Another Fossil “Human Ancestor” Claimed

first_imgMeet Australopithecus sediba – or is it Homo something?  Scientists are arguing over how to classify new fossils found in a cave at Malapa, South Africa.  Announced today in Science,1 the fossils, alleged to be just under 2 million years old, are producing a strange mixture of hopeful headlines and cautionary counsels from experts.    As could be expected, headlines in the popular press tease their readers with tantalizing titillations: “Fossil Skeletons May Be Human Ancestor” wrote Charles Q. Choi for Live Science.  Ker Than wrote “‘Key’ Human Ancestor Found: Fossils Link Apes, First Humans?” for National Geographic.  And Jeff Hecht wrote “Almost human: closest australopithicine [sic] primate found” for New Scientist.  And anything that might please Darwin has to include the shedding-light motif: Science Daily’s long headline proclaimed, “New Hominid Shares Traits With Homo Species: Fossil Find Sheds Light on the Transition to Homo Genus from Earlier Hominids.”  True to tradition, PhysOrg dutifully paraded the iconic image of the march of progress from ape to man, complete with racist skin colors and sexist depictions of naked males only, their right legs or arms artfully concealing their private parts.  It’s not quite clear why most of these charts leave the highest man beardless, unless the chart is Lamarckian, in which case a spare tire should also be evident.    Yet a closer look at the articles reveals a great deal of doubt about many aspects of the story.Taxonomy: Experts disagreed strongly on whether these specimens should be classified within Australopithecus or Homo.  If it had been classified within Homo, it would have represented a dead-end lineage of no consequence to human evolution.  There appears to have been a strong controversy between the discoverers and other experts about which taxon to use.Traits: The skeletons appear to have a mosaic of traits: long limbs and small brain capacity, but indications of upright posture and human-like teeth.Provenance: Experts disagreed whether the bones were buried together, or fell through to other levels after burial.Dating: The dating depends on the provenance, yet was measured with U-Pb dating of materials below the bones.  Assigning a date is critical to how evolutionists perceive the specimen’s relationship to human ancestry.Hope: No one is claiming these fossils clarify a human evolution story.  Hopes that it might are put in future tense: “This new Australopithecus sediba species might eventually clear up that debate, and help to reveal our direct human ancestors.”Credibility: Lee Berger, the lead author of the paper, has been involved in sharp controversies with other paleoanthropologists about which hominids represent human ancestors.  Michael Balter wrote for Science,2 “Some of Berger’s other past claims have sparked strong criticism, including a highly publicized 2008 report of small-bodied humans on Palau, which Berger thought might shed light on the tiny hobbits of Indonesia.  But other researchers say the Palau bones belong to a normal-sized modern human population.”  Berger gave this new fossil a suggestive name: sediba is local lingo for “wellspring” – as if his discovery can garner significance merely by naming it that way.Candidacy: Michael Balter’s headline in Science accompanying the paper is more guarded than the popular press: “Candidate Human Ancestor From South Africa Sparks Praise and Debate.”Dispute: Balter quoted Tim White’s opinion: “Given its late age and Australopithecus-grade anatomy, it contributes little to the understanding of the origin of genus Homo.”Burial: The authors’ hypothesis about how the bones were buried contains many ad-hoc elements (see below).Sequence: Balter considered the opinion of Chris Stringer of the London Natural History Museum: in summary, “At no earlier than 2 million years old, A. sediba is younger than Homo-looking fossils elsewhere in Africa, such as an upper jaw from Ethiopia and a lower jaw from Malawi, both dated to about 2.3 million years ago.”Deflation: Even Lee Berger, the discoverer, made this admission: “Berger and his co-workers agree that the Malapa fossils themselves cannot be Homo ancestors but suggest that A. sediba could have arisen somewhat earlier, with the Malapa hominins being late-surviving members of the species.”Meaning: All Balter could say in conclusion is confusion: “However they are classified, the Malapa finds ’are important specimens in the conversation’ about the origins of our genus, says [Susan] Ant�n [New York U], and ‘will have to be considered in the solution.’”  The statement implies that the conversations do not include solutions – only questions.A second paper accompanying the discovery announcement considered the geological context of the fossils.3  It defends a hypothesis that the skeletons were buried in a debris flow into the cave before scavengers could harm them.  