World’s oldest art discovered in Indonesia


This video about Sulawesi in Indonesia is called Cave art in the tropics.

From Nature:

World’s oldest art found in Indonesian cave

Analysis of images discovered in 1950s counters Eurocentric view of creativity’s origins.

David Cyranoski

8 October 2014

Artwork in an Indonesian cave has been found to date back at least 40,000 years, making it the oldest sign yet of human creative art — likely pre-dating art from European caves.

The findings, published on 8 October in Nature, undermine a Eurocentric view of the origins of human creativity and could prompt a ‘gold rush’ to find even older art on the route of human migration from Africa to the east.

The analysis hints at “just what a wealth of undiscovered information there is in Asia”, says Alistair Pike, an archaeologist at the University of Southampton, UK, who in 2013 identified what had been considered the world’s oldest cave art, in Europe, and had no involvement in the current project. “This paper will likely prompt a hunt.”

The Indonesian images, discovered in a limestone cave on the island of Sulawesi in the 1950s, had previously been thought to date back only 10,000 years. Anything older would, it was assumed, have deteriorated.

Even after a technology that could test that assumption, uranium-thorium dating, became available, no one thought to apply it to the Indonesian cave — until now. Though the paint itself cannot be dated, uranium-thorium dating can estimate the age of the bumpy layers of calcium carbonate (known as ‘cave popcorn’) that formed on the surface of the paintings. As mineral layers are deposited, they draw in uranium. Because uranium decays into thorium at a known rate, the ratio of uranium to thorium isotopes in a sample indicates how old it is.

The researchers dated 12 stencils of human hands and two images of large animals. Because they sampled the top layer of calcium carbonate, the uranium dating technique gave them a minimum age for each sample.

They found that the oldest stencil was at least 39,900 years old — 2,000 years older than the minimum age of the oldest European hand stencil. An image of a babirusa, or ‘pig-deer’, resembling an aubergine with stick-like legs jutting from each end, was estimated to be 35,400 years old — around the same age as the earliest large animal pictures in European caves.

This video from Sulawesi says about itself:

17 December 2013

A Video about the Babirusa in its natural habitat, the Paguyaman Forest. Other animals such as Heck’s macaque, reticulated python, water monitor lizard, oriental whipsnake, Gunther’s keelback and various birds like knobbed hornbill or emerald dove are also shown.

The Nature article continues:

The hand stencils look similar to those found in Europe. But the animal pictures, in addition to reflecting local animals rather than mammoths as in Europe, are stylistically different. The Indonesian images “look ‘line-y’, almost like brush strokes”, says Pike, whereas early European images “look dabbed, almost like finger paint”.

“It allows us to move away from the view that Europe was special,” says Maxime Aubert, an archaeologist at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia, who led the team. “There was some idea that early Europeans were more aware of themselves and their surroundings. Now we can say that’s not true.”

Researchers posit two theories for the evolution of such artwork — either it arose independently in Indonesia, or early humans leaving Africa already had the capacity to make art, and carried it to multiple areas.

Pike thinks that researchers should seek evidence of art along the southern migration route. “India is the most obvious place to look,” he says. “I expect we’ll start getting a lot more photos [of images covered in calcium carbonate] from along that corridor from people who want to date them. This may move the field along very rapidly.” Southeast Asia will also be raked over, he predicts. There are hundreds more caves in that region of Sulawesi alone, and Aubert has also started looking in Borneo.

The discovery weakens a much-debated theory that Neanderthals, who were present in Europe until around 41,000 years ago, might have been responsible for the cave art there. “There were no Neanderthals in Sulawesi,” says Pike. But the hand stencils and choice of subject are very similar to the Indonesian figures, he adds.

Aubert hopes that the discovery might draw attention to the need to protect the caves, many of which have been damaged by mining and other industrial activity. Many of the paintings are flaking off, he says. He hopes that the site might finally, after years of candidacy, be designated a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Education, Social and Cultural Organization, which would accelerate conservation efforts.

Indonesians demand compensation for massacre by Dutch soldiers


This video says about itself:

14 September 2011

A Dutch court is expected to rule if survivors of a massacre carried out more than 60 years ago will get compensation.

According to Indonesian researchers, Dutch troops wiped out almost the entire male population of a village in West Java, two years before the former colony declared independence in 1949.

No, Indonesia declared independence in 1945. However, the Dutch government only recognized independence after four years of colonial war in 1949.

Most Indonesians do not know about the massacre that took place in Rawagede.

Only recently has a monument been built to remind residents that Dutch soldiers killed all the men of the village.

The only living witnesses are now in their 80s, and illiterate, after having to fend for themselves following the deaths of their husbands.

