Lucy Gets a Date with Big Man

first_imgAnother specimen of Australopithecus afarensis has been announced from Ethiopia.  This one supposedly preceded Lucy by 400,000 years, and according to its discoverers, belonged to a group of primates that shows they “were almost as proficient as we are walking on two legs, and that the elongation of our legs came earlier in our evolution than previously thought.”  The discovery by Yohannes Haile-Selassie’s team, was published in PNAS.1  It was immediately announced in the press by National Geographic, Science Daily and PhysOrg.    True to tradition, the discoverers had to give the specimen a catchy name for the press.  In the local Afar tribal language, it’s Kadanuumuu, but in English, it’s Big Man.  That’s because the male had substantially larger stature than Lucy – 5 feet instead of her 3 feet.  The researchers claim this specimen is 3.6 million years old (compared to Lucy’s 3.2 million).  Ardipithecus ramidus (Ardi), found in the same general area, is said to be 4.4 million years old.    The main claims about Big Man is that it shows upright posture more than Ardi, based on pelvic positions and limb proportions.  Only a scapula, a few ribs, parts of the neck and one shoulder, parts of the pelvis, one arm and one leg were found – no skull fragments.    Only National Geographic offered a dissenting opinion.  Its writeup included the observations of Zeresenay Alemseged, an anthropologist at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.  He doubts that it belongs to A. afarensis, and says that without skull fragments and teeth, it is hard to make a positive identification.  He also thinks Lucy and another baby specimen claimed to be 3.3 million years old show evidence of living in the trees.    In the paper, the team admitted that fitting the new find into an evolutionary sequence requires a bit of punctuated equilibrium.  Here’s what the last paragraph said:The total biomechanical pattern of Au. afarensis involves a host of specialized postcranial characters, all of which are fully consistent with data reported here for KSD-VP-1/1,2 those previously available for Au. afarensis, and the Laetoli footprints (58, 60), which at 3.66 Ma are just slightly older than KSD-VP-1/1 (61).  Equally important are similarities between the Au. afarensis pelvis and the recently described H. erectus specimen from Busidima (BSN49/P27a�d) (11).  These similarities are particularly striking, especially in light of the time separating them (at least 2.2 million years).  Such constancy of morphotype suggests that highly derived terrestrial bipedality enjoyed a long period of stasis punctuated only occasionally by additional modifications to the postcranium of apparently decreasing selective significance (e.g., length of pedal intermediate phalanges, lower limb length).It should be noted that the Laetoli footprints, dated earlier than this specimen, are identical to modern human footprints (03/22/2010).  Haile-Selassie seems to be claiming that bipedality evolved in a few hundred thousand years, then remained essentially unchanged except for minor details for almost four million years.1.  Haile-Selassie et al, “An early Australopithecus afarensis postcranium from Woranso-Mille, Ethiopia,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Published online before print June 21, 2010, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1004527107.2.  This is the designation for the new fossil.This is the lightning flash before the thunder.  The news media all light up on cue, but then the long peals of thunder hit when the other teams get angry at the Ethiopian team for trying to put the spotlight on their Big Boy, making him the new star on the Human Evolution Walk of Shame (06/10/2010).  Just you wait.  This is not the History Channel, you know; it’s the Follywood Squares.(Visited 14 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Gordhan announces changes in taxes

first_imgHe also announced that the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project – an international collaboration to build the world’s largest radio telescope – would qualify for VAT relief. “In respect of beer and spirits, an increased benchmark tax burden is proposed to be phased in over the next two years,” Gordhan said. Capital Gains Tax (CGT) for individuals and special trusts will be increased from 25% to 33.3%, and from 50% to 66.6% for companies and other trusts – still below international norms. To mitigate the impact on middle-income earners, the various exclusion thresholds will be increased. The annual exclusion threshold will be raised from R20 000 to R30 000, the exclusion amount on death from R200 000 to R300 000, and the primary residence exclusion from R1.5-million to R2-million. The secondary tax on companies comes to an end on 31 March, and a withholding tax on dividends, introduced at 15%, will be implemented from April 1. Pension funds will benefit as they will receive dividends tax-free, Gordhan said. Source: BuaNews The excise on spirits will increase by 20% to R36 for a 750 ml bottle this year. The tax on beer will go up by 10%, taking the price of a 340ml can up by R1.01. Consumers can expect to pay 8% more for a bottle of wine. The exclusion amount for the disposal of a small business when a person is over the age of 55 will be raised from R900 000 to R1.8-million, and the maximum market value of assets allowed for a small business disposal for business owners over 55 from R5-million to R10-million. As part of several measures outlined in the Budget Review to improve the corporate tax environment, Gordhan has mooted tax relief for housing developers who provide housing below R300 000 a unit. South Africa has a financial transaction tax on securities transfers, at a rate of 0.25%. Gordhan has proposed abolishing the current exemption for brokers and taxing transactions for the broker’s benefit at a lower rate. “The inclusion of financial derivatives in the base of the securities transfer tax is also under consideration,” he said.center_img 22 February 2012 Among the tax proposals that would affect businesses, Gordhan said tax relief for companies that set up in special economic zones was being considered – including a reduction in the corporate income tax rate and support for employment and training expenses. End of Secondary Tax on Companies This was announced by the Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan in his Budget speech in Parliament in Cape Town on Wednesday. Meanwhile, a revised policy paper on carbon tax would be published this year for a second round of public comment and consultation. ‘Sin’ taxes increase Increases in duties on tobacco and alcohol products will be between 5% and 8% this year. Also, with effect from October this year, an excise duty at a rate of 7% will apply to small aeroplanes and helicopters with a mass below 5 000kg. A duty of 10% will apply to motorboats longer than 10 metres. In a media briefing held shortly before he delivered his Budget speech, Gordhan said South Africa was way below international norms on Capital Gains Tax, but was quick to point out that another increase was not on the cards, at least in this administration.last_img read more

