1.5 Million Year Old Footprints Found

1.5 Million year old footprints have been found at the Koobi Fora Field School:

The footprints were discovered in two 1.5 million-year-old sedimentary layers near Ileret in northern Kenya. These rarest of impressions yielded information about soft tissue form and structure not normally accessible in fossilized bones. The Ileret footprints constitute the oldest evidence of an essentially modern human-like foot anatomy.

I will have more to say latter but in the meantime, check out this video.
Update 1: More can be found at A Primate of Modern Aspect, Remote Central, and Pharyngula.

Interesting Science News

There are three interesting science news items the popped up today.

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The Shipwreck and the Temple of Apollo

National Geographic has an interesting story on a ~2,000 year old shipwreck off the coast of Kızılburun, Turkey. Among the cargo was a Doric column – well pieces thereof because columns were built in pieces – and part of the interest in the story is in figuring out the final destination of the Doric column. Equally of interest are some of the things being learned about the making of the column. It was quarried in Marmara Island.

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Yale, Skull and Bones, and the Federal Government Sued By Geronimo’s Family

I t has long be rumored that the skull and some of the bones of Geronimo were in the possession of Skull and Bones. A letter uncovered by a Yale historian (more of that shortly) seems to confirm the rumor. Descendants of Geronimo are suing according to MSNBC:

Geronimo’s descendants have sued Skull and Bones — the secret society at Yale University linked to presidents and other powerful figures — claiming that its members stole the remains of the legendary Apache leader decades ago and have kept them ever since.
The federal lawsuit filed in Washington on Tuesday — the 100th anniversary of Geronimo’s death — also names the university and the federal government.

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Know Your Anthropology Literature: Relationships Among Extant and Extinct Great Apes And Humans

Relationships Among Extant and Extinct Great Apes And Humans, by Lawrence Martin, is actually a chapter written for inclusion in Major Topics in Primate and Human Evolution (which was edited by Bernard Wood, Lawrence Martin, and Peter Andrews) and was published in 1986. Since the subject is the phylogenetic relationships between I thought it would be a great piece to start the new series. However, if you wish to be a purist and start at the real beginning you can read this.
The short version of the paper is that Martin takes 123 traits drawn from morphological analysis and biochemical data and tries to work out the phylogenetic relationships among extant great apes and humans (he also looks at what the data says about the ancestral condition of these traits would be in the ape/human clade). Following that he looks at various fossil species and tries to determine where they fit. There is a little more to it than that, though.

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An Open Letter To Casey Luskin From a Hominoid

I have received the following email to forward to Casey Luskin.

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The Dodo Goes Digital: Aves 3D

PhysOrg.Com has an interesting item about about the 3D scanning of the dodo:

Claessens said the dodo skeleton, which was assembled of collected bones rather than those from a single individual, is one of just a handful — perhaps 10 — known around the world. That rarity makes it an important addition to the digital database. Having a digital model of rare skeletons will provide a backup should the original deteriorate or be damaged.

A picture of the scanned dodo is below:

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The Truth About Bigfoot Revealed: Sasquatch Part of Communist Fifth Column

Seriously, it’s like Red Dawn, only with evil Russian communist Sasquatches instead of evil Russian communist soldiers.

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Chimpanzees Should Never Be Pets!

They occasionally signed a few words to each other, although Byrne had often said that sign language was irrelevant to their relationship. From time to time Byrne believed that their discussions, however they communicated, verged on the philosophical. It was as if Nim was questioning Byrne, asking him over and over, “Why am I here? Why am I locked in this cage?” Byrne had thought seriously about the answer to that question. He concluded that Nim was not asking to escape but making a more poignant comment on the injustice of his captivity. – from Nim Chimpsky: The Chimp Who Would Be Human
I have been without DSL for the last couple of days – according to the repairman it is because squirrels and telephone wires do not mix. The problem was fixed earlier today. In catching up one of the posts I noticed was an excellent post, by Sheril Kirshenbaum, on keeping chimpanzees as pets (I hope this post means Sheril is feeling better).

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Project 23: Better Than Area 51 Because It Has Ice Age Fossils

PhysOrg.Com has an interesting story on Project 23. From PhysOrg.Com:

Researchers discovered 16 fossil deposits under an old parking lot next to the tar pits in 2006 and began sifting through them last summer. The mammoth remains, including 10-foot-long tusks, were in an ancient riverbed near the fossil cache.
Officials of the Page Museum at the tar pits plan to formally announce their findings on Wednesday. The discoveries could double the museum’s Ice Age collection.
Such a rich find usually takes years to excavate. But with a deadline looming to build an underground parking garage for the next-door art museum, researchers boxed up the deposits and lifted them out of the ground using a massive crane.
“It’s like a paleontological Christmas,” research team member Andie Thomer wrote in a blog post in July.
The research dubbed “Project 23” – because it took 23 boxes to house the deposits – uncovered fossilized mammals as well as smaller critters including turtles, snails and insects. Separately, scientists found a well-preserved Columbian mammoth that they nicknamed Zed.

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