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Washington, DC, United States

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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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


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 26, 2017
Site: www.prweb.com

This year’s AniMotion Festival at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum features dinosaurs, art, animation, and world-renown paleontologist Dr. Paul Sereno. This free two-day event starts with Art Hop on Friday, June 2, from 5 to 8 p.m., and continues on Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. During Art Hop, Aubrey Rodgers, an instructor from Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s Center for New Media, presents The Art of Animation, followed by dinosaur-related animated clips from design students Hannah Spangler and Jordan Wilson. Zak Sliuzas, Kalamazoo Valley Community College alumni, will show his visual art, autograph dinosaur posters he created, and debut his dinosaur short film. Paleontologist Paul Sereno will speak about “Our Hidden Genius” at 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 3. Sereno studied art and biology as an undergrad at Northern Illinois University. He discovered paleontology after a behind-the-scenes museum tour. His work soon became an exciting blend of art, history, and science wrapped in adventure. He explains, “I see paleontology as adventure with a purpose. How else to describe a scientific discipline that allows you to romp in remote corners of the globe, resurrecting gargantuan creatures that have never been seen? The trick to big fossil finds? You’ve got to be able to go where no one has gone before – while learning to enjoy 125-degree heat.” Sereno has discovered fossil remains on five continents, visiting the Andes in Argentina, the African Sahara, Asia’s Gobi Desert, India’s Thar Desert, and remote valleys in Tibet, as well as Niger, Morocco, India, and Xinjiang. One of his most famous discoveries is a 40-foot-long dinosaur-eater dubbed “SuperCroc.” Sereno has been featured in National Geographic magazine and many documentaries, and has authored three books: National Geographic's Digging for Dinosaurs, SuperCroc: Paul Sereno’s Dinosaur Eater, and How Tough Was a Tyrannosaurus? He will be available for book signings from 12:30 to 1:30 and 3 to 4 p.m. Cash-only sales available. Sereno was named Teacher of the Year in 1993 by the Chicago Tribune and was awarded the University Medal for Excellence from Columbia University in 1999. He is co-founder of Project Exploration, a novel science organization that recruits future scientists among urban youth. That effort earned the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring from the White House (2009). Dr. Sereno is a professor at the University of Chicago and Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society. Find out more at http://www.paulsereno.org. Kalamazoo Valley animation students and volunteers will help visitors create flipbooks, learn to draw dinosaurs, create storyboards, sculpt clay dinosaurs, and film stop motion animation at hands-on stations on Saturday from noon to 4 p.m., and Aubrey Rodgers repeats her presentation of The Art of Animation at noon. The AniMotion Festival is sponsored by the Kalamazoo Valley Community College Foundation and is presented by by the Kalamazoo Valley Museum and the Center for New Media of Kalamazoo Valley Community College. Admission to the Kalamazoo Valley Museum is free. The Kalamazoo Valley Museum is operated by Kalamazoo Valley Community College and is governed by its Board of Trustees.


NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--On June 4, 2017, the inaugural World Ocean Festival, organized by The Global Brain Foundation and hosted by the City of New York, will feature leading marine biologists, ocean advocates, entrepreneurs, and more speaking at a free, public program called World Ocean Festival Speaker Forum sponsored by National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey. The Festival is an effort to bring together people and organizations who care deeply about the Ocean and who will stand together for its protection in advance of “The Ocean Conference” at the United Nations (June 5-9). The World Ocean Festival Speaker Forum will feature interactive panel discussions about coral reefs, plastic pollution, fishing and seafood and urban Ocean conservation on Sunday, June 4, 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time. The program is free and open to the public at the Ocean Village exhibition area at Picnic Point at the southern tip of Governors Island. The program will be capped off with a closing ceremony and awards presentation. “Fueled by the power of exploration and storytelling, National Geographic strives to connect people with the world around them and inspire them to make a difference,” said Declan Moore, Chief Executive Officer of National Geographic Partners. “We continue to look for new and exciting ways to bring the story of our world’s oceans to life through projects like the Pristine Seas Initiative and National Geographic Encounter Ocean Odyssey – a new immersive entertainment experience that uses ground-breaking technology to transport visitors through the Pacific Ocean where they encounter its greatest wonders and mightiest creatures. The World Ocean Festival is a unique opportunity to further engage with our audience on the importance of ocean preservation and provide a platform for leaders in ocean advocacy, exploration, and research to discuss how we can all work together to improve the health of our oceans.” “We are thrilled to have all of these incredible voices of the ocean coming to join us at Governors Island on June 4,” said Natalia Vega-Berry, Founder and Executive Producer of World Ocean Festival and The Global Brain Foundation. “World Ocean Festival is merely providing the moment for people and organizations to stand together for the ocean in advance of the UN convening to show world leaders how strongly we feel.” “We depend on the ocean for everything from the food we eat to the air we breathe,” said Maria Damanaki, Managing Director for Oceans at The Nature Conservancy. “Now more than ever, the future health of our oceans depends on us. It is exciting to see the United Nations call on governments, NGOs and citizens to commit to protect the ocean and ensure that it will continue to provide for us and for generations to come echoed by this Festival and met with global support." Curated and moderated by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Ph.D., Founder Ocean Collectiv, the World Ocean Festival Speaker Forum will delve into the issues that threaten the ocean as well as solutions for addressing them in an engaging way. The program includes panel discussions with the world’s experts on topics including “Coral Reefs and Climate” (11:00 a.m.), “Plastic Pollution” (1:30 p.m.), “Fishing and Seafood” (2:30 p.m.) and “Urban Ocean: Conservation” (3:30 p.m.). The program will include a rally featuring global youth ambassadors for the ocean. In addition to World Ocean Festival Speaker Forum, the World Ocean Festival will include the first-of-its kind Ocean March parade of boats in New York Harbor led by the historic John J. Harvey fireboat. The Festival Village on Governors Island will feature a performance by a Fijian military band and awards for luminaries in the field of ocean science, environmental sustainability, global and local organizing, and ocean advocacy. The full program of activities can be found online at the World Ocean Festival website with registration information and a detailed program listing and speaker bios. National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey is a first-in-kind immersive entertainment experience that transports audiences on a jaw-dropping, never-before-seen undersea journey. Developed by a team of Academy, Emmy and Grammy Award-winning creative minds, National Geographic Encounter harnesses groundbreaking digital technology to create a completely new kind of entertainment experience that enables visitors to explore the depths of the Pacific Ocean and come face-to-face with its greatest wonders and mightiest creatures. National Geographic Encounter opens October 2017 and is located in the heart of New York City’s Times Square. The City of New York and The Global Brain are joined by leaders in ocean conservation, advocacy, and sustainable development our Founding Partners Mission Blue, Ocean Elders, Oceanic and The Nature Conservancy. This event is made possible by support from Founding Sponsor Toyota USA, creator of the Mirai fuel cell vehicle and National Geographic. Core Supporters of the World Ocean Festival include Peace Boat, Connect4Climate, Ocean Collectiv and NGO Committee of Sustainable Development-NY. Additional supporters include: Classic Harbor Line, Conscious Good, Ocean Film Festival, Style & Resilience, TerraCycle, Waterkeeper Alliance, AEFocus, Connect 4 Climate, NGO Committee of Sustainable Development-NY, Metcalf Institute, Sustainable Ocean Alliance, We Are The Oceans, Clean Seas, Bye Bye Plastics, Monterey Bay Aquarium, National Educators Association, Mukaro, RiseUP, Blue Mind, The Foundation Center, Waterfront Alliance, Sailors for the Sea, Earth Day Network, The Lonely Whale Foundation, Sea Youth Rise Up, Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, Blue Ocean Network, Second Muse, Wildlife Conservation Society and NYC Junior Ambassadors. The World Ocean Festival is a public event hosted by the City of New York and organized by The Global Brain Foundation to raise peoples’ voices for the preservation and sustainable use of the Ocean (Sustainable Development Goal 14) in advance of the The Ocean Conference at United Nations Headquarters, which aims to be the game changer that will reverse the decline in the health of our ocean for people, planet and prosperity. For more information about the World Ocean Festival and to register for the Ocean March on June 4, 2017, visit: http://www.worldoceanfest.org/ or follow us on Twitter @WorldOceanFest, on Instagram @WorldOceanFestival, and on Facebook @WorldOceanFestival. 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. The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at unprecedented scale, and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in more than 65 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter. The Global Brain Foundation is a 501 C3 not for profit corporation. Our mission is to create new initiatives and ventures to tackle issues where mass participation and collective action can unlock big change. Our current initiatives are in support of the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals and new climate agreements. To learn more, visit: http://www.globalbrain.is/.


WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nat Geo WILD and RED Digital Cinema, a leading manufacturer of professional digital cameras, have joined forces to reinvent wildlife storytelling through Nat Geo WILD’s RED Challenge. Ten experienced filmmakers are heading out on a 15-week mission to produce, shoot and deliver innovative short films showcasing their modern take on the wildlife genre. This is a rare opportunity for filmmakers to go off script and push creative boundaries in the field using some of the best camera technology available today. A hand-selected group of cinematographers from around the world has been outfitted with RED’s state-of-the-art WEAPON 8K S35 camera and challenged to create films that inspire audiences to “let the wild in” while putting a new spin on wildlife storytelling. While RED cameras are known for their work in Hollywood, the lightweight modular design and incredible image quality of RED cameras have made them ideal for any project, including natural history. The winner of the challenge will be announced at the 2017 Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival in September. Until then, keep up with the filmmakers’ adventures in the field through the hashtag #WILDxRED on social media. “RED is disrupting the filmmaking industry by reinventing visual storytelling, so we’re naturally thrilled to partner with them on this ambitious and innovative challenge,” said Geoff Daniels, executive vice president and general manager of Nat Geo WILD. “Wildlife filmmaking is one of the most celebrated and specialized forms of storytelling and, incidentally, one of the oldest, which is why we want to give participants complete freedom to unleash their creativity as we look to inspire audiences around the world with their unique vision. I can't wait to see how these filmmakers redefine the genre by going WILD!” “We are really excited to partner with Nat Geo WILD on the RED Challenge,” said Jarred Land, president of RED Digital Cinema. “I am looking forward to seeing what these filmmakers create when equipped with RED cameras to help them capture their stories.” RED Digital Cinema is a leading manufacturer of professional digital cameras and accessories. In 2006, RED began a revolution with the 4K RED ONE digital cinema camera. By 2008, RED had released the Digital Stills and Motion Camera system that allowed the same camera to be used on features like “The Hobbit” trilogy and “The Martian,” Emmy-winning shows like “House of Cards” and covers of magazines such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. The cameras of RED’s DSMC2 line — RED RAVEN, SCARLET-W, RED EPIC-W and WEAPON — combine compact and lightweight design, superior image quality, incredible dynamic range, modularity and cutting-edge performance, including up to 8K resolution. In 2017, RED's newest 8K sensor, HELIUM, set the new image quality standard with the highest DxOMark score ever. 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 natgeowild.com or nationalgeographic.com, or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.


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."


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."


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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