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News Article | May 12, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

A bizarre looking, monstrous sea creature washed up on the shores of an Indonesian beach earlier this week, drawing swarms of locals and scientists who wanted to witness the behemoth in person. A resident named Asrul Tuanakota, 37, stumbled upon it in the darkness and initially thought the immense object was a stranded boat. The bloated corpse, around 50 feet long, was found on Hulung Beach on Serum Island in Indonesia’s Maluku province, according to the Jakarta Globe. It’s believed to have been there for at least three days before being found. Read: Most Polluted Animal On Earth: Dead Killer Whale Washes Up In Scotland Pictures show the monstrous creature’s discolored body lying in shallow water on the island, turning the surrounding ocean red. And the creature has begun to reek: residents asked the government to step in to remove the remains before the stench becomes unbearable. While it’s unclear exactly what the creature is, suggestions range from being a giant squid to a humpback whale. Scientists descended on the area to take samples of the body in an attempt to officially identify it. “[Based] on the images and videos, in the advanced state of decomposition it is not possible to determine whether it is a humpback whale or not,” Marcus Chua, a museum officer at the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum told Mashable. He noted that the creature might be a baleen whale, but is probably not a giant squid because they’re not typically recorded in the area. Creatures from the deep don’t often end up on land. Most marine mammals that die at sea never wash up on beaches, according to National Geographic. But when they do, they tend to make headlines, as animals in an advanced state of decomposition in the water often become unrecognizable. As has happened in the past, locals often dub washed up creatures monsters from the deep or suggest they could be entirely new species because they look so alien. In February, a giant, white-haired covered blob washed up on a shore in the Philippines, weighing in at more than 4,000 pounds. Some suggested it could be a species previously unknown to man. “It’s definitely a very decomposed sea creature in the later spaces of decomposition,” Lucy Babey, head of science and conservation for the animal charity Orca, told the BBC at the time. The municipal office of Cagdianao said the remains merely came from a dead whale. The hairy covering was likely not hair at all, but decomposed muscle fibers, scientists said. Numerous other mysterious creatures have drawn curious onlookers as well. In Montauk, Long Island, in 2008, a bizarre looking creature was crowned the “Montauk Monster” after nobody could identify what species it came from. Some scientists suggested the beaked and sharp-toothed creature could have been a decomposing raccoon, while others asserted it was some form of sea creature. Unfortunately, someone stole the animal and made off with it before scientists could conclusively identify it.


News Article | May 13, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

So we now know why narwhals have tusks, and it’s pretty violent We all know and love narwhals as the unicorn of the sea, but now scientists have discovered the mystery of why narwhals have tusks. World Wild Life Fund Canada and Oceans Canada recently collected drone footage that shows that narwhals use their tusks to stun prey. In the video, several narwhals rapidly hit Arctic cod with their horns to immobilize the fish before eating them. Typically, only male narwhals have the tusk, which is a tooth that can grow as large as nine feet. Nerve endings cover the horn for sensory perception. Brandon Laforest, senior specialist of Arctic species and ecosystems with WWF-Canada, told National Geographic that witnessing narwhal feeding habits has been nearly impossible without the drones. He previously spent time camped near narwhals’ winter habitat to more thoroughly study them. However, they tend to cluster in hard-to-reach regions. Canada is home to 90 percent of the narwhal population, and is a prime location to analyze the narwhal. Laforest hypothesizes that narwhals also use the horn for ice picks, sexual selection, weaponry, and even echolocation. This footage plays a major role in better understanding the narwhals, particularly as climate change warms their waters. A majority of the narwhals live in Canada’s Lancaster Sound, which the government is looking marking as a protected area.


