Monday, December 11, 2017

Big Cats Have A Common Ancestor 4.5 Million Years Ago

Extant big cats (i.e. lions, tigers, jaguars, leopards and snow leopards) have a common ancestor just 4.5 million years ago, with some branches related more recently (comparable to the depth of hominin diversification). Domestic cats have a common ancestor with big cats about 12 million years ago (comparable to the chimpanzee-hominin divide).

Friday, December 8, 2017

Australian Aboriginal Myth Describes Variable Brightness Stars

Did you know that a few stars that are visible in the night sky vary in brightness over time, in time frames and magnitude of brightness variability that differ from star to star?

Modern astronomers do and ancient Egyptian astronomers did, but in Western European astronomy this wasn't discovered until a few years before the dawn of the 18th century CE, and many ordinary people today don't know this fact. But, Australian aborigines were well aware of it and embedded it in their mythology.
[N]ew research, recently published in The Australian Journal of Anthropology, reveals that Aboriginal oral traditions describe the variable nature of three red-giant stars: Betelgeuse, Aldebaran and Antares.
From here.

The myths not only embed the variable stars in the myths about the constellations that are home to them, but also recount the relative frequency with which their magnitude varies.