Others, however, are not so sure: “Geochemist Henry Schwarcz of McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, notes that the team suggests that the hominin bodies might have been moved by river flows after they fell into the cave from holes in the earth above,” explained Michael Balter.  “If so, the fossils may not be tightly associated with the dated deposits below and above them.”  Dirks et al dispute that, calling attention to the fact that “the bones were partly articulated with each other, implying that they were buried soon after death.”  A lot of interpretation depends, however, on the dating of the sediments above and below the bones.  The paper’s hypothesis includes many ad-hoc elements: carnivores were attracted to vertical shafts where prey animals had fallen to their deaths: “These factors could have operated to accumulate a diverse assemblage of carcasses in the chamber below, away from carnivore activity,” the authors speculated.  “The sediments imply that subsequent high-volume water inflow, perhaps the result of a large storm, caused a debris flow that carried the still partially articulated bodies deeper into the cave, to deposit them along a subterranean stream.”  It would seem this complex sequence of happenstance occurrences would obfuscate any conclusions about dating.Update 04/09/2010: True to tradition, the counter-claims quickly ensued.  “Please, please, not again,” moaned Carl Zimmer in Slate, recalling the hype about Ida last year (05/19/2009, 03/03/2010).  Zimmer accepts evolution but denies (with Berger) that the term “missing link” have any validity.  As for this fossil, “None of the experts I spoke to this week were ready to accept Berger’s hypothesis about A. sediba’s special place in the hominin tree,” he said.  “It might actually belong to a different branch of hominin evolution.  It may have evolved its Homo-like traits independently of our own ancestors.”  It would seem its ability to illuminate much of anything about human history is dubious.  Zimmer quoted Daniel Lieberman of Harvard admitting, “The origins of the genus Homo remain as murky as ever.”    Meanwhile, Nature News weighed in on the significance (or lack of it) of this fossil.  “Claim over ‘human ancestor’ sparks furore,” headlined Michael Cherry: “the researchers’ suggestion that the fossils represent a transitional species in human evolution, sitting between Australopithecus and Homo species, has been criticized by other researchers as overstated.”  Quotes from Tim White (UC Berkeley) were especially harsh.  He said the Berger team’s claim that these skeletons had anything to do with the rise of Homo is “fossil-free speculation” adding with Ida overtones, “the obsession with Homo in their title and text is difficult to understand outside of a media context.”  Another said the bones could represent nothing more than variation within other known species.  Another noted that the earliest Homo skeleton predates this find by half a million years.  Berger countered that the earlier fossils are less complete.  A supporter of Berger’s classification may have taken more than he gave when he said, “The Malapa specimens will rekindle the debate about the validity of the taxon Homo habilis, and will make us look more carefully at the variability of Australopithecus africanus and her sister species.”  (For info on Homo habilis, see 08/09/2007, 05/27/2009, and 09/21/2009).  Cherry ended his article with doubt: “the latest finds raise important questions about the ancestry of humans.”  That statement raises the possibility that Berger’s fossil is a step backwards in understanding.  For difficulties with the Homo classification, see the 05/27/2009 entry.1.  Berger et al, “Australopithecus sediba: A New Species of Homo-Like Australopith from South Africa,” Science, 9 April 2010: Vol. 328. no. 5975, pp. 195-204, DOI: 10.1126/science.1184944.2.  Michael Balter, “Candidate Human Ancestor From South Africa Sparks Praise and Debate,” Science, 9 April 2010: Vol. 328. no. 5975, pp. 154-155, DOI: 10.1126/science.328.5975.154.3.  Dirks et al, “Geological Setting and Age of Australopithecus sediba from Southern Africa,” Science, 9 April 2010: Vol. 328. no. 5975, pp. 205-208, DOI: 10.1126/science.1184950.If the storytellers cannot agree on their own story, why should the audience judge the performance a history class rather than a comedy?  The bones are real; the interpretations are highly questionable and fallible.  Most likely this is another extinct ape out of many extinct apes that lived not so long ago.  Wishful-thinking Darwinian paleoanthropologists are eager to divine human attributes in whatever bones they find.  They fight and squabble over where the bones fit into their mental picture of how philosophers emerged from screeching monkeys in the trees.  Pay them no mind; we’ve seen this comedy show so many times before, and we know the eventual outcome.  Someone else will appear on stage with a new bone and announce, “Everything you know is wrong.” (02/23/2001, 02/19/2004).(Visited 35 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more


