An underwater ‘ghost fleet’ of shipwrecks is on the move, and here’s why

WASHINGTON — The history of maritime vessels in the U.S. is preserved in an unlikely place — at the bottom of a river. Nearly 200 military shipwrecks — dating as far back as the Revolutionary War and including ships from the Civil War and both World War I and World War II — were deliberately … Continue reading “An underwater ‘ghost fleet’ of shipwrecks is on the move, and here’s why”

WASHINGTON — The history of maritime vessels in the U.S. is preserved in an unlikely place — at the bottom of a river.

Nearly 200 military shipwrecks — dating as far back as the Revolutionary War and including ships from the Civil War and both World War I and World War II — were deliberately sunk over centuries, in an area of the Potomac River called Mallows Bay, in Maryland. Over time, this so-called ghost fleet of wooden ships has come to serve as habitat for local wildlife.

But is this artificial ecosystem stable? Researchers recently investigated how the shipwrecks have changed over time; their findings, presented here on Dec. 13 at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), explained how the bodies of the ships weathered river conditions — in some cases for hundreds of years — and how that might affect the future of the ghost fleet ecosystem. [Mayday! 17 Mysterious Shipwrecks You Can See on Google Earth]

The four researchers were accompanied at AGU by a chaperone, as they are all fifth-grade students attending the J.C. Parks Elementary School in Maryland. A school trip to Mallows Bay last year inspired them to question how the ships got there and what happened to them after they were sunk, Renata Ashton, age 11, told Live Science.

More From LiveScience

  • Civil War
  • Mayday! 17 Mysterious Shipwrecks You Can See on Google Earth
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • The 20 Most Mysterious Shipwrecks Ever
  • They consulted aerial maps of the ghost fleet that were created decades apart, "and we looked at them to see which ones had moved and decayed," said Shyla Lancaster, also 11.

    After comparing known ship positions across different maps, they discovered that some ships were definitely not staying put — most of the ships were shifting eastward, some by miles, they reported.

    Natural forces that affected the ships included storms, floods and erosion, according to 10-year-old Annabelle Naught. The best-preserved parts of the shipwrecks were deeply embedded in mud, while the exposed parts showed greater signs of deterioration, explained Kharylle Deramos, age 10.

    Together, the ships form an elaborate infrastructure that has become a habitat for bald eagles, fish and other animals, and the site is currently under consideration for designation as a marine sanctuary by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

    But degradation and drift could disrupt the balance of this ecosystem. Further evaluation of the site with underwater remotely operated vehicles will help determine how changes in the ghost fleet could impact the wildlife that live there, the researchers concluded.

    The 20 Most Mysterious Shipwrecks EverStunning Photos Capture Eerie Underwater ShipwrecksIn Photos: WWII-Era Shipwrecks Illegally Plundered in Java Sea

    Original article on Live Science.

    New horned dinosaur species discovered in Arizona wows paleontologists

    A team of paleontologists recently announced the discovery of a new horned dinosaur — a "cousin" of the Triceratops — in southern Arizona.

    The new species, Crittendenceratops krzyzanowskii, was named after the rock formation the fossils were buried under (Fort Crittenden Formation) as well as the late amateur scientist Stan Krzyzanowski, who first found the fossils.

    The bones of the dinosaur were uncovered underneath 73-million-year-old rocks about 20 years ago southeast of Tucson, but a team from the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science (NMMNH) recently studied the specimen and determined it was a new species. Their findings were published in NMMNH's bulletin.


    "I told my boss and co-author Spencer Lucas that this is a new species and that I am going to work on it. I am a taxonomist and morphologist, so I was able to find numerous morphological features right away in the material of Crittendenceratops to establish a new species," Sebastian Dalman, lead researcher on the project, told Newsweek on Monday. "Later with the help of my good friend and co-author of other projects Jonathan Wagner, a new phylogenetic analysis was conducted that shows the relationships of Crittendenceratops to other ceratopsians."

