Historic Cave: 5 Most Incredible Discoveries of the Week

Also: an intriguing find from high above the Amazon
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 11, 2017 5:28 AM CST

(Newser) – A study sure to please firstborn children and a good-news-bad-news finding in regard to the Dead Sea Scrolls were among the discoveries to make headlines this week:

  • Firstborns Get an Early Jump: Firstborns really do have an advantage, a new UK study suggests. Research out of Edinburgh University finds that there's a measurable IQ difference between young firstborns and their siblings. The reason? Parents tend to spend more time with their first children on games and tasks that develop thinking skills. What's notable is how early the difference shows up.
  • 12th Dead Sea Scroll Cave Is Found: Israeli researchers have discovered what they believe is the first new Dead Sea Scrolls cave uncovered in more than 60 years, and only the 12th ever found. The site at the Qumran cliffs in the West Bank has yielded pieces of pottery, broken scroll storage jars, and even an unbroken jar containing a scroll, though researchers later found it was blank. The bad news? No ancient scrolls with text, and some old pickaxes found at the site might explain why.

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  • Breakthrough for 'Locked-in Patients': Four paralyzed patients unable to communicate for years were able to do so through a potentially groundbreaking brain-reading system. The "locked-in patients" all had advanced ALS and were unable to control even their eyes, but researchers fitted them with caps through which they could observe blood flow in the brain—then had them think "yes" or "no." This did not provide the wanted answer when a woman asked her paralyzed dad about her boyfriend.
  • In the Amazon, Stonehenge-like Patterns: Scientists flying drones over the Amazon rainforest in Brazil have found more than 450 "geoglyphs" that are similar in size, structure, and possibly purpose to Stonehenge in England. The earthworks were likely used for public gatherings and rituals, and it's only because of deforestation that researchers were able to spot them. The discovery changes the thinking about the Amazon's early days.
  • They Kept Getting Skin Cancer Spots. Then, a Vaccination: He was in his 70s, she in her 80s. Both had had spots of skin cancer identified and removed, and both are the subjects of a very small study published in JAMA Dermatology that suggests the HPV vaccine could help protect against certain types of skin cancer. It's not clear why, but one theory suggests that the human papillomavirus plays a role in skin cancer, too.
Click to read about more discoveries. (Read more discoveries stories.)

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