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Ardipithecus

Ardipithecus is a genus of an extinct hominine that lived during the Late Miocene and Early Pliocene epochs in the Afar Depression, Ethiopia. Described as one of the earliest ancestors of humans after they diverged from the chimpanzees, the relation of this genus to human ancestors and whether it is a hominin is now a matter of debate. Two fossil species are described in the literature: A. ramidus, which lived about 4.4 million years ago during the early Pliocene, A. kadabba, dated to 5.6 million years ago. Behavioral analysis showed that Ardipithecus could be similar to chimpanzees, indicating that the early human ancestors were chimpanzee-like in behavior. A. ramidus was named in September 1994. The first fossil found was dated to 4.4 million years ago on the basis of its stratigraphic position between two volcanic strata: the basal Gaala Tuff Complex and the Daam Aatu Basaltic Tuff. The name Ardipithecus ramidus stems from the Afar language, in which Ardi means "ground/floor" and ramid means "root".

The pithecus portion of the name is from the Greek word for "ape". Like most hominids, but unlike all recognized hominins, it had a grasping hallux or big toe adapted for locomotion in the trees, it is not confirmed how much other features of its skeleton reflect adaptation to bipedalism on the ground as well. Like hominins, Ardipithecus had reduced canine teeth. In 1992–1993 a research team headed by Tim White discovered the first A. ramidus fossils—seventeen fragments including skull, mandible and arm bones—from the Afar Depression in the Middle Awash river valley of Ethiopia. More fragments were recovered in 1994; this fossil was described as a species of Australopithecus, but White and his colleagues published a note in the same journal renaming the fossil under a new genus, Ardipithecus. Between 1999 and 2003, a multidisciplinary team led by Sileshi Semaw discovered bones and teeth of nine A. ramidus individuals at As Duma in the Gona Western Margin of Ethiopia's Afar Region. The fossils were dated to between 4.35 and 4.45 million years old.

Ardipithecus ramidus had a small brain, measuring between 300 and 350 cm3. This is smaller than a modern bonobo or female common chimpanzee brain, but much smaller than the brain of australopithecines like Lucy and 20% the size of the modern Homo sapiens brain. Like common chimpanzees, A. ramidus was much more prognathic than modern humans. The teeth of A. ramidus lacked the specialization of other apes, suggest that it was a generalized omnivore and frugivore with a diet that did not depend on foliage, fibrous plant material, or hard and or abrasive food. The size of the upper canine tooth in A. ramidus males was not distinctly different from that of females. Their upper canines were less sharp than those of modern common chimpanzees in part because of this decreased upper canine size, as larger upper canines can be honed through wear against teeth in the lower mouth; the features of the upper canine in A. ramidus contrast with the sexual dimorphism observed in common chimpanzees, where males have larger and sharper upper canine teeth than females.

The less pronounced nature of the upper canine teeth in A. ramidus has been used to infer aspects of the social behavior of the species and more ancestral hominids. In particular, it has been used to suggest that the last common ancestor of hominids and African apes was characterized by little aggression between males and between groups; this is markedly different from social patterns in common chimpanzees, among which intermale and intergroup aggression are high. Researchers in a 2009 study said that this condition "compromises the living chimpanzee as a behavioral model for the ancestral hominid condition."A. ramidus existed more than the most recent common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees and thus is not representative of that common ancestor. It is in some ways unlike chimpanzees, suggesting that the common ancestor differs from the modern chimpanzee. After the chimpanzee and human lineages diverged, both underwent substantial evolutionary change. Chimp feet are specialized for grasping trees.

The canine teeth of A. ramidus are smaller, equal in size between males and females, which suggests reduced male-to-male conflict, increased pair-bonding, increased parental investment. "Thus, fundamental reproductive and social behavioral changes occurred in hominids long before they had enlarged brains and began to use stone tools," the research team concluded. On October 1, 2009, paleontologists formally announced the discovery of the complete A. ramidus fossil skeleton first unearthed in 1994. The fossil is the remains of a small-brained 50-kilogram female, nicknamed "Ardi", includes most of the skull and teeth, as well as the pelvis and feet, it was discovered in Ethiopia's harsh Afar desert at a site called Aramis in the Middle Awash region. Radiometric dating of the layers of volcanic ash encasing the deposits suggest that Ardi lived about 4.3-4.5 million years ago. This date, has been questioned by others. Fleagle and Kappelman suggest that the region in which Ardi was found is difficult to date radiometrically, they argue that Ardi should be dated at 3.9 million years.

The fossil is regarded by its describers as shedding light on a stage of human evolution about which little was known, more than a million years before Lucy, the iconic early human ancestor candidate who lived 3.2 million years ago, was discovered in 1974 just 74 km (46

Pompeius Strabo

Gnaeus Pompeius Strabo was a Roman general and politician, who served as consul in 89 BC. He is referred to in English as Pompey Strabo, to distinguish him from his son, the famous Pompey the Great, or from Strabo the geographer. Strabo's cognomen means "cross eyed", he lived in the Roman Republic and was born and raised into a noble family in Picenum in Central Italy, on the Adriatic Coast. Strabo's mother was called Lucilia. Lucilia's family originated from Suessa Aurunca and she was a sister of satiric poet Gaius Lucilius. Lucilius was a friend of Roman general Scipio Aemilianus Africanus. Strabo's paternal grandfather was Gnaeus Pompeius, his elder brother was Sextus Pompeius and his sister was Pompeia. Strabo was a prominent member of a noble family in Picenum, in the north-east of Italy; the Pompeii had become the richest and most prominent family of the region and had a large clientele and a lot of influence in Picenum and Rome. Despite the anti-rural prejudice of the Roman Senate, the Pompeii could not be ignored.

