Geek Girl: Was Popcorn The First Food?
Elephants get contact lenses, ‘Star Wars’ fan films, super sharks and more.
-Lucia Peters and PJ Gach
It’s been an interesting week here at Geek Girl. One dedicated guy is attempting to create a family tree for everyone within the world of J.R.R Tolkien‘s Middle-Earth, someone wants to use bees as park rangers (can you imagine their hats?), and there’s a new species of shark. Seriously.
Read on for the news!
Popcorn Is Way Older Than We Thought
I’m not sure how much you all know about the history of popcorn, but it’s been around for a while. As in, several thousand years. But you want to know the funny thing? We’ve just discovered that it may be even older than we thought—older, even, than pottery. Who knew?
According to a new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists have recently discovered that people living along the coast of Peru were eating popcorn roughly 3,000 to 6,7000 years ago. That’s about 1,000 years earlier than has long been believed. How do we know? A whole bunch of corncobs, husks, stalks, and tassels dating back to those numbers were found at Paradones and Huaca Prieta, two mound sites on Peru’s northern coast. They were found by Tom Dillehay from Vanderbilt University and Duccio Bonavia from Peru’s Academia Nacional de la Historia, who say that characteristics of the corn cobs indicate that it was eaten in several different ways—one of which includes popped. However, it appears not to have been a staple of these ancient peoples’ diet. Everyone needs a treat sometimes!
It’s interesting that popcorn apparently now predates pottery. Said Delores Piperno, who co-authored the paper on the subject, “Corn was first domesticated in Mexico nearly 9,000 years ago from a wild grass called teosinte. Our results show that only a few thousand years later corn arrived in South America where its evolution into different varieties that are now common in the Andean region began. This evidence further indicates that in many areas corn arrived before pots did and that early experimentation with corn as a food was not dependent on the presence of pottery.”
Something to chew on the next time you settle down with your favorite movie!
In Australia, where Great White Sharks like to play hide and seek in the Barrier Reef, scientists have discovered a new breed of shark. There are a few generations of a hybridized Black Tip Reef Shark swimming around and living their lives. This hybrid species is a cross between the Black Tip Reef Shark and the Australian Black Tip Shark.
The new species was discovered rather recently, as in a few months ago. The lead researcher, Jess Morgan from the University of Queensland, told Discovery, It’s very surprising because no one’s ever seen shark hybrids before, this is not a common occurrence by any stretch of the imagination. This is evolution in action.”
The Australian Black Tip is a smaller version of the common Black Tip Reef Shark and is only found in Australia. They’ve found approximately 57 of them during a recent mission cataloguing sharks in the area.
The hybrid shows that animals are adapting to the change in the global climate. According to Morgan, “If it hybridizes with the common species it can effectively shift its range further south into cooler waters, so the effect of this hybridizing is a range expansion. It’s enabled a species restricted to the tropics to move into temperate waters.”
The scientists studying the new breed realized that it’s also much stronger than its parents. And that this could be happening with other sharks and species as well as they adapt to warmer waters.
Star Wars Uncut: By the Fans, For the Fans
I’ve come to realize that I write about Star Wars rather a lot. Would it therefore surprise you if I told you that I’m not actually that obsessed with Star Wars? I mean, I enjoy it and all, and yes, I do have some strong opinions about the way George Lucas keeps tinkering with it; but really? I’m not actually a Star Wars megafan.
I am, however, fascinated by people who are. Star Wars megafans, I mean. That’s a truly devoted slice of humanity right there. In fact, they’re so devoted that they’ll recreate the entire original movie (I still think of it as Star Wars—none of this A New Hope bollocks), piece by piece, in 15-second segments.
No, really. In 2009, Casey Pugh asked the Internet at large to remake Star Wars into a fan film, 15 seconds at a time. Fans could shoot their 15 seconds however they wanted, whether it was through live action, stop motion, puppets, animation… you name it, they made it. The project won a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Creative Achievement In Interactive Media in 2010, and now—finally!—it is available for your viewing pleasure on the great thing we call YouTube. So here it is. The whole movie. Sit back, relax, grab some ancient popcorn to munch on, and get ready to witness the ultimate in fandom: The Director’s Cut of Star Wars Uncut. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…
With all the cuts to park personnel across the world, Mother Nature may be stepping in to fill the gap!
Greenfield Heritage Park near Holywell in Flintshire in Wales has been looking at bees as potential security guards. The park contains very old mill buildings within its 70 acres of parkland. Unfortunately, there’s been some damage to the buildings due to people wandering where they shouldn’t and vandals leaving their marks.
Park Manager Chris Wright would like a bee keeping group to use the land so that the bees can be bees and to buzz around and scare people away from wandering and possibly causing damage.
Barbara Chick, publicity officer for the Welsh Beekeeping Association told the BBC, “They could be a deterrent, but I haven’t heard of them being used as security bees.” She also pointed out that due to health and safety issues: for example, people who could be deathly allergic to bees it would not be a good idea to do this.
Of course no one brought up the fact that if they are employed as guards for the park, they’re going to have to wear uniforms. If they’re going to have to wear uniforms, who’s going to sew them and more importantly, who’s going to volunteer to dress a bunch of angry bees?
This Guy Is Making a Family Tree of All of the Characters in Middle-Earth
This goes way beyond Gimli son of Gloin: Emil Johansson is a part-time photographer and a full-time Chemical Engineering student at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden. He is also currently attempting to place each and every character in J.R.R Tolkien’s Middle-Earth into a family tree.
If you have any idea how huge the Middle-Earth mythology is, you know that this is not an undertaking for the faint of heart.
You see, there’s more to Middle-Earth than just the characters in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. The characters in both those books talk a lot about historical personages. There are scores more mentioned in LotR’s appendices. And don’t even get me started on The Silmarillion or Unfinished Tales.
But bless Emil for attempting to do this. According to his bio, he first read LotR when he was 11 and was absolutely captivated by it. Since then, he’s read everything there is to read about Middle-Earth, and now, he’s confident that he’s finally gathered the knowledge he needs to in order to accomplish his goal. At the moment, Emil has 646 characters placed. Who else can’t wait to see if he actually manages to do it? Go Emil! We’re cheering you on! Check out the full tree here.
Elephants Wear Contact Lenses
Win Thida is a 44 year old elephant who lives in the Aris Zoo in Amsterdam. One day she was playing with her elephant friends and somehow managed to scratch her eye. Her cornea became damaged when they were playing with twigs.
Zoo attendants noticed shortly thereafter that poor Win Thida couldn’t keep her eye open and it was streaming and looking bad. They brought in veterinarian, Anne-Marie Verbruggen who has put contact lenses into horses to take a look at her.
After an exam, Dr. Verbruggen placed a contact lens in Win Thida’s eye to protect the cornea as it heals. In a few months she’ll come back and take it out once it’s healed. The biggest problem came about when the doctor had to examine her and then place the contact lens in. “The main difficulty was her height,” Verbruggen told the UK Daily Mirror. “Elephants can’t lie down for long before their immense weight impairs their breathing, so I used a ladder to get close enough. It wasn’t ideal, but it worked.”
Lucia Peters is BettyConfidential’s associate editor.
PJ Gach is Senior Editor: Style + Beauty at BettyConfidential.