Scientists today announced that the Rising Star Cave system has revealed yet more important discoveries, only a year and a half after it was announced that the richest fossil hominin site in Africa had been discovered, and that it contained a new hominin species named Homo naledi by the scientists who described it. The age of the original Homo naledi remains from the Dinaledi Chamber has been revealed to be startlingly young in age. Homo naledi, which was first announced in September 2015, was alive sometime between 335 and 236 thousand years ago. This places this population of primitive small-brained hominins at a time and place that it is likely they lived alongside Homo sapiens. This is the first time that it has been demonstrated that another species of hominin survived alongside the first humans in Africa. The research, published today in three papers in the journal eLife, presents the long-awaited age of the naledi fossils from the Dinaledi Chamber and announces the new discovery of a second chamber in the Rising Star cave system, containing additional specimens of Homo naledi. These include a child and a partial skeleton of an adult male with a remarkably well-preserved skull. The new discovery and research was done by a large team of researchers from the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), James Cook University, Australia, the University of Wisconsin, Madison, United States, and more than 30 additional international institutions have today announced two major discoveries related to the fossil hominin species Homo naledi. The team was led by Professor Lee Berger of The University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, and a National Geographic Explorer in Residence. The discovery of the second chamber with abundant Homo naledi fossils includes one of the most complete skeletons of a hominin ever discovered, as well as the remains of at least one child and another adult. The discovery of a second chamber has led the team to argue that there is more support for the controversial hypothesis that Homo naledi deliberately disposed of its dead in these remote, hard to reach caverns. 1The dating of Homo naledi is the conclusion of the multi-authored paper entitled: The age of Homo naledi and associated sediments in the Rising Star Cave, South Africa, led by Professor Paul Dirks of James Cook University and the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits). The naledi date is surprisingly recent. The fossil remains have primitive features that are shared with some of the earliest known fossil members of our genus, such as Homo rudolfensis and Homo habilis, species that lived nearly two million years ago. On the other hand, however, it also shares some features with modern humans. After the description of the new species in 2015, experts had predicted that the fossils should be around the age of these other primitive species. Instead, the fossils from the Dinaledi Chamber are barely more than one-tenth that age. "The dating of naledi was extremely challenging," noted Dirks, who worked with 19 other scientists from laboratories and institutions around the world, including labs in South Africa and Australia, to establish the age of the fossils. "Eventually, six independent dating methods allowed us to constrain the age of this population of Homo naledi to a period known as the late Middle Pleistocene." The age for this population of hominins shows that Homo naledi may have survived for as long as two million years alongside other species of hominins in Africa. At such a young age, in a period known as the late Middle Pleistocene, it was previously thought that only Homo sapiens (modern humans) existed in Africa. More critically, it is at precisely this time that we see the rise of what has been called "modern human behaviour" in southern Africa - behaviour attributed, until now, to the rise of modern humans and thought to represent the origins of complex modern human activities such as burial of the dead, self-adornment and complex tools. The team used a combination of optically stimulated luminescence dating of sediments with Uranium-Thorium dating and palaeomagnetic analyses of flowstones to establish how the sediments relate to the geological timescale in the Dinaledi Chamber. Direct dating of the teeth of Homo naledi, using Uranium series dating (U-series) and electron spin resonance dating (ESR), provided the final age range. "We used double blinds wherever possible," says Professor Jan Kramers of the University of Johannesburg, a uranium dating specialist. Dr. Hannah Hilbert-Wolf, a geologist from James Cook University who also worked on the Dinaledi Chamber, noted that it was crucial to figure out how the sediments within the Dinaledi Chamber are layered, in order to build a framework for understanding all of the dates obtained. "Of course we were surprised at the young age, but as we realised that all the geological formations in the chamber were young, the U-series and ESR results were perhaps less of a surprise in the end," added Professor Eric Roberts, from James Cook University and Wits, who is one of the few geologists to have ever entered the Dinaledi Chamber, due to the tight 18cm-wide constraints of the entrance chute. Dr. Marina Elliott, Exploration Scientist at Wits and one of the original "underground astronauts" on the 2013 Rising Star Expedition, says she had always felt that the naledi fossils were 'young'. "I've excavated hundreds of the bones of Homo naledi, and from the first one I touched, I realised that there was something different about the preservation, that they appeared hardly fossilised." In an accompanying paper, led by Berger, entitled Homo naledi and Pleistocene hominin evolution in subequatorial Africa, the team discuss the importance of finding such a primitive species at such a time and place. They noted that the discovery will have a significant impact on our interpretation of archaeological assemblages and understanding which species made them. "We can no longer assume that we know which species made which tools, or even assume that it was modern humans that were the innovators of some of these critical technological and behavioural breakthroughs in the archaeological record of Africa," says Berger. "If there is one other species out there that shared the world with 'modern humans' in Africa, it is very likely there are others. We just need to find them." John Hawks of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Wits University, an author on all three papers, says: "I think some scientists assumed they knew how human