Applying New Techniques to Ancient Languages

Researching languages that have no surviving native speakers could be tricky in the extreme. Especially when all other information is sparse. That’s when lateral thinkers turn to less obvious methods of discovery. One such lateral thinker is Claire Bowern of Yale University, who used the evolutionary biologists’ theory of phylogenetics to map differences and similarities between all the known elements of language used by Tasmanian aborigines (before they were the victims of genocide). Professor Bowern analysed 3200 unique words recorded between 1777 and 1847. She found that there were 12 distinct languages spoken in Tasmania before the arrival of Europeans, contrary … Continue reading Applying New Techniques to Ancient Languages

Tiniest Ancient Tetrapod Footprints Found

When most of us imagine ancient animals, we think of dinosaurs. But dinosaurs were by no means the only animals that lived millions of years ago. There were also the microsaurs. Small, lizard-like creatures, their fossils are more difficult to find than dinosaur bones, which makes the discovery of footprints of the Batrachichnus salamandroides especially exciting.         A fossil track of footprints, found at Joggins, Nova Scotia,  sets a new record as the smallest ever fossil footprints found of a four-legged animal. Researchers at St. Mary’s University, Halifax, have estimated that the juvenile microsaur measured only 8 mm from head to tail, … Continue reading Tiniest Ancient Tetrapod Footprints Found