Archaeologists in Cambridge have unearthed the remains of a woman buried with a cow. The grave, thought to date to the late 5th century AD, was initially thought to contain the skeleton of a woman and a horse; it is the first animal to be discovered buried with a woman from the Anglo-Saxon period. Grave goods, such as brooches and hundreds of amber and decorated glass beads, indicate the woman was of high status, as does her complete chatelaine (keychain) set – an iron girdle that archaeologists believe would have given her access to the community’s wealth. According to experts, cow burials are extremely rare, and the sacrifice of such a valuable animal reflects the woman’s status.
A recent study, published in the journal Nature has stated that an early relative of humans chewed on bark and leaves. Using analysis of food trapped in the teeth of Australopithecus sediba – the two-million-year-old “southern ape” discovered in South Africa in 2008 – the study suggests the animal existed on a unique diet of forest fruits and other woodland plants. Analysis of the teeth focused on patterns of dental wear, carbon isotope data and plant fragments from dental tartar. Experts believe the fruit and young leaves may have been eaten when food was plentiful, but that less nutritious food like bark was consumed when times were hard.
The Queen has unveiled a memorial to the 55,573 airmen of Bomber Command who died during the Second World War, at a dedication ceremony in London’s Green Park. The £6 million Portland stone memorial was designed by Liam O’Connor and features a 9ft-high bronze sculpture of seven aircrew, sculpted by Philip Jackson. The memorial’s roof is made of aluminium reclaimed from a Handley Page Halifax III bomber that was shot down over Belgium in May 1944. Around 6,000 veterans and families of the deceased attended the ceremony, which saw a Lancaster bomber drop thousands of poppies in a flypast.
Read our feature on remembering the airmen of Bomber Command
A letter written by a doctor to his mother during his trip on Titanic has made its way to Belfast. Thirty-seven-year-old Dr Simpson, from Belfast, was assistant ship’s surgeon onboard the ill-fated ship but died alongside hundreds of others when Titanic sank on 15 April 1912. It was feared that the letter, written on notepaper headed RMS Titanic and dated 11 April 1912, may not end up in Belfast when it was at auctioned in New York in March, but The Titanic Foundation, the charitable group that oversaw the building of the brand new visitor attraction Titanic Belfast, was able to buy it. The letter will go on display at Titanic Belfast later this summer.
Lonesome George, a giant tortoise believed to be the last of its subspecies, has died at his home at the Galapagos National Park in Ecuador. George was first seen by a Hungarian scientist on the Galapagos island of Pinta in 1972 but failed to raise any offspring despite living with a female tortoise from the nearby Wolf volcano for 15 years. Although the pair did mate, the eggs were infertile. While George’s exact age was unknown, he is thought to have been about 100 years old. According to officials, George’s death now makes his subspecies, Chelonoidis nigra abingdoni, extinct.