evolution happened, but these new fossil discoveries, plus what we know from genetics, tell us that the southern half of Africa was home to a diversity that we've never seen anywhere else". "Recently, the fossil hominin record has been full of surprises, and the age of Homo naledi is not going to be the last surprise that comes out of these caves I suspect," adds Berger. In a third paper published at the same time in eLife, entitled New fossil remains of Homo naledi from the Lesedi Chamber, South Africa, the team announces the discovery of a second chamber, within the Rising Star cave system, which contains more remains of Homo naledi. "The chamber, which we have named the Lesedi Chamber, is more than a hundred meters from the Dinaledi Chamber. It is almost as difficult to access, and also contains spectacular fossils of naledi, including a partial skeleton with a wonderfully complete skull," says Hawks, lead author on the paper describing the new discovery. Fossil remains were first recognised in the chamber by Rick Hunter and Steven Tucker in 2013, as fieldwork was underway in the Dinaledi Chamber. The name "Lesedi" means "light" in the Setswana language. Excavations in the Lesedi Chamber began later, and would take nearly three years. "To access the Lesedi Chamber is only slightly easier than the Dinaledi Chamber," says Elliott, who was lead excavator of the fossils from the new locality. "After passing through a squeeze of about 25cm, you have to descend along vertical shafts before reaching the chamber. While slightly easier to get to, the Lesedi Chamber is, if anything, more difficult to work in due to the tight spaces involved." Hawks points out that while the Lesedi Chamber is "easier" to get into than the Dinaledi Chamber, the term is relative. "I have never been inside either of the chambers, and never will be. In fact, I watched Lee Berger being stuck for almost an hour, trying to get out of the narrow underground squeeze of the Lesedi Chamber." Berger eventually had to be extracted using ropes tied to his wrists. The presence of a second chamber, distant from the first, containing multiple individuals of Homo naledi and almost as difficult to reach as the Dinaledi Chamber, gives an idea of the extraordinary effort it took for Homo naledi to reach these hard-to-get-to places, says Hilbert-Wolf. "This likely adds weight to the hypothesis that Homo naledi was using dark, remote places to cache its dead," says Hawks. "What are the odds of a second, almost identical occurrence happening by chance?" So far, the scientists have uncovered more than 130 hominin specimens from the Lesedi Chamber. The bones belong to at least three individuals, but Elliot believes that there are more fossils yet to be discovered. Among the individuals are the skeletal remains of two adults and at least one child. The child is represented by bones of the head and body and would likely have been under five years of age. Of the two adults, one is represented by only a jaw and leg elements, but the other is represented by a partial skeleton, including a mostly complete skull. The team describes the skull of the skeleton as "spectacularly complete". "We finally get a look at the face of Homo naledi," says Peter Schmid of Wits and the University of Zurich, who spent hundreds of hours painstakingly reconstructing the fragile bones to complete the reconstruction. The skeleton was nicknamed "Neo" by the team, chosen for the Sesotho word meaning "a gift". "The skeleton of Neo is one the most complete ever discovered, and technically even more complete than the famous Lucy fossil, given the preservation of the skull and mandible," says Berger. The specimens from the Lesedi Chamber are nearly identical in every way to those from the Dinaledi Chamber, a remarkable finding in and of itself. "There is no doubt that they belong to the same species," says Hawks. The Lesedi Chamber fossils have not been dated yet, as dating would require destruction of some of the hominin material. "Once described, we will look at the way forward for establishing the age of these particular fossils," says Dirks. Elliot adds, however, that as the preservation and condition of the finds are practically identical to that of the naledi specimens from the Dinaledi Chamber the team hypothesizes that their age will fall roughly within the same time period. Berger believes that with thousands of fossils likely remaining in both the Lesedi and Dinaledi Chambers, there are decades of research potential. "We are going to treat ongoing extraction of material from both of these chambers with extreme care and thoughtfulness and with the full knowledge that we need to conserve material for future generations of scientists, and future technological innovations," he says. 52 scientists from 35 departments and Institutions were involved in the research. Wits Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Adam Habib said: "The search for human origins on the continent of Africa began at Wits and it is wonderful to see this legacy continue with such important discoveries" "The National Geographic Society has a long history of investing in bold people and transformative ideas," said Gary E. Knell, president and CEO of the National Geographic Society, a funder of the expeditions that recovered the fossils and established their age. "The continued discoveries from Lee Berger and his colleagues showcase why it is critical to support the study of our human origins and other pressing scientific questions." The original fossils of these new discoveries, as well as those from the original Rising Star Expedition will be put on public display at the Maropeng, the Official Visitors Centre for the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site from May 25th. This exhibit of the largest display of original fossil hominin material in history forms part of an exhibition called "Almost Human". The exhibition will be housed in 'The Gallery'. This state-of-the-art exhibition space was built as part of the Gauteng Infrastructure Upgrade Project. This is the second completed construction, the first being the upgrade to the Hominin House facilities at Maropeng. Maropeng is getting ready to receive thousands of visitors wanting to the see the exhibition and the new fossils. In 2015, when Homo naledi was first put on display, some 3 500 visitors per day made their way to Maropeng. "It was an extraordinary thing to experience," says Michael Worsnip, Managing Director of Maropeng. "It was something like a pilgrimage - a wonderful celebration of our heritage as a country, a continent and a planet."


NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--NewsCred, the global enterprise content marketing leader, today announced the speaker line-up for the company’s annual #ThinkContent Summit. The 500-person event will take place on Wednesday, May 10th in New York City and will feature insights and best practices in content marketing from the world’s leading brands. The theme of this year’s event is “Marketing Revolution” with a focus on the changing content marketing landscape and increased demand for proven ROI. NewsCred will also be revealing a key announcement about its new data-driven proprietary methodology, following news last month about the company’s insights-driven product roadmap, a deepened focus on analytics and the introduction of dozens of highly-experienced content marketing experts to its advisory services group. “CMOs and marketing executives know they need to connect with customers through impactful storytelling, but they also need actionable insights and a repeatable methodology to drive ROI,” said Shafqat Islam, Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder, NewsCred. “As content marketing matures, NewsCred is extremely well-positioned to lead the charge and offer guaranteed ROI with the industry’s most advanced technology solution, most extensive content offerings and unrivaled expertise.” Confirmed Speakers for NewsCred #ThinkContent 2017 Include: Javier Boix, Senior Director, StoryLab, Corporate Communications, AbbVie Frank Thomas, Director, Content Strategy and Content Marketing, adidas Clay Hausmann, Chief Marketing Officer, Aktana Teddy Lynn, Global Chief Creative Officer, Bloomberg Media Bill Barrett, Global Head, Corporate Digital Marketing, BNY Mellon Aniko Delaney, Global Head, Corporate Marketing, BNY Mellon Elizabeth Miersch, Executive Managing Director, Furthermore, Equinox Ben Lerer, Managing Partner, Chief Executive Officer, Group Nine Media and Managing Partner, Lerer Hippeau Ventures Marcel Santilli, Global Head, Publishing, HPE Howard Pyle, Senior Vice President, Customer Experience and Design, MetLife Margaret Magnarelli, Managing Editor, Content and Senior Director, Marketing, Monster Jill Cress, Chief Marketing Officer, National Geographic Benjamin Meents, Vice President, Corporate Marketing and Brand, Optum Eric Edge, Head of Marketing Communications and Industry Relations, Pinterest Seth Farbman, Chief Marketing Officer, Spotify Andrew Steinthal, Co-founder and Chief Revenue Officer, The Infatuation To view the event agenda and to register, please visit http://thinkcontent.newscred.com About NewsCred NewsCred, the global leader in enterprise content marketing, empowers the world’s most ambitious brands with powerful technology, the largest and most diverse content offerings and proven, unrivaled expertise. Through its complete solution, NewsCred offers a repeatable methodology that guarantees ROI for the world’s leading CMOs and marketing leaders from companies including Barclays, Cox Communications, Fidelity, Hewlett Packard, USAA, Virgin Media and more. Founded in 2008, NewsCred serves hundreds of customers in over 70 countries from seven global offices. Learn more at NewsCred.com, join our community at NewsCred Insights and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.


