From the archive

How Nature reported the discovery of ancient human bones in Australia in 1970, and how the First World War revolutionized the production of maps of France.

50 Years ago

The oldest human bones yet found in Australia have now been sufficiently studied for preliminary pronouncements on their significance. They were unearthed accidentally last year by a geologist working between Mildura and Ivanhoe in south-western New South Wales. Archaeologists then excavated the site. The bones are those of a young woman who had been cremated and buried. They were found in association with stone tools and the remains of fish, animals and eggs, evidently used for food. In Canberra last week, one of the archaeologists who took part in the excavation, Mr Rees Jones, … revealed that the finds were about twice the age of a skull discovered in Queensland which until now has been the oldest human relic known in Australia. The New South Wales skeleton is dated at between 25,000 and 32,000 years old. The later Queensland skull showed characteristics that are a blend of the modern Aborigine and of Java Man who flourished a quarter to half a million years ago. Of particular interest is the evidence the new find brings to the uncertain question of when human beings first reached Australia.

From Nature 17 January 1970

100 Years ago

The value of large-scale maps in war is the subject of an unsigned article in La Géographie … on the Service Géographique of the French Army. This Service was practically created by the war, when it was realised that the available maps of France were on too small a scale to be of use. Maps on scales of 1/80,000 and 1/200,000, although valuable for war in the open, were unsatisfactory for trench warfare. Large-scale plans were available only for the neighbourhood of Paris and certain fortified places. It was decided to make maps of the war area on a scale of 1/20,000, 1/10,000, and 1/5000 … Of these the smallest scale was for artillery use, the second for Staff work in general, and the largest scale, confined to front-line areas, for infantry use. Generally speaking, the 1/20,000 proved to be the most useful. It is hoped that this will be extended to the whole of France and be periodically revised.

From Nature 15 January 1920

doi: 10.1038/d41586-020-00040-5

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