5 Most Incredible Discoveries of the Week
Including a possible obesity fighter and how old-time cannibals prepared dinner
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted May 30, 2015 5:24 AM CDT
An artist's impression of the people who inhabited what is now Spain about 400,000 years ago.   (AP Photo/Madrid Scientific Films, Kennis & Kennis)

(Newser) – Evidence of the first known murder and an unlikely cancer killer make the list:

  • Prehistoric Crime Scene Offers Evidence for First Murder: Scientists digging around in the "Pit of Bones" in a Spanish cave found the skull of a young adult who lived around 430,000 years ago, and they're pretty sure he was violently offed. The researchers also think they know how he died and what the murder weapon was.
  • Could This 'Thunder God' Extract End Obesity?: A new study says that mice given an extract from a plant known as "thunder god vine" ate as much as 80% less than their counterparts and lost 45% of their weight over three weeks, meaning it may prove to help humans fight obesity down the road. Apparently the extract boosts the sensitivity of a hormone called leptin, which tells the brain when it's time to stop eating. Of course, there's a rub.

  • Herpes May Help Fight Cancer: Researchers say that a modified version of the herpes virus that causes cold sores has led to a major breakthrough for cancer patients. The genetically engineered virus stopped melanoma by decimating cancer cells and jump-starting the immune system, researchers say. Results on people with aggressive melanoma were impressive.
  • Booze and Pot at the Same Time May Knock You for a Loop: In a major way, say researchers from the National Institute on Drug Abuse after finding that alcohol dramatically increases TCH levels in the blood. And that potent combination apparently takes place whether the pot/alcohol dosages are high or low.
  • Cannibalism 101—How to Prepare Humans: Lest you think people who ate other people in ancient Mesoamerica weren't picky diners, scientists say the remains of 18 people found there prove otherwise. Bones found at the Tlatelcomila site near present-day Mexico City apparently bore important clues as to whether they were boiled or grilled and even to what seasonings were used.
Click to read about more discoveries.