Wreck of Dutch warship found buried beneath coral

Sea-life-encrusted cannons from an 18th-century Dutch frigate

Divers in the blue waters around the Yucatán Peninsula have discovered three historic treasures: a sunken lighthouse and the remains of an 18th-century Dutch warship and a 19th-century British steamer, according to Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).

The battered wrecks were found near the coastal town of Sisal, Mexico, a modern beach destination that was once a bustling port in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The shipwrecks were laden with artifacts, including cannons, cutlery and porcelain, said archaeologist Helena Barba Meinecke, head of the INAH’s underwater archaeology of the Yucatán Peninsula. [Mayday! 17 Mysterious Shipwrecks You Can See on Google Earth]

The Dutch warship — dubbed the “Madagascar Cannons,” because its cannons were found near the Madagascar reef, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) northwest of Sisal — is partly buried under 6 inches (15 centimeters) of coral.

“We recorded in drawing, photography and video a total of 12 iron cannons whose dimensions — 2.5 meters long by almost half a meter in diameter [8 feet by nearly 2 feet] — bear a resemblance to the artillery of the Dutch war frigates that sailed the West Indies in the 18th century,” Barba Meinecke said.

The crew might have thrown four of these cannons overboard in an attempt to save the ship from sinking, she added.

About 60 feet (19 m) southeast of these cannons, archaeologists found another eight cannons and eight cannonballs, as well as ceramic fragments. It appears that these artifacts sunk at once, indicating that this was the spot where the Dutch warship met its untimely end, Barba Meinecke said.

The wreck is mentioned in a 1722 letter from Antonio de Cortaire, the governor of the Yucatán, in which he ordered a review of lookouts on the northern coast of the territory after learning that two Dutch warships carrying contraband merchandise had sunk in February of that year. In the note, he said that treacherous “north winds” were likely to blame and that the Dutch and English crews had been rescued and taken to Sisal.

However, it’s unclear which of the two warships researchers have uncovered. INAH archaeologists are now examining the ship’s contents in an effort to crack the puzzle, Barba Meinecke said.

The second shipwreck — a Mississippi-style steamboat from the United Kingdom — was nicknamed Vapor Adalio, in honor of the grandfather of Juan Diego Esquivel, a local fisherman who showed the wreck to archaeologists. The steamer, which was likely built between 1807 and 1870, wrecked on the Scorpion Reef (known as “Arrecife Alacranes” in Spanish) in the 1800s, the archaeologists said.

Within the ship’s remains, archaeologists found signs of everyday life aboard the steamer: eight eating utensils.

Diego Esquivel also led archaeologists to the wrecked lighthouse, located about 2 miles (3.7 km) from Sisal. The structure, which was built in the late 19th century, stood 26 feet tall (8 m) and served as a lookout point. However, it likely crumbled into the gulf after a tropical storm hit the region, the archaeologists said.

Ancient ‘Two Brothers’ mummy mystery solved thanks to high-tech DNA test

The 'Two Brothers' mummies (The University of Manchester).

Experts at the University of Manchester in the U.K. have solved a 4,000-year-old mystery about a pair of mummies dubbed the ‘Two Brothers.’

By harnessing ‘next-generation’ DNA sequencing technology, scientists discovered that the mummies at the Manchester Museum are, in fact, half-brothers. The mummies of Khnum-nakht and Nakht-ankh were discovered in 1907 and date back to around 1800 B.C.

However, Egyptologists have long debated the origins of the two men and questioned whether they were related at all.


The pair were found at a joint burial site at Deir Rifeh, 250 miles south of Cairo. When they were excavated, archaeologists noted inscriptions on their coffins indicating they were sons of an unnamed local governor. The inscriptions also suggested that the men had mothers with the same name, Khnum-aa.


The ‘Two Brothers’ mummies (The University of Manchester).  (David Gennard)

When the tomb’s contents were shipped to Manchester in 1908, however, archaeologists concluded that the mummies’ different skeletal morphologies were different, suggesting that a family relationship was absent. Based on the evidence of contemporary inscriptions, it was also proposed that one of the Brothers was adopted.

DNA extracted from the mummies’ teeth in 2015, which was revealed this week, has finally resolved the puzzle. Both men belonged to mitochondrial haplotype M1a1, which suggests a maternal genetic relationship. Their Y chromosome sequences were less complete but showed variations between the two mummies, which indicates that they had different fathers, and were thus very likely to have been half-brothers, according to scientists.

