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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Loss of first baby tooth a positive experience for children

Scared, ashamed, happy or proud -- how do children feel when they lose their first baby tooth? An interdisciplinary research group at the University of Zurich has now found that children's feelings are predominantly positive. The study also reveals that previous visits to the dentist's as well as parental background and level of education affect how children experience the loss of their first tooth.

Deciduous teeth, more commonly known as milk or baby teeth, are the first set of teeth that develop in children. These teeth usually fall out and are replaced by permanent teeth. Children generally lose their first baby tooth when they're about six years old: The tooth comes loose and eventually falls out, leaving a gap which is then permanently filled by its replacement tooth. This gradual process is probably one of the first biological changes to their own bodies that children experience consciously. The emotions that accompany this milestone are extremely varied, ranging from joy at having finally joined the world of grown-ups to fear about the loss of a body part.

Parents report positive reactions

An interdisciplinary team of dental researchers and developmental and health psychologists at the University of Zurich, in cooperation with the City of Zurich's School Dental Services, has now examined the feelings that children experience when they lose their first baby tooth, and which factors are at play. The scientists surveyed parents of children who had already lost at least one of their milk teeth. Of the nearly 1,300 responses received for the study, around 80 percent of parents reported positive feelings, while only 20 percent told of negative emotions. Raphael Patcas, first author of the study, is happy with the findings: "The fact that four out of five children experience the loss of a baby tooth as something positive is reassuring, for parents and dentists alike."

The longer it's loose, the better the feelings

The researchers found that previous visits to dentists played a role when it comes to children's feelings. Children whose previous visits were cavity-related and thus perhaps associated with shame or guilt experienced fewer positive emotions when they later lost their first baby tooth. If, however, previous dental appointments were the result of an accident, and thus an abrupt, unexpected and painful event, then the loss of the first milk tooth was more likely to be associated with positive emotions. According to dental researcher Raphael Patcas, one possible explanation for this is that baby teeth loosen gradually before falling out -- a process that, unlike an accident, unfolds slowly and predictably. This is also supported by the fact that children who experience the loosening of their tooth over an extended period of time tend to have more positive feelings: The longer the preparation and waiting time, the greater the relief and pride when the tooth finally falls out.

Parental education and background matter

Moreover, the study also found that sociodemographic factors are related to children's feelings: For example, children were more likely to have positive feelings such as pride or joy if the parents had a higher level of education and came from non-Western countries. The researchers indicate that cultural differences could be at play here: These include education style and norms that parents pass on to their children, as well as transitioning rituals that accompany the loss of the first baby tooth.

"Our findings suggest that children deliberately process previous experiences concerning their teeth and integrate them in their emotional development," says Moritz Daum, UZH professor of developmental psychology. This finding is important for dentists and parents alike: "Especially where cavities are concerned, it's worth communicating with children prudently," says Daum. "This way, emotions in connection with teeth and dentists can be put on the most positive trajectory possible."

Plastics Have Entered Human Food Chain, Study Shows

Paris: Bits of plastic have been detected in the faeces of people in Europe, Russia and Japan, according to research claiming to show for the first time the widespread presence of plastics in the human food chain.

All eight volunteers in a small pilot study were found to have passed several types of plastic, with an average of 20 micro-particles per 10 grams of stool, researchers reported Tuesday at a gastroenterology congress in Vienna.

The scientists speculated that the tiny specks -- ranging in size from 50 to 500 micrometres -- may been ingested via seafood, food wrapping, dust or plastic bottles.

A human hair is roughly 50 to 100 micrometres in width.

"In our laboratory, we were able to detect nine different types of plastics," said Bettina Liebmann, a researcher at the Federal Environment Agency, which analysed the samples. 

The two most common were polypropylene -- found in bottle caps, rope and strapping -- and polyethylene, present in drinking bottles and textile fibres.

Together with polystyrene (utensils, cups, coolers) and polyethylene (plastic bags), they accounted for more than 95 percent of the particles detected.

"We were unable to establish a reliable connection between nutritional behaviour and exposure to microplastics," said lead author Philipp Schwabl, a researcher at the Medical University of Vienna.

In earlier studies on animals, the highest concentrations of microplastics were found in the stomach and intestines, but smaller amounts have also been detected in blood, lymph and the liver.

