End of Year Recap: Archeology News May 2009

From the possible discovery of a new dinosaur species to the analysis of ancient termites, May of 2009 was filled with interesting archeology headlines, including ancient art finds, like the Roman bowl described in this article. Learning more about the way humans and creatures lived in the past is as easy as taking a look at pottery left behind by ancient civilizations and remains.  

Ancient Termites

For 100 million years, the ancient termites encased in a piece of amber are now serving as the oldest example of ‘mutualism’ between an animal and microorganism. Scientists are now able to research a few distinct biological characteristics that have assisted in making the bond quite successful. While many people look at termites as a despicable member of the insect world, researchers at Oregon State University are finding them quite interesting with their recent findings.

The termite in question was most likely living during the Early Cretaceous period (the age of dinosaurs), flying about a wet, humid tropical forest setting. Its fate could have come from injury or being attacked by a bird, but it wound up in the sticky, oozing substance of tree sap that eventually transformed into amber. Being preserved in amber allows scientists to investigate the ins and outs of ancient living.

The inside of the termite’s abdomen revealed a range of protozoa that is believed to have served an important function of helping the termite digest wood. Thus, researchers are left with the earliest example of a mutual relationship between animals and microorganisms.

New Dinosaur Species

The University of Alberta reported in May that events that took place 73 million years ago in northwestern Alberta could reveal a new species of dinosaur. Researchers have stumbled upon a nesting site, where they uncovered the remains of baby, plant-eating dinosaurs, as well as the teeth of a predator. While the teeth were matched to the Troodon, a raptor-like dinosaur that measures about two meters in length, the hatchling dinosaurs have not been identified. This particular finding will create more interest in researching the Grande Prairie region , looking in high latitude locations for nesting grounds of dinosaurs.

Rare Ancient Roman Artifact Find

The Roman polychrome dish discovered in a grave in East London, United Kingdom, displays an intricate pattern of hundreds of indented glass petals , known as millefiori which translates into ‘a thousand flowers.’ While it was shattered into a multitude of fragments, the earth surrounding the pieces was enough to keep the shape and integrity of the bowl. However, the Museum of London Archaeology took great pains to reassemble the bowl to reveal an extremely rare and celebrated find.

The bowl had blue translucent petals with white borders and the remnants of bright red glass embellishments. After the bowl was put together, the task of finding an exact date followed with researchers guessing the dates back to the 1st and early 2nd centuries.