Man may have sailed the sea 130,000 years ago

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The discovery of rough axes and tools thought to be between 130,000 and 700,000 years old on the south coast of the Greek island of Crete has led some archaeologists to believe that man may have sailed the sea more than 130,000 years ago. Crete, which separated from the mainland around five million years ago, is situated about 40 miles from mainland Greece and can only be reached by sea, meaning that the toolmakers had to have travelled by water to reach it. Previous evidence of sea travel dates to 60,000 years ago, and in Greece, 11,000 years ago, and the findings have dismissed the idea that humans migrated to Europe from Africa by land alone.

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Ancient rock ‘is alive’

Researchers examining 40,000-year-old Bradshaw cave paintings in Western Australia – named for the naturalist who discovered them in the 19th century – have identified colourful bacteria and fungi within the paintings that have maintained the works’ vibrant colours. Many of the paintings examined showed signs of life but no paint, and may explain previous difficulties in dating the rock art. The most common type of fungus found within the artwork was a black fungus thought to be part of a group of fungi called Chaetothyriales.

Graves from Nazi-era to be exhumed in Austria

Exhumations of graves dating to between 1942 and 1945 will take place at Hall psychiatric hospital in Austria after a thaw in the cold weather. The remains of 220 people are buried in the cemetery and there are suspicions that the deceased may have been the victims of the Nazi ‘euthanasia’ programme, which, amongst other atrocities, saw around 30,000 people killed at one psychiatric hospital near Linz in upper Austria alone. Investigators will examine the remains to ascertain the cause of death.

Mystery over bequest to Scottish National Trust

A millionaire has left his estate to the National Trust for Scotland. A major donor and long-time supporter of the Trust has recently died and, according to a spokesperson, “The Trust is expected to be a beneficiary from the estate”.

Welsh charity celebrates the centenary of its first home

A Welsh children’s charity that began by helping homeless girls in Cardiff in 1911 marks the 100th anniversary of its first home this month. Action for Children opened its first Welsh home in the city on 2 January 1911, but the charity itself was started in 1869 by Methodist minister Thomas Bowman Stephenson. The charity’s first home was aimed at those who had no home or who were experiencing social difficulties and had a laundry which provided work for those above school age.

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Billy the Kid’s name remains uncleared

The governor of New Mexico in the US has refused to issue a posthumous pardon to the 19th-century Wild West outlaw Billy the Kid who killed a county sheriff in 1878. A campaign had been launched to clear the outlaw’s name by lawyer Randi McGinn, who claimed that Billy the Kid had been promised freedom if he testified in a murder case against three other men. Twenty-one-year-old Billy, however, was shot after escaping from jail in 1881.