National Museum of Ireland

Dublin, Ireland

National Museum of Ireland

Dublin, Ireland
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News Article | March 22, 2016

A new discovery has shaken the world of Archeology once again. Scientists in Ireland have determined that humans occupied the island about 2,500 years earlier than previously thought. This is thanks to a butchered knee bone or patella of a bear that they originally discovered in 1903 at Co. Clare. The scientists conducted a radiocarbon dating of the bone and found that humans existed in the country about 12,500 years ago which is way earlier than initial history claims. The fossil stayed inside a box at the National Museum of Ireland for almost a century. Published in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews, the study shows a ground breaking discovery in Archeology and for the scientists who spent decades looking for previous signs of humans living in the area. "Archaeologists have been searching for the Irish Palaeolithic since the 19th century, and now, finally, the first piece of the jigsaw has been revealed," Dr. Marion Dowd, an archaeologist at IT Sligo, said. Two Radiocarbon Dating Tests Show The Same Finding Together with Dr. Ruth Carden from the National Museum of Ireland and co-author of the study, the team sought financial assistance for radiocarbon dating, which was sponsored by the Royal Irish Academy. The Chrono Center conducted the first test. For further analysis, another sample was sent to the University of Oxford. The experts validated the preliminary results and both examinations indicated human butchery of the bear about 12,500 years ago. "This find rewrites the antiquity of human occupation of Ireland and challenges the traditional paradigm that certain biota may have naturally colonised the island prior to human arrival," the researchers concluded. Humans Occupied The Area During The Paleolithic Era In the '70s, the oldest evidence human existence in Ireland has been discovered at Mount Sandel in Co. Derry. Initial findings show that this island has been occupied since 8,000 BC during the Mesolithic period. This shows that humans lived in the area for 10,000 years. The patella study, however, gives tantamount evidence that people during the ancient times occupied the island during the earlier Paleolithic era at 10,500 BC, which is about 12,500 years ago. "This discovery re-writes Irish archaeology and adds an entirely new chapter to human colonisation of the island - moving Ireland's story into a new era," said in a video posted by IT Sligo.

What has an ancient bear got to do with human existence? Well, a lot, because it can push back the first human arrival in Ireland as early as 2,500 years. Since the 1970s, experts believed the Irish civilization began during the Mesolithic Period or around 8,000 B.C. following the discovery of a settlement in a Londonderry county. However, in a paper published in Quaternary Science Reviews on March 21, researchers revealed that the first humans in Ireland might have arrived in 10,500 B.C. or during the Paleolithic Period. The discovery was accidental. In 2010, National Museum of Ireland research associate and co-author Ruth Carden found a 113-year-old patella (kneecap) bone of an adult bear, which was excavated in Alice and Gwendoline Cave in Co Clare, untouched inside a cardboard box in the museum since the 1920s. The bone had noted markings, but it never underwent dating since the technology was not available until the 1940s. So Carden, together with Institute of Technology Sligo archeologist and lead author Marion Dowd, applied for funding from the Royal Irish Academy. After receiving it, they asked Queen's University Belfast to do it. They also sent bone samples to Oxford University researchers who confirmed the date as well as to three other specialists in Europe who noted that the age of the cut marks is the same as that of the bone. The authors were "shocked" by the results. "Yes, we expected a prehistoric date, but the Paleolithic result took us completely by surprise," Dowd shared. The bone markings also suggested that the carcass was still fresh when it was being butchered but that whoever wanted to separate the joint didn't succeed perhaps because of lack of experience, poor tools or level of difficulty. For her part, Carden, who is also an animal osteologist, calls the discovery "exciting" and that "this paper should generate a lot of discussion within the zoological research world ... it's time to start thinking outside the box ... or even dismantling it entirely!" The authors are presently seeking more funding so they can date hundreds of other bones in the same collection. In 2015, the discovery of a partial leg bone fossil found in Red Deer Cave in southwest China also suggested that some human ancestors may have lived longer than the Late Plestoceine Period.

News Article | April 25, 2016

In a bit of Irish luck, archaeologists have found evidence of the Emerald Isle’s earliest known humans. A brown bear’s kneecap excavated in 1903, featuring stone tool incisions, pushes back the date that humans set foot in Ireland by as many as 2,500 years. Radiocarbon dating at two independent labs places the bone’s age between about 12,800 and 12,600 years old, say Marion Dowd of the Institute of Technology, Sligo in Ireland and Ruth Carden of the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin. Melting glaciers and milder temperatures in northwestern Europe at that time made it easier for humans to reach Ireland by boat to hunt game, at least for several weeks at a time, the researchers propose in the May 1 Quaternary Science Reviews. Until now, the oldest signs of people on Ireland came from a hunter-gatherer camp dating to about 10,290 years ago. Carden discovered the brown bear’s kneecap while studying bones that had been packed away in boxes in the 1920s, after the bones’ 1903 discovery at Ireland’s Alice and Gwendoline Cave.