    The dinosaur was likely 11 feet long and weighed around 1,500 pounds, researchers said. The Phoenix New Times compared the size of the creature to an elephant, explaining it's part of the Ceratopsidae family.

    Crittendenceratops’ squamosal bone. (New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science)

    "The significance of this discovery is that Crittendenceratops represents the youngest member of Nasutoceratopsini and that this group was still living in North America near the end of the Cretaceous," Dalman said. "It coexisted with two other groups of horned dinosaurs (ceratopsians): centrosaurs and chasmosaurs. It also shows that ceratopsian dinosaurs were highly diverse both morphological and taxonomical."

    Spencer Lucas, a curator at NMMNH and co-author of the paper, said it was a significant find in the state.


    "I can’t even think of six dinosaurs that have been named from Arizona," he told the Phoenix New Times, noting that the area the dinosaur once walked was "a greenhouse world."

    During the Late Cretacious period, there was a large lake present in the area where the Crittendenceratops roamed. The greenery was convenient for the dinosaur, as it was a plant eater — just like its relatives.

    "[It] probably ate anything it could get into its mouth," Lucas joked.

    The classification of the dinosaur has given Arizona researchers a push to continue studying other specimens that have previously been recovered in the state.

    "Between the mid 1990’s and 2000, a number of new ceratopsian specimens were collected by teams at the Arizona- Sonora Desert Museum (ASDM) and the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science (NMMNH) from the upper Campanian Fort Crittenden Formation of Adobe Canyon within the Santa Rita Mountains of southeastern Arizona (Figs. 1-2). These new specimens provide important new information about the morphologic and taxonomic diversity of Ceratopsidae in North America," the researchers wrote.

    Lucas said it's proof paleontologists have a "lot more field work" ahead of them.

    "There are a lot more dinosaurs out there in Arizona to be discovered," Lucas told the Phoenix New Times. "Young people need to know — you can probably go out and find a new dinosaur in Arizona."

    Jennifer Earl is an SEO editor for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter @jenearlyspeakin.

    ‘One of a kind,’ nearly 4,400-year-old tomb discovered in Egypt

    Archaeologists in Egypt uncovered the final resting place of a high priest that dates back more than 4,000 years ago.

    The tomb, which was found in the Saqqara pyramid complex near Cairo, is filled with colorful hieroglyphs and statues of pharaohs, National Geographic reports. Some of the scenes show the owner, a royal priest named Wahtye, with his mother, wife and other relatives.

    This burial is “one of a kind in the last decades,” said Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, in a statement. "The color is almost intact even though the tomb is almost 4,400 years old."


    GIZA, EGYPT – DECEMBER 15: An inside view of Saqqara excavation site after a 4,400-Year-Old Tomb belonging to Pharaohs era has been discovered in Giza, Egypt on December 15, 2018. (Ahmed Al Sayed/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

    The tomb owner served King Neferirkare. In addition to the name of the deceased, hieroglyphs carved into the stone above the tomb’s door reveal his multiple titles.

    The grave’s rectangular gallery is reportedly covered in painted reliefs, sculptures and inscriptions, all in excellent shape considering how much time has passed.


    The reliefs depict Wahtye himself, his wife Weret Ptah, and his mother Merit Meen, as well as everyday activities that include hunting, sailing and manufacturing goods such as pottery, according to National Geographic. The tomb features a total of 45 statues, including large painted statues of the priest and his family.

    The team of Egyptian archaeologists working here found five shafts in the tomb, several of which are sealed and could contain other exciting finds.

    A view inside a recently uncovered tomb of the Fifth Dynasty royal Priest during the reign of King Nefer Ir-Ka-Re, named "Wahtye", at the site of the step pyramid of Saqqara. (Photo by Mahmoud Abdelghany/picture alliance via Getty Images)

    “This shaft should lead to a coffin or a sarcophagus of the owner of the tomb,” said Waziri, indicating his best guess for the location of finds to come. Other shafts might hold the grave goods of the deceased.

