9,000 Year-Old Skull and Severed Hands Might Be Oldest Case of Decapitation in the New World

KS_LOGOs2_HumanScientists made a very¬†creepy discovery in a cave in Brazil – a 9,000 year-old decapitated skull covered by two severed hands. Researchers have concluded that the skull and hands found below represent the oldest case of decapitation in the New World. ūüíÄ

CREDIT: LEEH USP AND GIL TOKYO
CREDIT: LEEH USP AND GIL TOKYO

The remains, known as Burial 26, were found in the rock shelter of Lapa do Santo, an archaeological site that has yielded 26 human burials. The grave, which was excavated in 2007, consists of a circular pit covered in limestone slabs. Under one of these slabs is where the skull and amputated hands were found.

André Strauss from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany and his colleagues wrote that using cranial morphology and tooth wear they have decided the individual was most likely a young adult male. According to the study, decapitation was likely common in the New World, but this case raises questions about how the morbid practice began in the Americas.

“Few Amerindian habits impressed the European colonizers more than the taking and displaying of human body parts, especially when¬†decapitation¬†was involved,” said Strauss.

The skull was buried about 22 inches below the surface suggesting it was a deliberate ritual entombment, not the result of an enemy trophy. The placement of the hands in opposite directions on the skull leads researchers to believe it was a ritualized decapitation. See more photos here!

‚ÄúThe careful arrangement of the hands over the face is compatible with an important public display component in the ritual that could have worked to enhance social cohesion within the community,‚ÄĚ Strauss said.

Scientists hope to analyze the DNA of the remains in the near future to learn more about who they belonged to. The findings were published online Sept. 23 in the journal PLOS ONE.

9,000 Year-Old Skull and Severed Hands Might Be Oldest Case of Decapitation in the New World

First Known Venomous Frogs Uses Spiky Faces To Deliver Deadly Headbutt

KS Strange ScienceDon’t try to¬†butt heads with these little guys – it¬†just might kill you! The first known venomous frogs have been discovered Brazil. They use small spines¬†on their head, and a vicious head thrash, to inject their potent venom. Yikes! ūüźł

Corythomantis greeningi. CREDIT: Carlos Jared / Butantan Institute
Corythomantis greeningi. CREDIT: Carlos Jared / Butantan Institute

Poisonous frogs are nothing new, but ‘truly’¬†venomous frogs are.¬†Traditionally, venomous creatures bite, sting or stab you to do their damage, while you have to¬†bite or touch poisonous critters to feel their effects. I suppose the venomous variety are a bit more proactive with their toxins. ūüźć

‚ÄúDiscovering a truly venomous frog is nothing any of us expected, and finding frogs with skin secretions more venomous than those of the deadly pit vipers of the genus Bothrops was astounding,‚ÄĚ co-author Edmund Brodie, Jr., of Utah State University said in a press release.

Brodie and his colleague Carlos Jared of Instituto Butantan in S√£o Paulo, Brazil, study¬†Corythomantis greeningi¬†(Greening‚Äôs frog)¬†and¬†Aparasphenodon brunoi¬†(Bruno‚Äôs casque-headed frog). Jared learned the frogs were venomous the hard way after a Greening’s frog¬†‘stung’ his hand, which resulted in excruciating pain that spread up his arm – lasting five hours!

According to NBC News, a single gram of the venom from the more toxic frog species, Aparasphenodon brunoi, could kill more than 300,000 mice, or about 80 humans, while a gram of the venom from Corythomantis greeningi could kill more than 24,000 mice, or about six humans.

The frogs release a white, toxic mucus from glands in their skin when they feel threatened. Then they use the spines on their skull to drive the toxins into its enemy’s¬†flesh. No thanks…

 

First Known Venomous Frogs Uses Spiky Faces To Deliver Deadly Headbutt

Seven New Teeny Tiny Mini-Frogs Discovered in Brazil – Some are the Smallest Ever

KS Nature

These newly discovered mini-frogs are so small they barely fit on your fingernail – but, they do come in some flashy colors!

Brachycephalus (Anura: Brachycephalidae) is a remarkable genus of miniaturized frogs that call the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest home. The first Brachycephalus species was found in 1824, but most of the species have been discovered over the past 15 years.

The seven new species live on seven distinct mountaintops in south eastern Brazil. Their habitats are known as ‘cloud forests.’ Each species is cut off from one another due to dips and valleys with varying climates that act as environmental barriers.

Brachycephalus are a group of frogs known for their bright colors and miniscule size Рsome are the smallest terrestrial vertebrates on record (less than 1cm). Their tiny frog anatomy has shrunk to their size, but one thing has changed. These amphibians typically have three toes and two fingers, instead of the five toes and four fingers found in most frogs.

Their skin is what sets them apart. They vary in color and texture; some are rough and bumpy, while others are quite smooth. Their bright colors alert predators to the poisonous toxins in their skin. Those with brighter colors often reflect higher levels of the deadly chemical tetrodotoxin.

The severe isolation experienced by these frogs has produced 21 known species of Brachycephalus Рand a new study has pushed that count to 28.

Brachycephalus comes in a variety of bright colors IMAGE: MARCIO R. PIE, CC BY SA
Brachycephalus comes in a variety of bright colors IMAGE: MARCIO R. PIE, CC BY SA

Marcio Pie, a professor at the Universidade Federal do Paraná in Brazil, led researchers into the remote misty rainforest in search of these tiny critters. Following extensive fieldwork, treacherous hikes, and hours of sifting through dirt and leaves, they found a surprising seven new species of Brachycephalus!

Marcio Pie’s¬†findings were published June 4 in the¬†journal¬†PeerJ.

Seven New Teeny Tiny Mini-Frogs Discovered in Brazil – Some are the Smallest Ever