News Article | May 10, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Changes in the composition of magma may have caused variations in the Panama Canal volcanic rock formations, according to a study published May 10, 2017 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by David Farris from Florida State University, and colleagues. The Earth's crust is divided into tectonic plates and a chain of volcanoes can often appear in areas where one plates is pushed under another. Studying these locations can improve our understanding of how the Earth's crust is formed. The authors of the present study examined volcanic formations along the Panama Canal, which formed when the Panama block and South America collided approximately 21 to 25 million years ago. The researchers constructed geochemical models of these rock formations, and they identified some significant differences in their physical structure and chemical composition. The researchers found that the Oligocene Bas Obispo Formation and other older rock types had more abundant water-borne elements compared to the younger Pedro Miguel volcanic rocks. This Miocene unit is composed of multiple shallow 'maar' volcanic craters with alternating layers of explosively formed pyroclastic rocks, and fine-grained dark basaltic rock, formed from cooling lava flows. These layers suggest that multiple episodes of magma eruption and recharge occurred within the Pedro Miguel rock formation. The authors suggest that along the Panama Canal, changing tectonic conditions were brought about by the collision of the Panama block and South America. They state that changes in the composition of volcanic rocks likely drove a transition from water-bearing magmas to dry, hot magmas over time, and these magmas in turn caused different types of volcanoes to form. Additional research could further explore the relationship between magma composition, physical properties and volcanic forms in other areas of the world. Dr Farris notes: "This study examines the relationship between arc magmatism and tectonic change in a sequence of volcanic rocks along the Panama Canal. These rocks contain a change from wet to dry arc magmatism associated with the onset of collision between the Panama block and South America. In addition, the onset of hot, dry magmatism led to formation of explosive maar volcanic structures." In your coverage please use this URL to provide access to the freely available article in PLOS ONE: http://journals. Citation: Farris DW, Cardona A, Montes C, Foster D, Jaramillo C (2017) Magmatic evolution of Panama Canal volcanic rocks: A record of arc processes and tectonic change. PLoS ONE 12(5): e0176010. https:/ Funding: This contribution to the Panama Canal Project (PCP) was supported by National Science Foundation (NSF) PIRE grant 0966884 (OISE, EAR, DRL). Funding also came from NSF grant DEB-0733725, the Smithsonian Institution, the Panama Canal Authority, Mr. Mark Tupper, the National Geographic, SENACYT, and Ricardo Perez SA. Thanks go to the Panama Canal Authority, Ministerio de Industria y Comercio, Odebretch for access and logistical help. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.


News Article | May 9, 2017
Site: www.npr.org

'Baby Dragon' Found In China Is The Newest Species Of Dinosaur The name means "baby dragon from China." The dinosaur had massive feathered wings and a birdlike skull. It probably looked most like a cassowary, flightless birds slightly smaller than an ostrich. But the Beibeilong was much bigger than any currently living bird, according to a study published in Nature Communications. Based on comparisons with close relatives, the birdlike dinosaur probably weighed about 3 tons and could grow up to 26 feet long. In 1993, farmers in China found a Beibeilong embryo and eggs in Henan province. The fossils were sold to an American fossil company called The Stone Co. and brought to the United States. A model of an embryo curled inside an egg was famously featured on the May 1996 cover of National Geographic and was nicknamed "Baby Louie." But nobody knew what kind of dinosaur Baby Louie was. The eggs weighed about 11 pounds, making them some of the largest dinosaur eggs ever uncovered. Some people thought they might have come from a tyrannosaur. "The eggs looked very much like eggs that were known to belong to oviraptorosaurs," said Darla Zelenitsky, an assistant professor at the University of Calgary who studied the eggs firsthand in the 1990s. "But these eggs with the specimen were eight to 10 times the volume of other known eggs [of oviraptorosaurs]." In the 1990s, all of the known species of oviraptorosaur were small creatures. "There's no way they were laying a 4- to 5-kilogram egg," Zelenitsky says. Then, in 2007, scientists in China discovered the first species of giant oviraptorosaur. "So finally, after 12 years, there is a species of oviraptorosaur that could have laid these giant oviraptorosaurlike eggs," Zelenitsky says. If Beibeilong nested like its smaller oviraptorosaur cousins did, it would be the largest known dinosaur to have sat protectively on its eggs. Studying these dinosaurs is difficult because there are only three known sets of skeletal remains of giant oviraptorosaurs. So there's a lot more to learn about Beibeilong, but at least we know what "Baby Louie" really was.