    In recent years, Egypt has heavily promoted new archaeological finds to international media and diplomats in the hope of attracting more tourists to the country. The vital tourism sector has suffered from the years of political turmoil and violence that followed a 2011 uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

    Christopher Carbone covers technology and science for Fox News Digital. Tips or story leads: Follow @christocarbone.

    New giant dinosaur discovered in Russia

    A new kind of giant dinosaur has been described in Russia. Dubbed Volgatitan, the herbivore belonged to a family of long-necked dinosaurs called sauropods. It weighed 17 tons and walked the earth 200 million to 65 million years ago.

    The enormous dinosaur was identified from seven of its vertebrae, which had been stuck in a cliff for 130 million years until they were discovered on the banks of the Volga river near Ulyanovsk in 1982.

    “[The fossils] come from a cliff of marine sediments which are rich in invertebrate fossils such as ammonite and bones [of] marine reptiles,” study author Dr. Alexander Averianov of the Russian Academy of Sciences told Fox News.


    Averianov’s co-author Vladimir Efimov found the first three giant vertebrae after they fell out of the cliff in the early ’80s. A few years later, more limestone from the cliff broke off containing the remaining vertebrae. Efimov published a short note about the discovery in 1997, describing his discovery as “giant vertebrae of unknown taxonomic affiliation.”

    An image of the vertebrae. (Alexander Averianov and Vladimir Efimov)

    The bones sat for 20 years until they were re-examined by Averianov.

    “I started my work on sauropods quite recently, published on sauropod remains from the Late Cretaceous of Uzbekistan and describing the first sauropod taxa from Russia, Tengrisaurus and Sibirotitan, in 2017 and 2018 respectively,” Averianov said. “I decided to also study the fossils reported by Efimov and visited his museum in July 2017 and examined the fossils.”


    Upon inspecting the bones, he noticed the caudal vertebrae’s unusual morphology.

    “[After] checking the literature when I returned home, [I] confirmed that this is a new taxon of titanosaurian sauropods,” Averianov recounted. A taxon refers to a specific group.

    Titanosaurs were the last surviving group of the giant long-necked dinosaurs and were some of the largest land animals known to have lived. It was previously believed that Titanosaurs’ evolution took place mainly in South America in the Early Cretaceous before some taxa migrated to North America, Europe and Asia in the Late Cretaceous. However, this new discovery in Russia shows that Titanosaurs were more widely distributed in the Early Cretaceous and that some of their important evolutionary stages may have happened in Eastern Europe and Asia.


    Weighing in at 17 tons, Volgatitan’s not even close to being the largest titan of the Titanosaurs.

    “The largest members of this lineage reached 50-70 tons, but they lived much later, in the Late Cretaceous period,” Averianov explained. “Volgatitan is one of the oldest titanosaurian sauropods which lived in the beginning of the Early Cretaceous period, some 130 million years ago. However, it is quite large comparative to other earliest Cretaceous sauropods.”

    Averianov hopes to describe yet another new taxon of another dinosaur next, this one pretty famous as far as iconic dinos go.

    “We are currently working on the dinosaurs collected from the Early Cretaceous site in Yakutia, Eastern Siberia,” he said. “The fauna is dominated by stegosaurs and possibly we shall describe a new taxon of stegosaur when all specimens will be prepared.”

    The study can be found in the latest issue of Biological Communications.

    What lies beneath the Transylvanian castle that imprisoned ‘Dracula’?

    WASHINGTON — A historic Transylvanian castle that may have once imprisoned Vlad the Impaler — likely inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula — still stands today. But what lies beneath it?

