General

VIDEO: Drug and Alcohol Courts to be extended

BBC test - Wed, 2015-02-18 08:16
A pioneering approach for helping families in care cases is to be extended.
Categories: General

VIDEO: Doctors told to reduce antibiotics

BBC test - Wed, 2015-02-18 08:10
Doctors need to say no to patients even those insistent on having antibiotics.
Categories: General

Desert tribes lived in sophisticated villages and were skilled metalworkers, says archaeologist

24 Hour Museum - Wed, 2015-02-18 00:00
Professor David Mattingly, of the University of Leicester, says the early medieval expansion of trade and settlement built on the work of a prehistoric tribe called the Garamantes.
Categories: General

New species of extinct British marine reptile emerges from Doncaster Museum storeroom

24 Hour Museum - Wed, 2015-02-18 00:00
A new type of ichthyosaur, an extinct marine reptile which was alive during the time of the dinosaurs, has been identified from a fossil found on Dorset’s Jurassic coast.
Categories: General

What did Robert Burns look like? Burns Birthplace Museum on the many faces of The Bard

24 Hour Museum - Wed, 2015-02-18 00:00
From a forensic reconstruction to a Lego re-imagining, the Robert Burns birthplace Museum is investigating the many faces of Scotland's favourite son.
Categories: General

The story behind the 19th century Death Mask of Napoleon

24 Hour Museum - Wed, 2015-02-18 00:00
Find about the death mask which has gone on show at the British Museum as part of Bonaparte and the British: Prints and Propaganda in the Age of Napoleon.
Categories: General

Music Museum in Coventry's 2-Tone Village plans expansion after attracting thousands of fans

24 Hour Museum - Wed, 2015-02-18 00:00
The museum based in Coventry's 2-Tone Village is looking for a name and sponsor for three new galleries in a neighbouring building following 15 months of success.
Categories: General

VIDEO: 'Manchester al-Qaeda plot' trial starts

BBC test - Tue, 2015-02-17 23:00
A man accused of being involved in al-Qaeda plots to bomb targets in England and the United States has gone on trial in New York.
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VIDEO: Jeweller chases armed thieves with bat

BBC test - Tue, 2015-02-17 21:09
Dramatic CCTV pictures show the moment a shop owner chased two thieves armed with axes out of his London jewellery store during a smash-and-grab raid.
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VIDEO: On red carpet with Best Exotic stars

BBC test - Tue, 2015-02-17 21:05
Dame Judi Dench and Celia Imrie at the Royal Gala premiere of the Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
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VIDEO: The Hunting Act: Ten years on

BBC test - Tue, 2015-02-17 19:49
Claire Marshall reports on how fox hunting has changed in the ten years since the Hunting Act.
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Introducing ‘Soup News’

Heritage Daily - Tue, 2015-02-17 17:30

Welcome to the new approach to archaeological news from Archaeosoup Productions.

The post Introducing ‘Soup News’ appeared first on HeritageDaily - Heritage & Archaeology News.

Categories: General

Down syndrome theory on Hobbit species doesn’t hold to scrutiny

Heritage Daily - Tue, 2015-02-17 17:15
Claims that bones found in an Indonesian cave are not the remains of a new species of extinct hominin but more likely modern humans suffering from a chromosomal disorder have been disputed by a new look at the evidence.

Last year Prof Maciej Henneberg, of the University of Adelaide, and his colleagues sparked intense debate among human evolution researchers when they published a pair of papers (here and here) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Henneberg and colleagues argued that the so-called Hobbits – known by their scientific name Homo floresiensis – were not a new species of early hominin but just small-bodied modern humans with Down syndrome.

It’s now more than ten years since a joint Indonesian-Australian team led by the late Prof Michael Morwood announced the discovery of the famous Hobbit fossils from the site of Liang Bua on the island of Flores, Indonesia.

Opinions about the significance of the fossils for our understanding of human evolution are generally accepted by the majority of the scientific community, although some researchers argue that the Hobbits are pathological modern humans.

