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Science Friday: English originated in Turkey | Mystery of Venezuelan Poodle Moth | Richard III May Be Buried Under a Parking Lot

Indo-European languages originate in Anatolia

    (—The Indo-European languages belong to one of the widest spread language families of the world. For the last two millenia, many of these languages have been written, and their history is relatively clear. But controversy remains about the time and place of the origins of the family. A large international team, including MPI researcher Michael Dunn, reports the results of an innovative Bayesian phylogeographic analysis of Indo-European linguistic and spatial data. Their paper 'Mapping the Origins and Expansion of the Indo-European Language Family' appeared this week in Science.


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    As cryptozoology enthusiasts will readily testify, just a few weeks ago the internet was awash with dazzling but highly deceptive photographs of black lions. Now, the latest animal photo to beguile and bewilder everyone online is this one.

    On 21 August 2012, Facebook friend David Laslett drew my attention to the eyecatching and exceedingly interesting photograph opening this present ShukerNature blog post. He explained that the photo had lately appeared all over the internet, and was labelled as 'the Venezuelan poodle moth'. Yet in spite of this insect's memorable name and very unusual appearance, and although he had spent a considerable time online attempting to identify it, David had not been able to find out anything whatsoever concerning it, not even its scientific name – only ever more copies of this same photograph and the same name applied to its furry-limbed, white-winged subject.

    Greatly intrigued, David asked me if I knew this moth's species and whether I could trace any information regarding it. And so, without further ado, and as Sherlock Holmes might well have said in such a situation, the game was afoot!

    It was a species that I'd never seen before, so I spent quite a time researching its photograph, its name, and its supposed provenance (Venezuela) online, but, just as David had reported, nothing! The photo had appeared on many websites recently, but with no additional details. Consequently, as someone who has exposed various hoax wildlife photographs in the past, such as those purportedly depicting genuine black lions (click here to see my investigation of those) and multi-headed cobras (click here for my investigation of those), I naturally began to wonder whether the poodle moth was the Photoshopped creation of a poodle-faker!

    Happily, however, I was proven wrong, because eventually I traced the photographer responsible for this enigmatic snapshot, and discovered that he was a bona fide zoologist called Dr Arthur Anker (or Art for short), from Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan, who had snapped this picture plus many additional (and equally breathtaking) photographs of Venezuelan insects and other wildlife while visiting Venezuela during the winter of 2008/9.



Grave of King Richard III May Be Hidden Under Parking Lot

    King Richard III of England had the honor of being memorialized in a William Shakespeare play after his death in battle in 1485. Now, modern-day archaeologists are on the hunt for the medieval king's physical resting place.

    The University of Leicester, Leicester City Council and the Richard III Society have joined forces to search for the grave of Richard III, thought to be under a parking lot for city council offices. The team will use ground-penetrating radar to search for the ideal spots to dig.


    Richard III was King of England from 1483 to 1485. He died during the Battle of Bosworth Field during the War of the Roses, an English civil war between the House of Lancaster and the House of York. Richard III was the last English king to die in battle. Shakespeare penned "Richard III," a play about the tragic king, approximately 100 years later.

    Regardless of his Shakespeare claim to fame, the king was talked about for his own right. "Richard III is a charismatic figure who attracts tremendous interest, partly because he has been so much maligned in past centuries, and partly because he occupies a pivotal place in English history," Langley said.

    "The continuing interest in Richard means that many fables have grown up around his grave." Langley said, adding that some far-fetched tales include that the bones were thrown into the river Soar.