Bay Area Scientist Discovers Ancient African Skull

The infant ape’s life was brief, dying before the age of two. Yet its discovery 13 million years later by a team led by Bay Area anthropologist Isaiah Nengo is casting light on a shadowy and pivotal period in pre-human history.

Characteristics of the fossil, the most complete extinct ape skull ever found, mark it as a new species in the great flowering of ape evolution, which later led to the emergence of humans.  We didn’t descend from the little ape; rather, we have kin in common.

“Together, we have great-great-great-great grandparents that we all share,”

said Nengo, who lives in Ross, digs in Kenya and teaches at Cupertino’s DeAnza College. His research, published  in Wednesday’s issue of the prestigious journal Nature, was funded by the San Francisco-based Leakey Foundation, founded to explore the origins of humanity.

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Little is known about ancient apes, the ancestors of living apes and humans.

It was a time of great evolutionary success, with an explosion of genetic diversity. And then the apes mysteriously declined. Only a few remained, in restricted places: gibbons and orangutans in Asia and chimps, gorillas and the early human australopithecines in Africa.

In contrast, monkeys prevailed. And humans, for better or worse, are extraordinarily successful.

The 13 million-year-old fossil, now extinct, reveals what the common ancestor of all living apes and humans may have looked like.  Dating back to the Miocene, its species has been named Nyanzapithecus alesi.

We branched off quite recently, only 6 to 7 million years ago.

The stunning discovery in 2014 came at the end of a long and disappointing day near the western shore of Kenya’s Lake Turkana in Africa’s Great Rift Valley, in a place full of volcanic rock and largely devoid of fossils, said Nengo.

Nengo was deeply invested in the success of the project at the Turkana Basin Institute. He had secured grant funding, assembled the team, coordinated the effort and was responsible for everything from fuel in trucks to water in jugs.

“We spent the whole day finding nothing. Zero. We were in a pretty bad mood,” he recalled. So the team gave up and went back to camp for dinner, walking the same familiar route they had always taken, back and forth, every day.

An assistant, John Ekusi, pulled out a cigarette. “We told him: ‘You’re going to kill us! Smoke it far away,’ ” Nengo said.  So Ekusi walked ahead of the team, about 500 yards.

The History of the Apple iPhone – Infographic

In early 2007 Steve Jobs announced the very first iPhone. Designed to “reinvent the phone,” Apple’s iPhone has revolutionized smartphones and shaped the industry into what it is today. The first iPhone mixed a capacitive 3.5-inch multi-touch display with touch-optimized software in a simple package that was unlike anything else on the market. Over the last seven years, Apple has refined and tweaked its iPhone into what it is today: the iPhone 6.

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Apple has used combinations of metal, plastic, and glass to shape and form its ideas of what a modern smartphone should look like throughout the history of the iPhone. Major redesigns with the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 saw Apple push the boundaries of smartphone hardware, all while competitors were catching up. Now that the smartphone industry is moving to larger screens, Apple has been forced to respond with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Read on to see exactly how Apple evolved its iPhone hardware over the years, in our history of iPhone.iphone-history

Mother’s Day History

Celebrations of mothers and motherhood can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who held festivals in honor of the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele, but the clearest modern precedent for Mother’s Day is the early Christian festival known as “Mothering Sunday.” Once a major tradition in the United Kingdom and parts of Europe, this celebration fell on the fourth Sunday in Lent and was originally seen as a time when the faithful would return to their “mother church”—the main church in the vicinity of their home—for a special service. Over time the Mothering Sunday tradition shifted into a more secular holiday, and children would present their mothers with flowers and other tokens of appreciation. This custom eventually faded in popularity before merging with the American Mother’s Day in the 1930s and 1940s.

The roots of the modern American Mother’s Day date back to the 19th century. In the years before the Civil War (1861-65), Ann Reeves Jarvis of West Virginia helped start “Mothers’ Day Work Clubs” to teach local women how to properly care for their children. These clubs later became a unifying force in a region of the country still divided over the Civil War. In 1868 Jarvis organized “Mothers’ Friendship Day,” at which mothers gathered with former Union and Confederate soldiers to promote reconciliation.

Another precursor to Mother’s Day came from the abolitionist and suffragette Julia Ward Howe. In 1870 Howe wrote the “Mother’s Day Proclamation,” a call to action that asked mothers to unite in promoting world peace. In 1873 Howe campaigned for a “Mother’s Peace Day” to be celebrated every June 2. Other early Mother’s Day pioneers include Juliet Calhoun Blakely, a temperance activist who inspired a local Mother’s Day in Albion, Michigan, in the 1870s. The duo of Mary Towles Sasseen and Frank Hering, meanwhile, both worked to organize a Mothers’ Day in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Some have even called Hering “the father of Mothers’ Day.”