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No bedbugs for early humans

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first_imgArchaeologists sorting excavated material at Sibudu cave. (Image: Christine Sievers) Leaves in a plaster jacket. In the latest discovery new evidence of well preserved and fossilised plant bedding, dating back 77 000 years, has been found.(Image: Marion Bamford) Sibudu sediments showing evidence for the burning of plants. (Image: Lyn Wadley) MEDIA CONTACTS • Lindsay Marshall   Maropeng  +27 14 577 9021 RELATED ARTICLES • Maropeng sets green standard • Maropeng top evotourism destination • Angola a fossil hotspot • SA varsity leads the way in geosciencesWilma den HartighArchaeological excavations have delivered yet another significant find – this time at a rock shelter near Durban in KwaZulu-Natal province. The fossil discovery, made by a team of researchers, reveals fascinating insights into the development of behavioural practices of early modern humans in Southern Africa.Archaeologists have been excavating the middle Stone Age site at the Sibudu cave, a sandstone cliff in northern KwaZulu-Natal about 40km north of Durban, since 1998.In the latest discovery new evidence of well preserved and fossilised plant bedding, dating back 77 000 years, has been found.The fossilised leaves and other artefacts discovered at Sibudu, such as the oldest bone and arrow, the oldest needle, and fossilised grass stems and leaves, are now on show in a new fossil display at Maropeng at the Cradle of Humankind in Gauteng.Evidence of modern human behaviourThe discovery is an important addition to South Africa’s existing archaeological collection.What makes the plant bedding discovery so significant is that it reveals new information about the evolution of modern human behaviour, and shows how early Homo sapiens lived.Lindsay Marshall, curator at Maropeng, says that similar evidence has been discovered elsewhere in the world, but these discoveries date back to a more recent period than that of the Sibudu caves.The newest discovery is 50 000 years older than earlier reports of preserved bedding.The fossilised leaves reveal that early humans were using plants with insect repellent properties and placing them on the ground to sleep on – and possibly to live and work on too.This discovery could also be the earliest evidence of modern floor coverings, such as the carpets that we have in our homes today.According to the research team, led by Wits University archaeologist Prof Lyn Wadley, the findings suggest that during the Middle Stone Age, 77 000 years ago, our human ancestors had the cognitive ability to choose plants that contained insect repellent to sleep on.The fossilised grass stems and leaves were most likely sourced from the uThongathi River near Sibudu. Wits botanist Marion Bamford identified the leaves as belonging to Cryptocarya woodii, also known as the Cape laurel or river wild quince.The leaves of this tree contain chemicals that are insecticidal, and would be suitable for repelling mosquitoes.Wadley says that the selection of these leaves for the construction of bedding suggests that early inhabitants of Sibudu had an intimate knowledge of the plants surrounding the shelter, and were aware of their medicinal uses.Microscopic analysis of the bedding, conducted by Christopher Miller, a junior professor in geoarchaeology at the University of Tübingen in Germany, suggests that the inhabitants repeatedly refurbished the bedding during the course of occupation.In what could be an early form of house cleaning, the microscopic analysis found that the inhabitants of Sibudu regularly burned the bedding after use, possibly as a way to remove pests.According to Miller, this would have prepared the site for future occupation and indicates a novel use of fire for the maintenance of an occupation site.A rare fossil displayMarshall says that this discovery is one of a long list of important finds at Sibudu over the past decade. Over the years, this rock shelter has become a highly valuable site for archeological research.Other items discovered during the excavations include perforated seashells, believed to have been used as beads.“It is interesting to wonder what the beads were used for,” she says. “They were probably used either as gifts or for exchanges with other communities. Either way they had value,” she says.Wadley considers the discovery of the fossil plants and the perforated shells as major career highlights.“Sibudu is only the second site in South Africa where these shells have been found,” she says. “The other is Blombos Cave in the Western Cape.”Sharpened bone points which could have been used for hunting were also found at Sibudu, and indicate some of the earliest examples of modern human technology.The exhibition consists of lots of smaller items such as pieces of stone tools, tiny shells and fossilised leaves that can be viewed with magnifying glasses placed in each display cabinet.At a glance it might seem like a random collection of bits and pieces of stone, but what you are actually looking at are rare finds that are usually not displayed in exhibitions open to the public.“In the exhibition you look at small things, but their historical significance is huge,” says Marshall. “These discoveries are usually reserved for laboratories and journals.”• The exhibition, What makes us human: The significance of the Sibudu cave shelter, runs until the end of May at the Maropeng.last_img read more

