Sunday, October 11, 2009

Alpine glaciers in retreat.

Swiss glaciers are melting away at an accelerating rate and many will vanish this century if climate projections are correct. The Rhone glacier has been a tourist attraction since the middle of the nineteenth century.
The scenic glacier next to the road over the Furka pass retreated dramatically over the past 150 years. Pictures from 1870 show the ice reaching to the village of Gletsch in the valley. Now the ice is almost 3 km further back disappearing behind the edge
of a 450 m high ice-polished slope. A lake is forming at the foot of the shrinking Rhone glacier.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Ardi sheds light on the origin of man.

A research team headed by Tim White discovered in 1992 the first Ardipithecus ramidus fossils from the Afar Depression in the Middle Awash river valley of Ethiopia. More fragments, including mainly teeth, were recovered in the following years allowing the composition of 45 percent of the total skeleton. The lines that evolved into modern humans and living apes probably shared an ancestor 6 million to 7 million years ago, in the Late Miocene. The fossils were dated as 4.4 million years of age based on its interval between the volcanic strata of the Gaala Tuff Complex and the Daam Aatu Basaltic Tuff. Studies under way indicate the species lived in the woodlands and could climb on all fours along tree branches, but the development of their arms and legs indicates they didn’t spend much time in the trees. And they could walk upright, on two legs, when on the ground. In its 2 October 2009 issue, Science presents 11 papers, authored by a diverse international team, describing the early hominid species, Ardipithecus ramidus, and its environment. These 4.4 million year old hominid fossils sit within a critical early part of human evolution, and cast new and sometimes surprising light on the evolution of human limbs and locomotion, the habitats occupied by early hominids, and the nature of our last common ancestor with chimps.
- Watch a movie by msnbc.msn.com
Literature:
- Understanding Human Origins. Light on the Origin of Man.
- World’s oldest human-linked skeleton found.
- Meet Ardipithecus Ramidus - Early Hominid Common Ancestor Was Neither Chimp Nor Human, Says Study.
- Ardipithecus ramidus - An ancestor of humans and apes?
- Ardipithecus ramidus. Hominidae species overview in Archaeologyinfo.
- Humanity Has a New 4.4 Million-Year-Old Baby Mama.