News Article | March 23, 2016

The slashed kneecap of a bear found deep inside a prehistoric cave suggests human hunters lived in Ireland earlier than had been previously thought, a new study finds. Until now, the earliest evidence of humans in Ireland dated to the Mesolithic period, about 10,000 years ago. But new analyses of the bear's kneecap push back that date by 2,500 years, and shine a light on what animals these prehistoric people ate and what butchery techniques they used. Researchers found the kneecap in Ireland's Alice and Gwendoline Cave, in County Clare, in 1903. They noted that the bone had knife marks on it, but no one gave the artifact a second look for about 100 years. [Emerald Isle: A Photo Tour of Ireland] Then, in 2010 and 2011, Ruth Carden, an animal osteologist at the National Museum of Ireland, began going through the cave's many bone artifacts. She had two independent experts radiocarbon-date the kneecap and another three specialists examine the cut marks (to ensure that these marks were made shortly after the bear died). The two radiocarbon-dating experts agreed that the bone was about 12,500 years old. Moreover, the other specialists confirmed that the cuts were made on fresh bone, Carden said. The finding shows that people likely lived in Ireland during the Paleolithic period, which is also known as the Old Stone Age. "Archaeologists have been searching for the Irish Paleolithic since the 19th century, and now, finally, the first piece of the jigsaw has been revealed," Marion Dowd, an archaeologist at the Institute of Technology, Sligo, in Ireland, said in a statement. "This find adds a new chapter to the human history of Ireland." The results of the radiocarbon dating surprised the researchers, they said. This technique measures the amount of carbon-14 left in an organism that was once alive. (Carbon-14 is an isotope, or variant, of carbon, meaning it has a different number of neutrons in its nucleus than the more common Carbon-12.) This method works on remains that are up to 50,000 years old, so the brown bear's patella fit within these parameters. "When a Paleolithic date was returned, it came as quite a shock," Dowd said. "Here we had evidence of someone butchering a brown bear carcass and cutting through the knee probably to extract the tendons. Yes, we expected a prehistoric date, but the Paleolithic result took us completely by surprise." However, whoever cut the kneecap probably wasn't that experienced, the researchers said. A number of score marks are visible, showing that multiple slashes — likely made with a long flint blade — were needed to get the job done, Dowd said. She added that the scientists plan to examine more bones found from the 1903 cave excavation to see what else can be learned about these prehistoric people. The new discovery follows on the heels of a similar Scottish finding. In 2013, researchers in that country found a cache of flint tools on the Isle of Islay, evidence that Paleolithic people once lived in Scotland. Before that, researchers had evidence only of Mesolithic people in the United Kingdom's northernmost country. The new findings were detailed online Monday (March 21) in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews. Copyright 2016 LiveScience, a Purch company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Low M.E.Y.,University of Ryukyus | Monaghan N.T.,National Museum of Ireland | Holmes J.M.C.,National Museum of Ireland
Zootaxa | Year: 2012

John Robert Kinahan (b. 1828, d. 1863) published new names for Brachyura collected from Australia, Ireland and Peru in three publications. The dates of publication of these papers have not been previously determined accurately and some were issued as separates and/or issued in multiple journals. The dates of these publications are determined, and a list of all known new names proposed by Kinahan for the Brachyura (and their current identities) is provided. Kinahan is also determined to be the author of the family-group name Litocheiridae by an overlooked set of criteria making the name available in 1856. Copyright © 2012. Magnolia Press.

News Article | March 21, 2016

The journey began in 1903. A team of scientists, excavating the Alice and Gwendoline Cave in Ireland’s County Clare, discovered thousands of animal bones. Among the collection was a bear bone etched with knife marks. While the curiosity was noted, the bone was subsequently stored at the National Museum of Ireland, where it remained since the 1920s. But a new look at the butchered bear patella has allowed archaeologists to confirm human existence in Ireland 2,500 years earlier than previously thought. Marion Dowd, of the Institute of Technology Sligo, and Ruth Carden, of the National Museum of Ireland, are responsible for the new finding. Their research on the subject was published recently by Quaternary Science Reviews. After the team reexamined the bone, they sent it to Queen’s Univ. Belfast for radiocarbon dating. The bone was dated to 12,500 years ago. “When a Palaeolithic date was returned, it came as quite a shock,” said Dowd, who is a specialist in Irish cave archaeology, in a statement. “Here we had evidence of someone butchering a brown bear carcass and cutting through the knee probably to extract the tendons. Yes, we expected a prehistoric date, but the Palaeolithic result took us completely by surprise.” For confirmation, the team sent another sample for radiocarbon dating at Univ. of Oxford. The second test confirmed the validity of the first. According to Dowd, the person butchering the bear was likely inexperienced, as there are around seven or eight cut marks on the bone. Previously, the oldest human evidence from Ireland was found at County Derry’s Mount Sandel. The site was dated to 8,000 BC, the Mesolithic period. “Archaeologists have been searching for the Irish Palaeolithic since the 19th century, and now, finally, the first piece of the jigsaw has been revealed,” said Dowd. “This find adds a new chapter to the human history of Ireland.” The research team hopes to expand their investigation to other archaeological items found during the 1903 expedition. Establish your company as a technology leader! For more than 50 years, the R&D 100 Awards have showcased new products of technological significance. You can join this exclusive community!  .