SAA, Nal’ibali take youngsters on reading adventure

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first_imgYoung readers from the Soweto’s Nal’ibali reading club, Mighty Stars, to place the first copies of the magazine in the seat pockets of an SAA aeroplane. (Image: Nal’ibali)South African Airways (SAA) and the Nal’ibali reading for enjoyment campaign have joined forces once again to produce a second edition of their Story Power magazine to continue inspiring a love of reading among young South Africans.To mark the publication of the new magazine, the partners invited young readers from the Soweto Nal’ibali reading club, Mighty Stars, to place the first copies of the magazine in the seat pockets of an SAA aeroplane.“The 2014 Nal’ibali edition proved so popular among children and their caregivers that the partners will once again be offering young travellers a brand-new story written by a local author, fun literacy activities and ideas for parents to help keep their children reading over the holiday period,” said Musa Zwane, general manager shareholder.“In addition, little listeners will also be able to enjoy Nal’ibali audio stories as part of SAA’s in-flight entertainment schedule on regional flights.”THE POWER OF WORDSThe audio stories, together with the magazine, form part of Nal’ibali’s Story Power drive, created in the hope of getting books into the hands of as many South Africans as possible. “Research shows that children who read regularly and for enjoyment perform better at school in all subjects, including science and maths,” says Jade Jacobsohn, Nal’ibali’s managing director.“Reading and sharing stories is something all families can do – especially during the school holidays, which is the perfect time to start a storytelling tradition at home.”To further encourage the children to continue with their reading routines, SAA Chief Captain Sifuso Masuku reminded them of the importance of reading and how it could help shape their dreams, as it did for his own dreams.Poet Natalia Molebatsi also demonstrated how she put the power of words to use by sharing some of her work and engaging the children in an interactive poetry performance.THE STORY CONTINUESNal’ibali offers children access to an array of online resources such as literacy-building tips and a selection of stories in their home languages.Those looking to make use of these resources can visit Nal’ibali’s website or its mobile site.last_img read more

The 50 Most-Blogged Albums of 2009, Streaming Free: HypeMachine Zeitgeist Out Now

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first_img5 Outdoor Activities for Beating Office Burnout Related Posts marshall kirkpatrick 4 Keys to a Kid-Safe App 12 Unique Gifts for the Hard-to-Shop-for People…center_img Hype Machine, the smart, long-running MP3 blog aggregator, has posted its annual collection of the most-blogged-about albums, songs and musical artists of the year. Once again, the project is a pleasure to consume and will unfold throughout the month of January. Top albums 50 through 41, Mumford and Sons through Monsters of Folk, are available now in full for streaming.The album collection combines weighted rankings – based on submitted top 10 lists from 550 MP3 blogs – with a widget from Grooveshark to listen to the album, and a Creative Commons photo of each band. It’s quite nice. The newest addition to the project is unusually low-tech; it’s artist renditions of the top 50 musical artists of the year.Last year’s Zeitgeist combined different technology to present the top albums and is still available as a list. It’s not as easy to listen to, though, perhaps because it was powered by Imeem, which MySpace bought and made a tragic mess of last month.This year’s Hype Machine Zeitgeist is another example of the awesome potential of free online music combined with smart technology and excellent design. Check it out and be inspired. Is this era the end of the music industry? It sure doesn’t need to be. 9 Books That Make Perfect Gifts for Industry Ex… Tags:#music#news#web last_img read more

NGO seeks probe into recurring elephant deaths in Odisha

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first_imgWith 45% elephant mortality allegedly caused due to unnatural reasons in Odisha, Wildlife Society of Orissa (WSO), an environmental pressure group, has demanded institution of an inquiry into recurring elephant deaths and fixing of accountability on negligent forest officers.In nine months since April 1 this year, as many as 67 elephants have died while 30 of these deaths have been found to be unnatural ones, says WSO analysis.“The elephant mortality data show that in about 45% of the cases, death was caused by unnatural reasons including about 20% due to poaching by weapons and electrocution. In about 28% of the cases, no prima facie reason for death could be ascertained some of which would certainly be due to unnatural reasons,” says the analysis.“It is also very disconcerting that in most unnatural deaths, the victims have been adult breeding male elephants. Odisha loses 18 to 20 of such elephants every year, threatening the health and sustainability of their population. Already 18 such adults have died in Odisha since April,” said Biswajit Mohanty, WSO secretary.Seeking action against State forest officers in a letter addressed to the director of Project Elephant, Mr. Mohanty, former member of National Biodiversity Board, charged, “Odisha has now become the elephant graveyard of India with deaths being reported almost every week. The State forest department has not been able to stop this despite crores of rupees spent on patrolling and protection.” “The main reason is lack of accountability as no senior officer is punished for negligence or lack of supervision. Only forest guards and foresters are suspended,” he pointed out.last_img read more

