National Geographic : 2014 Jul
PHOTO: KENNETH GARRETT, MADE WITH PERMISSION OF TAK‘ALIK AB‘AJ NATIONAL ARCHAEOLOGICAL PARK/ GUATEMALAN MINISTRY OF CULTURE AND SPORTS. NGM MAPS. GRAPHIC: ÁLVARO VALIÑO. SOURCE: UNITED NATIONS NEXT Large ACID RAIN storms may have followed the asteroid strike that killed the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago, says one study, one reason only some species survived. • Oceanographers have found an unknown COLD-WATER CORAL near southern Greenland, where water temperatures are close to freezing. • A ZIRCON rock discovered in Australia contains crystals believed to be 4.4 billion years old, the oldest material ever found on Earth. ET CETERA The King’s Maidens Six ceramic figurines were a puzzle when they came to light in a royal Maya tomb at Takalik Abaj in Guatemala in 2012. Now archaeologist Christa Schieber de Lavarreda and her team believe they have worked out the complex symbolism. “They’re like marionettes in a theater,” she says. One role was to accompany the king to the underworld in about 500 B.C . But they also played other parts. Four stood at the cardinal points, the corners of the Maya universe. Two others, positioned east and west, likely represent- ed the daily cycle of the rising and setting sun. That symbol of constant rebirth may allude to the staple crop of corn sprout- ing anew every year—a nod to the king’s own mythical role as the corn god. — A. R . Williams 0mi 100 0 km 100 PACIFIC OCEAN Guatemala City GUATEMALA BELIZE EL SALV. HOND. MEXICO Takalik Abaj Migrants make up about 3.2 percent of the planet’s population. All figures are female, each slightly different from the others. The heights range from 11 to 16 inches.