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The Spill: A New Record for Ancient Art

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Just When You Think You Have Seen Everything

A new record has been set for the earliest figurative art. Found in a cave in Indonesia, a painting of pigs at least 45,500 years old has been discovered.

Researchers began working in Sulawesi, Indonesia, 70 years ago and have found 300 caves with figurative art (art that shows a real object or “figure”). The latest discovery was made by Maxime Aubert, a professor of archeological science. The professor explained, “The rock art in this region could very well be 60,000 to 65,000 years old. We just need more samples.”

The new painting is a series of three to four Sulawesi warty pigs, and human hands.

Dating prehistory art – especially on cave walls – can be tricky. In Sulawesi’s caves, water can through the limestone, and that leads to the growth of speleotherms. Speleotherms are mineral deposits formed by water flowing through rock. Examples you might be familiar with are stalactites and stalagmites. In this case, deposits have built upon the walls, including those that contain artwork.

Other researchers say that there could be much older sites in the world that have yet to be discovered. Still, for now, it appears Indonesia is claiming the oldest figurative artwork.

What About the Latest COVID Discoveries?

Just as the vaccine for COVID-19 begins to be used, scientists have discovered new strains that could be more contagious. New forms of the virus have been found in the United Kingdom, Australia, and Brazil. But what makes them different from the virus that already hit?

All three have mutations in the spike protein, which is the part of the virus that attaches to human cells. Experts believe the “Kent” strain in the U.K. started in September. The South Africa variant was discovered in October, and it has different changes in the spike protein than the U.K. strain.

Scientists believe that vaccinations will slow the spread, but they also say people should keep washing their hands with soap and water and social distancing.

More Security and Less Fanfare for Biden’s Inauguration

January 20 is Inauguration Day for the new president, Joe Biden.

Unlike most presidential inaugurations, Joe Biden’s will have more security and less exposure to the public. Worry that the protest at the Capitol Building on January 6 might happen again has the city on lockdown. The inauguration, themed “America United,” has been called a national special security event. This lets law enforcement agencies in Washington, D.C. work together.

President Trump will not be there, but Vice President Mike Pence has agreed to attend the traditional peaceful transition of power. Unlike most inaugurations of the past, there will not be a parade nor any inaugural balls.

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