CWG in trouble as England rethinks participation

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first_imgCommonwealth Games plunged into deep trouble today after England admitted their participation is “on a knife-edge” while Scotland athletes delayed their departure to Delhi and Wales set a deadline of Wednesday evening for the organisers to certify all venues and Games Village are safe.A footbridge collapsed near the main venue of the Games yesterday, which injured more than a dozen people, and the desperate state of the Athletes’ Village — described by Commonwealth officials of some countries as “unfit for human habitation” — has cast major doubts over foreign athletes turning up in India.Should the Commonwealth Games be called off? To vote from your mobile, SMS for Yes or for No to 52424.And now the collapse of a small portion of a false ceiling at the weightlifting arena added to the gloom surrounding the event.Commonwealth Games England chairman Sir Andrew Foster admitted that they will have to make a quick decision — within 24 to 48 hours — on whether to take part in the Games.”I think the next 24 to 48 hours is the critical time which will tell us whether the Village — which is where the main problem is now — has got enough accommodation for everybody to come into it. I think we’re at an absolutely vital time (regarding) whether the major teams go,” Foster told BBC Breakfast.”Our staff have been round all 17 sports venues and they are in good order, so the key remaining feature which there’s a problem with is the village. The other problems have been resolved. It’s a situation that hangs on a knife-edge. It is not certain and we will not be sending our team unless we are confident,” he said.advertisementFoster, however, was still hopeful that the Indian government and the organising committee would be able to save the Games even though at this late hour.”The village still has a lot of remedial work needing to be done. But it is the case in India, when building projects are coming to a conclusion, that that is a typical way that things happen and that is quite a big cultural difference.’The safety of the athletes has to be our primary concern. But equally, we cannot just respond to that alone, we have to evaluate the whole thing together and that is what we are doing.’Commonwealth Games Scotland chairman Michael Cavanagh said that the first party of 41 athletes and staff in boxing, rugby sevens and wrestling will now not be travelling tomorrow as planned.”By delaying the arrival of our athletes by a few days, we hope to give the Delhi 2010 Organising Committee the necessary time to address the concerns that have been raised by both the Commonwealth Games Federation and the countries which arrived early,” Cavanagh said.”We have discussed this with the sports involved and are in agreement that this is the best course of action under the circumstances. Whilst this is an untimely alteration to their plans, it will ultimately cause less disruption to their final training and preparation than if they were to arrive in the Games Village which is not yet fit for purpose and fully functional.”Scotland is hugely committed to the Commonwealth Games. Our team on the ground will continue to monitor the situation, however we will not compromise on areas of athlete health, safety and security. We need urgent action from the Commonwealth Games Federation and the Delhi Organising Committee to address these crucial issues,” he said.Wales are also considering their options after giving the Games organising committee a deadline of Wednesday evening to confirm if all venues and the Village are fit for purpose.A Team Wales statement read, “The health and safety of our team has always been our top priority – which is why we’ve been so desperate to resolve the issues in the Games Village.With yesterday’s news of the bridge collapse and now the roof of the weightlifting venue, we have to take a step back and examine how safe it is to bring athletes into this environment.”We have given the Organising Committee a deadline of this evening to confirm if all venues and the Games Village are fit for purpose. On the basis of that announcement, we will be contacting athletes via our team managers and advise them of the latest position and will issue a further update.”Interestingly, despite the scathing criticism from the CGF chief, the Organising Committee said that the matter was not something for which it should be ashamed of.advertisement”It (cleanliness of Games Village) is not such a big issue which we should be ashamed of. This will not affect the Games. For us and for you it is clean. But they (the foreign countries) have a different standard of cleanliness.”It is a matter of difference in perception,” Secretary General of the OC, Lalit Bhanot had said.The build-up to the Games, starting on October 3, have been marred by a series of controversies, including corruption allegations against the organisers, threats of terror attack and dengue fever.The opposition, BJP, meanwhile, asked Prime Minster Manmohan Singh to take a “personal interest” in hosting the Commonwealth Games as the OC , Central and Delhi governments had adopted a “casual and careless approach”.”The Group of Ministers (GOM on CWG), the Government of India and the Delhi government cannot escape from their failures and accountability. The Prime Minister should himself step-in and assure the nation that everything will be done timely and every care will be taken,” senior BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu said.The Congress said all lacunae will be plugged and that the country will hold a successful Games.”We are deeply concerned. If there is culpability and allegations, it will be looked into. But now, we have to show to the world that India can hold a successful Commonwealth Games. All lacunae will be plugged,” party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said.last_img read more

