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The National Geographic Society , headquartered in Washington, D.C. in the United States of America, is one of the largest nonprofit scientific and educational institutions in the world. Its interests include geography, archaeology and natural science, the promotion of environmental and historical conservation, and the study of world culture and history. The National Geographic Society’s logo is a yellow portrait frame – rectangular in shape – which appears on the margins surrounding the front covers of its magazines and as its television channel logo. They also have their own website which features extra content and worldwide events. Wikipedia.


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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."


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

Johannesburg - 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."


ANN ARBOR -- A new study of Peruvian frogs living at a wide variety of elevations -- from the Amazon floodplain to high Andes peaks -- lends support to the idea that lowland amphibians are at higher risk from future climate warming. That's because the lowland creatures already live near the maximum temperatures they can tolerate, while high-elevation amphibians might be more buffered from increased temperatures, according to a study by University of Michigan ecologist Rudolf von May and his colleagues published online April 6 in the journal Ecology and Evolution. Previous studies have suggested that lowland reptiles and amphibians are especially vulnerable to climate warming. But in most cases, those conclusions were based on computer modeling work that incorporated a limited amount of field data. "Understanding how species respond to climatic variation is critical for conserving species in future climatic conditions. Yet for most groups of organisms distributed in tropical areas, data about species' critical thermal limits are limited," said von May, a postdoctoral researcher in the U-M Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. "I think the contribution of our study is that it focuses on a group of closely related frog species distributed along a single montane gradient and that it includes empirical data on species' tolerance to heat and cold, as well as air temperatures measured along the same gradient." In the process of conducting the study, which involved more than two years of fieldwork, von May and his colleagues identified three previously unknown frog species. Those newly discovered species will be described separately in a series of journal articles. The elevational-gradient study focused on the thermal ecology and evolution of 22 species of land-breeding frogs, which are also known as terrestrial-breeding frogs, in southern Peru's Manu National Park and surrounding areas. Sampled elevations ranged from the Amazon River floodplain, at 820 feet above sea level, to 12,000-foot Andes Mountains peaks. The region in and around Manu National Park is known for long-held records of biodiversity including more than 1,000 species of birds -- about 10 percent of the world's bird species -- and more than 1,200 species of butterflies. In addition, the park contains an estimated 2.2 percent of the world's amphibians and 1.5 percent of its reptiles. While most frogs lay eggs in water, terrestrial-breeding frogs use a specialized reproductive mode called direct development: A clutch of embryos hatch directly into froglets; there are no free-living tadpoles. Terrestrial-breeding frogs form a diverse group that can exploit a wide variety of habitats, as long as those locations contain sufficient moisture. In the study, the researchers looked at how closely related frog species differ in their elevational distribution and their tolerance to heat and cold in a region of the tropical Andes where temperature increase is predicted to be detrimental for most species. "These measurements were taken in order to determine whether tropical frogs could take the heat -- or cold--predicted for tropical regions as a result of climate change," von May said. The researchers found that the frogs' tolerance to heat varied from 77 degrees Fahrenheit to 95 degrees and that, as expected, highland species tolerated much lower temperatures than lowland species. Frogs living in high-elevation grasslands tolerated near-freezing temperatures, which they experience during the dry season, as well as moderately high temperatures, which they may experience during sunny days. When considering the temperature of the microhabitats in which the frogs live, the results suggest tropical lowland species live close to their thermal limit. Amphibians living at high elevation might be more buffered from future temperature increases because the highest temperatures they can tolerate are farther away from the maximum temperatures that they regularly experience in the wild. Von May is the first author of the Ecology and Evolution paper, "Divergence of thermal physiological traits in terrestrial breeding frogs along a tropical elevational gradient." The other authors are Alessandro Catenazzi of Southern Illinois University; Ammon Corl of the University of California, Berkeley; Roy Santa-Cruz of the Museo de Historia Natural de la Universidad Nacional de San Agustin in Peru; Ana Carolina Carnaval of City University of New York; and Craig Moritz of the Australian National University. Funding for the study was provided by the National Geographic Society, the National Science Foundation, the American Philosophical Society, the Rufford Small Grants Foundation, and the Amazon Conservation Association.