    Because of centuries of rebuilding and additions, archaeologists weren't sure where the castle's original foundation lay. [24 Amazing Archaeological Discoveries]

    However, new research using radar scans of the ground beneath the structure is revealing what's going on below the building's imposing facade. The findings were presented on Wednesday (Dec. 12) here at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

    Castelul Corvinilor — also known as Corvin Castle, Hunedoara Castle or Hunyadi Castle — began as a fortress built in central Transylvania (now Romania). The structure's oldest stone fortifications date to the 14th century, and its transformation from fortress into a castle was well underway by the 15th century, according to lead researcher Isabel Morris, a doctoral candidate with the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Princeton University in New Jersey.

    More From LiveScience

  • Vlad the Impaler
  • Vlad III, prince of Wallachia
  • Hungarian
  • 25 Grisly Archaeological Discoveries
  • In the 15th century, the bloodthirsty despot Vlad III, prince of Wallachia, aka Vlad the Impaler, was purportedly imprisoned in Castle Corvin by Hungarian Gov. John Hunyadi (Ioan de Hunedoara), who oversaw the castle's first expansion, according to the Romanian tourism website Rolandia. Two more expansions to the castle, in the 17th and 19th centuries, followed Hunyadi's efforts. Consequently, the building is a hodgepodge of construction from different periods, Morris said. It has also been the subject of numerous excavations; however, maps of the site are inconsistent, and much of the archaeological record is missing, presenting challenges to scientists exploring the castle today, Morris explained. For this reason, she and her colleagues chose ground-penetrating radar (GPR) to conduct their surveys.

    "In order to do a good job with our reconstruction, we need to know where all these pieces are," she told Live Science. The scans helped the researchers identify an administrative complex built during the 17th century, Morris said.

    The radar also revealed places where parts of the castle were held up by bedrock and supported by built-up, human-made structures.

    "That's important moving forward for conserving this exciting historic site," Morris said. Already-reconstructed rooms in the castle's depths include a torture chamber — with a model of an unfortunate victim bound and hung from the ceiling — but it is unknown if the grim chamber ever housed the infamous Vlad the Impaler.

    25 Grisly Archaeological DiscoveriesWhat Really Scares People: Top 10 PhobiasArchaeologists Are Hot on the Trail of These 16 Spectacular Mysteries

    Originally published on Live Science.

    Do you carry Neanderthal DNA? The shape of your skull may tell.

    The shape of your brain may say a lot about the Neanderthal in you. New research has found that modern humans carrying certain genetic fragments from our closest extinct relatives may have more oblong brains and skulls than other people.

    Modern humans possess unique, relatively globular skulls and brains. In contrast, the closest extinct relatives of modern humans, Neanderthals, have the elongated skulls and brains that are typical of most primates.

    Previous research had suggested these contrasting skull shapes might reflect differences in the size of various brain regions in modern humans and Neanderthals, and how these brain areas were wired together. "However, brain tissue doesn't fossilize, so the underlying biology has remained elusive," co-lead study author Philipp Gunz, a paleoanthropologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, told Live Science. [3D Images: Exploring the Human Brain]

    To help solve this mystery, scientists first took CT (computed tomography) scans of seven fossil Neanderthal skulls and 19 modern human skulls. They developed imprints of the interiors of the skulls' braincases and measured their roundness.

    More From LiveScience

  • Neanderthals
  • 3D Images: Exploring the Human Brain
  • Neanderthal DNA
  • Current Biology
  • Next, the researchers analyzed nearly 4,500 modern humans for whom they had both genetic data and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of their brains.

    "We reasoned that if we could identify specific Neanderthal DNA fragments in a large enough sample of living humans, we would be able to test whether any of these fragments push towards a less globular brain shape, allowing us to zoom in on genes that might be important for this trait," senior study author Simon Fisher, a neurogeneticist at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, told Live Science.

    Prior work found that modern humans and Neanderthals experienced multiple episodes of interbreeding, introducing Neanderthal DNA into the modern human genome. In the new study, the scientists discovered that Neanderthal DNA fragments in modern human chromosomes 1 and 18 were linked with less round brains.

