Ditsong National Museum of Natural History

Pretoria, South Africa

Ditsong National Museum of Natural History

Pretoria, South Africa
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Dietrich M.,University of Pretoria | Kearney T.,Ditsong National Museum of Natural History | Kearney T.,University of Witwatersrand | Seamark E.C.J.,AfricanBats | And 2 more authors.
FEMS Microbiology Letters | Year: 2017

Animal-associated microbiotas form complex communities, which play crucial functions for their host, including susceptibility to infections. Despite increasing attention to bats as reservoirs of zoonotic pathogens, their microbiota is poorly documented, especially for samples potentially implicated in pathogen transmission such as urine and saliva. Here, using low-biomass individual samples, we examined the composition and structure of bacterial communities excreted by insectivorous bats, focusing on three body habitats (saliva, urine and faeces). We show that niche specialisation occurs as bacterial community composition was distinct across body habitats with the majority of phylotypes being body habitat specific. Our results suggest that urine harbours more diverse bacterial communities than saliva and faeces and reveal potentially zoonotic bacteria such as Leptospira, Rickettsia, Bartonella and Coxiella in all body habitats. Our study emphasised that, in addition to the traditional use of gut-associated samples such as faeces, both urine and saliva are also of interest because of their diverse microbiota and the potential transmission of pathogenic bacteria. Our results represent a critical baseline for future studies investigating the interactions between microbiota and infection dynamics in bats. © FEMS 2016. All rights reserved.


Mortlock M.,University of Pretoria | Kuzmin I.V.,University of Texas Medical Branch | Weyer J.,University of Pretoria | Weyer J.,South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases | And 8 more authors.
Emerging Infectious Diseases | Year: 2015

As part of a larger survey for detection of pathogens among wildlife in sub-Saharan Africa conducted during 2007–2012, multiple diverse paramyxovirus sequences were detected in renal tissues of bats. Phylogenetic analysis supports the presence of at least 2 major viral lineages and suggests that paramyxoviruses are strongly associated with several bat genera. © 2015, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). All rights reserved.


PubMed | AfricanBats, University of Pretoria and Ditsong National Museum of Natural History
Type: Journal Article | Journal: FEMS microbiology letters | Year: 2016

Animal-associated microbiotas form complex communities, which play crucial functions for their host, including susceptibility to infections. Despite increasing attention to bats as reservoirs of zoonotic pathogens, their microbiota is poorly documented, especially for samples potentially implicated in pathogen transmission such as urine and saliva. Here, using low-biomass individual samples, we examined the composition and structure of bacterial communities excreted by insectivorous bats, focusing on three body habitats (saliva, urine and faeces). We show that niche specialisation occurs as bacterial community composition was distinct across body habitats with the majority of phylotypes being body habitat specific. Our results suggest that urine harbours more diverse bacterial communities than saliva and faeces and reveal potentially zoonotic bacteria such as Leptospira, Rickettsia, Bartonella and Coxiella in all body habitats. Our study emphasised that, in addition to the traditional use of gut-associated samples such as faeces, both urine and saliva are also of interest because of their diverse microbiota and the potential transmission of pathogenic bacteria. Our results represent a critical baseline for future studies investigating the interactions between microbiota and infection dynamics in bats.


PubMed | AfricanBats, University of Pretoria, Ditsong National Museum of Natural History, National Institute for Communicable Disease and University of Swaziland
Type: Journal Article | Journal: PloS one | Year: 2016

In addition to several emerging viruses, bats have been reported to host multiple bacteria but their zoonotic threats remain poorly understood, especially in Africa where the diversity of bats is important. Here, we investigated the presence and diversity of Bartonella and Rickettsia spp. in bats and their ectoparasites (Diptera and Siphonaptera) collected across South Africa and Swaziland. We collected 384 blood samples and 14 ectoparasites across 29 different bat species and found positive samples in four insectivorous and two frugivorous bat species, as well as their Nycteribiidae flies. Phylogenetic analyses revealed diverse Bartonella genotypes and one main group of Rickettsia, distinct from those previously reported in bats and their ectoparasites, and for some closely related to human pathogens. Our results suggest a differential pattern of host specificity depending on bat species. Bartonella spp. identified in bat flies and blood were identical supporting that bat flies may serve as vectors. Our results represent the first report of bat-borne Bartonella and Rickettsia spp. in these countries and highlight the potential role of bats as reservoirs of human bacterial pathogens.


