Press Goes Ape Over Baby Lucy

first_imgThe news media, especially National Geographic, BBC News, and Associated Press (see Fox News) have new fodder for human-evolution stories and artwork, now that a partial skeleton of Australopithecus afarensis has been reported in Nature.1  The teeth, cranium, shoulder blades, fingers, inner ear, hyoid bone and other well-preserved parts match “typical African ape morphology.”  This is not a new discovery.  The research team has been gently extracting the pieces of bone from cemented sandstone for five years.  They submitted their initial paper in for publication in April, but estimate it will take several more years to extract remaining fragments from the matrix.    Based on tooth morphology, they estimate this specimen to have been a 3-year old female.  Because of the species affinity with “Lucy” (though found some 10 km from Johanson’s famous fossil), some are nicknaming this skeleton “Lucy’s baby” (but the discoverers have nicknamed her Salem, “peace”).  The skeleton from the waist up is very ape-like, indicating a life in the trees, they claim.  Though more complete than previous A. afarensis fossils, it lacks the pelvis; only a foot, pieces of leg bones, kneecaps “as small as a dried pea” provide anatomists with evidence to claim she walked upright – one of the most contentious parts of the debate over the older Lucy fossil.    The authors indicated that several parts of the skeleton have been distorted in the burial process: “The cranium is intact except for parts of the frontal squama and significant parts of both parietals, which have broken away to reveal the complete natural brain endocast (Fig. 1d),” the paper states.  “The back of the calvaria is slightly distorted, pushing the nuchal region forward (Fig. 1f).”  Later, “The articulated postcranial elements in the primary sandstone block include both scapulae and clavicles, the cervical, thoracic and the first two lumbar vertebrae, and many ribs.  They are displaced from their original anatomical positions, and are compressed superiorly under the cranial base and the palate, making preparation difficult (Fig. 1b, c).”  The scientific papers, furthermore, tend to be less dogmatic than the press releases.  The authors only say that this skeleton resembles Lucy, and are tentative about the age, which the popular press state confidently as 3 years old.  Furthermore, the authors understand that interpretations of life habits based on bones is not an exact science:Now that the scapula of this species can be examined in full for the first time, it is unexpected to find the strongest similarities with Gorilla, an animal in which weight-bearing and terrestrial knuckle-walking predominately characterize locomotor use of the forelimbs.  Problematic in the interpretation of these findings is that the diversity of scapula architecture among hominoid species is poorly understood from a functional perspective.Most surprising, this specimen was apparently buried suddenly in a watery flood along with many other animals:This depositional setting, combined with the remarkable preservation of many articulated faunal remains lacking evidence of preburial weathering, most likely indicates that the juvenile hominin was buried as an intact corpse shortly after death during a major flood event.This is echoed by Wynn et al. who, in the same issue of Nature,2 described the geological setting of the fossil:This depositional setting, combined with the remarkable preservation of many articulated faunal remains lacking evidence of preburial weathering, most probably indicates rapid deposition during major flood events, burying many fossils as intact corpses (including the juvenile hominin).In the vicinity of the skeleton were found bones of catfish, mouse, rat, monkey, baboon, mongoose, elephant, extinct horse, rhino, hippo, pig, bushbuck, giraffe, antelope, impala, gazelle, crocodile, coral snake, tortoise, and other animals.    In the same issue of Nature,3 Bernard Wood called Lucy’s baby “a precious little bundle.”  He agrees, “The corpse of the infant was buried more or less intact, and the sediment in flood waters must have swiftly covered it.”  As to this species’ ability to walk upright, Wood is equivocal:There remains a great deal of controversy regarding the posture and locomotion of A. afarensis.  Most researchers accept that it could stand upright and walk on two feet, but whether it could climb up and move through trees is still disputed.  