News Article | May 1, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

TAMPA, FL (May 1, 2017)- A key piece of evidence proving how dinosaurs evolved into modern-day birds could soon be studied across the world. University of South Florida biology professor Ryan Carney, PhD, MPH, MBA, has created interactive holograms of dinosaurs, including the Archaeopteryx, which is believed to be the missing link in understanding the origin of birds and flight. Only 12 fossils have been discovered, all in Germany. Dr. Carney digitizes these fossils using X-ray, lasers and photogrammetry, then brings them "back to life" with computer animation. Using virtual reality and augmented reality, paleontologists and students could interact with the dinosaurs in 3D, allowing them to better understand their anatomy and motion without having to travel to a museum. These technologies are also integrated into Dr. Carney's Digital Dinosaurs course at the University of South Florida's Center for Virtualization & Applied Spatial Technologies (CVAST) and Integrative Biology Department. Students use the same techniques to visualize, animate, and 3D print specimens for research and educational purposes, helping foster enthusiasm for STEM fields. His work is so groundbreaking, the National Geographic Society just named Dr. Carney to the 2017 class of "Emerging Explorers," granting him $10,000 for research and exploration. This prestigious award recognizes those who are already making a difference and changing the world. He is the first faculty member at the University of South Florida to receive this honor.


News Article | April 27, 2017
Site: www.prnewswire.com

National Geographic Travel's international growth and development continues with the appointment of Nathan Philpot. Philpot, who has extensive experience in the travel industry, has been named Director, National Geographic Expeditions Europe & Africa and is charged in part with developing and launching the branded consumer travel experiences across Europe and Africa. Within the Expeditions business, National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World continues to grow since launching in January 2015 with 24 charter members. The collection is now up to 55 properties in remarkable destinations around the world, spanning 30 countries and 6 continents. They recently released their first Sustainable Tourism Impact Report, showcasing sustainable tourism in action among their members. In travel media, National Geographic is strengthening its Travel franchise with the launch of National Geographic Traveler magazine's first-ever luxury edition, which will be distributed next month to a targeted circulation of 350,000 National Geographic subscribers. The special edition will feature content relevant to the affluent traveler, including luxury hotels, fine dining, and bespoke travel experiences. Additionally, Andrew Nelson has been tapped to lead a newly formed NG Travel Lab, which will serve as a one-stop shop for custom content creation, distribution and marketing. The team will provide creative client solutions across multiple platforms, from ideation to execution, spanning digital, social, video and print platforms while working with our regional labs in Latin America, Europe and Asia. Television programming will also reflect National Geographic's emphasis on travel, with a dedicated travel block starting in July. The two-hour programming section will run every Thursday from 6 to 8:00 PM ET. National Geographic Partners LLC National Geographic Partners LLC (NGP), a joint venture between National Geographic and 21st Century Fox, is committed to bringing the world premium science, adventure and exploration content across an unrivaled portfolio of media assets. NGP combines the global National Geographic television channels (National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo WILD, Nat Geo MUNDO, Nat Geo PEOPLE) with National Geographic's media and consumer-oriented assets, including National Geographic magazines; National Geographic studios; related digital and social media platforms; books; maps; children's media; and ancillary activities that include travel, global experiences and events, archival sales, licensing and e-commerce businesses. Furthering knowledge and understanding of our world has been the core purpose of National Geographic for 129 years, and now we are committed to going deeper, pushing boundaries, going further for our consumers … and reaching over 730 million people around the world in 172 countries and 43 languages every month as we do it. NGP returns 27 percent of our proceeds to the nonprofit National Geographic Society to fund work in the areas of science, exploration, conservation and education. For more information visit natgeotv.com or nationalgeographic.com, or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest. To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/national-geographic-grows-travel-business-300446711.html


