Ronald J. Clarke
Ronald J. Clarke is a paleoanthropologist most notable for the discovery of Little Foot, an extraordinarily complete skeleton of Australopithecus, in the Sterkfontein Caves. A more technical description of various aspects of his description of the Australopithecus skeleton was published in the Journal of Quaternary Science and he discovered the Homo ergaster partial cranium SK847. He played a role in the discovery of a new skeleton of Homo habilis related to Homo rudolfensis and he rejoined the University of the Witwatersrands Institute for Human Evolution, where he remains as of present
Fossils are the preserved remains or traces of animals and other organisms from the remote past. The totality of fossils, both discovered and undiscovered, and their placement in fossiliferous rock formations and sedimentary layers is known as the fossil record. The study of fossils across geological time, how they were formed, such a preserved specimen is called a fossil if it is older than some minimum age, most often the arbitrary date of 10,000 years. The observation that fossils were associated with certain rock strata led early geologists to recognize a geological timescale in the 19th century. The development of dating techniques in the early 20th century allowed geologists to determine the numerical or absolute age of the various strata. Like extant organisms, fossils vary in size from microscopic, even single bacterial cells one micrometer in diameter, to gigantic, such as dinosaurs, Fossils may consist of the marks left behind by the organism while it was alive, such as animal tracks or feces.
These types of fossil are called trace fossils, as opposed to body fossils, past life leaves some markers that cannot be seen but can be detected in the form of biochemical signals, these are known as chemofossils or biosignatures. The process of fossilization varies according to type and external conditions. Permineralization is a process of fossilization that occurs when an organism is buried, the empty spaces within an organism become filled with mineral-rich groundwater. Minerals precipitate from the groundwater, occupying the empty spaces and this process can occur in very small spaces, such as within the cell wall of a plant cell. Small scale permineralization can produce very detailed fossils, for permineralization to occur, the organism must become covered by sediment soon after death or soon after the initial decay process. The degree to which the remains are decayed when covered determines the details of the fossil, some fossils consist only of skeletal remains or teeth, other fossils contain traces of skin, feathers or even soft tissues.
This is a form of diagenesis, in some cases the original remains of the organism completely dissolve or are otherwise destroyed. The remaining organism-shaped hole in the rock is called an external mold, if this hole is filled with other minerals, it is a cast. An endocast or internal mold is formed when sediments or minerals fill the cavity of an organism. This is a form of cast and mold formation. If the chemistry is right, the organism can act as a nucleus for the precipitation of minerals such as siderite, if this happens rapidly before significant decay to the organic tissue, very fine three-dimensional morphological detail can be preserved. Nodules from the Carboniferous Mazon Creek fossil beds of Illinois, USA, are among the best documented examples of such mineralization, replacement occurs when the shell, bone or other tissue is replaced with another mineral
Acheulean, from the French acheuléen, is an archaeological industry of stone tool manufacture characterized by distinctive oval and pear-shaped hand-axes associated with early humans. Acheulean tools were produced during the Lower Palaeolithic era across Africa and much of West Asia, South Asia, and Europe, and are typically found with Homo erectus remains. It is thought that Acheulean technologies first developed in Africa out of the more primitive Oldowan technology as long ago as 1.76 million years ago, Acheulean tools were the dominant technology for the vast majority of human history. The type site for the Acheulean is Saint-Acheul, a suburb of Amiens, the capital of the Somme department in Picardy, john Frere is generally credited as being the first to suggest a very ancient date for Acheulean hand-axes. In 1797, he sent two examples to the Royal Academy in London from Hoxne in Suffolk and his ideas were, ignored by his contemporaries, who subscribed to a pre-Darwinian view of human evolution.