Egan B.A.,University of Limpopo | Addo-Bediako A.,University of Limpopo | Toms R.,Ditsong National Museum of Natural History | Minter L.,North West University South Africa | Olivier P.A.S.,University of Limpopo
African Entomology | Year: 2015

Knowledge of the life cycle of Hemijana variegata is important for sustainable utilization of this edible insect. The fecundity and survival of H. variegata were investigated under ambient conditions in the laboratory. Eggs were laid in clutches of between 180 and 490 eggs per clutch, and took an average of 8.45 days to hatch. Hemijana variegata has five larval instars. The first-instar larvae are unable to feed on older leaves, thus survival of the larvae requires that hatching be synchronized with leaf emergence of the host plant in the field. The duration of the pupal stage varied between 32 days and more than 119 days. This wide variation may be an adaptation to annual climatic fluctuations such as years with no rain or late rainfall. This strategy might ensure their survival in areas where droughts are often experienced. The larvae had the highest mortality rate, followed by the pupae and then the eggs, with survivorship rates of 30.12 % (larvae), 63.98 % (pupae) and 98.67 % (eggs). Pupal survivorship could be higher, as 24 % of the pupae had not emerged after two years when the experiment was terminated.


Egan B.A.,University of Limpopo | Toms R.,Ditsong National Museum of Natural History | Minter L.R.,North West University South Africa | Addo-Bediako A.,University of Limpopo | And 3 more authors.
African Entomology | Year: 2014

Hemijana variegata Rothschild, an edible caterpillar of Limpopo, South Africa, is little known to science but is a delicacy in the region. Harvesters believe the caterpillar is nourishing but there are no data on its nutritional value. This study reports on the proximate nutrient analysis of sun-dried (traditionally prepared) specimens and specimens oven-dried at 60 °C for three different time periods (24, 48 and 72 h). For the vitamin content analysis, fresh caterpillars were used. Drying at 60 °C for 24 h produced the highest energy value at 552 kcal/100 g while traditionally prepared caterpillars produce 306 kcal/100 g. The caterpillar was found to be rich in protein varying between 51 and 54 % for oven-dried and 44.5 % for traditionally prepared caterpillars. The fat content of 20 % is favourable, as is the percentage ash (10.47 % for traditionally prepared caterpillars), indicating elevated levels of nutrients. In fresh caterpillars, vitamin content was low for vitamin A (0.02 mg/100 g) and vitamin B1 (0.01 mg/100 g). Vitamin B2 (0.65 mg/100 g) and vitamin E (0.64 mg/100 g) were better represented. Vitamin C was high at 14.15 mg/100 g.


Reynard J.P.,University of Witwatersrand | Discamps E.,University of Bergen | Discamps E.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Badenhorst S.,Ditsong National Museum of Natural History | And 4 more authors.
Quaternary International | Year: 2016

The Howiesons Poort techno-complex of southern Africa was a particularly significant phase in the development of complex cognition in Homo sapiens and new sites are crucial to our understanding of this period. Here, we present the results of a taphonomic and zooarchaeological analysis of Klipdrift Shelter to investigate subsistence strategies during the Late Pleistocene. In particular, we focus on the taphonomic history of the assemblage. Our analysis shows that the Klipdrift Shelter faunal assemblage is extensively fragmented; probably as a result of anthropogenic processing and post-depositional alteration. As a result, little significant information can be extrapolated from the analysis of skeletal-part abundance per layer. Human involvement in the accumulation of ungulate, small mammal, carnivore and tortoise remains is apparent in all layers. We show evidence of disarticulation, marrow extraction, skinning, filleting and carnivore consumption and document the processing of low-ranked game and elements. We also discuss the possibility of remote-capture technology at Klipdrift during the Howiesons Poort. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.