Ashe P.,33 Shelton Drive | O'Connor J.P.,National Museum of Ireland
Fauna Norvegica | Year: 2010

An update of the more significant changes affecting Part 1 of 'A World Catalogue of Chironomidae (Diptera)' is provided. These concern new taxon names, new combinations and new synonymies that were proposed, as well as omissions and errors detected, since the publication of the Catalogue at the end of 2009.

Dowd M.,Institute of Technology Sligo | Carden R.F.,National Museum of Ireland
Quaternary Science Reviews | Year: 2016

The colonisation of North West Europe by humans and fauna following the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) has been the subject of considerable discussion in recent decades and within multiple disciplines. Here we present new evidence that pushes back the date of human footfall in Ireland by up to 2500 cal BP to the Upper Palaeolithic. An assemblage of animal bones recovered from a cave in the west of Ireland during antiquarian excavations in 1903 included a butchered brown bear bone (patella) which was recently subjected to two independent radiocarbon dating processes; the resultant dates were in agreement: 12,810-12,590 cal BP and 12,810-12,685 cal BP. This find rewrites the antiquity of human occupation of Ireland and challenges the traditional paradigm that certain biota may have naturally colonised the island prior to human arrival. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd.

Benson R.B.J.,University of Cambridge | Butler R.J.,Bayerische Staatssammlung fur Palaontologie und Geologie | Lindgren J.,Lund University | Smith A.S.,National Museum of Ireland
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2010

The fossil record is our only direct means for evaluating shifts in biodiversity through Earth's history. However, analyses of fossil marine invertebrates have demonstrated that geological megabiases profoundly influence fossil preservation and discovery, obscuring true diversity signals. Comparable studies of vertebrate palaeodiversity patterns remain in their infancy. A new species-level dataset of Mesozoic marine tetrapod occurrences was compared with a proxy for temporal variation in the volume and faciès diversity of fossiliferous rock (number of marine fossiliferous formations: FMF). A strong correlation between taxic diversity and FMF is present during the Cretaceous. Weak or no correlation of Jurassic data suggests a qualitatively different sampling regime resulting from five apparent peaks in Triassic-Jurassic diversity. These correspond to a small number of European formations that have been the subject of intensive collecting, and represent 'Lagerstätten effects'. Consideration of sampling biases allows re-evaluation of proposed mass extinction events. Marine tetrapod diversity declined during the Carnian or Norian. However, the proposed end-Triassic extinction event cannot be recognized with confidence. Some evidence supports an extinction event near the Jurassic/Cretaceous boundary, but the proposed end-Cenomanian extinction is probably an artefact of poor sampling. Marine tetrapod diversity underwent a long-term decline prior to the Cretaceous-Palaeogene extinction. © 2009 The Royal Society.

Smith A.S.,National Museum of Ireland | Vincent P.,CNRS Center for Research on Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments
Palaeontology | Year: 2010

The exquisitely preserved holotype of the pliosaur '. Rhomaleosaurus victor (SMNS 12478) is described from the Toarcian Posidonien-Schiefer (Upper Lias, Lower Jurassic) of Holzmaden (Baden-Württemberg), Germany. The specimen presents a novel combination of synapomorphies and unique morphometric proportions separating it from Rhomaleosaurus sensu stricto and warranting the erection of a new genus, Meyerasaurus gen. nov. Historically, the name 'Thaumatosaurus has been interchangeable with Rhomaleosaurus and is frequently associated with SMNS 12478 in the literature. However, this is an invalid taxon and cannot be reinstated. The anatomy of Meyerasaurus victor is compared in detail with other pliosaurs, and its taxonomic affinity is reviewed. M. victor belongs to the family Rhomaleosauridae and shares several anatomical characters with Rhomaleosaurus including a short and robust premaxillary rostrum (length-to-width ratio c. 1.0), parallel premaxilla-maxilla sutures anterior to the nares, vomers contacting the maxillae posterior to the internal nares, and c. 28 cervical vertebrae minus the atlas-axis. The known geographical distribution of Rhomaleosaurus, which previously extended across the German and English palaeobiogeographical zones, is reduced to the English zone as a consequence of the referral of SMNS 12478 to a new genus. This is significant because it contributes to an ongoing trend of increasing generic separation between the German and English zones, while increasing the generic diversity within the German zone itself. © The Palaeontological Association.

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