News Article | April 27, 2017
Site: www.prnewswire.co.uk

WASHINGTON, April 27, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Coming off a record 2016 and posting double-digit growth into 2017, National Geographic Travel announces additional global expansion plans for Europe and Asia and broadens its portfolio of travel-related media offerings. The expansion includes the launch of a weekly two-hour travel programming block, the appointment of new executives, a special luxury edition of National Geographic Traveler magazine, and the development of the new National Geographic Travel Lab. "National Geographic is leveraging the unique power of our brand to reinvigorate and reinvent our ancillary businesses, and our Travel business is a key piece of that," said Declan Moore, National Geographic Partners CEO. "Furthering the knowledge and understanding of our world is, and always has been, at National Geographic's core and we believe travel is essential to advancing that mission.  For more than a century we have been showing our audience the wonders of the planet and through our travel offerings, we can also take them there." National Geographic Travel's international growth and development continues with the appointment of Nathan Philpot. Philpot, who has extensive experience in the travel industry, has been named Director, National Geographic Expeditions Europe & Africa and is charged in part with developing and launching the branded consumer travel experiences across Europe and Africa. Within the Expeditions business, National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World continues to grow since launching in January 2015 with 24 charter members. The collection is now up to 55 properties in remarkable destinations around the world, spanning 30 countries and 6 continents. They recently released their first Sustainable Tourism Impact Report, showcasing sustainable tourism in action among their members. In travel media, National Geographic is strengthening its Travel franchise with the launch of National Geographic Traveler magazine's first-ever luxury edition, which will be distributed next month to a targeted circulation of 350,000 National Geographic subscribers. The special edition will feature content relevant to the affluent traveler, including luxury hotels, fine dining, and bespoke travel experiences. Additionally, Andrew Nelson has been tapped to lead a newly formed NG Travel Lab, which will serve as a one-stop shop for custom content creation, distribution and marketing. The team will provide creative client solutions across multiple platforms, from ideation to execution, spanning digital, social, video and print platforms while working with our regional labs in Latin America, Europe and Asia. Television programming will also reflect National Geographic's emphasis on travel, with a dedicated travel block starting in July. The two-hour programming section will run every Thursday from 6 to 8:00 PM ET. National Geographic Partners LLC (NGP), a joint venture between National Geographic and 21st Century Fox, is committed to bringing the world premium science, adventure and exploration content across an unrivaled portfolio of media assets. NGP combines the global National Geographic television channels (National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo WILD, Nat Geo MUNDO, Nat Geo PEOPLE) with National Geographic's media and consumer-oriented assets, including National Geographic magazines; National Geographic studios; related digital and social media platforms; books; maps; children's media; and ancillary activities that include travel, global experiences and events, archival sales, licensing and e-commerce businesses. Furthering knowledge and understanding of our world has been the core purpose of National Geographic for 129 years, and now we are committed to going deeper, pushing boundaries, going further for our consumers … and reaching over 730 million people around the world in 172 countries and 43 languages every month as we do it. NGP returns 27 percent of our proceeds to the nonprofit National Geographic Society to fund work in the areas of science, exploration, conservation and education. For more information visit natgeotv.com or nationalgeographic.com, or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.


WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Twenty-five years after the verdict in the Rodney King trial sparked several days of protests, violence and looting in Los Angeles, the nation continues to find itself in a cycle of heated discussion over racial oppression, police brutality and socioeconomic inequality. This was particularly evident on Sunday, April 30, during the world-broadcast debut of National Geographic’s documentary LA 92 — a powerful look back at the controversial uprising. The documentary, which has been hailed by critics as a “must see film” that is “seething with emotions,” sparked significant online engagement during its broadcast, trending nationally on Twitter and through a Facebook Live after-show event. In an effort to further the national dialogue on the topic, National Geographic announced it would make the film LA 92 available free through online, video on demand and streaming platforms. “National Geographic believes in the power of storytelling to change the world,” explained Tim Pastore, president of original programming and production for National Geographic. “The parallels between the racially charged climate of Los Angeles in 1992 and more recent occurrences of racial injustice demands our attention. We hope this film will encourage reflection and debate as the country wrestles with these very real and very relevant conflicts.” LA 92 will be made widely available today through May 11 on streaming platforms including Natgeotv.com, video on demand (through cable provider set-top boxes), cable provider sites and apps, Nat Geo TV apps (iPhone, iPad and Apple TV, Roku, Android phones and tablets, Xbox One and 360, Samsung Connected TVs), iTunes, Hulu, YouTube, Facebook, Amazon, Sony Playstation, GooglePlay and more. Leading up to, during and immediately following the broadcast premiere of LA 92, viewers took to social media to weigh in on the complex conversation. The hashtag #LA92 trended nationally at No. 4 on Twitter with influencers such as @ShaunKing, @JamilahLemieux and @AprilDRyan contributing to a substantive conversation that carried through much of the night. Immediately following LA 92’s premiere, National Geographic hosted a Facebook Live after-show on National Geographic Channel’s Facebook page. Moderated by Soledad O’Brien and streamed from multiple locations in south Los Angeles and Koreatown, the Facebook Live program gave viewers the opportunity to engage in the discussion, ask questions of the panelists and comment in real time. The program also included such guests as Congresswoman Karen Ruth Bass of California’s 37th Congressional District; Najee Ali, director of Project Islamic Hope (a civil rights group based in south LA); Christafire Lundy, a resident of south LA; Hyepin Im, president and CEO of Faith and Community Empowerment; Karen Slade, vice president/general manager of KJLH Radio; and longtime LA journalist Bob Brill. Produced by two-time Oscar winner Simon Chinn (“Man on Wire”) and Emmy winner Jonathan Chinn (“American High”) and directed by Oscar winners Dan Lindsay and TJ Martin (“Undefeated”), the film looks at the events of 1992 from a multitude of vantage points, bringing a fresh perspective to a pivotal moment that reverberates to this day. Using no narration or “talking head” interviews, the film reconstructs the tumultuous events that unfolded in 1992 by exclusively using archival footage including broadcast news footage, radio reports, police files and personal home videos. LA 92 premiered at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival, followed by a limited theatrical release in New York, LA and London and the television broadcast premiere on National Geographic on Sunday, April 30, in the United States, and continues to roll out globally across 171 countries and 45 languages. Additionally, LA 92 recently completed a multicity screening tour with stops including Baltimore, Charlotte, St. Louis and Atlanta, as well as a special screening at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. In each location, directors Lindsay and Martin were joined by community influencers and leaders to discuss issues of racial oppression, police brutality and socioeconomic inequality depicted in the film. National Geographic also partnered with 21st Century Fox to provide free screenings of the film to colleges and universities nationwide executed by Picture Motion and created a free discussion guide to accompany the film developed by Journeys In Film. For more information on LA 92, visit natgeotvpressroom.com or natgeotv.com/la92. National Geographic Documentary Films is committed to bringing the world premium, feature documentaries that cover timely, provocative and globally relevant stories from the very best documentary filmmakers in the world. National Geographic Documentary Films is a division of National Geographic Partners, a joint venture between National Geographic and 21st Century Fox. Furthering knowledge and understanding of our world has been the core purpose of National Geographic for 129 years, and now we are committed to going deeper, pushing boundaries, going further for our consumers … and reaching over 730 million people around the world in 171 countries and 45 languages every month as we do it. NGP returns 27 percent of our proceeds to the nonprofit National Geographic Society to fund work in the areas of science, exploration, conservation and education. For more information visit natgeotv.com or nationalgeographic.com, or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: AISL | Award Amount: 2.71M | Year: 2010

This project will expand the functions and applications of FieldScope, a web-based science information portal currently supported by the National Geographic Society (NGS). The goal is to create a single, powerful infrastructure for Public Participation in Science Research (PPSR) projects that any organization can use to create their own project and support their own community of participants. FieldScope currently provides various tools and applications for use by its existing user base that includes the GLOBE project and the Chesapeake Bay monitoring system. The application enables users to contribute volunteered geographic data collection efforts and sharing information among both professional and amateur users. The project would develop and test an enhanced version of the existing FieldScope application. The project supports major programming development for a fully-functional web-based application that would significantly enhance the usability of the current application. Along with programming new features and capabilities, the project involves extensive evaluation of the new capabilities and involves three citizen-based organizations as testbeds.

The project will increase the capability of the existing system to handle large numbers of users and user groups and also increase the number and variety of tools available to any user; provide customization through the adaption of common APIs; and provide for expansion of computer space through use of virtual servers in a cloud computing environment thereby limiting the need for installed hardware. This approach would maximize storage and computing power by being able to call on resources when necessary and scaling back when demand decreases.

