Nobel winner thought call was about broken lawnmower

And other stories from the stranger side of life

Neanderthal man at the Natural History Museum
A reconstruction of a Neanderthal man at the Natural History Museum, London
(Image credit: Mike Kemp/In Pictures via Getty Images)

The scientist who decoded Neanderthal DNA has won the Nobel prize for physiology or medicine, “40 years after his father won the same award”, reported The Times. Svante Paabo, 67, was about to leave to pick up his daughter when he received a call from a Swedish number and assumed that the lawnmower must have broken down at his summer house there. In fact, the call was from the secretary for the Nobel Committee, to give him the news of his award. “I can go out and buy some champagne when the shops open tomorrow morning,” he said.

Ancient humans had bunions too

Scientists have said that ancient footprints found in mud reveal prehistoric humans had bunions caused by not wearing any shoes. Human footprints have been found at sites on Britain’s coastline, including Formby in the north-west. An immaculately preserved footprint revealed the man had a protrusion on the outside of his foot, next to his little toe, Dr Alison Burns from the University of Manchester told the BBC. “It’s a tailor’s bunion,” she said.

Ancient coins found in Israel

Archaeologists in Israel have found 44 pure gold coins dating to the 7th Century hidden in a wall at a nature reserve, reported the BBC. Experts said the coins, which were found at the Hermon Stream (Banias) site, shed light on the end of the Byzantine rule in the area. “We can imagine the owner concealing his fortune in the threat of war, hoping to return one day to retrieve his property,” said Yoav Lerer, director of the excavation. “In retrospect, we know that he was less fortunate.”

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