Following visits to both Abbeville and Saint Acheul by the geologist Joseph Prestwich, the age of the tools was finally accepted, in 1872, Louis Laurent Gabriel de Mortillet described the characteristic hand-axe tools as belonging to LEpoque de St Acheul. The industry was renamed as the Acheulean in 1925, from the Konso Formation of Ethiopia, Acheulean hand-axes are dated to about 1.5 million years ago using radiometric dating of deposits containing volcanic ashes. Acheulean tools in South Asia have found to be dated as far as 1.5 million years ago. However, the earliest accepted examples of the Acheulean currently known come from the West Turkana region of Kenya and were first described by a French-led archaeology team. These particular Acheulean tools were dated through the method of magnetostratigraphy to about 1.76 million years ago, making them the oldest not only in Africa. The earliest user of Acheulean tools was Homo ergaster, who first appeared about 1.8 million years ago, not all researchers use this formal name, and instead prefer to call these users early Homo erectus.
In individual regions, this dating can be refined, in Europe for example. However more recent research demonstrated that hand-axes from Spain were made more than 900,000 years ago, the enormous geographic spread of Acheulean techniques makes the name unwieldy as it represents numerous regional variations on a similar theme. The term Acheulean does not represent a culture in the modern sense. The very earliest Acheulean assemblages often contain numerous Oldowan-style flakes and core forms and these industries are known as the Developed Oldowan and are almost certainly transitional between the Oldowan and Acheulean. The Mode 1 industries created rough flake tools by hitting a stone with a hammerstone. The resulting flake that broke off would have a sharp edge for cutting. These early toolmakers may have worked the stone they took the flake from to create chopper cores although there is debate over whether these items were tools or just discarded cores
University of the Witwatersrand
The University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, is a multi-campus South African public research university situated in the northern areas of central Johannesburg. It is more known as Wits University. The university has its roots in the industry, as do Johannesburg. It was desegregated once again prior to the abolition of apartheid in 1990, several of apartheids most provocative critics, of either European or African descent, were one-time students and graduates of the university. The university has an enrolment of 33,711 students as of 2015,65 percent of the universitys total enrolment is for undergraduate study, with the remaining 35 percent being postgraduate. The university was founded in Kimberley in 1896 as the South African School of Mines, eight years later, in 1904, the school was moved to Johannesburg and renamed the Transvaal Technical Institute. The schools name changed yet again in 1906 to Transvaal University College, in 1908, a new campus of the Transvaal University College was established in Pretoria.
The Johannesburg and Pretoria campuses separated on 17 May 1910, each becoming a separate institution, in 1920, the school was renamed the University College, Johannesburg. Finally, on 1 March 1922, the University College, was granted university status after being incorporated as the University of the Witwatersrand. The Johannesburg municipality donated a site in Milner Park, north-west of Braamfontein, to the new institution as its campus and construction began the same year, on 4 October. True to Hofmeyrs words, from the outset Wits was a university with a policy of non-discrimination on racial or any other grounds. Initially, there were six faculties—Arts, Medicine, Engineering and Commerce—37 departments,73 academic staff, and approximately 1,000 students. In 1923, the university began moving into the new campus, slowly vacating its former premises on Ellof Street for the first completed building in Milner Park, in 1925, the Prince of Wales officially opened Central Block. The universitys first library, housed at the time in what was meant to be a construction, was destroyed in a fire on Christmas Eve in 1931.
Following this, an appeal was made to the public for ₤80,000 to pay for the construction of a new library, and this resulted in the fairly rapid construction of the William Cullen Library, completed in 1935. During this period, as the Great Depression hit South Africa, nonetheless, it continued to grow at an impressive rate. From a total enrolment of 2,544 students in 1939 and this growth led to accommodation problems, which were temporarily resolved by the construction of wood and galvanised-iron huts in the centre of the campus. During World War II, Wits was involved in South Africas war efforts, the Bernard Price Institute of Geophysical Research was placed under the Union of South Africas defence ministry, and was involved in important research into the use of radar
Australopithecines are generally all species in the related Australopithecus and Paranthropus genera, and it typically includes Kenyanthropus and Praeanthropus. All these related species are now sometimes collectively classified as a subtribe of the Hominini tribe called Australopithecina and they are the extinct, close relatives of humans and, with the extant genus Homo, comprise the human clade. Members of the clade, i. e. the Hominini after the split from the chimpanzees, are now called homonina. The terms australopithecine, et al. come from a classification as members of a distinct subfamily. Members of Australopithecus are sometimes referred to as the gracile australopithecines, humans may have descended from australopithecine ancestors and the genus Ardipithecus is a possible ancestor of the australopithecines. Phylogeny of subtribe Australopithecina according to Briggs & Crowther 2008, p.124 and they have a high brachial index when compared to other hominins, and they exhibit greater sexual dimorphism than members of Homo or Pan but less so than Gorilla or Pongo.
