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Environmental Scientist

Journal Archives

Before they left Africa, early modern humans were 'culturally diverse'

Researchers have carried out the biggest ever comparative study of stone tools dating to between 130,000 and 75,000 years ago found in the region between sub-Saharan Africa and Eurasia. They have discovered there are marked differences in the way stone tools were made, reflecting a diversity of cultural traditions. The study has also identified at least four distinct populations, each relatively isolated from each other with their own different cultural characteristics.

The research paper also suggests that early populations took advantage of rivers and lakes that criss-crossed the Saharan desert. A climate model coupled with data about these ancient water courses was matched with the new findings on stone tools to reveal that populations connected by rivers had similarities in their cultures. This could be the earliest evidence of different populations ‘budding’ across the Sahara, using the rivers to disperse and meet people from other populations, says the paper published in the journal, Quaternary Science Reviews.

The researchers from the University of Oxford, Kings College London and the University of Bordeaux took over 300,000 measurements of stone tools from 17 archaeological sites across North Africa, including the Sahara. For the first time they combined the stone tool data with a model of the North African environment during that period, which showed that the Sahara was then a patchwork of savannah, grasslands and water, interspersed with desert. They also mapped out known ancient rivers and major lakes, building on earlier research by Professor Nick Drake, one of this paper’s co-authors. By modelling and mapping the environment, the researchers were then able to draw new inferences on the contexts in which the ancient populations made and used their tools. The results show, for the first time, how early populations of modern humans dispersed across the Sahara, one after the other 'budding' into populations along the ancient rivers and watercourses.

Lead researcher Dr Eleanor Scerri, visiting scholar at the University of Oxford, said: 'This is the first time that scientists have identified that early modern humans at the cusp of dispersal out of Africa were grouped in separate, isolated and local populations. Stone tools are the only form of preserved material culture for most of human history. In Africa, owing to the hot climate, ancient DNA has not yet been found. These stone tools reveal how early populations of modern humans dispersed across the Sahara just before they left North Africa. While different populations were relatively isolated, we were interested to find that when connected by rivers, they share similarities in their tool-making suggesting some interaction with one another.'


Plants may use language to communicate with each other, Virginia Tech researcher finds

BLACKSBURG, Va., Aug. 15, 2014 – A Virginia Tech scientist has discovered a potentially new form of plant communication, one that allows them to share an extraordinary amount of genetic information with one another.

The finding by Jim Westwood, a professor of plant pathology, physiology, and weed science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, throws open the door to a new arena of science that explores how plants communicate with each other on a molecular level. It also gives scientists new insight into ways to fight parasitic weeds that wreak havoc on food crops in some of the poorest parts of the world.

His findings were published on Aug. 15 in the journal Science.

“The discovery of this novel form of inter-organism communication shows that this is happening a lot more than any one has previously realized,” said Westwood, who is an affiliated researcher with the Fralin Life Science Institute. “Now that we have found that they are sharing all this information, the next question is, ‘What exactly are they telling each other?’.”



'Go Ahead and Shoot Me': The Veteran Who Defied Ferguson's Cops

FERGUSON, Mo. — David Hoech was the last, and most unexpected, protester of the night. The 74-year-old Vietnam veteran drove 60 miles to Ferguson, where for the last three days unrest has gripped the town following Michael Brown’s killing by a cop. Hoech approached the line of police and SWAT vehicles in his sedan late Tuesday, turned around, and parked. When he opened the door, he leaned on his oxygen tank as police shone a spotlight on him. He walked across West Florissant Avenue, recently vacated by a large, boisterous, yet peaceful crowd that told police “We are Mike Brown.”

David Hoech also had something to say.

“The only thing that matters in all of this is that mother who lost her son,” he said not far from the police line. “I want to give her a hug and tell her I love her. I have four kids and eight grandkids and I haven’t had to bury any one of them. What she’s going through must be terrible.”

“I want to go back there and talk to the people,” Hoech told officers at the police line, eventually succeeding and becoming the only person allowed through all night. “This is America. I can go where I want to go. And if you’re going to shoot my ass, go ahead and shoot me.”

the rest


The Day Ferguson Cops Were Caught in a Bloody Lie

Police in Ferguson, Missouri, once actually charged a man with destruction of property for bleeding on their uniforms while four of them allegedly beat him.

“On and/or about the 20th day of Sept. 20, 2009 at or near 222 S. Florissant within the corporate limits of Ferguson, Missouri, the above named defendant did then and there unlawfully commit the offense of ‘property damage’ to wit did transfer blood to the uniform,” reads the charge sheet.

The address is the headquarters of the Ferguson Police Department, where a 52-year-old welder named Henry Davis was taken in the pre-dawn hours on that date. He had been arrested for an outstanding warrant that proved to actually be for another man of the same surname, but a different middle name and Social Security number.

“I said, ‘I told you guys it wasn’t me,’” Davis would subsequently testify.

Davis would recall the booking officer saying, “We have a problem.”



Friday Toon Roundup 2: The Rest


Middle East





Friday Toon Roundup 1: American War Zone

Mike Luckovich Toon- Mayberry 2014

Thursday TOON Roundup 4- The Rest





Thursday TOON Roundup 3- Politics




Thursday Toon Roundup 2- Iraq again and again

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