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Stone Age Graveyard Reveals Lifestyles Of A 'Green Sahara'

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Bianca
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« on: December 17, 2008, 10:00:46 pm »










                              Stone Age Graveyard Reveals Lifestyles Of A 'Green Sahara'






ScienceDaily
(Aug. 15, 2008)

— The largest Stone Age graveyard found in the Sahara, which provides an unparalleled record of life when the region was green, has been discovered in Niger by National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence and University of Chicago Professor Paul Sereno, whose team first happened on the site during a dinosaur-hunting expedition.

The remarkable archaeological site, dating back 10,000 years and called Gobero after the Tuareg name for the area, was brimming with skeletons of humans and animals — including large fish and crocodiles. Gobero is hidden away within Niger’s forbidding Ténéré Desert, known to Tuareg nomads as a “desert within a desert.” The Ténéré is the setting of some of Sereno’s key paleontological discoveries, including the 500-toothed, plant-eating dinosaur Nigersaurus that lived 110 million years ago and the enormous extinct crocodilian Sarcosuchus, also known as SuperCroc.

The discovery of the lakeside graveyard — representing two successive human populations divided by more than 1,000 years — is reported in the September 2008 issue of National Geographic magazine and the Aug. 14 issue of the journal PLoS ONE.

As they explored the site, the team tiptoed among dozens of fossilized human skeletons laid bare on the surface of an ancient dune field by the hot Saharan wind. Jawbones still clenched nearly full sets of teeth; a tiny hand reached up through the sand, its finger bones intact. On the surface lay harpoon points, potsherds, beads and stone tools. The site was pristine, apparently never visited.   

“Everywhere you turned, there were bones belonging to animals that don’t live in the desert,” said Sereno. “I realized we were in the green Sahara.”
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