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Stone Age Graveyard Reveals Lifestyles Of A 'Green Sahara'

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Author Topic: Stone Age Graveyard Reveals Lifestyles Of A 'Green Sahara'  (Read 2830 times)
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« on: August 14, 2008, 02:59:36 pm »

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 disco-
veries, including the 500-toothed, plant-eating dinosaur Nigersaurus that
lived 110 million years ago and the enormous extinct crocodilian Sarcosuchus,
also known as SuperCroc.



                                          US scientists find stone age burial ground in Sahara

by Jean-Louis Santini
AUG. 14, 2008
WASHINGTON (AFP) - A US-led team of archaeologists said Thursday they had discovered by chance what is believed to be the largest find of Stone Age-era remains ever uncovered in the Sahara Desert.
Named Gobero, the site includes remarkably intact human remains as well as the skeletons of fish and crocodiles dating back some 10,000 years to a time when what is now the world's largest desert was a swampy wetland.

The discovery, reported in the September issue of National Geographic Magazine, was stumbled upon by University of Chicago palaeontologist Paul Sereno as he and his team searched for dinosaur fossils in Niger.

The archaeological site is a part of the desert called Tenere, or "deserts of deserts" in the Tuareg nomads' language, and dates back to when the region was at its wettest period between 10,000 and 8,000 years ago.

Gobero holds evidence of two different human populations that lived in the area more than 1,000 years apart.

Exposed by the hot winds of the Sahara, human bones were found strewn about a wide area, the researchers said.

"At first glance, it's hard to imagine two more biologically distinct groups of people burying their dead in the same place," said team member Chris Stojanowski.

The Arizona State University bioarchaeologist added: "The biggest mystery is how they seemed to have done this without disturbing a single grave."

One of the finds stopped the team in its tracks -- a 5,000-year old skeleton of a small woman facing the remains of two young children, her arms outstretched in a gesture of embrace.

Samples taken from underneath the bones revealed pollen clusters, evidence the team says, that those who perished had been buried on a bed of flowers.

Other finds at the site include a human jaw with a nearly complete set of teeth and the bones of a small hand jutting out of the sand with all its digits intact.

Alongside the human remains, the archaeologists also found harpoon points, stone implements and small, pierced decorations for making collars.

Because of the pristine condition in which the remains were found, the archaeologists say they are certain the burial ground was undiscovered until now.

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

The site yielded fossils of huge crocodiles and dinosaurs including the complete skeleton of Sarcosuchus imperator, one of the biggest crocodiles that ever roamed the earth some 110 million years ago.

Sereno also unearthed the Nigersaurus, a plant-eating dinosaur with a huge jaw studded with 500 teeth that lived in the same geologic period, the Cretaceous, some 110 million years ago.

Carbon-dating tests carried out on the bones and teeth by Stojanowski, from the University of Arizona, revealed more than 80 radiocarbon dates, showing two distinct populations lived on the banks of the lake, but 1,000 years apart.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2008, 03:26:44 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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