It is thought that they averaged heights of 1. 2–1.5 metres, the brain size may have been 350 cc to 600 cc. Most scientists maintain that one of the species evolved into the Homo genus in Africa around two million years ago. Nearly every possible species has been suggested as a likely candidate, presently, it appears that A. garhi has the potential to occupy this coveted place in paleoanthropology, but the lack of fossil evidence is a serious problem. Another problem presents itself in the fact that it has very difficult to assess which hominid represents the first member of the genus Homo. Without knowing this, it is not possible to determine which species of australopithecine may have been ancestral to Homo, marc Verhaegen has argued that an australopithecine species could have been ancestral to the Pan genus. A minority held viewpoint among palaeoanthropologists is that australopithecines moved outside of Africa, a notable proponent of this theory is Jens Lorenz Franzen, formerly Head of Paleoanthropology at the Research Institute Senckenberg.
In 1957, an Early Pleistocene Chinese fossil tooth of unknown province was described as resembling P. robustus, three fossilized molars from Jianshi, China were identified as belonging to an Australopithecus species. However further examination questioned this interpretation, Zhang argued the Jianshi teeth, Wolpoff notes that in China persistent claims of australopithecine or australopithecine-like remains continue. Dawn of Humanity Human taxonomy Informative lecture on Australopithecines
Breccia is a rock composed of broken fragments of minerals or rock cemented together by a fine-grained matrix that can be similar to or different from the composition of the fragments. The word has its origins in the Italian language, in which it means either loose gravel or stone made by cemented gravel. A breccia may have a variety of different origins, as indicated by the named types including sedimentary breccia, tectonic breccia, igneous breccia, impact breccia, and hydrothermal breccia. Sedimentary breccia is a type of sedimentary rock which is made of angular to subangular. A conglomerate, by contrast, is a rock composed of rounded fragments or clasts of pre-existing rocks. Both breccia and conglomerate are composed of fragments averaging greater than 2 millimetres in size, the angular shape of the fragments indicates that the material has not been transported far from its source. Sedimentary breccia consists of angular, poorly sorted, immature fragments of rocks in a finer grained groundmass which are produced by mass wasting and it is lithified colluvium or scree.
Thick sequences of sedimentary breccia are generally formed next to fault scarps in grabens, Breccia may occur along a buried stream channel where it indicates accumulation along a juvenile or rapidly flowing stream. Sedimentary breccia may be formed by debris flows. Turbidites occur as fine-grained peripheral deposits to sedimentary breccia flows, in a karst terrain, a collapse breccia may form due to collapse of rock into a sinkhole or in cave development. Fault breccia results from the action of two fault blocks as they slide past each other. Subsequent cementation of these fragments may occur by means of the introduction of mineral matter in groundwater. Volcanic pyroclastic rocks are formed by explosive eruption of lava and any rocks which are entrained within the eruptive column and this may include rocks plucked off the wall of the magma conduit, or physically picked up by the ensuing pyroclastic surge. Lavas, especially rhyolite and dacite flows, tend to form volcanic rocks by a process known as autobrecciation.
