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Science:英斯塔卡遗址现胶状骨头

标签:石器时代 骨头
摘要 : 1万年前,石器时代的狩猎—采集者在英国北约克郡的湿地中建造房屋、追逐猎物,并且举行精心的宗教仪式。

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1万年前,石器时代的狩猎—采集者在英国北约克郡的湿地中建造房屋、追逐猎物,并且举行精心的宗教仪式。当考古学家在1948年挖掘出这个被称为斯塔卡的中石器时代住所时,他们发现了由鹿茸制成且保存完好的头巾、动物骨头以及木制和骨制工具。

当研究人员在50年后重访该遗址时,他们发现,被水浸泡过的木材迅速、神秘地分解,同时很多骨头差不多变成了胶状物。正如作者在一篇日前发表于美国《国家科学院院刊》的论文中所提及的,这些“胶状骨头”只能是最近才出现的,因为斯塔卡潮湿、缺氧的湿地会阻止该遗址的考古宝藏分解。

不过,随着这片土地在20世纪末出于农业用途被抽干,地下水位下降,从而产生了干旱地带并将含硫沉积物暴露在氧气中,导致硫酸形成。硫酸侵蚀了骨头中的钙,留下海绵状的胶原蛋白碎片。

为研究这些物质在未来几年内可能面临何种遭遇,该团队将骨头和木头样本放入拥有各种沉积物组分和酸度的大桶中,并且让它们在里面呆了一年。其中,每个大桶对应一种在斯塔卡不同区域内发现的环境条件。在潮湿、高酸度的大桶中,新鲜的骨头变成了胶状物,木头中的木质素(出现在植物细胞壁里的分子结构)也开始分解。在较为干燥的环境中,这些“胶状骨头”完全分解。

所有迹象均表明,如果斯塔卡的水文情况无法被快速改变,该遗址保存的材料将迅速消失。不过,这种糟糕的状况或许已经不可能发生,因为仅仅将更多的水重新注入该系统,便可能足以改变其酸度。

原文链接:

Bones at famed Stone Age site are turning into jelly

原文摘要:

Ten thousand years ago, Stone Age hunter-gatherers built houses, tracked game, and conducted elaborate shamanic rituals among the wetlands of North Yorkshire in the United Kingdom. When archaeologists uncovered this Mesolithic dwelling known as Star Carr in 1948, they found well-preserved headdresses made of deer antler, as well as animal bones and wooden and bone tools. Revisiting the site 50 years later, researchers discovered its waterlogged wood rapidly and mysteriously breaking down and many of its bones literally turned to jelly. These “jellybones,” as the authors refer to them in a paper published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, have only arisen recently because Star Carr’s mucky, low-oxygen wetland prevented the site’s archaeological treasures from breaking down. But as the land was drained for agricultural purposes in the late 20th century, the groundwater level lowered, creating dry zones and exposing sulfurous sediment to oxygen, producing sulfuric acid. The acid ate away the bones’ calcium, leaving behind spongy collagen fragments (like the one seen above). To see how the materials might fare in years to come, the team put bone and wood samples in vats with various sedimentary compositions and acidities—each corresponding to environmental conditions found within different regions of Star Carr—and left them for a year. In wet, high-acidity vats, fresh bone turned to jelly and wood’s lignin—a molecular structure found in plants’ cell walls—deteriorated. In drier environments, the jellybones disintegrated entirely. All signs point to the site’s preserved materials rapidly disappearing if Star Carr’s hydrology can’t be changed quickly—and that may already be impossible, as simply pumping more water back into the system might not be enough to reverse its acidity.

来源: Science 浏览次数:0

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