Some suggest that its adaptations to walking on two feet preclude any significant arboreal locomotion, and interpret any limb features that support such locomotion as evolutionary baggage without any useful function.  Others suggest that a primitive limb morphology would not have persisted unless it served a purpose.Wood leaves any complete understanding to the future.  After exploring several questions this fossil opens, he ended, “Whatever the answers to such questions, the Dikika infant has the potential to provide a wealth of information about the growth and development, function and taxonomy of A. afarensis.”  He told Associated Press that this find won’t settle the debate among scientists, which he said “makes the Middle East look like a picnic.”  National Geographic, though, was all ready with artwork, videos and special features about Lucy on the day of the announcement, and Scientific American went all-out with a special feature, including a clickable diagram of each bone fragment.  On the other hand, Carl Wieland, a creationist with Creation Ministries International, considers this good news.  The more complete skeleton confirms what critics have alleged for years, that Lucy was a tree-climbing, knuckle-walking ape that did not walk upright.1Alemseged et al., “A juvenile early hominin skeleton from Dikika, Ethiopia,” Nature 443, 296-301(21 September 2006) | doi:10.1038/nature05047; Received 22 April 2006; Accepted 6 July 2006.2Wynn et al., “Geological and palaeontological context of a Pliocene juvenile hominin at Dikika, Ethiopia,” Nature 443, 332-336(21 September 2006) | doi:10.1038/nature05048; Received 24 April 2006; Accepted 6 July 2006.3Bernard Wood, “Palaeoanthropology: A precious little bundle,” Nature 278-281(21 September 2006) | doi:10.1038/443278a; Published online 20 September 2006.When you scrape away the hype and artistic license, most of the details of the actual bones seem to back up criticisms by creationists that this is nothing more than an extinct ape.  The only portions of the skeleton that evolutionists use to claim this creature had something to do with human evolution are the least preserved: the leg and foot bones.  They interpret these to mean it walked upright, as if walking upright is the main human distinctive.  The best-preserved parts of the skeleton, by contrast, are clearly ape-like and argue against this extinct ape being a walker.  Read the articles skeptically, without assuming what the evolutionists assume, and the evidence is profoundly unconvincing for the claims made about it.  Everything from the backbone up is well within the charts for an ape, not a human wannabee.  The paleontologists admitted, also, that the skeleton has been deformed; how does that affect the interpretation, when assessing function from structure is “poorly understood” under the best of conditions?    This fossil also creates other problems for the evolutionists.  Consider, for instance, how the evidence for arboreal (tree-climbing) behavior, based on the fingers and shoulder blades, scrambles the Lucy story: “The foot and other evidence from the lower limb provide clear evidence for bipedal locomotion [sic], but the gorilla-like scapula and long and curved manual phalanges raise new questions about the importance of arboreal behaviour in the A. afarensis locomotor repertoire.”  This means that evolutionists must now either consider the tree-climbing equipment as “evolutionary baggage” or believe that this creature climbed trees half the time and walked upright the other half.  (Only human boys exhibit this behavior today, but they quickly grow out of it.)  If Darwin’s mechanism could produce instant phyla at the Cambrian, why couldn’t it get rid of its baggage just as quickly?  On the other hand, if Baby Lucy was happy in the treetops, why was there evolutionary pressure to make her strut on the ground, when other primates found buried with her did not feel the same pressure?  And how can minorities endure the racism implicit in the artwork (see Yahoo) that always shows these alleged primitives with dark skin?    The Darwin Party baby shower for Salem is, therefore, highly overblown, as is usual for human-evolution celebrations.  They don’t seem to be focusing quite as much on the remarkable collection of animals buried with the little she-ape.  If a sudden flood of this magnitude occurred today, burying this many animals in the same graveyard all at once, wouldn’t it be international news?  This was not a volcanic landslide; it was a watery catastrophe.  Notice how much the media are going out of their way to characterize this ape as a child and a baby when they won’t even afford that dignity to a human embryo.  It is time to get rid of the evolutionary baggage and discover the real Peace Child.(Visited 23 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