This occurs when the thick, nearly solid lava breaks up into blocks, the resulting breccia is uniform in rock type and chemical composition. Lavas may pick up rock fragments, especially if flowing over unconsolidated rubble on the flanks of a volcano, within the volcanic conduits of explosive volcanoes the volcanic breccia environment merges into the intrusive breccia environment. There the upwelling lava tends to solidify during quiescent intervals only to be shattered by ensuing eruptions, clastic rocks are commonly found in shallow subvolcanic intrusions such as porphyry stocks and kimberlite pipes, where they are transitional with volcanic breccias. Intrusive rocks can become brecciated in appearance by multiple stages of intrusion and this may be seen in many granite intrusions where aplite veins form a late-stage stockwork through earlier phases of the granite mass
South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa, is the southernmost country in Africa. South Africa is the 25th-largest country in the world by land area and it is the southernmost country on the mainland of the Old World or the Eastern Hemisphere. About 80 percent of South Africans are of Sub-Saharan African ancestry, divided among a variety of ethnic groups speaking different Bantu languages, the remaining population consists of Africas largest communities of European and multiracial ancestry. South Africa is a multiethnic society encompassing a variety of cultures, languages. Its pluralistic makeup is reflected in the recognition of 11 official languages. The country is one of the few in Africa never to have had a coup détat, the vast majority of black South Africans were not enfranchised until 1994. During the 20th century, the black majority sought to recover its rights from the dominant white minority, with this struggle playing a role in the countrys recent history. The National Party imposed apartheid in 1948, institutionalising previous racial segregation, since 1994, all ethnic and linguistic groups have held political representation in the countrys democracy, which comprises a parliamentary republic and nine provinces.
South Africa is often referred to as the Rainbow Nation to describe the multicultural diversity. The World Bank classifies South Africa as an economy. Its economy is the second-largest in Africa, and the 34th-largest in the world, in terms of purchasing power parity, South Africa has the seventh-highest per capita income in Africa. However and inequality remain widespread, with about a quarter of the population unemployed, South Africa has been identified as a middle power in international affairs, and maintains significant regional influence. The name South Africa is derived from the geographic location at the southern tip of Africa. Upon formation the country was named the Union of South Africa in English, since 1961 the long form name in English has been the Republic of South Africa. In Dutch the country was named Republiek van Zuid-Afrika, replaced in 1983 by the Afrikaans Republiek van Suid-Afrika, since 1994 the Republic has had an official name in each of its 11 official languages. Mzansi, derived from the Xhosa noun umzantsi meaning south, is a name for South Africa.
South Africa contains some of the oldest archaeological and human fossil sites in the world, extensive fossil remains have been recovered from a series of caves in Gauteng Province. The area is a UNESCO World Heritage site and has termed the Cradle of Humankind
Belonogaster petiolata is a species of primitively eusocial wasp that dwells in southern Africa, in temperate or subhumid climate zones. This wasp species has a presence in South Africa and has been seen in northern Johannesburg. Many colonies can be found in caves, the Sterkfontein Caves in South Africa, for example, contain large populations of B. petiolata. This species primarily eats insects, especially caterpillars, which are considered its solid food. It requires water for survival, Belonogaster petiolata belongs to the genus Belonogaster, of the subfamily Polistinae, and is closely related to B. juncea and B. grisea. Belonogaster wasps are part of the family Vespidae and the order Hymenoptera, species in this family display a full range of social organization, from completely solitary to highly eusocial life cycles. Many of B. petiolatas characteristics are similar to those of B. grisea. In both species, the production of smaller, unmated worker offspring reaches a maximum before the production of queens who leave the nest.
These wasps have a thorax and a longer striped gaster with a sting on the end, the peduncle is the first gastral segment. The legs are attached to the thorax, the queen B. petiolata has a large gaster and a smaller head, while the worker wasps have relatively large heads and smaller gasters. Also, queens and other members of the caste have larger fat reserves than the workers. B. petiolata construct paper nests out of pulp that often hang in caves or under shelter, the wasps often get pulp from old cells or from larvae just before maturation. Before the larvae mature, the wasps chew the cells at the base to help the offspring emerge and this cell debris is used to build nests. The nest has combs in which the queen often dwells, on, the queen may move to the top of the nest to rest. B. petiolata can be found in southern Africa and they have a presence in the country of South Africa. This species primarily resides in sheltered caves and they build nests hanging from cave walls. This species is abundant in southern Africa, and it is not a threatened species, the annual nesting cycle of B.
