Interesting facts from science

Genealogy research and DNA research are completely different. The genealogy examines facts from documents. DNA research examines DNA samples instead.

Scientific DNA research carried out by universities or well-known research institutes should not be equated with so-called rapid DNA analyses.

More about this in the article DNA analysis.

Australia’s rabbits

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) published an interesting article about Australia’s rabbits.

The British colonialists brought rabbits to Australia 1788 and sooner or later one or two of the rabbits managed to find their way into the wild. But domestic rabbits cannot find their way in the wild and are therefore easy prey.

Today there are around 200 million rabbits living in Australia. The rabbits, which are a real nuisance for farmers, are now an invasive animal species in Australia. They threaten plant and animal species and cause damage to agriculture every year. It is interesting that these rabbits have the same ancestor – 24 British rabbits that came to Australia with the colonialist Thomas Austin.

Augustin won a property near Melbourne. Australia’s invasive rabbit population likely descends from two dozen wild English rabbits that arrived near Melbourne in 1859. A genome analysis now suggests this. These rabbits were very shy and cautious and still had many of the wild rabbit genes. They were not easy prey and that is why they survived and spread so quickly to this day.

Source: Heather Chen, How 24 British rabbits took over Australia, CNN, August 24, 2022.


Large family – number of relatives
The Max Planck Institute concluded that the families are shrinking worldwide. A 65-year-old has an average of 45 living relatives today. In 2095, a 65-year-old will only have 25 living relatives. The decline in the Caribbean and South America will be the most. In Germany, Austria and Switzerland, the number of living relatives will fall to 14.
The number of cousins, cousins, nephews, and nieces will lose weight. There will be more grandparents and great grandparents.
The country with the largest family size will remain Zimbabwe.

Source: Diego Alburez-Guiterezz, Ivan Williams and Hal Casvell, Project of Human Kinship for All Countries, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 120, No. 52, December 26, 2023.


The oldest chess piece from Europe

The game of chess has been known in Europe since the Middle Ages. Chess came to Europe via Italy and Spain around 1000 AD via the Byzantine Empire.
The game quickly spread across the continent and was one of the seven virtues that a knight had to master. The church, on the other hand, disapproved the game.
Archaeologists have excavated six game pieces in the south of Germany from an abandoned castle ruin in the district of Reutlingen, Baden-Württemberg. They found a knight, a dice and four game pieces made of deer antlers.
The knight was part of a set of pieces that were colored red. It is four centimeters high. The special thing about it is that today we only know black and white chess pieces.
The dice has one to six eyes.
The game pieces are flower shaped.
The chess pieces were made in the 11th century.

Source: Fast 1000 Jahre alte Schachfigur in deutscher Ruine entdeckt, Standard, 9. 6. 2024.

Author: Victor Brigola.


Hail defense

People have been trying to defend against hail since time immemorial. In the Middle Ages there were numerous processions. In the 18th century special cannons were used. The clouds were shot at with a mixture of soot.

In the 1940s, the chemists Irving Langmuir, Vincent Schaefer and Bernard Vonnegut discovered silver iodide as a defense agent. Laboratory tests have produced positive results. People started using rockets to bombard the clouds. The new technology spread very quickly in the West. It was not used in the Soviet Union until the 1960s and from there it spread to the Eastern bloc.

The rockets were later replaced by airplanes. A so-called hail plane can hit the hail cloud better.

The hail protection provided by hail defense is often criticized, however. Critics claim that silver iodide has no effect on hail. Numerous studies have therefore been carried out. Dr. Pachatz studied and recorded hail defense in detail in his doctoral thesis. He could confirm in the laboratory that silver iodide has an effect on the hailstones. Silver iodide dissolves hailstones or makes them smaller. In practice, however, an unexpected problem has arisen. We currently have no measuring device with which we could measure the hailstones in the clouds. Radar can show a hail cloud, but it cannot detect hailstones. We cannot therefore scientifically assess the use of silver iodide.


Günther C. Pachatz, Analyse der Effizienz der Hagelabwehr in der Steiermark anhand von Fallbeispielen, Doctorthesis, University Wien, 2005.
Kurt Werth, Geschichte der Hagelabwehr: Raketen, Kanonen, Wetterläuten, Wolkenimpfung, Versicherung und Netze zum Schutz gegen den Hagel, Retina, 2021.

Hail cannon 1901.

The Cross

The cross is the symbol of the church today. But when was the cross created?

The cross is older than the modern church. The symbol was already known in ancient times.

A team of researchers led by archaeologist Dr. Lee Berger has now investigated the Rising Star fetching system in South Africa. The already extinct human species Homo Naledi buried its fellows in these holes. The graves are a full 100,000 years older than the graves of modern humans or Neanderthals.

Researchers have discovered mural paintings carved into the walls. The geometric symbols were carved around 115,500 years before the birth of Christ. The wall paintings by Homo Naledi are a full 80,000 years older than the oldest wall paintings by the Neanderthals. Among the geometric symbols such as squares, triangles, lines, etc., researchers have also discovered the cross.

The first cross, around 111,500 BC:

Author: dr. Lee Berger.

The oldest pizza in the world

Researchers still don’t agree on when and where the first pizza originated. In certain Greek documents a dish like pizza was described. But that’s just a guess, there is no solid evidence.

Archaeologists recently discovered a fresco in Pompei from the year 79 depicting a pizza. And this is considered to be the oldest depiction of a pizza to date.

A Roman pizza had a thicker crust than today’s Italian pizza and was therefore more similar to an American pizza. The Roman pizza was not topped with salami, but with dried fruits. Furthermore, it wasn’t spread with tomato sauce or ketchup, but with a fruit pesto.

Najstarejša upodobitev pice 79 našega štetja.

Source: Pompei: emerge una natura morta dai nuovi scavi della Regio IX,, 30. 6. 2023.

The oldest tattoo in the world

Tattoos were known to all ancient cultures and on all continents.

However, the oldest tattoo does not come from Africa or Asia as some would assume, but from Europe.

The oldest known tattoo is on the most famous mummy in the world – Ötzi. Ötzi died 5,200 years ago while trying to cross the Alps.

The researchers found 61 tattoos on Ötzi body. The tattoos had no aesthetic purpose, but rather a health purpose. The tattoos were carried out as a type of acupuncture, making this the oldest evidence of the use of tattoos as a therapeutic tool.

Klaus Taschwer, Selbstversuch klärt Rätsel, wie Ötzi zu seinen 61 Tätowierungen kam, Der Standard, 10. 4. 2024.

Laura Geggel, Fresh Ink: Mummified Iceman Has New Tattoo, Live Science, 28. 1. 2015.

The oldest tattoo in the world.

Image credit Marco Samadelli.