Archeologists know that people first started to colonize the islands of the Caribbean about 7,000 years ago but the routes they took has remained a mystery. A group of researchers reviewed decades of artifacts and, using radiocarbon dating, created a clearer picture of how humanity first spread from island to island.

Also in this week’s science and research news, climate scientists explain what the Earth was like 3 million years ago when carbon dioxide levels are the same as now, the technology of programmable, color-changing tattoos, and how ancient microbial life may have survived without oxygen.

Martin La Monica

Deputy Editor

What route did the first settlers to colonize the islands of the Caribbean take? M.M. Swee/Moment via Getty Images

Archaeologists determined the step-by-step path taken by the first people to settle the Caribbean islands

Matthew F. Napolitano, University of Oregon; Jessica Stone, University of Oregon; Robert DiNapoli, Binghamton University, State University of New York; Scott Fitzpatrick, University of Oregon

Did people settle these islands by traveling north from South America, or in the other direction? Reanalyzing data from artifacts discovered decades ago provides a definitive answer.

Purple microbial mats offer clues to how ancient life functioned. Pieter Visscher

Ancient microbial life used arsenic to thrive in a world without oxygen

Pieter Visscher, University of Connecticut; Brendan Paul Burns, UNSW; Kimberley L. Gallagher, Quinnipiac University

How ancient microbes survived in a world without oxygen has been a mystery. Scientists discovered a living microbial mat that uses arsenic instead of oxygen for photosynthesis and respiration.

Ice floe drifting in Svalbard, Norway. Sven-Erik Arndt/Arterra/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The Arctic hasn’t been this warm for 3 million years – and that foreshadows big changes for the rest of the planet

Julie Brigham-Grette, University of Massachusetts Amherst; Steve Petsch, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Extreme shrinkage of summer sea ice is just the latest evidence of rapid Arctic warming – and what happens in the Arctic doesn't stay there.

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