Kennewick Man
Cover-Up
and Killer Shrimp!
The Kennewick Cover-up
Army Corps Violated Site

PORTLAND, OR January 2, 2001 (AP) — Eight scientists who are suing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, claimed Tuesday that the corps violated the National Historic Preservation Act by plowing over a burial site where a 9,300-year-old skeleton was found.

The remains, known as "Kennewick Man,'' were discovered in the shallows of the Columbia River in 1996 in Kennewick, Wash.

The corps argued they were simply trying to keep looters away from the site when they covered it with 500 tons of rocks and soil in 1998.

But scientists claim that the corps violated laws governing preservation of historical artifacts and risked ruining the original burial site.

"If Kennewick Man was buried in a grave with other types of artifacts, the chance of finding that out now — it's just flat-out impossible,'' the anthropologists' lawyer Paula Barran said.

Corps spokesman Dutch Meier would not discuss the litigation.

But, he said, "It is important to remember that the corps' site protection work plan was very carefully planned and (then) considered by the Washington state Historical Preservation Office and the U.S. Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.''

The scientists, including two from the Smithsonian Institution, have asked the U.S. District court to prohibit the corps from reburying other ancient sites.

Their lawsuit, filed in 1997, also contests a corps' decision to turn the bones over to five tribes who have claimed Kennewick Man as their ancestor. The tribes say a scientific study would violate their religious traditions.

The anthropologists believe further study could reveal clues about the identity of the first humans on the continent, including theories that the continent's earliest arrivals came not by a land bridge between Russia and Alaska — a long-held theory — but by boat or some other route.

Kennewick Man is being kept at a Seattle museum pending the outcome of the lawsuit.

Oral arguments are scheduled for June 19.

Tip: Use eXoNews Search for more on Kennewick.

On the Net:

Kennewick Man Virtual Interpretive Center: http://www.kennewick-man.com

Killer Shrimp at Aquarium Exhibit
By RON HARRIS
Associated Press Writer


SAN FRANCISCO January 5, 2001 (AP) — The SplashZone, a normally tranquil children's section at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, has become the scene of underwater carnage at the claws of a killer shrimp.

Prized sea snails, barnacles and hermit crabs have been reduced to piles of broken shells by the lightning-quick claws of a single mantis shrimp — a voracious, salt-water scourge that for months has eluded captors and reduced a coral reef exhibit to a killing field.

Two of the nonnative shrimp invaded the 1,300-gallon tank in April, probably after burrowing into a shipment of display rocks shipped from Florida.

A nimble worker snared one shrimp in November with a pair of long tongs. His 4-inch-long accomplice is still on the loose.

"When you're working near the exhibit you can hear the pop when he's going after the barnacles,'' said senior aquarist David Cripe.

The shrimp — commonly called "thumb-splitters'' for the ability to do just that — is too small to kill fish. But the critter is taking out small bottom-dwellers by the dozen in the tank.

Catching the loose shrimp has proven difficult.

Fish that eat the shrimp could be introduced to the display to reduce the tiny terror to a food-chain casualty. But the natural foes would also eat the hermit crabs and snails that are part of the exhibit.

"The solutions become problems,'' Cripe said.

So far the aquarium has shied away from using box traps, specially designed to capture mantis shrimp.

"They're worried about them — that they'll kill their fish,'' says Marc Desatnik, owner of North Coast Marines in Solon, Ohio.

For now however, woe to any SplashZone crustacean smaller than the mantis shrimp. Some have specialized smashing claws to bludgeon small crabs and whack barnacles on the back until they loosen their grip on a rock.

"They're real smart,'' said Aquarium Concepts store manager Marcos Figueroa, who is careful not to try to grab the shrimp by hand. "And they'll leave a mark.'

Arthur C.  Clarke's DNA Set for Space Odyssey
HOUSTON January 3, 2001 (Reuters) - Arthur C. Clarke will not be on board himself and the timing might be off by a couple of years, but a message penned by the science fiction writer and a DNA sample extracted from his hair will set off on a space odyssey in 2003.

The 83-year-old author of "2001 -- A Space Odyssey" is one of 55,000 people who have signed up to take part in a project organized by Houston-based Encounter 2001 LLC to send a message into deep space for anybody out there who may be interested.

"It's like a cosmic message in a bottle, an archive of humanity," said Encounter 2001 spokesman Chris Pancheri.

The spacecraft is tentatively scheduled for launch by an Ariane V rocket in French Guiana in the third quarter of 2003.

Checks will be conducted during a three-week orbit of the Earth, then a giant "solar sail" will be unfurled which will carry the craft on a 13.5-year journey beyond Pluto and on into deep space.

"Fare well my clone!" is the brief handwritten message which Clarke will send along with the DNA sample and a photograph of himself to any extraterrestrials who may intercept the craft.

Pancheri said the project will cost about $25 million, which Encounter 2001 hopes to recoup through sponsorship deals.

The idea has proved popular among schoolchildren, he said, who view it as a new twist on the practice of burying time capsules so that they can be discovered by future generations.

Sacrificial Sheep Shoves Man to His Death
ALEXANDRIA, Egypt January 2, 2001 (Reuters) - An Egyptian sheep destined for sacrificial slaughter forestalled its owner's plans by pushing him to his death from a three-story building, police said Tuesday.

They said Waheeb Hamoudah, 56, who worked in the police tax evasion department, had been feeding the sheep he had tethered on the rooftop when it butted him.

Neighbors found Hamoudah lying bleeding and concussed on the ground below, with several broken bones, Monday. He died soon after reaching hospital.

Hamoudah had been fattening the sheep for the past six weeks and planned to kill it for Eid al-Adha, the Muslim feast of sacrifice, in early March.