petiolata is similar to other Polistines that dwell in similar temperate climates. Colonies which are started by a queen are usually only primitively eusocial and smaller in size, while colonies started by groups of queens are more eusocial
Afrikaans is a West Germanic language spoken in South Africa, Namibia and, to a lesser extent and Zimbabwe. Hence, it is a language of Dutch, and was previously referred to as Cape Dutch or kitchen Dutch. Although, it is described as a creole, a partially creolised language the least. The term is derived from Dutch Afrikaans-Hollands meaning African Dutch. It is the first language of most of the Afrikaner and Coloured people of Southern Africa, differences with Dutch often lie in the more analytic morphology and grammar of Afrikaans, and a spelling that expresses Afrikaans pronunciation rather than standard Dutch. There is a degree of mutual intelligibility between the two languages—especially in written form. With about 7 million native speakers in South Africa, or 13. 5% of the population and it has the widest geographical and racial distribution of all the eleven official languages of South Africa, and is widely spoken and understood as a second or third language. About 1. 5% of black South Africans speak it as their first language, large numbers of speakers of Bantu languages and English-speaking South Africans speak it as their second language.
It is taught in schools, with about 10.3 million second-language students and it, along with German, was among the official languages of Namibia until the country became independent in 1990, 25% of the population of Windhoek spoke Afrikaans at home. Both Afrikaans and German survive as recognised regional languages in the country, estimates of the total number of Afrikaans speakers range between 15 and 23 million. The Afrikaans language arose in the Dutch Cape Colony, through a gradual divergence from European Dutch dialects, there is a degree of mutual intelligibility between the two languages, particularly in written form. Nevertheless, Dutch speakers are confronted with fewer non-cognates when listening to Afrikaans than the way round. Mutual intelligibility thus tends to be asymmetrical, as it is easier for Dutch speakers to understand Afrikaans than for Afrikaans speakers to understand Dutch, in general, mutual intelligibility between Dutch and Afrikaans is better than between Dutch and Frisian or between Danish and Swedish.
The workers and slaves who contributed to the development of Afrikaans were Asians and Malagasys, as well as the Khoi and Bantu peoples who lived in the area. African creole people in the early 18th century — documented on the cases of Hendrik Bibault, Only much in the second half of the 19th century did the Boers adopt this attribution, too. The Khoi and mixed-race groups became collectively referred to as Coloureds, beginning in about 1815, Afrikaans started to replace Malay as the language of instruction in Muslim schools in South Africa, written with the Arabic alphabet, see Arabic Afrikaans. Later, now written with the Latin alphabet, started to appear in newspapers and political, in 1925, Afrikaans was recognised by the South African government as a real language, rather than simply a slang version of Dutch proper. Before the Boer Wars, and indeed for some time afterwards, Afrikaans was described derogatorily as ‘a kitchen language’ or as ‘a bastard jargon, suitable for communication mainly between the Boers and their servants
Australopithecus africanus is an extinct species of the australopithecines, the first of an early -form species to be classified as hominin. Recently it was dated as living between 3.3 and 2.1 million years ago, or in the late Pliocene and early Pleistocene times, it is debated as being a direct ancestor of modern humans. A. africanus was of slender, or gracile and has found only in southern Africa at four sites, Sterkfontein, Makapansgat. Dart assigned the specimen the name Australopithecus africanus, it was dubbed the Taung child. This was the first time the word ape was formally assigned to any hominin, Dart theorized the Taung child skull must represent an intermediate species between apes and humans. And the rejection was buttressed by the widespread belief then, especially in British academia and he dismissed Darts claim, suggesting instead that the Taung child skull belonged to a young ape, most likely an infant gorilla or chimpanzee. Keith immersed himself in defending the Piltdown man and his reputation suffered greatly after the hoax was exposed in 1953, phillip Tobias, in a lengthy essay published in Current Anthropology in 1992, detailed the history of the investigation of the hoax.
