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Topic: Dark hair was common among Vikings, genetic study confirms
They may have had a reputation for trade, braids and fearsome raids, but the Vikings were far from a single group of flaxen-haired, sea-faring Scandinavians. A genetic study of Viking-age human remains has not only confirmed that Vikings from different parts of Scandinavia set sail for different parts of the world, but has revealed that dark hair was more common among Vikings than Danes today.
What’s more, while some were born Vikings, others adopted the culture — or perhaps had it thrust upon them. “Vikings were not restricted to blond Scandinavians,” said Eske Willerslev, a co-author of the research from the University of Cambridge and the University of Copenhagen.
Writing in the journal Nature, Willerslev and colleagues report how they sequenced the genomes of 442 humans who lived across Europe between about 2,400BC and 1,600AD, with the majority from the Viking age — a period that stretched from around 750AD to 1050AD. The study also drew on existing data from more than 1,000 ancient individuals from non-Viking times, and 3,855 people living today.
Among their results the team found that from the iron age, southern European genes entered Denmark and then spread north, while — to a lesser extent — genes from Asia entered Sweden. “Vikings are, genetically, not purely Scandinavian,” said Willerslev. However, the team found Viking age Scandinavians were not a uniform population, but clustered into three main groups — a finding that suggests Vikings from different parts of Scandinavia did not mix very much.
The team found these groups roughly map on to present-day Scandinavian countries, although Vikings from south-west Sweden were genetically similar to their peers in Denmark. Genetic diversity was greatest in coastal regions. Further analysis confirmed the long-standing view that most Vikings in England came from Denmark, as reflected in place names and historical records, while the Baltic region was dominated by Swedish Vikings, and Vikings from Norway ventured to Ireland, Iceland, Greenland and the Isle of Man.
However, the team says remains from Russia revealed some Vikings from Denmark also travelled east. The study also revealed raids were likely a local affair: the team found four brothers and another relative died in Salme, Estonia, in about 750AD, in what is thought could have been a raid, with others in the party likely to have been from the same part of Sweden.
In addition, the team found two individuals from Orkney, who were buried with Viking swords, had no Scandinavian genetic ancestry. “[Being a Viking] is not a pure ethnic phenomenon, it is a lifestyle that you can adopt whether you are non-Scandinavian or Scandinavian,” said Willerslev, adding that genetic influences from abroad both before and during the Viking age might help explain why genetic variants for dark hair were relatively common among Vikings.
Steve Ashby, an expert in Viking-age archaeology from the University of York, said the study confirmed what had been suspected about movement and trade in the Viking age, but also brought fresh detail. “The evidence for gene flow with southern Europe and Asia is striking, and sits well with recent research that argues for large-scale connectivity in this period,” he said. “[The study] also provides new information about levels of contact and isolation within Scandinavia itself, and offers an interesting insight into the composition of raiding parties.”
Source article: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/lang/archives/2020/09/27/2003744127
Topic: In Norway, Electric and Hybrid Cars Outsell Conventional Models
Sales of electric and hybrid cars in Norway outpaced those running on fossil fuels last year, cementing the country’s position as a global leader in the push to restrict vehicle emissions.
Norway, a major oil exporter, would seem an unlikely champion of newer, cleaner-running vehicles. But the country offers generous incentives that make electric cars cheaper to buy, and provides additional benefits once the vehicles are on the road.
Countries around the world have ramped up their promotion of hybrid and electric cars. As China tries to improve air quality and dominate new vehicle technology, the government there wants 1 in 5 cars sold to run on alternative fuels by 2025. France and Britain plan to end the sale of gasoline- and diesel-powered cars by 2040.
Norway is ahead of the rest of the world. About 52 percent of the new cars sold in the country last year ran on new forms of fuel, according the data released by Norway’s Road Traffic Advisory Board, OFV. The share of diesel cars, which were once considered more environmentally friendly but are now in the spotlight for their noxious emissions, fell sharply.
“This trend will only increase,” Oyvind Solberg Thorsen, OFV’s director, said in a statement. “This is good for both road safety and the environment.”
Although electric vehicles make up just a small portion of the global market now, automakers — including those, like Tesla, that produce only electric models, and giants like Volkswagen — have bet billions of dollars that such vehicles will soon be as cheap and ubiquitous as conventional cars. Investments in charging stations and other technology connected to electric vehicles are also increasing.
General Motors and Ford Motor have said they will shift their focus to electric models, while carmakers like Volvo have moved to phase out the internal combustion engine entirely. Joining the fray are entrepreneurs like James Dyson who have their own plans to build electric vehicles.
As the market grows, makers of electric cars are facing difficulties. Tesla has lagged in its production of the Model 3, its first mass-market offering. And a slump in overall car sales in the United States could put a crimp in the expansion of electric vehicles.
Norway, which wants to phase out diesel and gasoline cars by 2025, offers a counterexample.
The country’s embrace of electric cars has been hastened by hefty government subsidies and tax breaks that make the technology more affordable.
Topic: Babies wanted: Nordic countries crying for kids
"Norway needs more children! I don’t think I need to tell anyone how this is done," Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg said cheekily, but she was raising a real concern.
The Nordic countries were long a bastion of strong fertility rates on an Old Continent that is rapidly getting older. But they are now experiencing a decline that threatens their welfare model, which is funded by taxpayers.
In Norway, Finland and Iceland, birth rates dropped to historic lows in 2017, with 1.49 to 1.71 children born per woman. Just a few years earlier, their birth rates hovered close to the 2.1 level required for their populations to remain stable.
The Nordic region boasts a wealth of family-friendly initiatives, such as flexible working hours, a vast network of affordable daycares and generous parental leave systems.
When all that is still not enough to encourage people to have more children, immigration can be a lifeline － or a threat, depending on the point of view.
Source article: https://features.ltn.com.tw/english/article/paper/1285655