But the Down syndrome argument does not hold on the basis of the evidence from the two lower jaws (mandibles) from the site, which belong to individuals known as LB1 and LB6, as we argue in a reply published this month, also in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA.

Here we summarise the main points we make in our reply.

No support for a key claim

The LB1 and LB6 mandibles are crucial to Henneberg and colleagues’ argument. Both specimens have a “negative chin,” which is where the outer surface of the bone at the front of the mandible, below the incisors, recedes.

The researchers who first described the Hobbit fossils argued that this trait sets the LB1 and LB6 mandibles apart from modern humans, who have a protruding chin, and aligns them with the early hominins, who have negative chins (as shown in the image below of the African Homo ergaster fossil OH 22 below).

The mandible of Olduvai Hominid 22 (OH 22) illustrates the archaic nature of the negative chin. Professor Colin Groves

Henneberg and colleagues reject this claim. They contend that negative chins are often found among the indigenous people of Australia and Melanesia. Consequently, they suggest, the occurrence of negative chins on LB1 and LB6 does not stop them from being modern humans.

Henneberg and colleagues offer three pieces of evidence in support of their assertion that negative chins are commonplace among the indigenous people of Australia and Melanesia: two previous studies and a photograph (see figure S3 in the Supporting Information) of a mandible from an Australian archaeological site called Roonka.

Unfortunately, none of these pieces of evidence withstands scrutiny. One of the studies has not been published, which means that it has not been peer-reviewed and therefore does not meet the minimum standard of scientific quality.

The other study has been published in a respectable peer-reviewed scientific journal but has since been severely criticised.

And the Roonka mandible does not have a negative chin. This can be seen clearly in the figure (below), which compares a CT scan of the LB1 mandible with a CT scan of the Roonka mandible.

The mandible of LB1 (in blue) compared to that of an indigenous person from the archaeological site of Roonka, Australia. CT scan of LB1 courtesy Prof Mike Morwood; CT scan of Roonka 45 generated by Assoc Prof Arthur Durband

Thus, there is no reason to believe that Australo-Melanesians often have negative chins and therefore no reason to overturn the assessment that the negative chins in LB1 and LB6 precludes their attribution to Homo sapiens.

More inconsistent data

The chin is not the only feature of the LB1 and LB6 mandibles that does not support Henneberg and colleagues’ argument.

A study that was published several years ago identified a number of other traits that LB1 and LB6 share with early hominins but not with modern humans.

One of these traits can be seen in both the photograph of the OH 22 mandible and the CT scan of the LB1 mandible. On the inside of the front of the mandible there is a bulge. Such “buttresses” are common in early hominin mandibles but are not found in modern human jaws.

A second trait that distinguishes the LB1 and LB6 mandibles from those of modern humans is the presence of distinct gap between the end of the tooth row and the rear section of the jaw.

A third trait that links LB1 and LB6 with the early hominins rather than modern humans is the form of their tooth roots.

Henneberg and colleagues ignored these traits, but their presence in LB1 and LB6 provides strong support for the hypothesis that the Liang Bua fossils are the remains of early hominins and not those of modern humans.

Taking it on the chin

The Down syndrome hypothesis is the latest in a long line of attempts to explain the features of the Liang Bua hominin fossils as pathologies.

It should be the last, we think.

The mandibular evidence disproves the idea that LB1 and LB6 are modern humans, and there are a number of other lines of evidence that do so too, as the work of Prof William Jungers, Prof Peter Brown, and several other colleagues has demonstrated.

It is time for the field to move on. The Hobbits are a new species of early hominins not modern humans with Down syndrome or indeed any other pathological condition.

Written by

Michael Westaway

Senior Research Fellow, Environmental Futures Research Institute at Griffith University

Arthur Durband

Associate Professor of Anthropology at Texas Tech University

Mark Collard

Canada Research Chair in Human Evolutionary Studies, and Professor of Archaeology at Simon Fraser University

The Conversation CC

The post Down syndrome theory on Hobbit species doesn’t hold to scrutiny appeared first on HeritageDaily - Heritage & Archaeology News.