As part of the essay Tobias debated the inconsistencies in Keiths statements, Darts theory—that the skull known as the Taung child was a human ancestor—was supported by Robert Broom, a paleontologist with the Transvaal Museum of natural history in Pretoria. In 1936, the Sterkfontein caves yielded the first adult australopithecine, Broom classified an adult endocranial cast having a brain capacity of 485 cc as Plesianthropus transvaalensis. In April 1947, while blasting at Sterkfontein, he and John T. Robinson discovered a skull belonging to a female which he classified as Plesianthropus transvaalensis. Both fossils were classified as Australopithecus africanus. Mrs. Ples, whose capacity is only about 485 cubic centimetres, was one of the first fossils to reveal that upright walking had evolved well before any significant growth in brain size. And, in comparison to modern apes, Dart noted as with the Taung child the lack of facial projection and it has slightly human-like, advanced cranial features, but presents primitive features including ape-like curved fingers adapted to tree climbing.
Both P. robustus and A. africanus crania seem very alike despite the heavily built features of P. robustus. A. africanus had a pelvis that would enable more efficient bipedalism than that of A. afarensis, such a morphology would support an earlier time for making and using tools than previously had been thought likely. Evidence of human-like sexual dimorphism in the spine has recently been described in the primate A. africanus. Recent analysis of the Little Foot specimen dated it to about 3, the Makapansgat fossils have been dated to between 3.0 and 2.6 mya. Those at Sterkfontein currently are dated to between 2.6 and 2.0 mya with the Mrs Ples fossil dating to around 2.0 million years, and Gladysvale fossils were dated between about 2.4 and 2.0 mya
Paleontology or palaeontology is the scientific study of life that existed prior to, and sometimes including, the start of the Holocene Epoch. It includes the study of fossils to determine organisms evolution and interactions with each other, paleontological observations have been documented as far back as the 5th century BC. The science became established in the 18th century as a result of Georges Cuviers work on comparative anatomy, and developed rapidly in the 19th century. The term itself originates from Greek παλαιός, palaios, i. e. old, ancient, ὄν, on, i. e. being, creature and λόγος, logos, i. e. speech, study. Paleontology lies on the border between biology and geology, but differs from archaeology in that it excludes the study of modern humans. It now uses techniques drawn from a range of sciences, including biochemistry, mathematics. The final quarter of the 20th century saw the development of molecular phylogenetics, molecular phylogenetics has been used to estimate the dates when species diverged, but there is controversy about the reliability of the molecular clock on which such estimates depend.
The simplest definition is the study of ancient life, paleontology is one of the historical sciences, along with archaeology, astronomy, cosmology and history itself. This means that it aims to describe phenomena of the past, hence it has three main elements, description of the phenomena, developing a general theory about the causes of various types of change, and applying those theories to specific facts. Sometimes the smoking gun is discovered by an accident during other research. Paleontology lies on the boundary between biology and geology since paleontology focuses on the record of past life but its source of evidence is fossils. In addition paleontology often uses techniques derived from other sciences, including biology, ecology, techniques developed in engineering have been used to analyse how ancient organisms might have worked, for example how fast Tyrannosaurus could move and how powerful its bite was. As knowledge has increased, paleontology has developed specialised subdivisions, vertebrate paleontology concentrates on fossils of vertebrates, from the earliest fish to the immediate ancestors of modern mammals.
Invertebrate paleontology deals with fossils of such as molluscs, arthropods. Paleobotany focuses on the study of plants, but traditionally includes the study of fossil algae. Palynology, the study of pollen and spores produced by plants and protists. Micropaleontology deals with all microscopic fossil organisms, regardless of the group to which they belong, one example is the development of oxygenic photosynthesis by bacteria, which hugely increased the productivity and diversity of ecosystems. This caused the oxygenation of the atmosphere, these were a prerequisite for the evolution of the most complex eukaryotic cells, from which all multicellular organisms are built