Reynard J.P.,University of Witwatersrand | Discamps E.,University of Bergen | Discamps E.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Wurz S.,University of Witwatersrand | And 6 more authors.
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology | Year: 2016

The Howiesons Poort, characterised by sophisticated lithic technologies and evidence of innovative behaviours, was a significant cultural phase in southern Africa during Marine Isotope Stage 4. It also coincided with substantial palaeoenvironmental and possible demographic changes in the southern Cape of South Africa, especially with regard to the shifting palaeo-coastline off the Agulhas Bank. The newly-excavated Klipdrift Shelter in the southern Cape presents a rare opportunity to compare faunal, lithic and palaeoenvironmental evidence from a single Howiesons Poort site along the present-day southern coast of South Africa. Here, we use faunal data from Klipdrift Shelter to explore the relationship between occupational intensity, subsistence behaviour and environment in the southern Cape during the Howiesons Poort period. Our results suggest a shift from a mixed terrain/browse-dominated environment during the earlier Howiesons Poort to open grasslands in the mid-later Howiesons Poort. This environmental shift corresponds to potential changes in occupational intensity or frequency throughout the sequence with evidence of increased occupations associated with grassier environments. Aspects of the cultural sequence, for example raw material procurement strategies, may be associated with shifting environmental conditions. The faunal evidence suggests links between occupation, environment and prey selection at Klipdrift. This raises interesting questions about the interplay between population density and the environment of the southern Cape, and its influence on subsistence behaviour during Marine Isotope Stage 4. © 2016 Elsevier B.V.


Davies G.B.P.,Ditsong National Museum of Natural History | Miller R.M.,University of KwaZulu - Natal | Muller B.S.,KwaZulu Natal Museum | Muller B.S.,University of the Free State
African Invertebrates | Year: 2012

Proteaphila gen. n. (Diptera: Acalyptratae: Lauxaniidae) is described. It is distinguishable on the basis of the shape of the head, and wing patterning and venation. Male and female terminalia are similar across species (e.g. structure of male hypandrium, aedeagus and surstylus) and the new genus is notable for the large body size (body length ca 5.5-6 mm), robust habitus, pointed head-shape, ornate body patterning, stump vein on M1+2, massive aedeagus, and large surstyli. In terms of prevailing suprageneric lauxaniid taxonomy, Proteaphila is placed in the subfamily Lauxaniinae because it has a sapromyziform costa, 1 mesotibial spur and lacks a profemoral ctenidium. The elongated frons of Proteaphila is similar to morphological modifications of the head in Trigonometopus Macquart and related genera of Trigonometopini, but without formal analysis, it must be assumed that this resemblance could have arisen convergently, with Proteaphila not being phylogenetically close to these genera. The bulk of specimens have been collected from Protea trees (Proteaceae), and the genus obviously has some as yet unelucidated biological relationship with proteas. Proteaphila is endemic to South Africa, being restricted to Protea-rich montane grassland in the Drakensberg Mountains of KwaZulu-Natal and fynbos (macchia) of the Western Cape. Three new species are described in the genus: Proteaphila maculosa Davies & Miller, sp. n., P. pajori Davies, Miller & Muller, sp. n. and P. stuckenbergorum Davies & Miller, sp. n. A key to the identification of species is presented.


Skinner M.M.,University College London | Skinner M.M.,Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology | Kivell T.L.,Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology | Potze S.,Ditsong National Museum of Natural History | Hublin J.-J.,Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Journal of Human Evolution | Year: 2013

The Ditsong National Museum of Natural History (DNMNH) and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI-EVA) established a collaboration in 2010 to scan fossil hominin specimens housed at DNMNH using microtomography (microCT). The goal of this collaboration is to facilitate research and create a 'virtual copy' of the fossils for the DNMNH records. Within the context of this ongoing collaboration, the focus of this contribution is the fossil hominin material from the site of Kromdraai B, South Africa. The goals are to 1) formally publish the microCT scans of the Kromdraai material and facilitate their availability to the scientific research community, 2) address uncertainties regarding specimen accession numbers, 3) highlight internal aspects of anatomy revealed through the microCT scans, and 4) clarify the hominin status of a number of postcranial specimens. Finally, 2D images of surface models, a 3D PDF surface model, a movie of each microCT volume, and the original microCT volume of each specimen are made available via an open access online archive (. http://paleo.eva.mpg.de). © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

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