The platform would include advanced visualization capabilities as part of a suite of analytic tools available to the user. Social networking applications would also be incorporated as a way of enabling communication among users of a particular site. The operation of the portal would be supported by the NGS and made available free of charge to any group of users applying for space. Nominal fees will be applied to large organizations requiring large computing space or additional features. User groups can request NGS supply custom features for the cost of development and deployment.

The evaluation of this project is extensive and focused on formative evaluation as a means to identify user preferences, from look and feel of the site to types of tools desired and types of uses expected. The formative evaluation would be conducted ahead of any commitment to programming and formatting of the features of the site.

The project responds to a need expressed throughout the citizen science community for web-based applications that enable individuals to engage in a topic of interest, interact in various ways on such a site including the submission of data and information, analyze the information in concert with others and with working scientists in the field, and utilize state-of-the-art tools such as visualization as a way of making sense of the data being collected. There have been numerous proposals to create similar types of sites from various groups, each based on its own perceived needs and grounded in its own particular discipline or topic. This activity could serve this community more broadly and save similar groups the trouble and expense of creating sites from scratch.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: DISCOVERY RESEARCH K-12 | Award Amount: 2.26M | Year: 2010

Having a geographically literate population will be critical to the economic stability, physical security, and environmental sustainability of the United States in the 21st century. Yet the U.S. still lags far behind the other developed nations in education in the geographical sciences. Recognizing the risk that geographic illiteracy poses for our country, the National Geographic Society (NGS), in collaboration with the Association of American Geographers, American Geographical Society, and National Council for Geographic Education, proposes to engage in a set of research synthesis and dissemination activities that will provide road maps for the design of assessment, professional development, instructional materials, public information, and educational research for the next decade. The work will be done by a broad range of experts from K-12 institutions as well as the geographical science and educational research communities

Building on a 25 year collaboration, NGS and its partners propose to engage in a community-wide effort to synthesize the literature from a broad range of fields and to use the findings to create frameworks that will guide the planning, implementation, and scale-up of efforts to improve geographic education over the next decade. The result of this effort will be a set of publicly reviewed, consensus reports that will guide the collaborative efforts of the project partners and the larger geographic education community, as well as broaden awareness of the increasingly significant and acute need for geographic literacy and education in the geographical sciences in our country.

This project will create three in-depth roadmap reports targeted at practitioners, takeholders, and policymakers. Developed by expert committees, these three reports will be on:

- Assessment frameworks for systematic monitoring and continuous improvement of geographic education programs.
- Professional development for teachers and instructional materials to support large-scale educational improvement across diverse contexts.
- Educational research agenda to set priorities and identify appropriate methodologies for research that will improve geographic education into the future.

These three reports will be summarized in an executive summary written for a broad audience of educators, policymakers, and concerned citizens.
In addition to these consensus reports, the project will also conduct research on public understanding of the nature and importance of geographic literacy, with particular attention to the key audiences of educators, policymakers, and citizens. In addition to shaping the projects reports, this research will inform the broader communications and dissemination efforts of this project and its partners.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: CYBER-PHYSICAL SYSTEMS (CPS) | Award Amount: 1.00M | Year: 2011

This project will construct a wireless network of animal-borne embedded devices that will be deployed and tested in a biologically-relevant application. The networked devices will provide not only geo-location data, but also execute cooperative strategies that save battery-life by selectively recording bandwidth-intensive audio and high-definition video footage of occurrences of animal group behavior of interest, such as predation.
This project comprises three concurrent and interdependent research themes. The first is the investigation of methods to design and analyze the performance of distributed algorithms that implement autonomous decisions at the mobile agents, subject to communication and computational constraints. The second will pursue data-driven fundamental research on the modeling of animal group motion and will promote a formal understanding of the mechanisms of social interaction. The third is centered on the investigation of methods for hardware integration to build distributed networks of embedded devices that are capable of executing the newly developed algorithms, subject to power and weight constraints.
The results and experience gained in this project will guide the development of effective autonomous systems for the monitoring and protection of endangered species. This project will create undergraduate and graduate research opportunities at all participating institutions, expanding on an existing collaboration between the University of Maryland, Princeton University, and the National Geographic Society. There is the potential for using wide-reaching media resources to disseminate the results of this project to a broad audience. This may contribute to attracting more students to engineering and science.

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