Easter Island excavations reveal huge bodies beneath the heads

There’s more to the world-famous heads of Easter Island than meets the eye.

Ask archaeologist Jo Anne Van Tilburg, a research associate at the UCLA Cotsen Institute of Archaeology and director of its Rock Art Archive, who has been lecturing and writing about Easter Island’s iconic monolithic statues for years.

She and her team of resident Rapa Nui have spent nine years locating and meticulously documenting the nearly 1,000 statues on the island, determining their symbolic meaning and function, and conserving them using state-of-the-art techniques.

After spending four months over the last two years excavating two of the statues and posting the results of their digs on the project’s website, Van Tilburg was surprised to discover that a large segment of the general public hadn’t realized that what they knew only as the Easter Island “heads” actually had bodies.

The two “heads” in the quarry where Van Tilburg’s team dug are standing figures with torsos, truncated at the waist, that have become partially buried by eroded dirt and detritus over centuries.

 

Learn moreArchaeologist digs deep to reveal Easter Island torsos

 

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Americans’ heads are getting bigger

It’s not clear why—medicine? cars? supermarkets?—but the skulls of white Americans, and perhaps of other races and nationalities, have become slightly taller and roomier, according to new forensic research.

New measurements of hundreds of skulls of white Americans born between 1825 and 1985 suggest that their typical noggin height has grown by about a third of an inch (eight millimeters).

It may not sound like much, but the growth translates to roughly a tennis ball’s worth of new brain room.

Beginning with the dawn of the first Homo species, human skulls evolved to be increasingly bigger until about 30,000 years ago, when head size plateaued.

And about 5,000 or 6,000 years ago, when agriculture took off in earnest, skulls began shrinking. The cause of the shrinkage is a mystery…

keep readingNational Geographic – Americans’ Heads Getting Bigger

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Google Street Roo – exploring the outback one bounce at a time

One of our top requests from our users is the ability to roam the vast Australian continent. Unfortunately, the remoteness of the outback has posed a challenge for our traditional Street View cars and trikes.

Today, we’re happy to announce that Google has found an innovative way to capture a special collection of images from the back of beyond to include in Google Street View.

Over the next four weeks, more than a thousand Big Red kangaroos will be equipped with a 360-degree head camera that will automatically capture images when the marsupial is on the move during daylight hours.

The cameras on our Street Roo collection team will be powered by solar panels stitched into the back pocket of custom-made roo jackets. Images will be wired to Google in real-time. A GPS tracker embedded into the jacket will match the location of the kangaroo to ensure the image is accurately uploaded onto the new Street View layer.

 

Keep reading – Official Google Australia Blog