    "The effects of carrying these rare Neanderthal fragments are subtle," Fisher said. "The effects of the Neanderthal gene variants are small, you would not be able to see them in a person's head shape when you meet them."

    The Neanderthal DNA fragments contained two genes previous research linked to brain development. One, UBR4, is linked with the generation of neurons, and the other, PHLPP1, is associated with the development of fatty insulation around nerve cells.

    The researchers discovered that this Neanderthal DNA had the strongest effects on brain structures known as the putamen and the cerebellum — both of which are key to the preparation, learning and coordination of movements. The putamen forms the outer portion of the brain's basal ganglia, which are associated with memory, attention, planning, the learning of skills, and potentially speech and language.

    The scientists noted that if a person has more Neanderthal DNA than average, that does not necessarily mean their brain is more oblong. "Two people who have very similar total amounts of Neanderthal DNA — for example, 1 percent of their genomes — may well carry completely different fragments," Fisher said.

    The researchers also noted these skull differences likely did not reflect any differences at the time of an infant's birth: Modern humans and Neanderthals have similar braincase and skull shapes at that time, Gunz said. After birth, differences in brain development likely resulted in the pronounced differences that are found in skull shape between adults of the two lineages, he added.

    Future research can look for more Neanderthal DNA linked with modern human brains and determine what specific effects these ancient genetic variants might have by growing brain tissue with Neanderthal DNA in the lab, Fisher said.

    The scientists detailed their findings online Dec. 13 in the journal Current Biology.

    Image Gallery: Our Closest Human AncestorHomo Naledi in Photos: Images of the Small-Brained Human RelativeTop 10 Things That Make Humans Special

    Originally published on Live Science.

    Extremely rare ‘unicorn’ of US paper money expected to sell for $3 million

    An extremely rare U.S. currency note from the late 19th century is expected to sell for up to $3 million when it is auctioned next year.

    The 1891 $1,000 Silver Certificate is the only bill of its kind believed to exist in private hands, according to auction house Stack’s Bowers Galleries. Known as the Marcy note, the bill features the portrait of former New York Governor William L. Marcy, who served as a senator and as secretary of war under President James Knox Polk.

    Stack’s Bowers Galleries notes that the Marcy note is sometimes considered the “unicorn” of U.S. money thanks to its unique design. The bill, which has an estimated pre-sale value of $2 million to $3 million, is being offered at auction for the first time.


    The note will be auctioned at the Whitman Spring Expo, which takes place in Baltimore between Feb. 28 and March 3.

    The back of the note. (Stack’s Bowers Galleries)

    Another extremely rare $1,000 bill described as the “Holy Grail of paper money” was recently sold at auction for just over $2 million.

    The 1890 Treasury Note is dubbed the “Grand Watermelon” on account of the large green zeros on the back of the bill. Major General George Meade, the commander of Union forces at the Battle of Gettysburg, is shown on the bill’s face.

    Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

    8,300-year-old stone snake heads reveal Stone Age ritual ceremonies

    What might be passed over as two oddly shaped rocks are the work of Stone Age artisans who sculpted the rocks into beady-eyed snake heads, archaeologists have found.

    It's a mystery why these ancient people, who lived in what is now Ukraine, created the stoney serpents, but the researchers have a good guess.

    "These sculptures could have ritual purpose," said study lead researcher Nadiia Kotova, an archaeologist in the Department of the Eneolithic and Bronze Age at the Institute of Archaeology National Academy of Sciences (NAS) of Ukraine. "They were probably used during ceremonies." [In Photos: Intricately Carved Stone Balls Puzzle Archaeologists]

    Kotova and her team found the snakey stones in 2016, during an excavation at Kamyana Mohyla I, an archaeological site near the city of Terpinnya. Both stones, although different ages, were found near ancient bones and flints from the same period: the Mesolithic, which is the middle Stone Age between the earlier Paleolithic and later Neolithic. There were many sandstones at the site, but "these two had quite a strange shape, so we decided to look closer," Kotova told Live Science in an email.

