Fossil ape discovery in Kenya

Kenyan fossil hunter John Ekusi found the fossil ape infant skull jutting from the Turkana Basin’s rocky terrain. Isaiah Nengo, photo by Christopher Kiarie

From Science:

Ancient infant ape skull sheds light on the ancestor of all humans and living apes

By Michael Price

Aug. 9, 2017, 1:00 PM

Anthropologists have waited decades to find the complete cranium of a Miocene ape from Africa—one that lived in the hazy period before the human lineage split off from the common ancestors we share with chimpanzees some 7 million years ago. Now, scientists in Kenya have found their prize at last: an almost perfectly preserved skull roughly the size of a baseball. The catch? It’s from an infant. That means that although it can give scientists a rough idea of what the common ancestor to all living apes and humans would have looked like, drawing other meaningful conclusions could be challenging.

“This is the sort of thing that the fossil record loves to do to us,” says James Rossie, a biological anthropologist at the State University of New York in Stony Brook who wasn’t involved with the study. “The problem is that we learn from fossils by comparing them to others. When there are no other infant Miocene ape skulls to which to make those comparisons, your hands are tied.”

The remarkably complete skull was discovered in the Turkana Basin of northern Kenya 3 years ago. As the sun sank behind the Napudet Hills west of Lake Turkana, primate paleontologist Isaiah Nengo of De Anza College in Cupertino, California, and his team started walking back to their jeep. Kenyan fossil hunter John Ekusi raced ahead to smoke a cigarette. Suddenly he began circling in place. When Nengo caught up, he saw a dirt-clogged eye socket staring up at him. “There was this skull just sticking out of the ground,” Nengo recalls. “It was incredible because we had been going up and down that path for weeks and never noticed it.”

The young ape was about 16 months old when it died. Nyanzapithecus alesi is the name of this new species.


Song sparrows in the USA

This video from the USA says about itself:

2 August 2017

Song Sparrow repeating its foraging routine over and over again. A little brown bird that often flies under the radar. They have beautiful songs.

This video from the USA says about itself:

1 June 2015

Song Sparrow calls its song from the top of an Arborvitae. An attractive and cheerful bird it will brighten your day.

Guam people against Trump’s Korea nuclear warmongering

This video says about itself:

US military to strengthen presence in Guam

21 June 2013

With Washington refocusing its forces to the Asia-Pacific region, the US Naval Base on the small island of Guam is preparing for the arrival of 5,000 more troops and their dependents.

The goal is to turn Guam, an unincorporated territory of the US in the western Pacific Ocean, into a regional security hub by integrating the US air force and navy.

The move is seen as a bid to counter what are perceived by the US and its allies as challenges to the freedom and security of the region.

However, many of the locals feel there are other ways their island can prosper, and that growth should not happen at any cost, particularly at the expense of their environment.

Al Jazeera’s Marga Ortigas reports from Guam.

From in Australia (right-wing, Rupert Murdoch-owned):

Trump hasn’t a clue where Guam is’: Locals terrified they’ll be ‘blown to smithereens’ as North Korea tensions ramp up

August 9, 201710:22pm

Emma Reynolds and wires

DONALD Trump is using Guam as a pawn in his stand-off with North Korea without even knowing where the US territory is, say terrified locals. …

Residents of the 550 square-kilometre territory, home to several US military bases, turned on Mr Trump as they contemplated the dire warning from North Korea.

“We’ll be blown to smithereens!” wrote former teacher Eileen Benavente-Blas on a community Facebook page. “Trump hasn’t a clue where Guam is as he tweets our island into the nuclear hands of N. Korea.”

In response to a query from, Guamanian Milan Salas added: “Tell the world Guam (we) are a pawn of war. Collateral damage and victims every day from two spoiled rotten man child leaders Trump and Kim … Kim Jung [sic] wants to kill us with his ICBM [intercontinental ballistic missiles] because of our ties as a territory to the USA … USA wants to drown our livelihood with despair from over-militarisation that will hurt our ecosystem … we are a cheese bait for NK.

“The Chamorro [indigenous] people have no true voice from everyday tyrants. Is there really true freedom, that I cannot vote for the POTUS who imposes his constitutional rights on me and strategically uses my home for military purposes as a target for the Asia-Pacific region?

“Where is our voice in all this?”

International experts have joined in the criticism of the President’s “unhinged” verbal assault, which goes well beyond repeated warnings from the US military this year that action against North Korea is an option.

“Trying to out-threaten North Korea is like trying to out-pray the Pope,” tweeted John Delury from Seoul’s Yonsei University.

Security commentator Ankit Panda called Mr Trump’s comments “dangerous and unusual”, while Congressman Eliot Engel, Democratic senior member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, chastised the President for drawing an “absurd” red line that Kim would inevitably cross.

“North Korea is a real threat, but the President’s unhinged reaction suggests he might consider using American nuclear weapons in response to a nasty comment from a North Korean despot,” Mr Engel said in a statement.

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” said the President, speaking from his golf club in New Jersey. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

With a population of 160,000 people, Guam is home to 6000 US troops at the Naval Base Guam and Andersen Air Force Base. Its tropical climate has also made it popular with tourists, although a direct twice-weekly flight from Cairns that carried mainly tourists was discontinued in 2015.

The Micronesian island, situated less than 3000km north of Australia and around 3400km southeast of Pyongyang, is the westernmost US territory, captured from Spain in 1898 during the Spanish-American War.

Black bear cubs, other American animals

This camera trap video from North Carolina in the USA says about itself:

1 August 2017

A mother Black Bear and her two cubs visit Backyard North plus a guest visitor and a surprise close-up.