Denel in the black after 10 years

first_imgThe Agusta A109 Light Utility Helicopter isone of many products of Denel SaabAerostructures, a subsidiaryof Denel. Denel CEO Talib Sadik is confident theparastatal is on the path to self-sufficiency.(Images: Denel)MEDIA CONTACTS• Sinah PhochanaGroup Communications ManagerDenel+27 12 671 2662 or +27 79 511 6257Bongani NkosiAfter returning a profit for the first time in a decade, the state-owned arms manufacturer Denel looks set to turn the tide on financial losses and dependence on the government for capital.Denel announced its R111-million* net profit for the financial year ending March 2011, which is considered a welcome improvement as the group had ended in the red every year since 2001, and posted a loss of R246-million in 2010.“We are pleased with our results, and particularly because the business generated cash from operations of R178-million, compared to last year when we utilised R344-million,” outgoing group CEO Talib Sadik said in a statement.Denel said the annual results, released on 6 June, are encouraging in light of the challenging local and global market environment.The statement also expressed the CEO’s confidence that the company was “firmly on the path to self-sufficiency, prosperity and sustainability”.Management competence is one of the factors that resulted in income gains, noted the group’s financial director, Fikile Mhlontlo.“The results have been influenced by improved efficiencies, cost-containment exercises, improvement of financial performance by associates and significant once-off items,” he said.Denel’s incoming chairman, Zoli Kunene, can already predict profit stability in the group, thanks to the promising results. He said: “During the last five years Denel has seen a steady turnaround, culminating in this year’s operating profit.“The immediate objective must now be to secure the orders that are in the pipeline and move the company towards a position where it is no longer dependent on government financial support,” Kunene added.The group was particularly pleased by the fact that Denel’s marketing strategies and efforts had paid off, said outgoing chairman Dr Sibusiso Sibisi. This resulted in increases on export contracts concluded in the previous year.The public enterprise even scored its largest export ever during the year.Settling debtDenel’s debt funding balance remains high at R1.85-billion, resulting in a staggering annual interest charge of R118-million.The group plans to negotiate settlement options to bring interest down to reasonable levels.“We are engaging the shareholder with a view to restructuring the funding balance in order to reduce the interest burden,” said Mhlontlo.DSA needs to improve The public enterprise’s fortunes are largely dented by losses at its subsidiary Denel Saab Aerostructures (DSA). It incurred a loss of R237-million, which is still a 28% reduction from the previous financial year.The “successful implementation of the turnaround plan” adopted in 2009 helped improve DSA’s expenditure to R104-million, down from R263-million. The plan focused on improving manufacturing competence, among other things.“The narrower loss and improved efficiencies notwithstanding, DSA will still require further shareholder support over the next five years to ensure it becomes self-sustainable,” the group said.DSA is positioned as a leading designer and manufacturer of metallic and component aerostructures for the military and commercial aviation industry. It supplies aircraft manufacturers like Airbus, AgustaWestland, Boeing and Saab with the locally made aerostructures.Had DSA achieved the required results, Denel’s net profit would have at least gone up to R348-million, noted Sadik.DSA should bank on the imminent adoption of the Aerospace Sector Development Plan for profit sustainability.Role in the economyWith about 6 500 employees, Denel is one of the largest employers in the country. It draws some of South Africa’s most talented engineers and artisans, which means that keeping it as a viable entity would certainly be in the nation’s interest.The group estimates that its involvement in the local market resulted in the creation of 30 000 skilled technical jobs recently, through sub-contractor companies.It drew supplies worth over R2-billion from local businesses during the financial year to March 2011, contributing to sustained employment.“Denel’s economic footprint reaches far beyond the financial performance detailed in the group’s financial statements,” said Sadik.“As a significant employer we are making steady progress in human capital development as part of our drive to be a world-class and well respected South African company.”* The South African rand was R6.71 to the US dollar at the time of publishing.last_img read more


