Headlines: Recent Discoveries: August and September 2008

This month, German biologists have revealed the discovery of a new species of ant that they feel is the oldest on Earth, as it may date back to about 120 million years ago. In 2007, researchers hailing from the Karlsruhe’s Natural History Museum uncovered an ant measuring three millimeters long (the equivalent to 0.118 inches) in the Amazon rainforest.

Oldest Ant on the Planet”¦

The find brought great joy to those involved, as one museum biologist exclaimed that it was one of the best things to happen to them in all of their 26 years in the field. Originally, the biologist group stumbled upon a species of ant that they were unable to identify that was similar in type in 2003. This specimen dwelled in the Brazilian rainforest. Unfortunately, an accident in the lab caused the insect to dry up, putting any further research to a halt.

Last year, a different team was sent from the museum’s research department to analyze the forest for a fungus when they came in contact with the tiny insect. It was given the name, “Martialis heureka,” The ant is truly a great find, as there is no other ant like this to date, sharing some of the same characteristics as a miniature wasp. If it proves to date back 120 million years, it will earn the honor of being the oldest ant in the world to still inhabit the Earth. The last time a new any species was uncovered was in 1923, making “Martialis heureka” all the more intriguing.

If you are wondering how scientists were able to calculate the age of the ant, samples of DNA were extracted from its front leg in order to make that determination.

Pre-Incan Female Wari Mummy

Lima, Peru reports that the mummy of a Pre-Incan female Wari has been found in the Huaca Pucllana ruins, as archeologists have removed her remains from a tomb this August. The body is believed to represent the ancient Wari culture that once thrived before the Incas. Alongside the female mummy, the remains of two other adults and a child were also discovered. Researchers are confident that the remains date back o around 700 AD, making it the first intact Wari burial site discovered at Huaca Pucllana.

While other tombs have been uncovered before this one, there seemed to always be some sort of flaw to overcome, such as holes and other damage. To find an entire tomb , untouched , is a great feat. Before the mummy was lifted onto a flat wooden board, she was wrapped in tissue paper. Her face was in view. The eye sockets revealed two large, bright blue orbs. The sight of her face took some people aback, piquing interest in the material used to make her fake eyes. That same week, the other adult remains were also removed.

So far, Huaca Pucllana has provided a wealth of tombs , about 30 in total. The condition of the tombs gives off many clues about the Wari people, especially when ceramic and textile pieces are found close to remains. The Wari people resided and ruled the land that is now known as Peru from 600 AD to 1100 AD. Researchers also add that the child found in the tomb was most likely sacrificed, as this was customary for this culture at that time.