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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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No more Standing in Queues for Long Hours! Now South Africans to get Medicine from Vending Machines

Hutiri explains why he created the Pelebox

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vending machines
Inventor Neo Hutiri poses in front of one of his Peleboxes. (T. Khumalo/VOA)

An innovative system to dispense medicine to patients with chronic illnesses is taking off in South Africa. The award-winning “Pelebox,” created by South African engineer Neo Hutiri, is a computer-controlled vending machine stocked with prescription drugs, which patients access using a personal code.

The Pelebox has been hailed as a life saver for many, who use often-crowded South African hospitals and clinics. The medicine dispenser resembles the common automated teller machine and functions in a similar way. Hutiri explains why he created the Pelebox.

“If you have been to public clinics, one of the biggest challenges that you face is spending hours and hours to get access to your chronic medication. The idea was very simple: Can we create a technology, locally manufactured, locally born idea where we can get somebody to collect medication in a couple of seconds, instead of waiting for hours?” asked Hutiri.

Details of each patient are uploaded into a computer system connected to the machine. The patient must indicate the clinic or point where they want to get their medication. The machine consists of a simple wall of lockers controlled by a digital system. And Hutiri, who once had a chronic illness, explains the most exciting experience for patients.

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Jenifer Shingange, a patient with a chronic illness, says the Pelebox has been a god-sent for her (T. Khumalo/VOA)

“We take pre-packed medicine, we would scan the medicine, load it inside the unit. It then sends an SMS to a patient saying ‘Neo your medication is ready for collection, here is a one-time pin, please come and collect your medication at Winnie Mandela clinic.’ The patient simply walks to the unit. On that touch screen, enters their cell phone together with a pin. It pops open the door. They collect and they are on their way,” said Hutiri.

The technology, first introduced in 2016, has been a hit among patients. There are 11 Peleboxes already operational across the country. For years, 45-year-old Jenifer Shingange, a beneficiary of the technology, had to line up at dawn to collect her medication every month. She says since she started getting her drugs from the Peleboxes, she chooses a time that suits her, including after work.

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“I would like to say very thank you. Thank you so much. What is making me excited is that when I come here I don’t stand in a long queue. I just put my cellphone and pin and press and get my treatment,” said Shingange.

The Aurum Institute, a leading health care organization that has partnered with Hutiri, expects to introduce 10 more machines in the city of Ekurhuleni. Up to 26 machines will be functioning across the country by September. With each of the Peleboxes serving over 1,200 patients a month, authorities say they will go a long way toward shortening lines in hospitals and clinics. (VOA)