News Article | May 10, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

About 90 million years ago, a gigantic bird-like dinosaur with a toothless beak and a crest atop its head laid a clutch of enormous eggs. At least one of these eggs never hatched, but rather became the first and only one of its species on record to fossilize, according to a new study. The discovery of the 15-inch-long (38 centimeters) embryo is remarkable, said study co-researcher Darla Zelenitsky, an assistant professor of paleontology at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada. "This is the first embryo known for a giant oviraptorosaur, dinosaurs that are exceedingly rare," Zelenitsky told Live Science in an email. [See Images of the Newly Named Giant Oviraptorosaur Embryo] Moreover, it's only the second species of giant oviraptorosaur on record, Zelenitsky said. The other known giant oviraptorosaur is dubbed Gigantoraptor, a beast that stood as tall as 16 feet (5 meters). After the fossilized embryo's discovery, it took 25 years for the previously unidentified Cretaceous-age specimen to receive an official scientific name. A Chinese farmer in Henan Province found the oviraptorosaur embryo in 1992, and a year later it was exported to the United States by The Stone Co., a Colorado firm that sells fossils and rocks. Word spread when the company uncovered the eggs and embryo, and National Geographic featured it on a magazine cover in 1996. The National Geographic photographer, Louis Psihoyos, captured so much detail in his shots that people began calling the dinosaur "Baby Louie," even after it went on display at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis. However, because of Baby Louie's significance (an embryo representing a new species of rare dinosaur), researchers decided to wait until it was repatriated to China in 2013 to study it, Zelenitsky said. After the examination at the Henan Geological Museum, a group of researchers from China, Canada and Slovakia gave Baby Louie the formal scientific name of Beibeilong sinensis, which means "baby dragon from China," in a combination of Mandarin and Latin. [Image Gallery: Dinosaur Day Care] Giant oviraptorosaurs are two-legged dinosaurs that looked like modern-day cassowaries — large, flightless birds that live in Australia. But an adult B. sinensis would have towered over the 6.5-foot-tall (2 m) cassowary, and even a typical oviraptorosaur, such as Oviraptor, Zelenitsky said. B. sinensis measured up to 26 feet long from its snout to the end of its tail, and it weighed up to 6,600 lbs. (3,000 kilograms) when fully grown at age 11. That means B. sinensis underwent a substantial growth spurt, as it likely weighed just under 9 lbs. (4 kg) after it hatched, Zelenitsky said. While the incredibly well-preserved specimen and eggs — huge, elongated fossils that measured up to 17 inches (45 centimeters) long and weighed about 11 lbs. (5 kg) — have helped the researchers learn about B. sinensis, they don't contain many clues about the dinosaur's parenting style. It's unclear whether the parents protected the nest and cared for the young because no adult material was found with the nest, Zelenitsky said. Still, the finding reveals that these enormous eggs — the largest known dinosaur eggs on record, which even have a formal name: Macroelongatoolithus, meaning "large elongate stone egg," — came from giant oviraptorosaurs, she said. "Because Macroelongatoolithus eggs are common in the fossil record, the established link between Macroelongatoolithus and giant oviraptorosaurs enabled us to infer that these animals were much more abundant, common [and] widespread than indicated by the scarcity of their bones," Zelenitsky said. The study was published online today (May 9) in the journal Nature Communications.


Just as a high-profile expedition to retrieve fossils of human ancestors from deep within a cave system in South Africa was getting underway in 2013, two spelunkers pulled aside paleoanthropologist Lee Berger. They had found what looked like an ancient thigh bone in a completely different cave. “Can we go get it?” they asked. Berger was overseeing a team of 60 people, some of whom were 18 meters below ground gathering fossils. “This was day two. Lives were in danger. This was the beginning of my hair turning really white,” says Berger, of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. “I said ‘No, and don’t tell anyone. I don’t want anyone distracted.’” But on the last day of the expedition, which retrieved 1500 fossils of a mysterious new species of hominin named Homo naledi, Berger gave the spelunkers the go-ahead. They came back with the thigh bone plus photos of a skull poking out of the dirt in a second chamber of the cave system. “I couldn’t believe it,” Berger says. He and his team present the nearly complete new cranium plus 131 H. naledi fossils from the second cave in a series of papers in eLife this week. The new fossils reinforce a picture of a small-brained, small-bodied creature, which makes the dates reported in one paper all the more startling: 236,000 to 335,000 years ago. That means a creature reminiscent of much earlier human ancestors such as H. habilis lived at the same time as modern humans were emerging in Africa and Neandertals were evolving in Europe. “This is astonishingly young for a species that still displays primitive characteristics found in fossils about 2 million years old,” says paleoanthropologist Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum in London. First announced in 2015, H. naledi was a puzzle from the start. Fossils from 15 individuals, including fragile parts of the face that are preserved in the new skull, show that the species combines primitive traits such as a small brain, flat midface, and curving fingers with more modern-looking features in its teeth, jaw, thumb, wrist, and foot. Berger’s team put it in our genus, Homo. But where it really fit in our family tree “hinged on the date,” says paleoanthropologist William Kimbel of Arizona State University in Tempe. Dating cave specimens is notoriously difficult because debris falling from cave walls or ceilings can mix with sediments around a fossil and skew the dates. And these fossils likely were moved over time by rising and falling groundwater, so identifying the sediments where they were originally buried is a challenge, says geologist Paul Dirks of James Cook University in Townsville, Australia. He enlisted 19 other scientists and several labs to independently test samples using several methods. They dated cave formations deposited atop the fossils using a technique called optically stimulated luminescence, which provided a minimum age of 236,000 years for the fossils. The radioactive decay of uranium in three