A lungfish that uses its fins for walking could help to unravel the steps our distant relations took in order to move from water to land.
WHAT was the basis for the earliest friendships? If wild chimps are any guide: support in a fight, borrowing a valued tool, and a bite to eat now and then. Quite similar to our friendships today, in fact. Indeed, some chimps are so modern they have relationships that we would classify as friends with benefits.
Primatologists are reassessing the complexity of chimpanzee society in the light of new findings that also suggest answers to a long-standing question: why share things with non-relatives?
For the first time wild chimps in Senegal have been observed taking plant foods and tools from other chimps, who don’t react to the intrusion. The chimps donating their stuff don’t get paid, but neither do they protest. Instead, the trade appears to help build social cohesion.
What’s more, in another west African study, this time in Ivory Coast, a “market” has been described where chimps exchange commodities in the shape of both social behaviours including grooming and sex, and resources such as meat.
Christophe Boesch of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, says we have only recently begun to appreciate the time and energy chimps invest in reciprocal relationships, and he compares chimp relationships to friendship. “These findings have prompted primatologists to use some terms that have in the past been reserved for humans.”
Cosmos: A Personal Voyage with Carl Sagan. You can find the whole Carl Sagan .GIF collection here.
Fill it wisely.
Human Evolution Episode 1 (2010) (NOVA) 1/4 HD
Broadcast (2010) First Steps : Examines the factors that caused us to split from the other great apes. The program explores the fossil of “Selam,” also known as “Lucy’s Child.” Paleoanthropologist Zeray Alemseged spent five years carefully excavating the sandstone-embedded fossil. NOVA’s cameras are there to capture the unveiling of the face, spine, and shoulder blades of this 3.3 million-year-old fossil child. And NOVA takes viewers “inside the skull” to show how our ancestors’ brains had begun to change from those of the apes.Why did leaps in human evolution take place? “First Steps” explores a provocative “big idea” that sharp swings of climate were a key factor.
Nothing is more fascinating to us than, well, us. Where did we come from? What makes us human? NOVA’s groundbreaking investigation explores how new discoveries are transforming views of our earliest ancestors. Featuring interviews with world-renowned scientists, footage shot in the trenches as fossils were unearthed, and stunning computer-generated animation, Becoming Human brings early hominids to life, examining how they lived and how we became the creative and adaptable modern humans of today. In the first episode, NOVA encounters Selam, the amazingly complete remains of a 3 million year-old child, packed with clues to why we split from the apes, came down from the trees, and started walking upright. In gripping forensic detail, the second episode investigates the riddle of Turkana Boy -a tantalizing fossil of Homo erectus, the first ancestor to leave Africa and colonize the globe. What led to this first great African exodus? In the final episode, Becoming Human explores the origins of us -where modern humans and our capacities for art, invention, and survival came from, and what happened when we encountered the mysterious Neanderthals. Crucial new evidence comes from the recent decoding of the Neanderthal genome. Did modern humans interbreed with Neanderthals? Exterminate them? Becoming Human examines why we survived while our other ancestral cousins-including Indonesia’s bizarre 3 foot-high Hobbit -died out. And NOVA poses the intriguing question: are we still evolving today?
Martin Rees asks: Is this our final century?
F U C K.
This is why we can’t have nice things
The true stripes of the creationists can be seen in the following quote from Henry Morris, head of the Institute for Creation Research, that reveals his preference for faith in authority over any possible contradictory empirical evidence (and thus demonstrating their lack of scientific methodology):
“The main reason for insisting on the universal Flood as a fact of history and as the primary vehicle for geological interpretation is that God’s Word plainly teaches it! No geological difficulties, real or imagined, can be allowed to take precedence over the clear statements and necessary inferences of Scripture.”
It would be ludicrous to imagine professors at CALTECH, for example, making a similar statement of belief in Darwin’s Origin or Newton’s Principia, such that no difficulties could take precedence over the authority of the book.
The United Nations says today symbolically marks the moment when the world’s population reaches 7 billion. A little more than two centuries ago, the global population was 1 billion. How did it grow so big so fast? With the help of a sound montage and video, it gets a little easier to see how the Earth can produce that kind of a crowd.
Watch our video: 7 Billion: How Did We Get So Big So Fast
Photo: Adam Cole, Maggie Starbard / NPR
Great two-minute video. Check it out.
If people tried to kill scientists with dynamite ..