See Joburg on the big screen in the new Avengers movie

first_imgSouth Africa has a strong connection to the latest Hollywood blockbuster, Avengers: Age of Ultron. A fight between The Hulk and Iron Man takes place in Joburg, which features a few times in the movie, and Cape Town visual effects studio BlackGinger had a hand in the film’s visual effects.Wearing a ‘Hulk buster’ suit, Iron Man takes on The Hulk in the Joburg’s inner city streets. (Image: Gauteng Film Commission) Priya Pitamber Johannesburg’s city centre takes on an almost sepia, old world appearance in a fight sequence between the Hulk and Iron Man in the latest instalment of Marvel Comic superheroes, in the movie Avengers: Age of Ultron. Look closely and you can spot the old Rissik Street Post Office and the fountains at the Gauteng Provincial Legislature.“Johannesburg has a very particular look and style to its architecture that I really liked,” said director Joss Whedon. “It has very much its own rhythm, its own feel, its own tones, and there’s an earthiness to the way it looks. It is very different from the other locations we shot. You know immediately you’re not in North America.”In the fight scene, Iron Man puts on a special “Hulk buster” suit he created in case the Hulk got out of control.“The team has come to the coast of Africa to find Ultron and Scarlet Witch who has gotten to [Bruce] Banner and basically given him a nightmare experience so overwhelming that he becomes not just the Hulk but the Hulk Hulking out,” explained Whedon.Location, location, locationTo improve on the Avengers movie franchise, the production team took inspiration from James Bond movies and featured an assortment of locations. “How can they show such great scenery?” executive producer Jeremy Latcham explained the Bond inspiration to news site Yahoo UK. “How can they be in so many cool locations? And we wanted to tap into a little bit of that.”He said you could see the extras were better and felt more real because it was not shot on a back lot or soundstage. Besides South Africa, scenes were also shot in South Korea, Italy and the UK. “It’s fun to go to these other big locations. We shot a sequence in Johannesburg, a big fight scene, right in the middle of downtown Johannesburg, and you feel it when you watch it.”Whedon said he wanted to take a global perspective on the Avengers, what kept them busy and who they were. “We wanted to see their effect on the world because they’re all over being the Avengers,” he said. “It’ a global thing and also doesn’t that make everybody love them? So we wanted to see both sides of that.”Joburg is greatLatcham said they looked all over the African continent to film the fight scene. Johannesburg was “the place to be” because it was film-friendly. “In the downtown streets we flew helicopters, crashed cars and exploded massive pyrotechnics.“When you’re bringing a movie of this size, you need a government that’s going be welcoming, co-operative and give you the access to the city that you need.”He said it was exciting to find governments that wanted filmmakers to show off their cities. “I think the people of Johannesburg are going to be thrilled to see their city well represented up on the big screen.”Whedon also shared his praise. “The government has been great, the city has been great and people have just opened their doors to us and we couldn’t have done it on this scale without that.”At the time of the shooting, Mark Ruffalo, who plays the character of The Hulk, joked on Twitter:@pranav1490 @SamuelLJackson Sorry for the mess. I can keep a lid in it usually but when I blow it’s bad.— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) February 25, 2014According to the Gauteng Film Commission (GFC) shooting took place for 10 days in early 2014 and “was one of the biggest productions ever undertaken in Johannesburg”. Local talent included 315 film crew members, 11 cast members, 647 extras, and 26 Johannesburg-based trainees recruited from local filming schools.In post-production, some of the visual effects were done by Cape Town visual effects and animation studio, BlackGinger. The studio and its world-class talent are name-checked in the credits for their work on clean-up and rotoscoping, creating some of the dust and debris effects, and object replacement. It was a small slice of the pie, but took a lot of hard work over three months with extremely tight deadlines.Movie premise and reactionThe movie follows the adventures of Marvel’s superhero team – Iron Man, The Hulk, Captain America, Black Widow, Hawkeye and Thor – and is based on the comic book series The Avengers. It stars Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner and Samuel L Jackson.The movie opened on 24 April in South Africa, a week before it gets to American big screens on 1 May. The GFC has urged movie goers to watch the film and tweet their enjoyment of it, using the hashtag #AvengersJozi.At the premiere in Johannesburg on 22 April, viewers were impressed and took to Twitter:The new #AgeOfUltron is amazing!!! Premiere in Joburg was epic… stoked to have been invited! #AvengersJozi— Brent Lindeque (@BrentLindeque) April 23, 2015“@Ennovy_Nova: Couldn’t hide my inner nerd tonight Avengers is an epic movie! Avengers Assemble! #AvengersJozi” Great movie — Laroyal (@pcy_nhlabathi) April 24, 2015Hulk vs Ironman and SAPS in Johannesburg CBD was best part…poor Carlton Centre. #AvengersAgeOfUltron #AvengersJozi— Israel Phiri (@israelphiri) April 23, [email protected] @IamNaomiM @FilmFound @GautengFilmCom #AvengersJozi great film! Are those buildings in Jozi still alright after HulkVsIronman fight?— Carlo McFarlane (@CarloMcFarlane) April 23, 2015Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.last_img read more

Made in Canada, eh!— Geocache of the Week

first_imgLocation:British Columbia, CanadaN 49° 18.358 W 124° 21.329 This week’s Geocache of the Week is THE most popular cache in Canada, worthy of its 503 favorite points. Made in Canada, eh! Is also Canada’s largest Ammo Can. At 122cm x 91cm x 49cm (4ft x 3ft x 1.6 ft), this metal ammo can and its giant pencil and logbook are hard to miss. It’s so big and so loved it even made the front page of the local paper.And oh, did we mention that this geocache even offers free WiFi? No joke. Check out the cache listing page. You may even get the chance to meet the Cache Owners at the nearby Dutch Import Store with the giant wooden shoe out front.For all of these reasons, GC2Y8Q8 is a great example of a cache to introduce your friends and family to how fun  geocaching can be.One of the coolest things about the cache is that it was constructed at the local Kwalikum Secondary School by the shop boys and their teacher. It’s pretty impressive how these middle school students were able to replicate the classic ammo can in a giant form.There is lots of enthusiasm on the cache page that will get you pumped to find Made in Canada, eh!BearClaw1“Discovered this one almost completely by accident. And what a nice surprise!!! I was by too early in the morning when I first attempted it, but knew that I had to come back after reading the webpage to get a look at this one. Glad that I did. A favorite for sure and as always, TFTC.”xDraconianx“This cache was our first order of the day, how can we make a trip to the island and not find this one?! Easily found and we enjoyed sifting through the contents of the cache, also loved the logbook and giant pencil. Met the owner (and contributed to the local economy); we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Tftc!”Fleuve“I had heard so much about this cache, and decided it was time to “discover” and log it today, as I was in the area. What a wonderfully well-crafted creation it is! Loved all the details, inside and out. Went inside and had a nice chat afterwards – it was great meeting you! Many thanks for this memorable cache.” TraditionalGC2Y8Q8by Coombs Wooden Shoe SharePrint RelatedLa trappe à géocacheur (Bilingual) — Geocache of the WeekOctober 11, 2017In “Community”Step inside my geocache. — Tschröuwe-Galari (GC3V52D) — Geocache of the WeekOctober 2, 2014In “Geocache of the Week”Don’t forget to bring proper headwear. – Head Case (GC2TD8M) – Geocache of the WeekMay 15, 2013In “Community”center_img To search for other beginner caches great for newbie geocachers, check out our search tool and make sure to set the difficulty and terrain ratings to 1.5 or lower. Happy caching!Continue to explore some of the most amazing geocaches around the world.Check out all of the Geocaches of the Week on the Geocaching blog. If you would like to nominate a Geocache of the Week, fill out this form.Share with your Friends:More Difficulty:1Terrain:1last_img read more