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Sediba’s shadow Hobbit who? Primordial batteries Shroud 2.0 Science standards on the march
Sediba fossils shuffle the deck of diversity but fail to connect the evolutionary dots.
Australopithecus sediba, which was discovered in 2008 in South Africa’s Malapa Cave, resembles other australopithecine apes, especially Australopithecus africanus, according to a set of six new articles just published in a special issue of Science magazine. The fossils do, however, have enough differences to be considered a separate species. (Some critics have suggested that sediba and africanus were the same species.) The new analyses cover the mandible, teeth, thorax, vertebrae, and upper and lower limbs. In September 2011, as we reported in “Sediba with a Little Sleight of Hand,” articles covering the skull, hand, pelvis, foot and ankle as well a report about the fossils’ age created a stir among evolutionary paleontologists.
Japanese study affirms hobbits’ humanity and offers clues to their origin.
Ever since the discovery of tiny human skeletons in Liang Bua cave on the Indonesian island of Flores a decade ago. Ever since that time anthropologists have debated their origins. Found with advanced cutting tools and the charred remnants of dwarf elephant bones, the Homo floresiensis—nicknamed “hobbits”—were clearly human. But their remarkably small brain size—estimated at around 400 cubic centimeters (cc), in the same neighborhood as a chimpanzee’s—has baffled scientists. And where did such small people come from?
Without power, the show’s over before it starts.
How could life randomly emerge from non-living elements? That would, after all, be the necessary first step in a molecules-to-man evolutionary scenario. In their endless quest for the keys of such abiogenesis, scientists often look for self-replicating molecules that could potentially carry simple coded information. But another show-stopper for abiogenesis—a process never observed in biology, by the way—would be a lack of power. Without a usable source of energy, a biological battery of sorts, living cells could never do the things living cells do.
This spring saw a revival of interest in the Shroud of Turin, a 14 by 4 foot linen cloth supposed by many to have been used to cradle the body of Jesus when He was taken down from the Cross or to have wrapped His body for burial. Kept in the Cathedral of Turin for the past four centuries, the linen sheet is noted for red stains thought by many to have been made by Christ’s blood marking the nail imprints on His wrists and feet, the crown of thorns, and the stripes from His scourging.
As publishers plan to implement NGSS science standards, textbook market will likely take the reins of education.
The New Generation Science Standards (NGSS), a project commissioned by about the half the states to re-write K-12 educational standards for science and mathematics in America, is now complete. It’s now up to the individual states to adopt or reject them. But since major textbook manufacturers are already gearing up to conform their curricula to the “latest and greatest” in science education, the decisions made by state and even local authorities may ultimately make little difference.
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