November 12, 2018

With tourism down, Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities went searching for intriguing artifacts to tempt visitors, and found them inside a tomb in what would have been the ancient city of Memphis.

On Saturday, the ministry revealed that archaeologists found a 6,000-year-old tomb inside a cemetery filled with dozens of mummified cats, 100 wooden cat statues, a bronze bust of the ancient Egyptian cat goddess Bastet, and various other animal statues. The tomb, the ministry said, was excavated to "show the exceptional richness of the Egyptian civilization and to attract the attention of the world toward its magnificent monuments and great civilization so that it becomes the focus of the world as it deserves." Tourism has been down in the country since the Arab Spring.

Experts say that many ancient Egyptians, wanting to bring their animals with them to the afterlife, were buried with statues and mummified creatures. While cat mummies have been found before, this tomb stood out because it also contained mummified scarab beetles. Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, told Reuters the beetles are "really a bit rare. A couple of days ago, when we discovered those coffins, they were sealed coffins with drawings of scarabs. I have never heard about them before." Catherine Garcia

January 25, 2018

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz told congressional leaders Thursday that his office, using forensic tools, has been able to successfully recover missing text messages between two senior FBI officials who investigated President Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Some Republicans have said text messages between senior FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page that were critical of Trump prove there is political bias at the top of the bureau, while Democrats say Republicans are using this as a way to derail the investigation and protect Trump. Strzok and Page worked on both Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and Clinton's use of a private email server while secretary of state, and Strzok was removed from the Mueller probe when it was discovered he was romantically linked to Page and they had been exchanging questionable text messages about several high-profile people, including Trump, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Chelsea Clinton. Page left the investigation two weeks earlier, for unrelated reasons.

Last week, Congress was told that five months of texts between the pair could not be found, and a Justice Department official said because of a glitch with Samsung 5 mobile devices, the FBI was unable to save texts sent from thousands of FBI-issued phones. In his letter Thursday, Horowitz said he would provide copies of the texts to the Justice Department and believes it would be appropriate if they were turned over to Congress. Catherine Garcia

January 25, 2018

Taking advantage of the low water levels and cooler-than-normal temperatures, Ben Raines took his boat out on Alabama's Mobile-Tensaw River Delta on Jan. 2 and saw it sticking out of the mud "like a dinosaur backbone" — the wreckage of what he believes is the Clotilda, the last slave ship to reach the United States.

Raines, a reporter for, decided in September to find the Clotilda. Everyone knew the story of the ship, which brought slaves to Alabama decades after it was made illegal to import slaves, but no one was sure where it was. He'd been told the wreckage was visible in the early 1900s, and after reading historical accounts and talking with old-timers, he thought he'd figured out the vicinity of its final resting place. When Raines saw the starboard of a ship sticking out of the mud, he was excited, but remembering that the ship was likely used to transport 110 men, women, and children into slavery sobered him. "What a harrowing thing, in every way, to think about," he told the Los Angeles Times.

Alabama plantation owner Timothy Meaher had the Clotilda built to help him win a bet that he'd be able to bring in a ship filled with slaves and not get caught. When the ship arrived with the slaves in 1860, the Clotilda was set on fire to destroy the evidence. The slaves, set free at the end of the Civil War, ended up starting their own neighborhood in Mobile, Africatown, where they spoke their native language and used African farming techniques. The last survivor, Cujdo Lewis, died at 94 in 1935.

Raines has brought several experts and archaeologists to look at the ship, who agree the wreckage dates back to the mid-1800s and has signs of being burned. It still needs to be positively identified as the Clotilda, and before anyone can dig the ship up, the Alabama Historical Commission needs to grant permission. Catherine Garcia

December 3, 2016

A new species of arapaima — a giant freshwater fish capable of breathing air with rudimentary lungs — has been found in the remote reaches of the Amazon River, and more distinct arapaima species may be discovered soon.

Capable of growing to 10 feet long and weighing upwards of 400 pounds, the heavily-armored fish lives in oxygen-poor waters and surfaces to breathe. The arapaima is difficult to catch and study and is also endangered, which is why species classification is so important: Only about 5,000 of the fish still live in the wild.

It is "hard to argue for conservation if you don't know it's there," explains Donald J. Stewart, a New York biology professor and National Geographic explorer whose team identified the new species. "The more of these we can recognize the more arguments we can make for getting the resources to protect them." Stewart expects "we'll have many more species before we're done" examining the arapaima's river climes. Bonnie Kristian

September 7, 2015

Archaeologists have found what could be the largest Neolithic ritual monument in the U.K. less than two miles from Stonehenge.

About 90 stones up to 15 feet long were found using remote sensing and geophysical imaging technology. The 4,500-year-old stones are lying on their sides under three feet of earth at Durrington Walls, also known as "superhenge." The discovery was made by the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes team in its five-year project to create an underground map of the area. Harold Maass

June 18, 2015

Although the 8,500-year-old skeleton named the Kennewick Man, or the Ancient One, was unearthed in Washington State in 1996, a newly published analysis of the skeleton's DNA will likely reignite the debate over his origins.

The DNA evidence, published in the journal Nature, proved that the Kennewick Man is of Native American descent. That finding refutes previous studies, which had concluded that he resembled populations from Japan, Polynesia, or Europe.

The news offers Native Americans renewed hope in a battle that they thought they had already lost: When scientists first discovered the skeleton, Native Americans protested its removal from their land, saying that the bones were remains of an ancestor and therefore deserved a proper burial. The dispute even went to court — where the Native Americans lost because they couldn't definitively prove the Kennewick Man was their ancestor. But the new evidence could bolster the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation's efforts to finally lay the Kennewick Man to rest. Becca Stanek

June 10, 2015

Archaeologists in Kazakhstan have made quite an unusual discovery: They've uncovered the remains of a Scythian warrior from the Iron Age, and his spine still contains a bronze arrowhead from an attack.

The team found the warrior's body in a burial mound at a site known as Koitas. The scientists believe the man was between 25 and 45 years old when he died, and the remains date to somewhere between the seventh and sixth centuries B.C.E.

The findings, described in The International Journal of Osteoarchaelogy, are especially impressive because the arrow didn't kill the man. The scientists found that one of the victim's vertebra had actually grown around the arrowhead, likely after the arrow's shaft was removed from his spine. Forbes notes that if the arrow had been made of lead, he wouldn't have been so lucky — even if he survived the impact, he would have died from lead poisoning. Meghan DeMaria

June 10, 2015

Yes, you read that right — dinosaur blood.

A team of scientists at London's Natural History Museum examined eight fossils from the museum's collection, and they reached a shocking discovery: The fossils contained evidence of ancient dinosaur red blood cells and proteins.

The findings, described in the journal Nature Communications, suggest that the preservation of soft tissues inside fossils could be more common than was previously believed, Science magazine explains. Scientists have discovered what they believed were cellular tissues inside dinosaur bones in the past, but the previous findings weren't confirmed. The newly discovered blood is more reliable than past studies, because the scientists used a new method, called a "focused ion beam," to locate the proteins.

Susannah Maidment, one of the paleontologists behind the study, told Science that finding the soft tissue was "completely unexpected." Still, some experts who weren't involved in the research are skeptical about the find, and Maidment's team hopes to do further research to sequence the amino acids in the protein fragments they discovered. The research could help scientists understand how dinosaur proteins are different from those of modern reptiles. Meghan DeMaria

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