How to Know The Number of Shots a DSLR Camera Has Taken

first_imgIf you’re looking to verify the use of a camera you can quickly see how many shots (or shutter actuations) it has taken using these handy apps.Cameras, like any piece of mechanical equipment, will break down over time. After enough use the moving parts will simply wear out.There are instances then, when it is important to know just how many times a camera has been used. Perhaps you’re looking to buy a used camera body or are simply curious about how much life you may have left in yours (you don’t want to be stuck out on a shoot with an old, faulty camera). You can measure how used a camera is by looking at the shutter actuations.Every time a picture is taken on a DSLR camera the shutter opens and closes – one actuation.In this post we’ll share a few FREE shutter actuation apps that will tell you your cameras shutter count, as well as info on the average life of popular DSLRs based on shutter actuations.Canon Shutter ActuationsHere are two free Canon shutter actuation apps that make it quick and easy to determine previous shot counts..Shutter Count Tools is a FREE PC based app that’s LearningDSLRVideo.com recommended. You can download it here. Check out the following quick tutorial on how to use it:Mac users will want to check out ShutterCount, a simple app that will display shutter actuation and serial number for Canon DSLRs. At $1.99 it’s nearly free. ShutterCount can be downloaded from the app store here.Maximum Shutter Actuations Life Prediction for Canon Cameras (taken from this forum):Canon EOS Digital Rebel XS / 1000D – 100,000Canon EOS Digital Rebel T1i / 500D – 100,000Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi / 450D – 100,000Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi / 400D – 50,000Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT / 350D – 50,000Canon EOS 50D – 100,000Canon EOS 40D – 100,000Canon EOS 30D – 100,000Canon EOS 20D – 50,000Canon EOS 10D – 25,000Canon EOS 5D Mark II – 150,000Canon EOS 5D – 100,000Canon EOS 1D Mark III – 300,000Canon EOS 1D Mark II N – 200,000Canon EOS 1DS Mark III – 300,000Canon EOS 1DS Mark II – 200,000Nikon Shutter ActuationsNikon (and Pentax) shooters can determine shutter actuations by uploading a still photo from the camera to MyShutterCount.com. Image file types supported include: “Nikon’s NEF, Pentax’s DNG and PEF format, and of course JPG.”Maximum Shutter Actuations Life Prediction for Nikon Cameras (taken from ShutterActuations.com):Nikon D4 – 400,000Nikon D3, D3x, D3s – 300,000Nikon D800/D800E – 200,000Nikon D700, Nikon D600 – 150,000Nikon D7000, D300s, D300 – 150,000Nikon D5100, D5000, D3100, D3000, D90 – 100,000last_img read more


10 months agoValencia coach Marcelino wants to send Batshuayi back to Chelsea

first_imgValencia coach Marcelino wants to send Batshuayi back to Chelseaby Carlos Volcano10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveValencia want to cut short the loan of Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi.AS says the decision was made a month ago, with the Belgian failing to convince coach Marcelino and Los Che directors.Batshuayi had joined Valencia on a season-long loan, with a permanent option of €35m. But now VCF want to send him back to Chelsea next month.They paid €3m for the 12-month loan.The decision is being driven by Marcelino, who wants a more mobile and aggressive centre-forward to lead his attack. TagsTransfersLoan MarketAbout the authorCarlos VolcanoShare the loveHave your saylast_img


