Baby tiger found stuffed in bag at Thai airport (AP)

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By THANYARAT DOKSONE, Associated Press Writer Thanyarat Doksone, Associated Press Writer – 29 mins ago

BANGKOK – Authorities at Bangkok’s international airport found a baby tiger cub that had been drugged and hidden alongside a stuffed toy tiger in the suitcase of a woman flying from Thailand to Iran, an official and a wildlife protection group said Friday.

The woman, a Thai national, had checked in for her flight and her overweight bag was sent for an X-ray which showed what appeared to be a live animal inside, according to TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring group.

The woman was arrested at Suvarnabhumi Airport before boarding her Sunday flight. The cub, estimated to be about 3 months old, was sent to a wildlife conservation center in Bangkok.

“The cub arrived at our unit Monday,” said Chaiyaporn Chareesaeng, head of the Wildlife Health Unit at the Department of National Parks’ Wildlife and Plant Conservation Center, where the animal was put under close supervision.

“He appeared exhausted, dehydrated and couldn’t walk, so we had to give him oxygen, water and lactation,” said Chaiyaporn. “We have monitored him closely. As of today, he looks better and can walk a little now.”

A DNA test was expected to provide details about its origin, said Chaiyaporn.

“I was a bit shocked because an animal isn’t supposed to be treated like this,” said Nirath Nipanant, chief of the airport’s wildlife checkpoint. “Had the animal passed the oversize baggage check and gone through four to five hours of travel, its chances of survival would have been slim.”

The woman, identified as Piyawan Palasarn, 31, faces up to four years in prison and a 40,000 baht ($1,300) fine for two wildlife smuggling-related charges, police said.

She denied the luggage with the cub belonged to her and said another passenger had asked her to carry it for them, said Adisorn Noochdumrong of the Thai Wildlife Protection Department.

The cub could have fetched about 100,000 baht ($3,200) on the black market in Iran, where it is popular to have exotic pets, Adisorn said. He said he did not know what the woman allegedly intended to do with this particular cub.

He said his office wants the law amended so the maximum prison term is increased to 10 years.

Wildlife experts say the number of tigers in Asia have plummeted over the years due mainly to habitat loss and poachers who sell their skins and body parts to booming medicinal and souvenir markets, mostly in China.

Conservationists say the government needs to do more to eliminate trafficking networks that operate out of the country.

“We applaud all agencies that came together to uncover this brazen smuggling attempt,” Chris R. Shepherd, TRAFFIC’s deputy regional director for Southeast Asia, said in a statement.

(This version CORRECTS Corrects that cub was alongside one toy, not among many, and that bag was overweight. Adds quotes. AP Video.)

Ice age flint tools found during road repairs

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A46 Highways Agency project manager Geoff Bethel said: ”As the A46 follows the route of the old Roman road, we expected to uncover a number of artefacts from Roman Britain and we were not disappointed.

”But to uncover such rare flint tools dating back to the end of the Ice Age was very exciting.”

Evidence of such early people had been found in caves, but the pieces of flint found at Farndon appeared to show these people were making things out in the open, possibly in a temporary campsite, the Highways Agency said.

The excavations also provided insight into the Iron Age and Roman communities that used to live in the area.

Evidence of an Iron Age settlement at Owthorpe Junction, just east of Cotgrave, Nottinghamshire, was uncovered, and a 4,000 year old Neolithic circular monument with eight Bronze Age burials was found further north at Stragglethorpe junction.

The archaeological team uncovered part of the settlement that lined the road leading into the town, including Roman timber buildings, rubbish pits, wells and track ways, as well as a number of burials, all dating back around 2,000 years.

Phil Harding, Stone Age expert and presenter of Channel 4′s Time Team, worked on the excavations as a field archaeologist for Cotswold Wessex Archaeology.

He said: ”Among the findings was a piece from a Neolithic axe made of greenstone, a type of stone from the Lake District.

”It was very distinctive, only a chip the size of a stamp, but exciting nonetheless.

”The stone was very good quality and very distinctive – you could tell a person’s wealth or status by the number of axes he owned, or the flint it was made from.

”Overall, there were enough bits and pieces to suggest we have evidence of hunting people, gathering, camping, and visiting the confluence of two rivers right through to the time of the first farmers.”

The project to widen a 17-mile (28km) stretch of the A46 in Nottinghamshire is hoped to be finished in summer 2012.

The design for the route made sure the majority of the site of Margidunum Roman town, near Bingham, was avoided, the Highways Agency said.