“There were dead bodies everywhere, many of which we found in the river after the shooting stopped,” said Cawi, a survivor.

Of the nine widows and survivors who have filed the case, three have died while waiting for the verdict.

The Dutch government has admitted that war crimes were committed in Rawagede but it says the survivors filed their claims for compensation too late.

They should have done this within 30 years after the atrocities were committed, says the Dutch government.

It is now up to the judge to decide whether it is justified to have a time limit on war crimes.

The massacre in Rawagede is not the only village where the Netherlands has an unresolved dark history.

Al Jazeera’s Step Vaessen reports from Rawagede.

Translated from daily De Telegraaf in the Netherlands:

Thursday 28 August 2014 11:25
|
Children in Sulawesi saw executions

THE HAGUE – Monji saw on January 28, 1947 as a boy of 9 or 10 years old, that Indonesian men from Suppa village were beaten, stripped and shot by Dutch troops in South Sulawesi. The bodies were piled up and buried in holes in the ground. Eventually, 208 people were killed.

Another child who witnessed the extrajudicial killings was Paturusi (82) from the village Bulukumba. She saw that her father, a civil servant, had fled into the forest but had came out again. He was then executed. This Thursday they are two of the three children of then entering the court in The Hague. They demand a compensation of 20,000 euros from the Dutch government.

The government does not want to grant the children of executed people any compensation, as previously happened to widows of men killed.

According to lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld a statute of limitations does not apply. The children are also, like before, the widows, survivors directly involved and they are just as much victims of executions as widows. According to Zegveld it has been a very traumatic experience for the children to see their dead fathers.

Zegveld represents five children and 18 widows who have not yet received any compensation. … The widows have refused a settlement because the attorney’s fees would be deducted from their remuneration.

Indonesian survivors of colonial killing sue Dutch government


This video is called Shocking story of Dutch war veteran in Indonesia.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV, about the 1945-1949 colonial war in Indonesia:

Sulawesi children sue Dutch government

Update: Monday 23 Sep 2013, 08:47

Five children of men who in 1947 in South Sulawesi were executed by Dutch soldiers have sued the Dutch government. They say that they, like the widows of the victims, are entitled to compensation.

With ten widows a settlement of 20,000 euros has been agreed. During the military actions between 1945 and 1949 their husbands were summarily executed. This scheme is supposed to be extended to all executions of that time.

Regarding the children the Dutch government claims the period of limitation has passed. The foundation on Dutch debts of honour compares their situation to that of the widows.

Dutch war crimes in Sulawesi, Indonesia


Some of the Indonesian prisoners of Dutch soldiers

By Batara R. Hutagalung, Founder and Chairman of the Committee of Dutch Honorary Debts:

THE COMMITTEE OF DUTCH HONORARY DEBTS

PRESS  RELEASE

The Galung Lombok Massacre. Commemoration 2013

On February 1, 1947, the Dutch special troops, Depot Speciale Troepen massacred more than 700 villagers in the village of Galung Lombok, District of  Polewali Mandar, West Sulawesi. The victims were from the surrounding villages of Galung Lombok, from the District of Polewali Mandar and the District of Majene.

(List of the names of the victims from booth districts, see: http://batarahutagalung.blogspot.com/2012/06/galung-lombok-massacre-list-of.html)

In connection with this horrific humanitarian tragedy, the people of the West Sulawesi Province will hold the 2nd Congress of the People of Mandar on Saturday, February 2, 2013 at the Assammalewuang Building, Jl. Jend. Gatot Subroto, Majene – West Sulawesi.

The Governor of the Province of West Sulawesi, H. Anwar Adnan Shaleh will open the Congress.

Keynote speaker: Salim Mengga, Chairman of the Organisation of the People of Mandar, West Sulawesi

Speakers: 1. Drs. H. Hamzah H. Hasan, Chairman of the Parliament of West Sulawesi.
2. Brig. Gen. (ret.) H. Jawas Jusuf, son of a victim of the massacre.
3. Prof. DR. Edward   L. Poelinggomang, Historian at the Hassanuddin University, Makassar.
4. Mulyo Wibisono, SH., MSc, Chairman of the Advisory Board of The Committee of Dutch Honorary Debts.
5. H. Zainuddin, eye witness.
6. Batara R. Hutagalung, Founder and Chairman of The Committee of Dutch Honorary Debts.

To commemorate the killings of more than 700 villagers, on Sunday, February 3, 2013 a commemoration will be held at the Monument of Galung Lombok.

For the first time, a reconstruction of the massacre will be held in a theatrical performance.