"There are initial indications that microplastics can damage the gastrointestinal tract by promoting inflammatory reactions or absorbing harmful substances," Schwabl said.

"Further studies are needed to assess the potential dangers of microplastics for humans."

Schwabl recruited five women and three men, aged 33 to 65, in Finland, the Netherlands, Britain, Italy, Poland, Russia, Japan and Austria.

Each kept a week-long log of what they ate, and then provided a stool sample.

All consumed foods wrapped in plastic and beverages in plastic bottles, and six ate seafood. None were vegetarians.

Health impacts unknown

Scientists not involved in the study said it was too limited in scope to draw any firm conclusions, especially about health impacts.

"I'm not at all surprised, or particularly worried by these findings," commented Alistair Boxall, a professor in environmental science at the University of York in Britain.

"Microplastics have been found in tap water, bottled water, fish and mussel tissue, and even in beer," he added. "It is therefore inevitable that at least some of these things will get into our lungs and digestive system."

Much more research is needed, he said, before we can determine the origin of plastics found in the gut, and especially whether they are harmful.

For Stephanie Wright, a researcher at King's College London, the real question is whether plastics are accumulating in the human body.

"What is unknown is whether the concentration of plastic being ingested is higher than that coming out, due to particles crossing the gut wall," she said. 

"There is no published evidence to indicate what the health effects might be."

Global plastic production has grown rapidly, and is currently more than 400 million tonnes per year. 

It is estimated that two to five percent of plastics wind up in the ocean, where much of it breaks down into tiny particles.

When fathers exercise, children are healthier, even as adults

Men who want to have children in the near future should consider hitting the gym.

In a new study led by Kristin Stanford, a physiology and cell biology researcher with The Ohio State University College of Medicine at the Wexner Medical Center, paternal exercise had a significant impact on the metabolic health of offspring well into their adulthood.

Laurie Goodyear of the Joslin Diabetes Center and Harvard Medical School co-led the study, published today in the journal Diabetes.

"This work is an important step in learning about metabolic disease and prevention at the cellular level," said Dr. K. Craig Kent, dean of the Ohio State College of Medicine.

Recent studies have linked development of type 2 diabetes and impaired metabolic health to the parents' poor diet, and there is increasing evidence that fathers play an important role in obesity and metabolic programming of their offspring.

Stanford is a member of Ohio State's Diabetes and Metabolism Research Center. Her team investigated how a father's exercise regimen would affect his offspring's metabolic health. Using a mouse model, they fed male mice either a normal diet or a high-fat diet for three weeks. Some mice from each diet group were sedentary and some exercised freely. After three weeks, the mice bred and their offspring ate a normal diet under sedentary conditions for a year.

The researchers report that adult offspring from sires who exercised had improved glucose metabolism, decreased body weight and a decreased fat mass.

"Here's what's really interesting; offspring from the dads fed a high-fat diet fared worse, so they were more glucose intolerant. But exercise negated that effect," Stanford said. "When the dad exercised, even on a high-fat diet, we saw improved metabolic health in their adult offspring."

Stanford's team also found that exercise caused changes in the genetic expression of the father's sperm that suppress poor dietary effects and transfer to the offspring.

"We saw a strong change in their small-RNA profile. Now we want to see exactly which small-RNAs are responsible for these metabolic improvements, where it's happening in the offspring and why," Stanford said.

Previous studies from this group have shown that when mouse mothers exercise, their offspring also have beneficial effects of metabolism.

"Based on both studies, we're now determining if both parents exercising has even greater effects to improve metabolism and overall health of offspring. If translated to humans, this would be hugely important for the health of the next generation," Goodyear said.

The researchers believe the results support the hypothesis that small RNAs could help transmit parental environmental information to the next generation.

"There's potential for this to translate to humans. We know that in adult men obesity impairs testosterone levels, sperm number and motility, and it decreases the number of live births," Stanford said. "If we ask someone who's getting ready to have a child to exercise moderately, even for a month before conception, that could have a strong effect on the health of their sperm and the long-term metabolic health of their children."

Other Ohio State researchers involved in the study were Lisa Baer, Adam Lehnig and Joseph White.

Funding from the National Institutes of Health supported this research.

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