Ben Woodburn’s debut scorcher gives Wales vital victory against Austria

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first_imgShare via Email Share on Twitter Share on Pinterest “I think it’s one of those nights you’ll remember,” said Coleman. “We’ve had one or two of those the last few years. In the first half, to be fair to Austria, they would be disappointed it was 0-0. We weren’t at our best, that’s for sure. But the second half was different; we were more aggressive, more offensive. That said, it needed something special to win the game and, of course, we got that from young Ben.“I think we need three wins still. If the Republic beat Serbia and we win our games it drags Serbia back into it. It’s been hard this campaign, it’s always felt like we’ve been playing catch-up, trying to claw our way back into it. We’re still chasing both of them. But now we need to take care of business. Tuesday will be just as tough for different reasons and we’ve got to be a lot better than we were in the first half tonight.”Five consecutive qualifying draws had led some to suggest that the Welsh were suffering a hangover from last year’s heroics at the European Championship. The truth is that Group D is a highly competitive one, with each of the four sides at the top of the group slugging it out from a relatively equal standing. Coleman was correct in his assessment that Austria dominated the opening half at the Cardiff City Stadium; a midfield with David Alaba at its heart can cause most nations serious difficulties. Wales 1-0 Austria: World Cup 2018 qualifier – as it happened Supported by two defensive midfielders, including the deft playmaking skills of the captain, Julian Baumgartlinger, Alaba was offered licence to dictate play and in the opening 45 minutes the Bayern Munich star was happy to oblige. His relationship with Marko Arnautovic was particularly fruitful, the West Ham man offering a constant option on the left and beating Chris Gunter on the outside at will.Wales’s back three were often forced into a five as they tried to plug the holes Alaba was finding. But desperate as it sometimes seemed, it was also just about effective and only once in the first half did the Austrians get behind the Welsh defence. A superlative through-ball from Baumgartlinger found Arnautovic but he blazed over with time and space to do much better. Wales, for their part, might have scored on the counter had Ben Davies’s touch not let him down after a Gareth Bale backheel set him free in the box.Coleman had seen enough at half-time and brought on Andy King for Jazz Richards, to mirror the Austrian formation. Aaron Ramsey was granted the Alaba role and embraced it with similar relish, forcing the play and seeing two well-struck efforts – one close up and one from range – turned away from goal as much by luck as judgment.While their performances have been consistent in this group, Wales’s results – losing the lead twice in Austria and doing the same with a late concession away to Serbia – have not always matched up and the effect on confidence was uncertain as the stalemate dragged on. But with 20 minutes to go Coleman made another aggressive move, taking off Sam Vokes and the lively Tom Lawrence for Hal Robson-Kanu and Woodburn. Topics Reuse this content It was the right call once again. Less than five minutes later a Bale cross was driven across the edge of the Austrian box. Both centre-backs had a go at clearing it, neither managing to, and the ball came to Woodburn, who last December became Liverpool’s youngest ever scorer in a League Cup tie against Leeds. With an obvious clarity of purpose he took a touch infield, turned square on goal and hammered the ball to Heinz Lindner’s right and into the corner of the net.The Cardiff crowd, which had maintained a boisterous atmosphere throughout the match, duly exploded. Coleman danced a jig down the line. Austria threatened to equalise only once, the Alaba-Arnautovic axis fashioning one more opportunity for the winger, but the West Ham man was denied by Ashley Williams, the captain turning the shot over the bar with his head. The dragon was roaring just as it did last summer and Moldova face a tricky proposition on Tuesday. Read more World Cup World Cup 2018 qualifiers The Observer Wales Ben Woodburn’s rise no surprise despite Klopp’s kid-gloves approach at Liverpool Share on Facebook Shane Duffy header not enough for Republic of Ireland to see off Georgia Austria Share on WhatsApp match reports Share on LinkedIn Read more Read more Share on Messenger It was one of those pure strikes, the ball slicing through the air as if aided by aerodynamic enhancement, the keeper diving merely to keep up appearances. There was no stopping Ben Woodburn’s first international goal, scored just five minutes after the 17-year-old had made his international debut. It was a timeless moment, a goal that makes you stand up in your seat and shake the person next to you to check what you saw definitely happened.That it also provided Wales with three crucial World Cup qualifying points only added to the enjoyment. Chris Coleman’s side face Moldova on Tuesday just two points behind the Republic of Ireland, knowing if they win their final three matches they will earn second place in Group D, at least.last_img read more