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  1. Science

    Dozens of (Tiny) Earthquakes Strike Maine

    During the first week of May, something very unusual happened in coastal Maine. Normally seismically boring, Maine experienced about a dozen tiny earthquakes that rippled across the region. In their wake, the cracking earth sounded like explosions or gunshots in the distance. Far from being the precursor to an impending disaster, these pint-sized earthquakes (all under 2 on the Richter scale) are the result of the massive Laurentide ice sheet that once covered huge swathes of North America during the last ice age. Under the weight of all that ice, over a mile thick,  the crust of the earth was squished down. Some places, as much as 500 feet. Since the ice sheet receded some 14, 000 years ago, the ground has been springing back up. Earthquakes and other seismic fallout from eons of icey repression are not uncommon in Maine, but a cluster of a dozen is rather unusual for the region. It's a surprising reminder that although we may think of the landscape as unchanging and eternal, it is constantly in flux and responding to forces that stretch far beyond our lifetimes. (image and story via Wired)

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  2. Science

    Ice Age Brits Used Skulls for Cups

    Though it sounds like something out of Conan The Barbarian, researchers have announced that ice age bones in Gough's Cave seem to indicate ancient Britons used skulls as cups. Other bones in the site were also apparently cleaned of flesh and marrow, raising the grim possibility that a cannibalistic meal accompanied whatever was in the skull cups. The report concludes that the skull cups were some 14,700 years old, making them the oldest found and the only skull cups in the British Isles. But the use and purpose of the skulls is a matter of pure speculation, as is the fate of the cleaned bones' previous owners. From Reuters:
    They may have been killed, butchered and eaten -- with the skull-cups just the end of this event -- or may have been part of the group who died and were eaten in a crisis situation, with the skull-cups created as a tribute to the dead. "We simply do not know," [the researchers] said in a joint emailed response to questions.
    Perhaps some might see this as embarrassing, with their ancestors displaying rather distasteful behavior. However, I find it best to take history in stride, and congratulate the British as confirming, archeologically, that their ancestors were totally badass. (via Reuters, image via Wired)

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