teeth of H. naledi provided a maximum age of 335,000 years. Geochronologist Warren Sharp of the Berkeley Geochronology Center in California cautions that the maximum age may be off if the team didn’t accurately estimate how much uranium the teeth absorbed from groundwater over time. But Dirks points out that the results from several methods all point to fairly recent dates. “There is a little play in the upper limit, but it certainly isn’t going to shift to 1 million years,” he says. National Geographic leaked the dates in a brief Q&A with Berger in April, but without presenting the evidence. Now that he has seen the paper, geochemist Henry Schwarcz of McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, calls the dating effort “an impressive tour de force.” The recent dates suggest that like the 60,000- to 100,000-year-old fossils of tiny H. floresiensis (the “Hobbit”) in Indonesia, H. naledi was a “twig off the mainstream of Homo—some little relic of a relatively archaic population,” Kimbel says. It was “a lineage that existed for 1 million years or more and we missed it,” says co-author John Hawks, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Researchers remain skeptical, however, of some of Berger’s other claims, such as that H. naledi might have made Middle Stone Age tools found in the region. That would imply surprising sophistication in a small-brained hominin. “Yes, that hand could make and use tools,” says paleoanthropologist Bill Jungers of State University of New York in Stony Brook. But he agrees with paleoanthropologist Rick Potts of the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., who says the idea is a nonstarter because no tools, fire, or other signs of culture have been linked to the fossils. Ditto for the claim that H. naledi purposefully buried the bodies of its fellows in both caves, or that it might have acquired some of its modern traits by mating with other early members of Homo. “It’s just sheer speculation,” Kimbel says. Berger says the search for stone tools and other evidence to test whether H. naledi was capable of modern symbolic behavior is his top priority. “We’re going after all these critical questions—is there fire in there, is there DNA?” he says. His team began new forays into the caves last week.


As the pharmaceutical industry prepares for the implementation of drug product serialization and fast-approaching regulatory deadlines, such as the European Union Falsified Medicines Directive (EU FMD) in February 2019, Dr. Mesko will address business leaders from across the entire pharmaceutical supply chain at NEXUS 17, the industry's premier venue for key industry leaders and stakeholders. His keynote presentation will discuss the future application of digital technologies in medicine and the ultimate impact on healthcare and patients. Dr. Bertalan Mesko, PhD is The Medical Futurist analyzing how science fiction technologies can become reality in medicine and healthcare. As a geek physician with a PhD in genomics, he is also an Amazon Top 100 author. With 500+ presentations including courses at Harvard, Stanford and Yale Universities, Singularity University's Futuremed course at NASA Ames campus and organizations including the 10 biggest pharmaceutical companies, he is one of the top voices globally on healthcare technology. Dr. Mesko has been featured by dozens of top publications and influencers, including CNN, the World Health Organization, National Geographic, Forbes, TIME magazine, BBC, and the New York Times. He publishes his analyses regularly on medicalfuturist.com. "If you work in the life sciences supply chain, NEXUS has become the one industry event that you can't afford to miss, providing attendees with high caliber speakers and innovators who are at the forefront of the industry and offer invaluable insight on global track and trace trends and new, disruptive technologies," said Shabbir Dahod, president and CEO, TraceLink. "This year, we are delighted to host Dr. Bertalan Mesko, one of the world's leading influencers on digital health. There is a natural synergy between his pioneering vision and the future opportunities that can be achieved from a digital life sciences supply chain, and we are excited that NEXUS will be the venue for this revolutionary industry discussion." "Drug serialization is one of the greatest transformations currently affecting the pharmaceutical supply chain and, while this brings significant challenges, it also presents a positive opportunity for innovation and advancement," said Dr. Bertalan Mesko. "Technology will play a pivotal role in advancing the future of the medical and healthcare industries and in this case, ensuring patient safety. I am delighted to join business leaders and companies at the forefront of this transformation at NEXUS 17, discuss the latest developments and debate the positive impact of technology in helping to shape the future of the pharmaceutical industry." Additional keynote presentations include experts from the European Medicines Verification Organisation (EMVO) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), as well as industry leaders from Recipharm, Sanofi, Santen, Aurobindo and Tjoapack. NEXUS 17 is open to everyone in the life sciences community at a registration fee of €995. TraceLink customers can register for a special discounted rate of €795. To register for NEXUS 17 in Barcelona, please visit http://nexus-tracelink.com/ About TraceLink TraceLink is the World's Largest Track and Trace Network for connecting the Life Sciences supply chain and eliminating counterfeit prescription drugs from the global marketplace. Leading businesses trust the TraceLink Life Sciences Cloud to deliver complete global connectivity, visibility and traceability of pharmaceuticals from ingredient to patient. A single point and click connection to the Life Sciences Cloud creates a supply chain control tower that delivers the information, insight and collaboration needed to improve performance and reduce risk across global supply, manufacturing and distribution operations. A winner of numerous industry awards including Deloitte's Technology Fast 500 (ranked number 149 in 2016), the Amazon AWS Global Start-Up Challenge Grand Prize, and the Edison Award for Innovation in Health Management, the Life Sciences Cloud is used by businesses across the globe to meet strategic goals in ensuring global compliance, fighting drug counterfeiting, improving on-time and in-full delivery, protecting product quality and reducing operational cost. For more information on TraceLink and our solutions, visit www.tracelink.com or follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. TraceLink is funded by Goldman Sachs, FirstMark Capital, Volition Capital and F-Prime Capital.


