Of Human Interest: News-lite

By PENNY NELSON BARTHOLOMEW, United Press International  |  Feb. 19, 2002 at 4:45 AM
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The remains of seven types of 78,000-year-old nuts have been found at the Gesher Benot Ya'aqov site in Israel's Hula Valley. The nuts and the stone tools found with them are the first evidence that various types of nuts formed a major part of man's diet 78,000 years ago.

Hominins, or prehistoric men, developed an assortment of tools to crack open nuts during the Early-Middle Pleistocene period, according to researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Bar-Ilan University. The researchers say that the nuts were anaerobically preserved because the site has been waterlogged since its destruction.

Seven species of edible fruits covered with a hard shell were found at the site: wild almond; prickly water lily; acorns from the Q. calliprinos evergreen and the Mt. Tabor oak; Atlantic pistachio; pistachio; and water chestnut. The researchers say most of them only can be cracked open by a hard hammer. All have a high nutritional value -- the pistachios and water chestnuts found at the site are similar to those available today in the Far East and northern Europe.

The findings are published in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the United States.

(Thanks to UPI Science News Writer Alex Cukan)


Pakistan has sent two jetliners to the Afghan capital of Kabul to help ferry throngs of Islamic pilgrims to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

"This was a special provision," Pakistan Foreign Minister Aziz Khan said of the planes, which joined aircraft donated by Britain and Saudi Arabia in an effort to help Afghans make the annual holy journey known as the Haj. "These were special flights to pick up Hajis. They have been able to carry at least some of the pilgrims."

Afghan pilgrims have overrun Kabul's dilapidated airport in an effort to get flights to Saudi Arabia. Last week, a riot broke out at the airport, where Afghanistan's newly seated aviation minister died amid the angry mob.

Each year Mecca draws thousands of Muslims, who are required to visit Islam's holiest site at least once in their lifetime provided they are able bodied and can afford the journey.


TUESDAY: The social and fraternal order of the Knights of Pythias was founded in Washington D.C. on this date in 1864.

(Thanks to Chase's 2002 Calendar of Events)


What was the Copernican theory?

The Copernican theory -- developed by Polish astronomer and priest Nicolaus Copernicus -- placed the Sun instead of the Earth at the center of our solar system. Copernicus was born on this date in 1473.

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