    More From LiveScience

  • In Photos: Intricately Carved Stone Balls Puzzle Archaeologists
  • Antiquity
  • In Images: An Ancient European Hunter-Gatherer
  • Photos: Stone Age Skulls Found on Wooden Stakes
  • The "older" figurine was found near an open fireplace, near piles of shells and flint tools. Using organic matter from the fireplace, the researchers were able to radiocarbon date the yellow sandstone snakehead to between 8300 B.C. and 7500 B.C.

    This snakehead is small, measuring only 5 inches by 3 inches (13 by 6.8 centimeters) and weighing almost 3 lbs. (1,215 grams). It has a triangular shape with a flat bottom. "Two rhombic eyes were carved on the upper surface alongside two knobs" on the stone, the researchers wrote in the study. "A wide, long line represents a mouth."

    Regrettably, the snake was "damaged on the 'nose' during excavation," the researchers wrote in the study.

    The "younger" stone snake was also found by a fireplace and was dated to about 7400 B.C. It measures about 3 inches by 2 inches (8.5 by 5.8 cm) and weighs just under 1 lb. (428 grams), meaning it can comfortably fit in a person's hand, Kotova said.

    "The smaller stone has a flattened, round shape and so-called 'neck,'" Kotova said. "There are two deep traces, probably the eyes of the creature. There is also kind of a nose."

    The two findings represent the only snakehead stones known at Kamyana Mohyla I. However, scientists did discover a fish-like stone sculpture at the nearby Kamyana Mohyla, a giant stone pile just a stone's throw from the snakeheads' spot.

    Archaeologists don't know much about the people who made these sculptures, except that these prehistoric inhabitants lived on the steppe of the northwestern region of the Sea of Azov. "They made tools from stones, flints and bones and hunted with bows and flint arrows," Kotova said. "It was the society of hunters and gatherers. Unfortunately, we don't know much about their cultural traditions yet."

    The study was published online today (Dec. 12) in the journal Antiquity.

    In Images: An Ancient European Hunter-GathererPhotos: Stone Age Skulls Found on Wooden StakesPhotos: Bronze-Age Stone Tools Unearthed at Site of Ancient Stream

    Originally published on Live Science.

    Skeleton of ancient marsupial lion, ‘Tasmanian devil on steroids,’ reconstructed for first time

    For the first time, scientists have reconstructed the full skeleton of the predatory, prehistoric animal known as the “marsupial lion” which roamed Australia thousands of years ago.

    Using recently discovered bones found in Komatsu Cave in Naracoorte in South Australia and Flight Star Cave in the Nullarbor Plain, including the first “known remains of the tail and collarbone of this animal” as well as previously discovered fossils, and comparing their findings to the anatomy of marsupials found today, scientists with Flinders University in Australia were able to reconstruct how the marsupial lion likely looked.


    The research, published Wednesday in the journal PLOS, allowed scientists to “reach new conclusions about the biology and behavior of the ‘marsupial lion,’” according to a statement from the study's authors.

    The skeleton was reconstructed in its entirety for the first time. (PLOS)

    The marsupial lion, they learned, possibly weighed more than 200 pounds and had a tail that “appears to have been stiff and heavily-muscled.” The animal, more formally known as the Thylacoleo carnifex, likely used its tail and hind legs to support itself while using its forelimbs for climbing or “handling” food, researchers said. This prehistoric creature also used its large, sharp claw to kill prey.

    “The analysis suggests that Thylacoleo had a rigid lower back and powerful forelimbs anchored by strong collarbones, likely making it poorly suited for chasing prey, but well-adapted for ambush hunting and/or scavenging,” the researchers added.

