“Dragon”, Neanderthal, and Vesuvius scrolls found

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

Neanderthal vs. modern man
Modern man shares some physical qualities with Neanderthals.

A massive 160-million-year-old “dragon” dinosaur was recently uncovered in China, nicknamed the “Dragon of Qijiang”.

The 50-foot-long beast didn’t actually breathe fire or fly through the air, but the fossils included an extremely long neck and tail without any bones from the hands or legs, creating the illusion of a dragon’s skeleton!

Its neck alone was 25 feet long, and scientists believe its air-filled bones were as flexible as a construction crane, allowing the “dragon” to reach food in tall trees. The fossil find is a rare example of a long-necked dinosaur turning up with both its head and its neck, since the small heads usually detach after death.

In another ancient discovery, the 55,000-year-old skull of a human being was found in Israel, linking modern man to Neanderthals.

Modern man is called homo sapiens, or “upright man” in Latin, while Neanderthals are homo neanderthalensis, named after Germany’s “Neander Valley” gorge near where humanoid fossils were identified in 1856. According to researchers, modern man mixed with Neanderthals around 60,000 to 80,000 years ago, so even though Neanderthals eventually died out, we inherited their skin and thick hair for warmth. Most modern humans migrated out of Africa, spreading to nearby continents like Europe. The skull in Israel provides clues about when mankind migrated from Africa and when they started blending together with Neanderthals.

From the remains of the living to artifacts, scientists are using X-Rays to read a fragile 2,000-year-old scroll buried by Mt. Vesuvius’ eruption! See, when hot fluid called magma rises from under the Earth’s crust, it builds gaseous pressure in a volcanic mountain, eventually exploding. Once the magma is aboveground, it’s called lava. Some of the most famous volcanic explosions include Mt. Vesuvius’ destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum in Italy back in A.D. 79, and Krakatoa blowing up Indonesia with power 13,000 stronger than an atom bomb. Even the mythical Lost City of Atlantis may have been destroyed by a volcanic eruption near Greece around 1,600 B.C.! As for the charred scrolls found in an ancient Herculaneum library, they were far too fragile to open up and ready normally, which is why scientists blasted it with X-ray beams, which can reflect understandable patterns back to a machine.

Featured image courtesy of Lida Xing. Image of Neanderthals and modern man courtesy of Young Sok Yun on Flickr (top left), Erich Ferdinand on Flickr (top right), Wapondaponda on Wikimedia (bottom left), and Orin Zebest on Flickr (bottom right).