Many Egyptian city-dwellers keep livestock on rooftops, balconies or in basements, especially in the run-up to Eid al-Adha.

Teenage Breasts Concern Britain
By MARA D. BELLABY
Associated Press Writer


LONDON January 4, 2001 (AP) — Jenna Franklin is only 15 but she thinks she knows the secret to a successful future — bigger breasts.

Jenna's parents want their daughter to be happy, so they've agreed to pay for breast enlargements as a 16th birthday present.

The unusual gift grabbed tabloid headlines and filled the airwaves Thursday, as Britons debated what kind of society places such a high value on appearance, particularly for young women.

The British Association of Plastic Surgeons stayed out of the debate, but other health specialists warned that Jenna was far too young. One Conservative Party politician proclaimed the whole matter "shameful.''

But writing in the Daily Express — which splashed the story on its front page under the headline "Jenna is pretty and intelligent. So why on earth is her mother buying breast implants for her 16th birthday?'' — Jenna insisted "you've got to have breasts to be successful.''

The youngster, whose parents run a cosmetic surgery advisory service in Mansfield in central England, told the tabloid she started thinking about the surgery when she was 12.

"Every other person you see on the television has had implants,'' she wrote. "If I want to be successful I need to have them too — and I do want to be successful, though I don't know at what at the moment.''

The plastic surgeons' association said statistics are not kept on the number of teen-agers who undergo the surgery, but the usual advice is to wait until age 18. Younger children are allowed to have the surgery earlier with their parents' approval, a spokeswoman said.

Jenna's mother, Kay Franklin, defended her decision, saying larger breasts would boost her daughter's confidence.

"There are so many young girls who are depressed or bothered about the way they look, so if you can do something about it, that's great,'' Jenna's mother told the Express. She has had her own breasts enlarged, cosmetic surgery on her nose and cheeks and liposuction to her stomach and hips.

Martin Franklin said he and his wife plan to arrange their daughter's $4,900 operation through their company — if surgeons decide she is old enough. Jenna will meet with the doctors after her Aug. 23 birthday, when the size of implants will be selected.

The Franklins did not immediately respond to a request for comment left on their company's telephone answering machine.

Jenna's story was also featured on an upcoming Channel 4 television documentary about the pressures teen-agers face to look perfect. She is one of seven women who discuss their reasons for wanting cosmetic surgery. Some of the women have had their surgery, but they were 19 or 20 at the time.

"It is insanity, absolute madness,'' said Cindy Jackson, author of an upcoming book about her own surgery, "Cindy Jackson's Image and Cosmetic Surgery Secrets.''

Women do "not finishing developing until they are at least 21,'' she said. "Some girls don't get fully developed breasts until their mid-20s.''

Other specialists warned that using surgery to resolve typically teen-age anxieties sets a dangerous — and irresponsible — precedent.

"I have seen lots of women who keep coming back for more and more surgery because they think it will solve things and that's dangerous,'' said Eileen Bradbury, a psychologist who counsels plastic surgery patients and advises surgeons.

Jenna, who is considering a career as a plastic surgeon, said she expects breast implants will make her less shy and more self-confident.

"I just want to be happy with my body,'' she said.

But Tory politician Ann Widdecombe said Jenna had her priorities wrong.

"I think it is shameful that this girl is being encouraged to put looks and image above the more important things in life at such a young age,'' Widdecombe said.

Chewing and Evolution
By RICK CALLAHAN
Associated Press Writer


January 3, 2001 (AP) The specialized teeth that enabled ancient, shrew-like creatures to flourish and gave rise to all modern mammals evolved independently in two animal groups living continents apart, a study suggests.

Scientists said the finding could dramatically alter theories about the pace of early mammals' global advance in the waning days of the dinosaurs more than 65 million years ago.

For the study, three paleontologists analyzed fossilized teeth and bones of mammals that lived between 65 million and 200 million years ago.

By comparing the teeth's characteristics, they concluded that the advanced molars that ensured the small creatures' success evolved in two mammal groups that arose separately on northern and southern continents.

Previous theories had suggested that these specialized tribosphenic molars — which can simultaneously shear food and crush it in mortar-and-pestle fashion — had evolved only once, in the Northern Hemisphere.

However, recent finds in Madagascar and Australia cast doubt on that idea, suggesting a southern origin for the dual-function molars.

The latest study was published in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature. It was led by Zhe-Xi Luo of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

The animals' advanced teeth gave them an evolutionary advantage by allowing them to eat a wider range of foods than other more primitive mammals.

Other scientists hailed the new study but cautioned that more fossils are needed to support or refute its conclusions.

"This is a bold hypothesis that takes the dental evidence about as far as it can go,'' said Leonard Krishtalka, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Kansas.

Luo and two colleagues scrutinized fossils of 21 early mammals ranging in size from shrews to small raccoons.

The scientists said the dual north-south evolution of the advanced tribosphenic teeth occurred after the supercontinent of Pangea split into southern and northern continents about 160 million years ago.

The scientists' revised mammal evolutionary tree suggests that placental and marsupial mammals originated in the northern continents, while three different types of mammals appeared in the southern continents.

Of the three southern lineages, only one remains — the monotremes, which are represented today by the egg-laying platypus and echidna, the scientists said.

One of the recent fossil finds that challenged mammal evolution theories was a jaw fragment found in Madagascar in the late 1990s that contains three of the advanced molars. It is believed to be 167 million years old, or 25 million years older than all previous tribosphenic fossils.

The co-discoverer of that fossil, John J. Flynn, a curator at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, said the new study is "the first volley of what will be a very interesting debate'' over the evolution of mammals.

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On the Net:

Carnegie Museum: http://www.carnegiemuseums.org

Nature: http://www.nature.com


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