    The animal launched onto its prey from trees “or others high perches,” ABC in Australia reports. The structure of its collarbones also implies the marsupial lion was capable of pulling its prey up a tree or was able to “hang on to struggling prey,” Rod Wells, one of the study’s authors from Flinders University, told the outlet.

    The prehistoric creature was a predatory animal that likely used its tail and hind legs a support when handling prey.  (PLOS)


    Based on their findings, the researchers theorized the marsupial lion resembles the Tasmanian devil. In fact, one paleontologist, Michael Archer with the University of New South Wales in Australia, likened the marsupial lion to “a Tasmanian devil on steroids.”

    "When you think of a Tasmanian devil on steroids — a lot of steroids — if it's going to spend time tearing giant kangaroos apart, the idea that it would sit back on its haunches means that its tail really did need to bend like that,” Archer told ABC.

    Madeline Farber is a Reporter for Fox News. You can follow her on Twitter @MaddieFarberUDK.

    Cannibalism? Nope, this 8,000-year-old man was likely burned in a ritual

    The shattered skull of a hunter who lived about 8,000 years ago isn’t evidence of cannibalism, as scientists previously thought. Rather, the hunter died in a grisly murder, new research suggests.

    Although the ancient skull, found in what is now Poland, is severely damaged, a new analysis revealed that the skull showed signs of healing, meaning that the man likely lived a little more than a week after his injury.

    "It turned out that the damaged skull shows traces of healing that can not be seen with the naked eye," Jacek Tomczyk, a physical anthropologist at the University of Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński in Warsaw, told the news website Science in Poland. "This means that the person did not die at the moment when the impact occurred, which also destroys the archaeologists' belief that we are dealing with a victim of cannibalism." [In Images: An Ancient European Hunter Gatherer]

    Researchers originally discovered the Stone Age skull nearly 50 years ago on the banks of the Narew River, in Wieliszew, a district in east-central Poland. In addition, in the late 1950s, archaeologists also found an ancient burned human bone nearby, as well as flint tools, which suggested that the man was a hunter. These artifacts dated to the Mesolithic, the period that followed the last ice age.

    More From LiveScience

  • In Images: An Ancient European Hunter Gatherer
  • Photos: New Archaeological Discoveries in Northern Iraq
  • In Photos: The World’s Oldest Cave Art
  • Underwater Stone Age Site Was Fisherman’s Paradise
  • Because the bone was burned and the skull had obviously been dealt a strong blow, the researchers concluded that the man had been cannibalized.

    But Tomczyk and his colleagues decided to take a second look. They re-examined the ancient skull with a scanning electron microscope and a computed tomography (CT) scanner, which allowed the researchers to create digital 3D images.

    The analysis showed a long, horizontal incision on the center of the man's forehead, Tomczyk told Live Science in an email. "Despite the fragmentation of the skull, the edges of the incisions are regular, not ragged," as they would be right after an injury, he said. A closer look at these edges revealed a "subtle callous formation bridging several bone fragments," indicating that the wound was just starting to heal.

    "This is the first case from Mesolithic Poland where we see bone damage and healing," Tomczyk told Science in Poland. Now, the only Mesolithic site in Poland thought to contain cannibalized remains is Pomorska, in the Lubuskie Lake District, he noted.

    As for the bone, it's possible it was burned in a funerary ritual, as people during the Mesolithic both burned and buried corpses.

    The ancient hunter was likely in his 20s when he died. "We also did DNA testing, but unfortunately tissue damage caused by high temperatures made it impossible for us to obtain reliable results," Tomczyk told Science in Poland. The skull injury, however, was clear as day. It appears that the hunter "received a sharp hit with the tool," he said.

    The research has been submitted to a peer-reviewed research journal, but it is not yet published.

    Photos: New Archaeological Discoveries in Northern IraqIn Photos: The World’s Oldest Cave ArtUnderwater Stone Age Site Was Fisherman’s Paradise

    Originally published on Live Science.