Jon Humble, English Heritage’s regional Inspector of Ancient Monuments, added: ”The line of the A46 coincides with part of one of the most important roads from Roman Britain – the Fosse Way that linked Exeter with Lincoln.

”So when the dualling of the A46 was being planned, we knew that the Highways Agency would have to consider the potential for important archaeological discoveries over the full length of the road scheme.

”More than a hundred archaeologists have worked very closely with the road designers, highway engineers and earth-moving contractors to ensure that important archaeological remains have been properly recorded and recovered.

”The Romans understood the value of first-rate team-work – I like to think they would have been impressed.”

Priest who blessed Morales found with cocaine

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LA PAZ (Reuters) – The Aymara priest who blessed Bolivian President Evo Morales at an inauguration ceremony four years ago has been arrested in possession of 530 pounds (240 kg) of cocaine, police said Thursday.

Anti-drugs police in the Andean country found a cocaine laboratory in the home of priest Valentin Mejillones. His son and a Colombian couple were also detained. The stash of liquid cocaine seized in the raid was valued at $240,000.

Mejillones told local media he had been tricked by the Colombians, and Vice President Alvaro Garcia said Morales had not chosen the priest to preside at the traditional swearing-in ceremony at the sacred Tiwanaku ruins.

“He was a person who moved within the Andean religious structure,” Garcia told reporters. “Whether he’s a priest or not, if he’s committed a crime, he won’t get any kind of protection when he faces justice.”

Morales, an Aymara Indian and former coca farmer, was sworn in as Bolivia’s first indigenous president in 2006.

On the eve of his inauguration at the presidential palace, he donned a ceremonial red poncho as Mejillones presented him with a staff of command representing the 36 nationalities of Bolivia’s indigenous majority.

Bolivia is the world’s third-biggest cocaine producer, but limited coca cultivation is legal and leaves of the plant are commonly chewed or brewed in a tea to ward off the effects of altitude.

(Reporting by Carlos Alberto Quiroga; writing by Helen Popper; editing by Mohammad Zargham)

World’s oldest doodle found on rock

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Cambridge University experts believe the crudely etched circles are the Neolithic version of a modern office worker’s scribbles on a post-it note.

The 6.6in (17cm) chunk of sandstone was discovered by an amateur archaeologist from the bottom of a deep quarry in Over, Cambs., during a university fun day.

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Christopher Evans, director of the university’s Archaeological Unit, thinks the concentric circles were created by one of our early ancestors ”killing time” as opposed to a work of art.

Mr Evans said: ”I think it was a doodle. I don’t think it has any deep and meaningful religious significance.

”In this era of the Neolithic period they had a lot of time on their hands. It could show they were quite bored at times, but we don’t know for sure.

”We do know when they weren’t out harvesting or planting crops they had to find a way of killing time.

”There are Megalithic tombs with concentric circles like this carved into stones – the circles are a form of Megalithic art and typical of the grooved ware pottery of the time.

”They liked to use the concentric circle but we don’t know why, it may have been some kind of way to express their world view.

”Although I don’t believe they had a concept of art, these types of circles were used as a form of decoration.”

The rock was discovered by business language teacher Susie Sinclair, 48, at Needingworth Quarry, alongside the River Great Ouse, near Over, on Saturday July 3.

Ms Sinclair was on a geological weekend course being run by the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Continuing Education.

She said she was ”delighted” to discover the work by a Neolithic caveman, made at the time the pyramids were being built.

She said: ”I had not found many fossils when this rock caught my eye.

”It was just resting against a pile of rocks and the sun was shining onto these two circles. I thought it was a fossilised worm.

”I picked it up and showed it to our course leader Dr Peter Sheldon who realised it was more significant than a fossilised worm.

”He took a photo and sent it to Christopher Evans and the director of Stonehenge and that is when we realised it was serious.

”I’m an accidental archaeologist so I didn’t know what it was. It’s really quite a beautiful object and amazing to think someone did this 4,500 years ago.

”Everyone who has seen it has interpreted it differently. It’s a talking point whether it’s a piece of art or a meaningless doodle.

”Some people think it is a pair of eyes or a map. I think it’s more than just a doodle and I hope one day we’ll find out.”

Historians agree concentric circle “Grooved Ware” art has been found on pottery in other areas of the country, but never encountered in Eastern England before.

The stone will make its first public appearance since it was discovered at the Over Village Carnival today(SAT).

The remains of several prehistoric villages have been discovered in recent years in areas surrounding Over.

According to the latest research at the time the Over Stone was being carved, the countryside was dominated by the snaking River Ouse which broke up the area into a delta-like landscape of small islands, channels and marshlands.

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