After serving in the military as a military tribune, Strabo climbed the cursus honorum and became promagistrate in Sicily 93 BC and consul in the year 89 BC, in the midst of the Social War. Despite Strabo's provincial roots, he and his family were Roman citizens and therefore took up Rome's cause during the Civil War the Republic had to fight with its Italian Allies, he commanded his forces against the Italian rebels in the northern part of Italy. First he recruited three or four legions in his native Picenum he marched them south against the rebels. In 90 BC, while marching his legions south through Picentum, he was attacked by a large force of Picentes and Marsi. Although the battle favoured neither side Strabo was outnumbered and he decided to withdraw, he found himself blockaded in Picenum, but in the Autumn of 90 he launched two sorties that caught his enemies in a pincer. The remnants of the enemy army retreated to Asculum. Through his successful counter-offensive he became popular and he used his fame to get elected as one of the consuls for 89 BC, his consular partner being Lucius Porcius Cato.

Strabo defeated a rebel column trying to march into Etruria killing 5,000 rebels. Another 5,000 died. Strabo's consular colleague Lucius Porcius Cato engaged the Marsi in battle near Fucine Lake, he died in an attempt to storm the enemy camp; the exact details of the siege of Asculum and the reduction of the neighbouring tribes are obscured by History. We hear of a huge battle near Asculum. Soon after Asculum fell, Strabo had the rebel leaders whipped and executed and auctioned off all of their belongings, he kept the proceeds of a fact which might explain his reputation for greed. At the end of his term as consul, Strabo sought a second immediate consulship for the year 88 BC – an act, not illegal, as the case of Gaius Marius demonstrates in the late second century, but irregular nonetheless. Strabo evidently failed in his attempt, as Lucius Cornelius Sulla and Quintus Pompeius Rufus were elected consuls. Strabo celebrated a triumph for his victories against the Italian Allies on 27 December 89.

After his consulship expired a few days he retired to Picenum with all of his veteran soldiers. He kept it in the field; the Senate soon transferred command of his army to one of the new consuls. However, when Pompeius Rufus arrived, he was murdered by Strabo's soldiers. Strabo did not interfere when Sulla marched on an took Rome in 88 BC, he remained in Picenum until 87 BC, when he responded to the Senate's request for help against Gaius Marius and Lucius Cornelius Cinna who were marching their forces on Rome. Strabo took his army to Rome. For this, Rutilius Rufus referred to him as "the vilest man alive"; when negotiations with the Cinna-Marian faction fell through he did, attack Quintus Sertorius, one of Cinna's commanders, positioned north of the city, but the attack was without success. In 87 BC Strabo and his army encamped outside the Coline Gate, he kept an unhygienic camp. Strabo himself caught dysentry and died a few days still in his camp outside the Coline Gate, his avarice and cruelty had made him hated by the soldiers to such a degree that they tore his corpse from the bier and dragged it through the streets.

His son, Pompey the Great, took the legions back to Picenum. He would use them to support Sulla a few years later. Strabo married an unnamed Roman woman, he had at least two children: a son, Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus known as Pompey the Great, who married Julia as his fourth wife. In his honour his name was given to the cities of Laus Pompeia; this article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed.. "Pompey". Encyclopædia Britannica. 22. Cambridge University Press. Pp. 56–58. Https://web.archive.org/web/20080503112904/http://www.ancientlibrary.com/smith-bio/1930.html http://www.ancientlibrary.com/smith-bio/2808.html

Kirkjuból witch trial

The Kirkjuból witch trial was a witch trial that took place in Kirkjuból in 1656, in what is today Ísafjörður, in Iceland. It is the most famous witch trial in Iceland; the plaintiff in the trial was pastor Jón Magnússon, suffering poor health since 1654. He contended that his illness, as well as what he described as demonic disturbances in his household and in the surrounding district, were brought on by sorcery practiced by two members of his own congregation, who sang in the choir, a father and son both named Jón Jónsson; the elder Jón confessed that he had used it against Jón Magnússon. The son confessed to having made the pastor ill and of having used magical signs and farting runes against a girl; the curse of farting was intended to be relentless. Both father and son were executed by burning at the stake. After they were executed, the priest was awarded all their material holdings. Claiming that the disturbances and sicknesses did not cease, he accused a Þuríður Jónsdóttir, the daughter/sister of the Jónssons, of witchcraft.

The case was brought to Þingvellir, was dismissed and the woman let free. She countersued for wrongful persecution and was vindicated, she was awarded the pastor's belongings as compensation. In Iceland, magic was practiced and not associated with the Devil, but the religious and secular authorities, influenced directly or indirectly by Denmark and Germany, had a different view on the subject; the witch trial inspired a film by Hrafn Gunnlaugsson in 2000 called "Myrkrahöfðinginn", or "The Prince of Darkness". The film's storyline departs markedly from the original court records and the account written by Jón Magnússon in the 17th century, known by the title Píslarsaga Síra Jóns Magnússonar, or Story of Sufferings of Jón Magnússon. Http://www.newliving.com/issues/may_2004/articles/mystical%20iceland.html https://web.archive.org/web/20080331183727/http://www.vestfirdir.is/galdrasyning/executed.php Jan Guillou, Häxornas försvarare, Piratförlaget 2002 https://web.archive.org/web/20080327073140/http://www.vestfirdir.is/galdrasyning/famous_cases.php