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Welcome ‘Homo Naledi’ in human race!

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

20150912_stp004Johannesburg: So the human race has a new creature in the family now!  On Thursday, an international team of more than 60 scientists led by Lee R Berger  in Johannesburg announced the new species found in the caves of South Africa. The name Homo Naledi refers to the cave where the bones lay undisturbed for so long; “naledi” means “star” in the local Sesotho language.

The species measured about 5-feet tall and had the brain size of chimpanzees. There is evidence of a powerful thumb and a complex wrist that are distinctly human-like—clear signs of regular tool use. But the fingers are strongly curved, suggesting hands that were also regularly used for climbing. The bones, they argue, look strikingly similar to those of early Homo Erectus, a forerunner of modern humans who wandered southern Africa 1.5m years ago.

Dr Berger said, “With almost every bone in the body represented multiple times, Homo Naledi is already the best-known fossil member of our lineage.”

Christoph Zollikofer, an anthropologist at the University of Zurich, said many of the bone characteristics indicated that the creature as a new species is seen in more primitive animals, and by definition it cannot be used to define a new species.

“If this is an ancient species, like a coelacanth, that has come down through time and is only tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands of years old, it means that during that time we had a complex species wandering around Africa, perhaps making tools. That would make archaeology very difficult, because we are not going to know who made what,” Berger said.

Dr Berger is an American paleoanthropologist who is a professor of human evolution studies at the University of the Witwatersrand.

  • aquape

    This is a great discovery & excavation, but prof Berger’s interpretations (human ancestor, deliberate burial, tool maker, distance runner) are anthropocentric.
    Homo or Australopithecus naledi is not unexpected (in fact predicted, google: aquarboreal). Comparative anatomy suggests that naledi were bonobo-like forest-swamp or wetland waders who fed on aquatic herbaceous vegetation (AHV, e.g. sedges, frogbit, waterlilies) like lowland gorillas & bonobos do (google: bonobo wading) but more frequently.
    They fossilised in mud-stone (stagnant water). The curved hand-bones were for vertical climbing in the branches above the swamp like bonobos do. With their long thumbs, they swam & collected floating herbs (AHV). The flat, more humanlike feet are more flamingo- (wading) than ostrich-like (running).
    It was a natural fossilisation: when they died, their bodies got almost immediately covered with (oxygen-poor) mud, and afterwards the mudstone with the abundant (google: gorilla bai) fossils slid side- & downwards (on average a few centimetres every thousand years).
    The more humanlike primitive feet are no argument for making them Homo: prenatal chimps also have longer & adducted big toes (S.Coon) and female highland gorillas keep these into adulthood (A.Schultz).

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  • aquape

    This is a great discovery & excavation, but prof Berger’s interpretations (human ancestor, deliberate burial, tool maker, distance runner) are anthropocentric.
    Homo or Australopithecus naledi is not unexpected (in fact predicted, google: aquarboreal). Comparative anatomy suggests that naledi were bonobo-like forest-swamp or wetland waders who fed on aquatic herbaceous vegetation (AHV, e.g. sedges, frogbit, waterlilies) like lowland gorillas & bonobos do (google: bonobo wading) but more frequently.
    They fossilised in mud-stone (stagnant water). The curved hand-bones were for vertical climbing in the branches above the swamp like bonobos do. With their long thumbs, they swam & collected floating herbs (AHV). The flat, more humanlike feet are more flamingo- (wading) than ostrich-like (running).
    It was a natural fossilisation: when they died, their bodies got almost immediately covered with (oxygen-poor) mud, and afterwards the mudstone with the abundant (google: gorilla bai) fossils slid side- & downwards (on average a few centimetres every thousand years).
    The more humanlike primitive feet are no argument for making them Homo: prenatal chimps also have longer & adducted big toes (S.Coon) and female highland gorillas keep these into adulthood (A.Schultz).

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Flamingo Chicks In South Africa In Danger Due To The Drought

SANCCOB is one of several centers across South Africa caring for around 2,000 chicks that were rescued from the dam. 

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Flamingo Chicks
A rescued lesser flamingo chick is treated by officials after being moved from a dam in the Northern Cape province to the SANCCOB rehabilitation center in Cape Town, South Africa Jan. 30, 2019. VOA

Rescuers are moving hundreds of dehydrated lesser flamingo chicks from their breeding ground at a drought-stricken South African dam to a bird sanctuary in Cape Town, to save them from death by starvation and lack of water.

Their birthplace, Kamfers Dam in the Northern Cape, is one of only three breeding grounds for the famously pink birds in southern Africa, the other two being in Namibia and Botswana, according to researcher Katta Ludynia.

The rescued chicks take three to four months to fledge, and it is not yet clear whether they will eventually be released back into the wild in Cape Town or transported back hundreds of kilometers to their home in Kimberley, she said.

Flamingo CHicks
A rescued lesser flamingo chick is fed after being moved from Northern Cape province to the SANCCOB rehabilitation center in Cape Town, South Africa, Jan. 30, 2019. VOA

“There are still several thousand birds breeding in the dam in areas that still have water,” said Katta Ludynia, research manager at the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB). “It now depends on the water levels whether these birds will pull through.”

Ludynia said the sanctuary was caring for around 550 chicks, most of them dehydrated when they arrived Monday after having been abandoned by parents who went off in search of food.

The chicks are being moved to the sanctuary by plane and road.

Flamingo Chicks
A rescued lesser flamingo chick peers out of a box after being moved from a dam in the Northern Cape province to the SANCCOB rehabilitation center in Cape Town, South Africa Jan. 30, 2019. VOA

SANCCOB is one of several centers across South Africa caring for around 2,000 chicks that were rescued from the dam.

Also Read: A Rise in 2 degrees Celsius In Global Warming Could Cause Droughts

Although it hosts the biggest population of lesser flamingoes in southern Africa, Kamfers Dam, north of Kimberley, is often dry and depends mainly on rainwater. It also gets some water from a sewerage works that releases water into its wetlands.

“The dam in Kimberley is so important because it is manageable, so we can secure the water level there. That might be the only site the flamingos can breed in southern Africa, if the drought continues in other areas,” Ludynia said. (VOA)