Augustyn tackles top SA MTB race

first_img15 October 2013South African John-Lee Augustyn, who took a break from professional bicycle racing to recover fully from hip surgery, has begun his comeback in his home country and will line up for the Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek international mountain bike stage race on Sunday.The former Barloworld and Sky rider has teamed up with multiple South African women’s road champion and Athens Olympian, Anriette Schoeman, in the mixed category to tackle the tough seven-day 550-kilometre race. The pair will race as Team TREAD/32GI.Augustyn has started all three of road cycling’s Grand Tours – the Tour of Italy, Tour de France and Tour of Spain – during his career. At the age of 21, racing for Team Barloworld, he finished 45th in the 2008 Tour de France, showing moments of brilliance on some of the race’s biggest climbs and signalling the promise of a great career.SurgeryHe then raced for Team Sky in 2010 and 2011, but a crash he had suffered in the 2007 Tour of Portugal, which saw Augustyn break the very top of his femur, where it joins the hip, began to hinder him, eventually reaching a point where he required hip resurfacing surgery in 2011. He tried to return to racing in 2012, but realised he needed a longer recovery period and took an indefinite break.Augustyn and his Italian wife Greta Tonoli have been living in Adro, near Milan, where Greta is a fashion designer. Since June, he has been training in Italy in an effort to regain his best form and secure a professional road team contract for 2014.“I’ve been training consistently for the past four months and am happy to report that I have had no injury or health problems. The longer recovery period worked out well, but now I’m itching to get back into the racing scene,” Augustyn said in a statement on Monday.Recent formOn the weekend, he finished fourth at the MTN Crater Cruise on Saturday, a 103km mountain bike marathon in the Free State. He was the main protagonist in the race, which attracted South Africa’s top marathon racers, and he also claimed the King of the Mountains’ prize.“It felt good to go hard again. I didn’t have any team support and misjudged the hot, dry conditions so ran short on fluids and suffered in the last 10 kays, but I’m definitely feeling like the old me again and just need some race-conditioning now,” Augustyn smiled after the race.“Riding the Cape Pioneer Trek in a mixed team will allow me to get into a racing mind-set, but with little pressure.“Anriette has had a great road racing career, but she’s very new to mountain bike racing. She is more a sprinter and I’m more a climber. She is short and I am tall, so we’re going to just enjoy every stage of one of South Africa’s best mountain bike events and see how it goes. Maybe we’ll get a stage podium or two.”‘Crazy’“It’s crazy that one of the most talented bicycle racers ever to come out of South Africa is toiling away on the roads and trails of Italy far from any kind of spotlight, especially when he’s ready to begin racing at the top level again,” said Sean Badenhorst, editor of TREAD Magazine, who arranged for Augustyn’s return to South Africa.“Sure, he won’t be winning the Cape Pioneer Trek, but he’ll be gaining all important confidence and exposure.“John-Lee and the late Burry Stander raced head-to-head as youngsters on both road and mountain bikes, raising the overall standard of South African racing as they grew up. We’ve lost Burry, but we must appreciate and support John-Lee, who many believe still has his best racing years ahead of him,” added Badenhorst.Potential podium contendersOther potential podium contenders on the Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek mixed category start list are the 2012 winners, Jennie Stenerhag, a former Swedish national road champion, and Craig Gerber (Asrin Cycling 2); Nizaam Esa and 2011 women’s Cape Pioneer Trek champion, Catherine Williamson (Asrin Cycling 3); and Gerhard Ebersohn and Christine Janse van Rensburg (Peptosport).Also lining up in the mixed division is former South African marathon champion, Cherise Stander, the widow of Burry Stander, and her father, Andre Taylor, in the iride4burry team.The Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek starts on Sunday, 20 October with a 14.8km prologue time trial at Buffelsdrift Game Lodge, near Oudtshoorn.SAinfo reporterlast_img read more