Categories: General

Plants survive better through mass extinctions than animals

Heritage Daily - Tue, 2015-02-17 17:08
At least 5 mass extinction events have profoundly changed the history of life on Earth. But a new study led by researchers at the University of Gothenburg shows that plants have been very resilient to those events.

For over 400 million years, plants have played an essential role in almost all terrestrial environments and covered most of the world’s surface. During this long history, many smaller and a few major periods of extinction severely affected Earth’s ecosystems and its biodiversity.

In the upcoming issue of the journal New Phytologist, the team reports their results based on more than 20,000 plant fossils with the aim to understand the effects of such dramatic events on plant diversity. Their findings show that mass extinction events had very different impacts among plant groups. Negative rates of diversification in plants (meaning that more species died out than new species were formed) were never sustained through long time periods. This indicates that, in general, plants have been particularly good at surviving and recovering through tough periods.

“In the plant kingdom, mass extinction events can be seen as opportunities for turnover leading to renewed biodiversity,” says leading author Daniele Silvestro.

Most striking were the results for the Cretaceous-Paleogene mass extinction, caused by the impact of an asteroid off the Mexican coast some 66 million years ago. This event had a great impact on the configuration of terrestrial habitats and led to the extinction of all dinosaurs except birds, but surprisingly it had only limited effects on plant diversity.

Some important plant groups, such as the gymnosperms (including pines, spruce and firs) lost a great deal of their diversity through extinction. On the other hand, flowering plants (angiosperms) did not suffer from increased extinction, and shortly after the impact they underwent a new rapid increase in their diversity. These evolutionary dynamics contributed to make flowering plants dominate today’s global diversity above all other plant groups.

“Mass extinctions are often thought as a bad thing, but they have been crucial in changing the world into how we know it today,” says senior author Alexandre Antonelli.

If that asteroid had not struck the Earth, chances are that large dinosaurs would still be hunting around, mammals would be small and hiding in caves, and humans might never have evolved.

“By studying such extreme events we are trying to learn which groups of organisms and features are more sensitive to changes, so that we can apply this knowledge to protect biodiversity in the face of on-going climate change and human deterioration of natural ecosystems,” concludes Antonelli.

University of Gothenburg

The post Plants survive better through mass extinctions than animals appeared first on HeritageDaily - Heritage & Archaeology News.

Categories: General

VIDEO: Facelift for home of UK motor racing

BBC test - Tue, 2015-02-17 16:02
Brooklands in Surrey, the birthplace of British motor racing, is to get a multimillion-pound facelift to help restore it to its former glory.
Categories: General

VIDEO: Police seek woman who grabbed at baby

BBC test - Tue, 2015-02-17 16:00
Detectives are trying to trace a woman who grabbed at a toddler in a central London shop
Categories: General

VIDEO: This house believes: Dinner table politics

BBC test - Tue, 2015-02-17 15:53
In the lead-up to General Election, BBC Newsnight is heading away from the corridors of Westminster and into the homes of three families for a series of films called 'This House'.
Categories: General

VIDEO: Pancake-cam captures MPs' race

BBC test - Tue, 2015-02-17 15:08
The annual parliamentary pancake race pits the press against politicians - follow the route taken by one pancake flipper.
Categories: General

VIDEO: Why is inflation rate going down?

BBC test - Tue, 2015-02-17 10:29
The rate of UK Consumer Prices Index inflation dropped to 0.3% in January, its lowest on record, as motor fuel prices continued to fall.
Categories: General

Earliest example of death during childbirth

Stonepages - Tue, 2015-02-17 09:18
A prehistoric cemetery in Irkutsk, near the southern tip of Lake Baikal in eastern Russia, is partially covered by city development and has not been fully excavated. All 101 of...
Categories: General
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