Dr. Bertalan Mesko, PhD is The Medical Futurist analyzing how science fiction technologies can become reality in medicine and healthcare. As a geek physician with a PhD in genomics, he is also an Amazon Top 100 author. With 500+ presentations including courses at Harvard, Stanford and Yale Universities, Singularity University's Futuremed course at NASA Ames campus and organizations including the 10 biggest pharmaceutical companies, he is one of the top voices globally on healthcare technology. Dr. Mesko has been featured by dozens of top publications and influencers, including CNN, the World Health Organization, National Geographic, Forbes, TIME magazine, BBC, and the New York Times. He publishes his analyses regularly on medicalfuturist.com. "If you work in the life sciences supply chain, NEXUS has become the one industry event that you can't afford to miss, providing attendees with high caliber speakers and innovators who are at the forefront of the industry and offer invaluable insight on global track and trace trends and new, disruptive technologies," said Shabbir Dahod, president and CEO, TraceLink. "This year, we are delighted to host Dr. Bertalan Mesko, one of the world's leading influencers on digital health. There is a natural synergy between his pioneering vision and the future opportunities that can be achieved from a digital life sciences supply chain, and we are excited that NEXUS will be the venue for this revolutionary industry discussion." "Drug serialization is one of the greatest transformations currently affecting the pharmaceutical supply chain and, while this brings significant challenges, it also presents a positive opportunity for innovation and advancement," said Dr. Bertalan Mesko. "Technology will play a pivotal role in advancing the future of the medical and healthcare industries and in this case, ensuring patient safety. I am delighted to join business leaders and companies at the forefront of this transformation at NEXUS 17, discuss the latest developments and debate the positive impact of technology in helping to shape the future of the pharmaceutical industry." Additional keynote presentations include experts from the European Medicines Verification Organisation (EMVO) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), as well as industry leaders from Recipharm, Sanofi, Santen, Aurobindo and Tjoapack. NEXUS 17 is open to everyone in the life sciences community at a registration fee of €995. TraceLink customers can register for a special discounted rate of €795. To register for NEXUS 17 in Barcelona, please visit http://nexus-tracelink.com/ About TraceLink TraceLink is the World's Largest Track and Trace Network for connecting the Life Sciences supply chain and eliminating counterfeit prescription drugs from the global marketplace. Leading businesses trust the TraceLink Life Sciences Cloud to deliver complete global connectivity, visibility and traceability of pharmaceuticals from ingredient to patient. A single point and click connection to the Life Sciences Cloud creates a supply chain control tower that delivers the information, insight and collaboration needed to improve performance and reduce risk across global supply, manufacturing and distribution operations. A winner of numerous industry awards including Deloitte's Technology Fast 500 (ranked number 149 in 2016), the Amazon AWS Global Start-Up Challenge Grand Prize, and the Edison Award for Innovation in Health Management, the Life Sciences Cloud is used by businesses across the globe to meet strategic goals in ensuring global compliance, fighting drug counterfeiting, improving on-time and in-full delivery, protecting product quality and reducing operational cost. For more information on TraceLink and our solutions, visit www.tracelink.com or follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. TraceLink is funded by Goldman Sachs, FirstMark Capital, Volition Capital and F-Prime Capital. To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/dr-bertalan-mesko-the-medical-futurist-to-deliver-headline-keynote-at-tracelink-nexus-17-300453421.html

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