More than one thousand people of the Province of West Sulawesi and the Province of South Sulawesi will attend the commemoration.

The Dutch Ambassador to Indonesia, HE Tjeerd de Zwan is also invited to  attend the congress and the commemoration.

Some Dutch sources about the massacre in Galung Lombok, see:

http://indonesiadutch.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-massacre-in-galung-lombok-bloedbad.html

To see the pictures, please click:

http://indonesiadutch.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-galung-lombok-massacre.html

Weblog: http://indonesiadutch.blogspot.com

Dutch apologise for Indonesian executions: here.

New Indonesian rat species discovery


Shrew-rat, photo Esselstyn, Achmadi  & Rowe

From DISCOVER Magazine:

Newly discovered rat that can’t gnaw or chew

If you only looked at mammals, you could reasonably believe that the chisellers have inherited the earth. Of all the various species of mammals, forty percent are rodents. Rats, mice, squirrels, guinea pigs… all of them have the same modus operandi. They gnaw their way into their food with self-sharpening chisel-like teeth.

Whether tiny gerbil or huge capybara, rodents eat with the same special teeth. The upper and lower jaws each have a single pair of incisors that grow continuously through their lives. The front of each tooth is made from hard enamel, while the back is made of soft dentine. As the rodent gnaws, the incisors scrape at each other, and the dentine wears away faster than the enamel. This creates a permanently sharp edge, useful for cracking into wood, nuts and flesh alike. Once gnawed, the rodent passes its food to the back of their mouths to be chewed by grinding molars.

But on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, Jacob Esselstyn has discovered a new species of rodent that radically departs from this universal body plan: a “shrew-rat” that he calls Paucidentomys vermidax. Its name –a mash-up of Latin and Greek—gives a clue to its lifestyle. It means “worm-devouring, few-toothed mouse”.

The shrew-rat is just a few inches long, with small eyes, large ears, and a soft coat. Its most distinctive feature, however, is its long snout, reminiscent of the distantly related shrews that it is named after. At the end of the snout, the lower jaw has the usual flat-edged incisors, but the upper jaw has a pair of bicuspids (like the ones next to your pointed canines). And that’s it. Unlike every other rodent, this one has no molars—just four incisors, nothing else.

There are other shrew-rats in Indonesia and the Philippines, and while all of them have lost the ability to gnaw, none have features quite as extreme as Esselstyn’s new find. (All of them, for example, have molars.) They’re an odd group, united by their common long-snouted appearance rather than by any evolutionary similarities. Rather than forming one unified branch of the rodent family tree, the shrew-rats represent twigs on separate branches. They evolved their odd shapes independently.

Shrew-rats typically eat earthworms and other soft-bodied creatures that don’t require gnawing teeth. That’s exactly what Esselstyn’s new species does. He collected two of the animals in March 2011, and when he examined the stomach contents of one, he found earthworms and nothing else.

Esselstyn thinks that the shrew-rat has lost the ability to chew and gnaw because it only eats soft prey. It only needs teeth for capturing food rather than processing it. As such, it has lost everything except for two front incisors, used to snag worms and cut them into easy-to-swallow pieces. Like the lost limbs of snakes and whales, the missing teeth of the shrew-rat are a reminder that evolution disposes of body parts that are no longer useful, and that those same losses can open up new opportunities.

Reference: Esselstyn, Achmadi & Rowe. 2012. Evolutionary novelty in a rat with no molars. Biology Letters. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2012.0574

See also here. And here. And here.

New Indonesian bat discovery


This video from Australia is called Cute baby Fruit Bat.

From Wildlife Extra:

New species of fruit bat discovered in Indonesia

New bat found on Sulawesi but in danger from hunting and trapping

August 2012. A new species of fruit bat has been discovered in Indonesia. In the genus Thoopterus, T. suhaniahae has been found on the islands of Sulawesi, Talaud and Wowoni in Indonesia.

The new species of Thoopterus is a medium-sized fruit bat found in Sulawesi and small adjacent island groups. It is found in primary forest at middle and low land altitudes. The discovery of a second species of Thoopterus endemic to Sulawesi and adjacent islands provides further evidence that Sulawesi is a ‘hot spot’ of bat evolution.

Unfortunately, ongoing large scale hunting and trapping of fruit bats in the north and parts of Central Sulawesi and elsewhere, seriously endangers the survival of this species as well as other fruit bats on these islands.

See also here.

Indicator Bats Program: Online tool to identify European bat calls: here.

Bats Evolved More Than One Way to Drink Nectar: here.

Bats threatened by climate change: here.

Bats Track and Exploit Changes in Insect Pest Populations: here.