“It was a long and exhausting journey to the results but we are finally here, said Dr. Konstantina Drosou, of the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Manchester who conducted the DNA sequencing, in a statement. “I am very grateful we were able to add a small but very important piece to the big history puzzle and I am sure the brothers would be very proud of us. These moments are what make us believe in ancient DNA.”


Dr. Konstantina Drosou, of the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences and Dr. Campbell Price, Curator of Egypt and Sudan at Manchester Museum (The University of Manchester)  (David Gennard)

“Our reconstructions will always be speculative to some extent but to be able to link these two men in this way is an exciting first,” added Dr. Campbell Price, curator of Egypt and Sudan at Manchester Museum.

The results of the study are published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.


A number of other projects have harnessed DNA analysis to gain insight into the ancient world. DNA research, for example, is shedding new light on the mysterious ancient Minoan civilization on the island of Crete and their counterparts on the Greek mainland, the Mycenaeans.

In 2016, analysis of the first DNA obtained from an ancient Phoenician revealed that the man had European ancestry, much to scientists’ surprise.

Nestle is selling its U.S. candy business to Ferrero for about $2.8 billion


Nestle is selling its U.S. confectionery business to Italian chocolate and candy maker Ferrero for an estimated $2.8 billion, the company said Tuesday.

Nestle’s American sweet treats include Nestle Crunch, Butterfinger, Baby Ruth, Raisinets, Nips, Skinny Cow and Laffy Taffy.

Nestle’s 2016 U.S. confectionery sales were about $900 million and represent about 3% of U.S. Nestle Group’s sales, according to the Swiss company.

“This move allows Nestle to invest and innovate across a range of categories where we see strong future growth and hold leadership positions, such as pet care, bottled water, coffee, frozen meals and infant nutrition,” CEO Mark Schneider said in a statement.

Nestle is the world’s largest food company, according to the 2017 Forbes Global 2000.

Ferrero, which today is headquartered in Luxembourg, is best known for its Ferrero Rocher chocolates, but the company also owns favorites Nutella and Tic Tacs.

This acquisition will make Ferrero the third-largest chocolate confectionery in the world, according to London-based market research company Euromonitor International.

“We are very excited about the acquisition of Nestle’s U.S. confectionery business, which has an outstanding portfolio of iconic brands with rich histories and tremendous awareness,” Giovanni Ferrero, executive chairman of the Ferrero Group, said in a statement.

Raphael Moreau, senior food and nutrition analyst at Euromonitor International, said this acquisition will help Ferrero achieve its strategic goal of boosting its presence in the US.

Ferrero bought Fannie May Confections Brands from 1-800-FLOWERS in May for $115 million and in October announced plans to buy Ferrara Candy Co. — best known for Brach’s, Trolli and Lemonheads — from private equity firm L Catterton for an undisclosed amount.

The sale of Nestle’s U.S. candy business doesn’t include the company’s global chocolate brand KitKat or the Toll House baking line.

The sale of Nestle’s U.S. candy business doesn’t include the Toll House baking line or Kit Kat. While Kit Kat is Nestle’s global brand, Hershey owns the rights in the U.S.

Nestle — which also owns Purina, Coffee-Mate, Gerber and Stouffer’s — has been scooping up companies and shifting away from its confectionery roots. In September, Nestle acquired a majority interest in Oakland-based high-end specialty coffee roaster and retailer Blue Bottle Coffee for an undisclosed amount, and last month it announced plans to buy privately-held Atrium Innovations, a nutritional health products maker based in Quebec, for $2.3 billion.

The U.S. candy business sale is expected to be completed near the end of the first quarter, Nestle said.

We all know Hershey’s new bar is chocolate-free, but that’s far from the most confusing thing about it. Buzz60’s Nathan Rousseau Smith (@fantasticmrnate) has more. Buzz60

Both companies have long and storied histories in the European sweets world. Nestle began selling chocolate in 1904, and Ferrero was founded as a family business, originally a pastry shop, in 1946.

Man shoots his mom in the head during tantrum over video games, police say

A 28-year-old man playing a video game in his bedroom threw a fit, broke his headset, then picked up a gun and killed his mother, according to police in Ceres, Calif.

Matthew Nicholson stayed with his parents in a powder blue house with a basketball hoop over the garage door. It was a loving and open home, and 68-year-old Lydia Nicholson was the sort of mother who “wanted to see the best in people at all times,” her daughter told Fox 40.

But a police spokesman told the station that officers had visited the home after a fight between Nicholson and his parents once in the past six months, before Thursday, when they would arrive too late.

Matthew Nicholson (Ceres Police Department)

Nicholson was in his room that night playing a game, according to Ceres police, when something upset him and he began to yell. His mother went in to check on him, they started to argue, and Nicholson broke his headset.

