Footprints of our early ancestors


Click to enlargeRaffaello Pellizzon

Footprints made by early humans millions of years ago have been uncovered in Tanzania close to where similar tracks were found in the 1970s.

The impressions were made when some of our distant relatives walked together across wet volcanic ash.

❝ Their makers, most likely Australopithecus afarensis, appear to have had a wide range of body sizes.

Scientists say this gives clues to how this ancient species of human lived…

The fossil of “Lucy”, a young adult female who lived in Ethiopia 3.2 million years ago, is perhaps the most famous individual…

❝ “This novel evidence, taken as a whole with the previous findings, portrays several early hominins moving as a group through the landscape following a volcanic eruption and subsequent rainfall. But there is more,” said lead researcher Prof Giorgio Manzi, director of the archaeological project in Tanzania.

“The footprints of one of the new individuals are astonishingly larger than anyone else’s in the group, suggesting that he was a large male member of the species.

“In fact, the 165cm stature indicated by his footprints makes him the largest Australopithecus specimen identified to date.”

❝ At 3.66 million years old, they are the oldest documented bipedal footprint trails…

Other prints were found at the site – including those of a giraffe, rhinoceros and prehistoric horses…

Keep on rocking in the real world. Science leads the way.

2067: How the ski industry is [and isn’t] heeding predictions of an overheating world

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YOU RUMMAGE THROUGH A TRUNK IN THE ATTIC AND HAPPEN UPON A DUSTY OLD PHOTO ALBUM. FLIPPING THROUGH ITS PAGES, YOU DISCOVER A SERIES OF CANDID POSES FEATURING YOUR GREAT GRANDPARENTS BACK IN THAT DISTANT WINTER OF ‘17.

Decades before you were born, these hale frosty-faced relatives, evincing grins from their snowy past, stand in vaulted white ramparts, the curves of their landscape recognizable to you—and yet they seem so foreign. But there your ancestors are: bundled contentedly against the elements, riding packed trams to the legendary powderamas of yore; ascending to destinations like Rendezvous Bowl in Jackson Hole, the black diamond runs of Grand Targhee, to the crest of Lone Mountain, and mugging for cellphone cameras along the ridge at Bridger Bowl.

Savoring what old-timers called “downhill skiing’s golden age” in the Northern Rockies, they hit the piste in late November and didn’t quit until mid-April.

Now in your own time, it’s Presidents Day weekend 2067, a period that once represented the busiest stretch of the ski season in winters half a century ago. You find that notion unbelievable. On this mid-February afternoon, it’s drizzling as it was during the Christmas holidays and into January; the thermometer reads a balmy 60 degrees. Intrigued by the thought of what once was, you set out to find the elusive snow line.

Climate change deniers will see this as scary science fiction. Scientists won’t. Educated voters won’t.

Nice piece of writing and a useful approach to forecasting what we have coming — probably regardless of what solutions are adopted if any. Who knows how long the United States will choose in our usual anti-democratic fashion to be governed by short-term thinking and ignorant profiteers?

Meanwhile, read this tale from the MOUNTAIN OUTLAW.

More sausage + more ham = more asthma


Once a month — tops — in our household

Diets rich in processed meats such as ham, sausage, and salami were associated with worsening asthma symptoms over time, according to researchers in France.

Results from a 7-year prospective study of 971 French adults showed a clear link between cured meat intake and worsening asthma symptoms…reported Zhen Li, MD, of…Paul Brousse Hospital in Villejuif, and colleagues.

In addition, body mass index (BMI), which has previously been associated with exacerbating asthma symptoms, accounted for just 14% of the total effect…

Li’s group analyzed data from the French Epidemiological study on the Genetics and Environment of Asthma — a longitudinal study that followed a group of asthma cases, their first-degree relatives, and controls for 20 years — to evaluate the link between processed meat intake and worsening of asthma symptoms among 971 adults (49% men). The average age of participants was 43 and 42% had asthma…

…The researchers found a positive association between high intake of cured meat and worsening asthma symptoms over time…

The researchers also found that the proportion of adults with worsening asthma symptoms varied by weekly cured meat intake: 14% among those who ate one or fewer weekly servings, 20% among those who ate one to four, and 22% among those who consumed four or more.

…”the highest likelihood (76% more) was observed among participants who ate cured meats four or more servings per week, compared with those who ate less than one serving per week,” Li told MedPage Today.

Li said that he hoped findings such as these would lead to public health initiatives regarding cured meat intake. “There remains a gap regarding the spread of knowledge from the research community to [the] public,” he sated. “Public health strategies are warranted to reduce cured meat/processed meat intake, and there is nothing to be lost by acting now.”

I’ll second that emotion.