8 days agoChelsea hero Cole on coaching philosophy: I’m stealing from Mourinho, Ancelotti & Wenger!

first_imgAbout the authorFreddie TaylorShare the loveHave your say Chelsea hero Cole on coaching philosophy: I’m stealing from Mourinho, Ancelotti & Wenger!by Freddie Taylor8 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveAshley Cole says he will take bits and pieces from all of his former managers on his coaching journey.The former Chelsea and Arsenal fullback is currently undertaking his coaching badges.”Everyone has their own philosophy but you also have to take ideas that you like from different coaches,’ he told the club’s website. “The first thing I learned on my coaching badges was that every coach is a thief!”I want to take parts of Jose Mourinho in terms of how organised he was, Carlo Ancelotti for his man-management and how he would give players faith to go out and express themselves within his system and Arsene Wenger, who was definitely a great man-manager and put a lot of trust in young players to find things out for themselves and learn quickly from mistakes. It’s about being adaptable.”Asked about his aspirations, Cole added: “I want to be the best. I’ve been around a lot of great players and managers so it’s about understanding what it takes.”I understood as a player what it took to be the best and now it’s about trying to transfer that into how I can be the best as a coach.” last_img read more


12 hours agoBarcelona players blanked Spanish media after Champions League win

first_imgBarcelona players blanked Spanish media after Champions League winby Carlos Volcano12 hours agoSend to a friendShare the loveBarcelona players blanked the Spanish media after their Champions League win over Slavia Prague.Sport says despite picking up a victory, no-one wanted to speak with the media following the contest. It was left to Sergio Busquets, who had been substituted and was in the dressing room, who came back out to fulfil the media requirements pitchside. Goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, after returning to the dressing room, also gave an interview to ‘Movistar’. He was one of a handful of squad members who spoke to outlets. No-one stopped in the ‘mixed zone’ to speak with the assembled radio stations who were waiting for a brief interview. About the authorCarlos VolcanoShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more


Assam docs abstain from work to protest colleagues killing

first_imgGuwahati: Doctors in Assam were on a 24-hour strike on Tuesday to protest the assault on an elderly doctor at a tea garden that led to his death, officials said. Emergency services have been kept out of the purview of the stir. Seventy three-year-old Dr Deben Dutta had succumbed to his injuries after being assaulted by relatives of a tea garden worker who died while undergoing treatment at a hospital at Teok Tea Estate in Jorhat district on Saturday. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’Responding to a call by the Assam unit of the Indian Medical Association, doctors at government and private hospitals as well as consultation chambers are staying away from work from 6 am but attending emergency services, they said. Doctors, including junior medical practitioners, in six government medical college hospitals and civil hospitals, family referral units and primary health centres are providing services only in emergency and casualty departments, health department officials said. The IMA has demanded that the government ensure exemplary punishment to the culprits and beef up security measures like installing surveillance cameras in all health establishments including those in tea gardens. A total of 26 people have been taken into custody from Teok tea estate in connection with the doctor’s killing. Inspector General of Police (law and order) Deepak Kedia visited the tea estate to take stock of the situation. Jorhat Deputy Commissioner Roshni Aparanji Korati had ordered a magisterial inquiry into the assault on Dutta, who was working in the tea garden hospital after his retirement without remuneration.last_img read more


