Wednesday , May 22 2024
Uncovered today have been a powerful Ancient Egyptian queen and a tiny Sumatran swamp-dweller, the "world's smallest vertebrate".

A Wonderful World: Two Discoveries

The mainstream media is of course calling her “King Tut’s grandmother”, but Amenhotep III’s queen, whose statue has just been found in Egypt, was more important in her own right than as a relative of that very minor figure. (Tutankhamen’s tomb survived unrobbed surely at least in part because he was so insignificant.)

The dig team says:

[The expedition’’s director, Betsy] Bryan said: “The statue … revealed itself as a queen of Amenhotep III, whose name appears repeatedly on the statue’s crown.” She said she theorizes that perhaps this statue is of the great Queen Tiy, wife of Amenhotep III and mother of the so-called heretic king Akhenaten, who came to the throne as Amenhotep IV but later changed his name because of his rejection of the god Amen.
“Tiy was so powerful that, as a widow, she was the recipient of foreign diplomatic letters sent to her from the king of Babylonia in hopes that she would intercede with her son on behalf of the foreign interests,” Bryan said. “Some indications, such as her own portraits in art, suggest that Tiy may have ruled briefly after her husband’s death, but this is uncertain.”

When you think about it, it seems unlikely that Hatshepsut would be the only woman who ever tried to rule Egypt in her own right, even if she was almost certainly the most successful one.

You can watch Tiy emerging from the ground . (This is a great ongoing diary of the dig, a day-by-day account, highly pictorial.)

On the other side of the globe, the “world’s smallest vertebrate” (well that we know of) has been found in a Sumatran peat swamp.

The newly discovered species, Paedocypris progenetica, is a member of the carp family … The female … from head to tail measures 7.9mm (0.3in) when fully mature. …
The male, reaching a typical 1cm in length, is an extraordinary creature. Its over-sized dorsal fins are beefed up with hard pads of skin and a hook that can be forced forward by powerful muscles in a grasping action. Until scientists can retrieve live samples to observe, they can only speculate on the fins’ purpose.”

Of course, however, like just about everything else on the extraordinary zoo that is the island, its future is far from assured. “”I hope we’ll have time to find out more about them before their habitat disappears completely,” said Dr Britz.”

It truly is a wonderful world out there. Let’s hope we can learn a lot more about it, before we wreck it.

About Natalie Bennett

Natalie blogs at Philobiblon, on books, history and all things feminist. In her public life she's the leader of the Green Party of England and Wales.

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