Ancient Pict’s face reconstructed

Archaeologists have digitally recreated the face of an ancient Pict uncovered in Highland Perthshire.

In 1986, a long cist burial was dug up in Bridge of Tilt near Blair Atholl, where excavators discovered the skeleton of a man in his forties. Analysis at the time found the man was used to hard work, and lived around 340 to 615 AD, making this one of the earliest Pictish graves ever discovered. Read more.

The Ii Hamina cemetery reveals adaptation to the “Little Ice Age”

The medieval cemetery in Ii Hamina in northern Finland on the Iijoki river was originally discovered by accident. A recent study examined the isotope compositions of the teeth of the dead. It turned out that the population in the small village survived throughout the 15th and 16th centuries despite the Little Ice Age. Read more.

Birds' feathers reveal their winter diet

Influences outside the breeding season matter a lot for the population health of migratory birds, but it's tough to track what happens once species scatter for the winter. A study now tries a new approach for determining what birds called bobolinks eat after they head south for the winter -- analyzing the carbon compounds in their plumage, which are determined by the types of plants the birds consume during their winter molt. Read more.

Therapy flags DNA typos to rev cancer-fighting T cells

Mutations that prevent cells from spell-checking their DNA may make cancer cells vulnerable to immunotherapies, a new study suggests.

A type of immune therapy known as PD-1 blockade controlled cancer in 77 percent of patients with defects in DNA mismatch repair — the system cells use to spell-check and fix errors in DNA. The therapy was effective against 12 different types of solid tumors, including colorectal, gastroesophageal and pancreatic cancers, and even tumors of unknown origin, researchers report June 8 in Science. Read more.

Ancient Comets May Have Delivered Xenon To Earth

Comets hurtling through space 3.5–4.5 billion years ago may have deposited heavy isotopes of xenon into Earth’s atmosphere. This clue to the isotopes’ mysterious origins suggests that comets visited Earth in its earliest days, that the moon and atmosphere are younger than we originally thought, and that comets might have delivered the first organic material to our fledgeling planet.

While there are only trace amounts of xenon in the atmosphere, the noble gas doesn’t chemically react with other elements.. Read more.