected by human activities. Killing for food is the next biggest cause – 300 mammal species are being eaten into extinction – while the oceans are massively overfished, with more than half now being industrially fished.

The worst affected region is South and Central America, which has seen an 89% drop in vertebrate populations, largely driven by the felling of vast areas of wildlife-rich forest. In the tropical savannah called cerrado, an area the size of Greater London is cleared every two months, said Barrett.

“It is a classic example of where the disappearance is the result of our own consumption, because the deforestation is being driven by ever expanding agriculture producing soy, which is being exported to countries including the UK to feed pigs and chickens,” he said. The UK itself has lost much of its wildlife, ranking 189th for biodiversity loss out of 218 nations in 2016.

The habitats suffering the greatest damage are rivers and lakes, where wildlife populations have fallen 83%, due to the enormous thirst of agriculture and the large number of dams. “Again there is this direct link between the food system and the depletion of wildlife,” said Barrett. Eating less meat is an essential part of reversing losses, he said.

The Living Planet Index has been criticised as being too broad a measure of wildlife losses and smoothing over crucial details. But all indicators, from extinction rates to intactness of ecosystems, show colossal losses. “They all tell you the same story,” said Barrett.

Conservation efforts can work, with tiger numbers having risen 20% in India in six years as habitat is protected. Giant pandas in China and otters in the UK have also been doing well.

But Marco Lambertini, director general of WWF International, said the fundamental issue was consumption: “We can no longer ignore the impact of current unsustainable production models and wasteful lifestyles.”

The world’s nations are working towards a crunch meeting of the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity in 2020, when new commitments for the protection of nature will be made. “We need a new global deal for nature and people and we have this narrow window of less than two years to get it,” said Barrett. “This really is the last chance. We have to get it right this time.”

Tanya Steele, chief executive at WWF, said: “We are the first generation to know we are destroying our planet and the last one that can do anything about it.”

Why people have lateral preferences when kissing and hugging

When touching others in a social context, for example kissing or hugging, people often have a lateral preference; they will, for example, tend to tilt their head to the right rather than to the left when kissing. There are many theories as to the causes. In a review article published in the journal Neuroscience und Biobehavioral Reviews, researchers from Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf and Victoria University of Wellington have compiled existing data, which they utilise to verify the theories. The article was published online in October 2018.

The team headed by Associate Professor Sebastian Ocklenburg and Julian Packheiser from the Department of Biopsychology in Bochum has concluded that the observed results cannot be explained solely by right or left-handedness. The handedness does play a role, but so does the emotional context.

Left shift in emotional situations

"In general, the population at large has a preference of tilting the head to the right when kissing, to initiate a hug with the right hand, and to cradle a baby in the left arm," elaborates Julian Packheiser. With regard to kissing and hugging, the assumption is that people have a dominant hand which they use to initiate the motion. According to the theory, the dominant hand is kept unoccupied when cradling a child so that it can be used to perform other tasks.

"As social touches are often associated with a hand motion, it is an obvious assumption to make that the handedness affects lateral preferences," says Sebastian Ocklenburg. In their review article, the researchers have listed numerous studies that substantiate the influence of handedness. However, that alone cannot explain the lateral preferences; the emotional context, too, is relevant.

"In emotional situations, the lateral preference shifts to the right," describes Packheiser. "It doesn't matter if the emotions are positive or negative." As far as the preference is concerned, it is irrelevant if two people hug because they are happy to see each other, or because one is comforting the other.

Emotions are processed asymmetrically in the brain

The researchers explain the left shift in emotional -- as opposed to neutral -- situations by speculating that emotions are primarily processed in the right brain hemisphere, which is responsible for movements of the left side of the body. "There is ample evidence of interaction and interconnection of motor networks and emotional networks in the brain," points out Ocklenburg. The theory of right-hemispheric processing of emotions is backed by behavioural data from studies on social touch as well as by results gained in imaging and neurophysiological studies.

According to the authors, the asymmetry present in human social touch can be best explained by a combination of motor preferences and right-hemispheric emotional dominance.

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Materials provided by Ruhr-University Bochum. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

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