‘Apeman’ toddler foot discovery


This 2015 video is called The Evolution From Ape To Man – Full Documentary.

From Dartmouth College in the USA:

Our human ancestors walked on two feet but their children still had a backup plan

Most complete foot of ancient human child ever

July 4, 2018

More than 3 million years ago, our ancient human ancestors, including their toddler-aged children, were standing on two feet and walking upright, according to a new study published in Science Advances.

“For the first time, we have an amazing window into what walking was like for a 2½-year-old, more than 3 million years ago”, says lead author, Jeremy DeSilva, an associate professor of anthropology at Dartmouth College, who is one of the world’s foremost authorities on the feet of our earliest ancestors. “This is the most complete foot of an ancient juvenile ever discovered.”

The tiny foot, about the size of a human thumb, is part of a nearly complete 3.32-million-year-old skeleton of a young female Australopithecus afarensis discovered in 2002 in the Dikika region of Ethiopia by Zeresenay (Zeray) Alemseged, a professor of organismal biology and anatomy at the University of Chicago and senior author of the study. Alemseged is internationally known as a leading paleontologist on the study of human origins and human evolution.

“Placed at a critical time and the cusp of being human, Australopithecus afarensis was more derived than Ardipithecus (a facultative biped) but not yet an obligate strider like Homo erectus. The Dikika foot adds to the wealth of knowledge on the mosaic nature of hominin skeletal evolution” explained Alemseged.

Given that the fossil of the tiny foot is the same species as the famous Lucy fossil and was found in the same vicinity, it is not surprising that the Dikika child was erroneously labeled “Lucy’s baby” by the popular press, though this youngster lived more than 200,000 years before Lucy.

In studying the fossil foot’s remarkably preserved anatomy, the research team strived to reconstruct what life would have been like years ago for this toddler and how our ancestors survived. They examined what the foot would have been used for, how it developed and what it tells us about human evolution. The fossil record indicates that these ancient ancestors were quite good at walking on two legs. “Walking on two legs is a hallmark of being human. But, walking poorly in a landscape full of predators is a recipe for extinction”, explained DeSilva.

At 2½ years old, the Dikika child was already walking on two legs, but there are hints in the fossil foot that she was still spending time in the trees, hanging on to her mother as she foraged for food. Based on the skeletal structure of the child’s foot, specifically, the base of the big toe, the kids probably spent more time in the trees than adults. “If you were living in Africa 3 million years ago without fire, without structures, and without any means of defense, you’d better be able get up in a tree when the sun goes down”, added DeSilva. “These findings are critical for understanding the dietary and ecological adaptation of these species and are consistent with our previous research on other parts of the skeleton especially, the shoulder blade”, Alemseged noted.

See also here.

Ancient tools and bones discovered in China by archaeologists suggest early humans left Africa and arrived in Asia earlier than previously thought: here.

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Common loons threatened by lead


This video says about itself:

A common loon mother and her six-day old chick interact on the Rideau River system in Eastern Ontario, Canada.

Watch wing stretches, dives, piggy backs, and hear the haunting loon call.

Filmed July 3, 2013.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

Lead Fishing Tackle Is Still a Problem for Common Loons

There’s nothing quite like a Common Loon‘s haunting call rolling across the lakes of the northern woods. These spectacular birds are on the upswing, but one persistent problem is still holding them back: lead sinkers and jigs that the birds swallow by mistake. The good news? Lead bans, coupled with education, are bringing change. Read the full story.

Belgian Muslim girl searched cat, found Islamophobic torturers


This 4 July 2018 video in French from Belgium is about the insulting and mutilation of a young Muslim girl in Anderlues, Belgium by two racists.

Translated from the French of Belgian site Sudinfo today:

Racist and violent attack in Anderlues: the attackers wore Red Devils masks

Red Devils is the nickname of the Belgian national football team, now playing in the World Cup matches in Russia. That these Islamophobic criminals claimed to support the Red Devils is so ironic, if one knows that many of the national team players are from immigrant, including Muslim immigrant, backgrounds.

Monday evening, after the victory of the Belgians against the Japanese soccer team, a racist attack of extreme violence took place in the Rue de la Victoire alley, in Anderlues. An 18-year-old girl who had gone out to find her cat was caught by two “supporters” who scarred her body.

It was nearly 11 pm when the Muslim girl came out of her house, looking for the cat she was looking after for a friend. Having thought to see the cat, she moves a little away when she sees two “young men”. They head for her determinedly as she tries to flee, to go home, where she feels safe. But they catch her and throw her to the ground, calling her “dirty Arab”. They tear off her headscarf and tear away her clothes, stripping her bosom. But the ordeal of the young victim is not over …

Since then, the girl does not dare to go out of her house, does not dare to say a word anymore. She is caulked in her room and only talks to very few people. According to her, her two attackers were fans of the Red Devils: one of them wore a cardboard mask representing one of the players, the other one had a Belgian flag wrapped around his head, revealing only his eyes. She could not see their faces. Khadija, a friend of the family, tells us about the ordeal of the girl she described as “sweet, kind and naive”.

The two perpetrators, who are still wanted by the police, committed a serious act, a black spot on the beautiful evening that was announced after the miraculous victory of the Red Devils and Laurent Raspe, the head of the Anderlues-Binche police zone, intends to find them.

How crows win against bigger ravens


American Crows may not literally stack up against Common Ravens, but they do stack up in numbers before mobbing the larger bird. Illustration by Cornell Lab Bartels Science Illustrator Phillip Krzeminski

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

How Does a Crow Win Against a Raven? With a Little Help From Its Friends

[American] Crows may be smaller than Common Ravens, but when they join forces, they can stand up to their larger cousin. Over the years, eBirders have noted crows mobbing ravens more than 2,000 times, and researchers used that data to explore the birds’ rivalry. They discovered that crow mobs can be effective at driving away ravens. The crows’ social nature may work in their favor against the more solitary raven. Read the full story.