RCMP say investigation of teens overdose death in Langley BC will take

first_imgThe Canadian Press LANGLEY, B.C. — The RCMP say they have taken almost 40 statements in their investigation of the apparent overdose death of a boy in Langley, B.C, that prompted them to open a tip line for information on the youth’s final hours.The Mounties say the boy was pronounced dead at a local hospital on Aug. 7 and it is believed he spent his last hours in various parks as early as noon on that day.They say he was on foot between a skateboard park, a secondary school and athletic park in Walnut Grove.A GoFundMe page is raising money to cover the funeral costs for Carson Crimeni.The page started by a family friend refers to media stories of a video circulated on social media that reportedly shows people filming and photographing the boy while he overdoses.“While the circumstances surrounding his death are still being investigated, it is not clear whether this tragedy could have been avoided,” the GoFundMe page says.Cpl. Holly Largy of Langley RCMP would not discuss whether the video is related to the police investigation and said the investigation began when police received a call about an individual who was in “distress.”“The video is out in the public domain. It’s everywhere,” she said.“All of the evidence collected will form part of the investigation.”Members of Crimeni’s family could not be reached from comment on Tuesday, but the boy’s grandfather told News1130 that they are grateful for the fundraising effort on their behalf.“It does help,” he said. “It takes the train of thought away from tragic and horror to something a little more positive.”The RCMP set up a 24-hour tip line seeking anyone who may have interacted with the boy before he died, as well as anyone who might have seen interactions between the youth and others.“At this point it’s an investigation,” said Largy. “So, specifically what’s being found in the various statements that are being taken it’s unknown … if its reached a criminal stage.”The investigation could take a “long time,” Largy said.“We’ve taken almost 40 statements up to this point. So the amount of work that’s going to be required to compile all that information and get it to the Crown prosecutor I think will be quite lengthy.”last_img read more



first_imgAdvertisement Facebook Twitter Login/Register With: Toronto, Canada – Following Global’s recent acquisitions for 9-1-1 and A.P. Bio, the network adds another highly anticipated and buzz-worthy series Rise to its robust midseason schedule. Premiering in a special preview Tuesday, March 13 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Global, Rise is a heartening new drama about finding inspiration in unexpected places.From Jason Katims, executive producer and showrunner of Friday Night Lights and Parenthood, and Hamilton producer Jeffrey Seller, Rise follows dedicated teacher and family man Lou Mazzuchelli (Josh Radnor, How I Met Your Mother), who sheds his own self-doubt and takes over his high school’s lackluster theatre department. With Lou’s determination and inspirational approach, he galvanizes not only the faculty and students, but the entire working-class town.The 10-episode emotional drama also features seven students who navigate the complications of their high school years, showcasing their struggles of accepting their own teen angst, family dramas, and how the theatre program will ultimately help them shed their insecurities and open up to the world. LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Advertisement Advertisement Along with Radnor, Rise also stars Rosie Perez (Bounty Hunters), Marley Shelton (The Lottery), Auli’i Cravalho (Moana), Damon J. Gillespie (Inside Amy Schumer), Amy Forsyth (The Path), Rarmian Newton (The Family), Ted Sutherland (The Deuce), Casey Johnson (GLOW), Taylor Richardson (Annie), Joe Tippett (Gary Matters) and Shirley Rumierk (Collateral Beauty).Viewers who miss the emotional drama enfold can catch up on Rise following the broadcast the next day on GlobalTV.com, Global GO, Apple TV, and on demand.SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:Twitter:@GlobalTV Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/GlobalTV/Instagram:https://www.instagram.com/globaltv/Global Television is a Corus Entertainment Network.About Corus Entertainment Inc.Corus Entertainment Inc. (TSX: CJR.B) is a leading media and content company that creates and delivers high quality brands and content across platforms for audiences around the world. The company’s portfolio of multimedia offerings encompasses 45 specialty television services, 39 radio stations, 15 conventional television stations, a global content business, digital assets, live events, children’s book publishing, animation software, technology and media services. Corus’ roster of premium brands includes Global Television, W Network, OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network Canada, HGTV Canada, Food Network Canada, HISTORY®, Showcase, National Geographic Channel, Q107, CKNW, Fresh Radio, Disney Channel Canada, YTV and Nickelodeon Canada. Visit Corus at www.corusent.com.last_img read more