He blamed his mother for this, police said, and threatened to kill her and his father, identified by Fox 40 as Loren Nicolson.

There was a gun in the house, police said, and so Nicholson tried to make good on his threat.” He came out yelling something about, ‘My headset is broken,’ ” police spokesman Greg Yotsuya told NBC affiliate KCRA. “Then grabbed a gun and started shooting.”

He allegedly fired into a wall, twice. Another bullet might have gone into the ceiling, the station reported. Another went into Lydia Nicholson’s head.

“He would’ve killed the father too, but the gun jammed,” a family friend told Fox 40. “The father grabbed the gun, emptied it.”

Without a weapon anymore, police said, Matthew Nicholson son fled in a vehicle, leaving his parents to their misery.

Loren had been with Lydia for 32 years, according to Fox 40. Now he called 911 and held his wife in his arms.

Police pulled up to the house on River Valley Circle just before 10 p.m. Paramedics followed and took Lydia Nicholson to a hospital, where she would soon die.

Matthew Nicholson had only driven a couple of miles away, and police pulled him over near a relative’s home in Riverbank. He was charged with homicide and jailed without bail.

In the hours to come, friends and relatives would gather outside the house with the basketball hoop. News cameras joined them, and investigators came and went.

“Was it the video game,” the police spokesman wondered aloud to a local NBC station, “or was there something else going on?”

Report says loot boxes for Xbox One’s new Avatars could be coming soon – but it’s not as bad as it sounds

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The way Xbox One players earn and show off their achievements (and Achievements) could change soon with the rumored addition of a new “Career” feature. According to a report from Windows Central, there are documents and features which refer to this new system, including levels, prestige ranks, and loot crates for the upcoming Avatar revamp.

So, what is Career? First off, it’s nothing announced or official, so treat anything in this article with a healthy dose of skepticism. It could simply be a test run, or it could evolve into something else by the time it’s unveiled. For now, it appears to be a new system that would exist alongside Gamerscore as a way of representing time and effort players sunk into their games.

Xbox platform chief Mike Ybarra told Windows Central in an August 2017 interview that Microsoft was looking into ways it could extend its recognition of player dedication beyond a simple number. “We are working towards a bigger, more meaningful change about somebody’s gaming accomplishments in history, as a gamer on Xbox. We can do a lot more to reflect and let people show their gaming history and their status,” Ybarra said. “Somebody who only plays multiplayer in Halo 5 at a professional level, maybe they only have 2,000 Gamerscore, you want to be able to celebrate that person.”

This Career mode would seem to be what Ybarra was alluding to, as it includes multiple ways to “level up” your profile, which would earn you loot boxes containing cosmetic flair for you and your Avatar. It should be noted that per Windows Central’s report, said loot boxes do not appear to be purchasable with real world money.


Cruising the Las Vegas Strip in the Smart Vision EQ concept car

Introduced at the Frankfurt auto show in September, the Smart Vision EQ from Mercedes-Benz is the automaker’s EV concept that combines mobility, autonomy and connectivity. The result is a car built on the Smart Fortwo platform, can wink at pedestrians, has level-five autonomy (no steering wheel or pedals), and welcomes passengers by name. It also took me for a short ride on the Las Vegas Strip.

Mercedes says the concept vehicle isn’t made to be sold to individuals and would instead be part of an autonomous ride-sharing fleet. The way Mercedes envisions a car like this would work is that it would arrive at a location and display the name of the individual that hailed the ride on the front of the car. They would enter the vehicle, and the dash would show their name, photo and other information they shared with the car-share service.

Then the electrical vehicle would cruise autonomously around and eventually drop you at your location and bid you farewell. One interesting feature is that the car is outfitted with hand-sanitizer dispensers, so as the passenger departs, they can clean their hands after being in a car that’s been on the road all day with various people getting in and out.


My ride in the car was a bit less personalized. Mercedes did update the front display with the Las Vegas Strip, but it was set to the default demo passenger. No biggie, the point of the short drive (about 500 meters done twice) was to experience the sensation of being in a level-five car that could be the blueprint of a future Mercedes.

Even though the two passes I took in the car lasted about five minutes, and the car was controlled by a Mercedes technician via a remote, it was a good indicator of how it would feel to sit in a car you’ve hailed without a human behind the wheel. If this service were available now (and was safe), I would use it all the time. Parking in San Francisco is challenging even on the best of days, and I like the idea of a car that winks at people as it drives down the road. I’m guessing that other folks tired of traffic and spending 20 minutes looking for parking would too.