Latin Americans against Trump’s invasion plans


This 4 July 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Trump asked advisers about invading Venezuela

Last August, President Donald Trump asked several top foreign policy advisers about the possibility of invading Venezuela during a meeting about diplomatic sanctions the US was enacting … a senior administration official familiar with the comments said.

By Tim Young in Britain:

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Trump sets his sights on Latin America

TIM YOUNG writes on why Latin America solidarity groups will be joining the July 13 Together Against Trump demonstration

FOR anyone concerned about the prospects for Latin America and its peoples, the election of President Donald Trump in 2016 signalled a danger warning, which has since proved to be the case in practice.

Trump’s approach to Latin America has shown an increasing hostility towards those governments in the region seeking to assert their right to self-determination and chart a course that serves their population’s interests, not those of the United States.

First in the firing line have been Cuba and Venezuela, with Nicaragua not far behind.

On Cuba, Trump has halted or reversed the modest positive changes introduced by the Obama administration. The illegal blockade has been maintained, complete with punitive measures against countries and commercial organisations which trade with Cuba.

Venezuela has also been subjected to US sanctions and extraterritorial intervention. From the early days of Hugo Chavez’s election as president in 1998, the US has sought, in conjunction with Venezuela’s economic and political elites, to topple the Venezuelan government and re-establish its control and influence over the country and its oil wealth.

Sanctions have also been applied against Venezuela, by Obama first in 2015, and justified by bizarrely deeming Venezuela an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”

Trump has ramped these up in a series of increasingly severe measures against individual government members and the country as a whole. The sanctions are designed to put a chokehold on the Venezuelan government and its economy by prohibiting Venezuela from borrowing or selling assets in the US financial system.

The effect of the sanctions, aimed at destabilising the government and forcing “regime change”, is extremely damaging, as it has an impact on the poorest and most vulnerable.

Nor has the US overlooked the potential use of military invasion. Trump has stated that he is not going to rule out a military option against Venezuela and, in a warmongering speech to the UN, has said he is prepared to take further action.

Sanctions are also on the Trump agenda for the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. Right-wing US senators and Congress members are currently pushing the Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act to effectively to block all loans to Nicaragua from the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank.

These attacks, with their historical roots in the infamous US Monroe Doctrine, are part and parcel of an overall strategy to bring freely elected democratic governments to heel and ensure that any radical ambitions are curtailed.

Beyond these three countries, the list of Latin American countries that have been subjected to some form of US intervention or another — be it diplomatic persuasion, economic pressure or military invasion — is lengthy.

The resultant effects, in 1970s Chile where a US-backed coup deposed socialist president Salvadore Allende for example, are to impose reaction, skew development and put back progress by decades.

In Brazil, the architects of the parliamentary coup that removed president Dilma Rousseff through impeachment benefited from the tacit support given by the US.

As a result, the right-wing opposition, which had been defeated at the ballot box, was able to install Michel Temer as president to enforce a neoliberal programme, turning the clock back on the Workers Party’s social programmes.

Trump is intensifying this pattern of malign US policy, with harmful knock-on effects that to some extent come back to create domestic problems for the US.

In Honduras, Trump recognised Juan Hernandez, a conservative US ally, as the presidential election winner in 2017 despite multiple allegations of fraud. Government handling of street demonstrations against the result led to more than 40 people killed and over 2,000 detained.

Subsequently, most of the recent “caravan” of around 1,000 migrants heading to the US through Mexico were Honduran refugees fleeing government repression.

Trump’s policy of building a wall along the border with Mexico does nothing to address the reasons why people risk their lives to leave their homes in search of a better future in the US, although, as recent events have shown, the reception for migrants is all too brutal.

Instead, the US is bolstering its military capabilities in the region. Colombia has just been accepted as a Nato “global partner”, cementing its position as a loyal and subservient ally of the US and enlarging US capacity to police the region.

Neighbouring Venezuela is perhaps most at risk of intervention through this development. Evo Morales’s Bolivia, which, much to the ire of the US has nationalised key businesses and assets, including foreign-owned energy firms and communications companies, is also within easy striking distance.

But all Latin American countries, whether currently compliant to the US or not, are under threat to their development as sovereign nations.

As Morales has said, only “without interference, without military bases, is it possible to free ourselves.”

Trump’s reactionary Latin American agenda must be opposed.

Join the Latin America Against Trump public meeting jointly organised by Venezuela Solidarity Campaign, Cuba Solidarity Campaign and Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign Action Group on Monday July 9 at Hamilton House, Mabledon Place WC1H 9BB. Tickets are available via Eventbrite. Sign up for the Latin America Against Trump bloc on the July 13 demo, assembling at 2pm at Portland place [London].

Colombia joining Nato puts Latin America on edge: here.

US Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis wound up his first official visit to Latin America in Colombia and headed back to Washington on Friday, having used the four-nation tour to warn against growing Chinese influence in the region and press for closer ties between the US and Latin American military commands: here.

United States Fourth of July and birds


This 2012 video from the USA is called The American Bittern.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

Celebrate July 4th with Our All-“American” Slideshow

There are 19 bird species in the U.S. and Canada that have “American” in their common name. We took a deep dive into our Macaulay Library and Birdshare archives to create this beautiful slideshow that features every single one. Happy 4th of July!

Oh, Canada? In honor of Canada Day (July 1), let’s take a moment to celebrate news that the Gray Jay has been officially renamed the Canada Jay. (eBird and All About Birds will update to the new name in August.)