Know Your Primate: Anoiapithecus brevirostris

Order: Primates
Suborder: Haplorrhini
Family: Hominidae
Subfamily: incertae sedis
Tribe: Dryopithecini
Genus: Anoiapithecus
Species: Anoiapithecus brevirostris

I have chosen Anoiapithecus brevirostris for this week’s “know Your Primate” because a paper on it has recently been published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The paper, by Alba, Fortuny, and Moya-Sola, looks at enamel thickness in Anoiapithecus brevirostris, Pierolapithecus catalaunicus, and Dryopithecus fontani.
I”l have more about the paper later in the week. Continue reading

New Innovation in Carbon Dating

According to Science Daily a new innovation in radiocarbon dating – or an extension of a previous method is being presented at the 239th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society.

Continue reading

Begging for an Article

Can someone send me the article below:

The complete mitochondrial DNA genome of an unknown hominin from southern Siberia
doi:10.1038/nature08976
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature08976.html

Here is the abstract:

With the exception of Neanderthals, from which DNA sequences of numerous individuals have now been determined1, the number and genetic relationships of other hominin lineages are largely unknown. Here we report a complete mitochondrial (mt) DNA sequence retrieved from a bone excavated in 2008 in Denisova Cave in the Altai Mountains in southern Siberia. It represents a hitherto unknown type of hominin mtDNA that shares a common ancestor with anatomically modern human and Neanderthal mtDNAs about 1.0 million years ago. This indicates that it derives from a hominin migration out of Africa distinct from that of the ancestors of Neanderthals and of modern humans. The stratigraphy of the cave where the bone was found suggests that the Denisova hominin lived close in time and space with Neanderthals as well as with modern humans

Insteresting stuff, but not the only interesting new article out…

Things You Would Like To See

Science Daily has an item concerning the Laetoli foot print study in PLoS One. One bit stands out:

The subjects walked both with normal, erect human gaits and then with crouched, chimpanzee-like gaits.

Film of the latter would be interesting – lord knows we were disappointed with last year’s Ardipithecus special on that score… Speaking of, why is the idea that some of our ancestors were bipedal on the ground but still spent a lot of time in the trees news?

And then there is this (also from Science Daily):

This morphology differs distinctly from our own genus, Homo, who abandoned arboreal life around 2 million years ago and irrevocably committed to human-like bipedalism.

I guess Homo habilis don’t count, eh? I hope the PLoS One article is better (I haven’t read it yet).

Is Genetics and Archaeology a Replay of Genes vs Morphology?

I’m a bit under the weather with some kind of icky cold/sinus thing so I haven’t been writing much and when I do feel up to it I will have a lot to write about. I couldn’t pass up the chance to mention this post on genetics and archaeology by Hawks. It is very interesting…

Know Your Primate: Pongo abelii

Order: Primates
Suborder: Haplorrhini
Family: Hominidae
Genus: Pongo
Species: Pongo abelii
Common Name: Sumatran Orangutan

The sumatran orang lives, obviously, in Sumatra – they are an endemic species. According several genetic analysis the Sumatran and Bornean populations diverged from each other about 1.5-1.7 MYA. They are largely frugivorous and spend most of their time in trees. On the ground they are quadrupedal. Unlike the chimpanzee, bonobo, and gorilla, they are not knuckle walkers they use their fist. Males tend to be solitary.

Continue reading

NPR Science Friday: Update

As I have previously mentioned NPR’s Science Friday is coming to St. Louis on March 12th. Last I heard tickets were all spoken for but earlier this week a pair of tickets arrived in the mail. So, Mrs. afarensis and I will be attending.

What is Wrong With America

Too many people believe this:

Church Sign Fail

Begging for Yet Another Article: The Second Ida Paper

Can some one send me a copy of the article below?

New perspectives on anthropoid origins
Blythe A. Williamsa,1, Richard F. Kaya, and E. Christopher Kirkb http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/03/05/0908320107

This is the second Ida article – I’ve been waiting for this one to come out before blogging about recent developments concerning Ida

afarensis1@sbcglobal.net

Book Review: Vampire Forensics: Uncovering the Origins of an Enduring Legend

Then, when we had got down to the sea shore we drew our ship into the water and got her mast and sails into her; we also put the sheep on board and took our places, weeping and in great distress of mind. Circe, that great and cunning goddess, sent us a fair wind that blew dead aft and stayed steadily with us keeping our sails all the time well filled; so we did whatever wanted doing to the ship’s gear and let her go as the wind and helmsman headed her. All day long her sails were full as she held her course over the sea, but when the sun went down and darkness was over all the earth, we got into the deep waters of the river Oceanus, where lie the land and city of the Cimmerians who live enshrouded in mist and darkness which the rays of the sun never pierce neither at his rising nor as he goes down again out of the heavens, but the poor wretches live in one long melancholy night. When we got there we beached the ship, took the sheep out of her, and went along by the waters of Oceanus till we came to the place of which Circe had told us.

“Here Perimedes and Eurylochus held the victims, while I drew my sword and dug the trench a cubit each way. I made a drink-offering to all the dead, first with honey and milk, then with wine, and thirdly with water, and I sprinkled white barley meal over the whole, praying earnestly to the poor feckless ghosts, and promising them that when I got back to Ithaca I would sacrifice a barren heifer for them, the best I had, and would load the pyre with good things. I also particularly promised that Teiresias should have a black sheep to himself, the best in all my flocks. When I had prayed sufficiently to the dead, I cut the throats of the two sheep and let the blood run into the trench, whereon the ghosts came trooping up from Erebus- brides, young bachelors, old men worn out with toil, maids who had been crossed in love, and brave men who had been killed in battle, with their armour still smirched with blood; they came from every quarter and flitted round the trench with a strange kind of screaming sound that made me turn pale with fear. When I saw them coming I told the men to be quick and flay the carcasses of the two dead sheep and make burnt offerings of them, and at the same time to repeat prayers to Hades and to Proserpine; but I sat where I was with my sword drawn and would not let the poor feckless ghosts come near the blood till Teiresias should have answered my questions.

The Odyssey Book XI

As the above quote shows, the idea of the dead returning and drinking blood extends back in time quite far. Where does the idea of vampirism come from? Is there one legend that can be pointed to, or is the vampire the result of the mixing of a wide variety of myths and legends? Following on that, is the vampire a uniquely European phenomena? Or can we find that legends about the vampire, like humans, have spread throughout the world? Continue reading

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