South African classrooms go digital

first_img21 July 2015A teaching and learning programme to create paperless classrooms in 375 high schools would start rolling out today, said the Gauteng department of education.The programme is about combining and using a range of technology like interactive boards and mobile devices such as tablets and laptops with internet connectivity, to conduct teaching and learning. There will be unlimited data usage from 5am to 9pm.Empowerment and responsibility“A child of a domestic worker or a child of a gardener or a child of an unemployed parent will have a tablet in their hands,” Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi told Grade 12 pupils at the Grace Bible Church in Soweto. “Gone are the days where only those that are rich will have a quality education.”The top three students in their schools would also be given a four-year bursary, he said.“We are empowering you that when you finish your education and are given a form in a bank, and they ask you how much you earn, you will cancel that and say I don’t earn a salary, I pay salaries.”He warned that social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp would not be allowed on the devices. Pornography sites would also be blocked. “With every tablet, we will get an activity report which will show us which sites you visited,” he told the pupils.In numbers“The department has also purchased over 17 000 tablets for Grade 12 learners and 1 800 3D LED interactive boards that are currently being installed in matric classrooms at the targeted schools,” said the department.Over 4 000 classrooms were also re-furbished with new ceilings and specialised lights and blinds to cater for the lighting requirements of the interactive boards. The boards are integrated with the tablets to increase interaction between teachers and students during class.Security riskEarlier this year, tablets were recalled from schools. They needed to have additional security measures installed to stop theft of the devices.“The devices have been fitted with trackers to ensure that they are traceable should they get lost,” said the department. All schools were also linked to police stations to ensure rapid response.Lesufi said if a pupil’s device was being stolen, the student should not act like Rambo and fight the criminals. “Your life comes first.” In addition, if a matriculant did not return the device after the exams, the school would withhold the pupil’s results until it was returned.“This tablet belongs to government. not you. But you are allowed to take pictures with your friends and family.”The deadline for the completion of the renovations to the classrooms, mainly in schools in townships and rural areas, is the end of August.SAinfo reporterlast_img read more

10 months agoZola confirms Chelsea watching Bournemouth striker Wilson

first_imgZola confirms Chelsea watching Bournemouth striker Wilsonby Freddie Taylor10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveGianfranco Zola has confirmed Chelsea’s interest in Callum Wilson.The Bournemouth striker has scored nine goals across all competitions this season, with reports stating the Blues were contemplating a move for the 26-year-old.And speaking before Chelsea take on Bournemouth in the EFL Cup quarterfinal, Zola said the club were interested in the England international.”I’m sure that there are a lot of players that are linked with us,” the Blues assistant said.”Certainly Callum Wilson is doing very well for his club and he is of interest, not just for us, but for many.”He’s strong, fast, and he sees the goal. I like him because he’s quick, but also strong in the air, which is a very important quality.”But I don’t want to go too much into it. He’s doing very well. I’m pleased for him. He has a lot of qualities that can take him a long way.” TagsTransfersAbout the authorFreddie TaylorShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more

10 months agoArsenal boss Emery: We can only make loan signings

first_imgArsenal boss Emery: We can only make loan signingsby Freddie Taylor10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveArsenal manager Unai Emery has confirmed the club will only sign loan players this month. The Gunners want to bring Barcelona midfielder Denis Suarez to the Emirates, but are reluctant to part with a fee for the 25-year-old. And Emery has confirmed the club are only looking for temporary signings.”We cannot sign anyone permanently,” Emery said ahead of the Gunners’ game against West Ham on Saturday. “Only loan players this January.”Asked specifically about Suarez, Emery added: “I do not know his situation.”But I know the club is working for the possibility of players who can help us with this condition (on loan).” TagsTransfersAbout the authorFreddie TaylorShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more

Province of Québec denies isolated Atikamekw community request for ambulance service after

first_imgTom FennarioAPTN National NewsThe Atikamekw Nation community of Manawan says the province of Québec has turned down its request for an ambulance after an eight year old girl drowned.Manawan is about 90 kilometres by gravel road to the nearest health centre.But the community couldn’t convince the province to pay for the service.tfennario@aptn.calast_img