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How 2-Million-Year-Old Ancestor Moved: Sediba’s Ribcage and Feet Were Not Suitable for Running

Researchers at Wits University in South Africa, including Peter Schmid from the University of Zurich, have described the anatomy of a single early hominin in six new studies. Australopithecus sediba was discovered near Johannesburg in 2008. The studies in Science demonstrate how our 2-million-year-old ancestor walked, chewed and moved.

The fossils discovered four years ago in Malapa near Johannesburg show a mixture of primitive features of australopiths and advanced features of later human species. The researchers led by Prof Lee Berger of Wits University are therefore of the opinion that the new species is currently the best candidate for a direct ancestor of our own genus Homo. Researchers are now presenting new studies, including those of Peter Schmid, who taught and did research at the University of Zurich until he retired. Also involved were UZH students Nakita Frater, Sandra Mathews a


nd Eveline Weissen.


Schmid has described the remains of Au. sediba‘s thorax. “They show a narrow upper ribcage, as the large apes have such as orangutans, chimpanzees and gorillas,” says Peter Schmid. The human thorax on the other hand is uniformly cylindrical. Along with the largely complete remnants of the pectoral girdle, we see the morphological picture of a conical ribcage with a raised shoulder joint, which looks like a permanent shrug. The less well-preserved elements of the lower thorax on the other hand indicate a slim waist, similar to that of a human being.


Conical ribcage makes it difficult to swing arms when walking


The narrow upper thorax of apes enables them to move the shoulder blade, which is important for climbing and brachiation in trees. Its conical shape makes it difficult, however, to swing their arms when walking upright or running, plus they were a similar length to an ape’s. This is why Schmid assumes that Au. sediba was not able to walk or run on both feet as well as humans. “They probably couldn’t run over longer distances, especially as they were unable to swing their arms, which saves energy,” says Schmid.


An examination of the lower extremities shows a heel, metatarsus, knee, hips and back, which are unique and unprecedented. Sediba must have walked with feet turned sharply inwards. This inward turn distinguishes it from other australopiths. The conclusion to be drawn is that our early ancestors were able to move around in a different way.


Arms for climbing and brachiation


Au. sediba was an experienced climber. This is shown by the remains of the upper arm, radius, ulna, scapula, clavicle and fragment of sternum found in Malapa. These clearly belong to a single individual, which is unique in the entire previously known fossil record of the earliest hominins. With the exception of the hand bones described above, the upper extremity is exceptionally original. Au. sediba, like all the other representatives of the Australopithecus genus, had arms that were suitable for climbing as well as possibly for brachiation. Perhaps this capability was even more pronounced than has been assumed for this genus hitherto.


Differences from Australopithecus afarensis


Based on the dental crowns the researchers assume that Au. sediba does not belong phylogenetically to the eastern African australopiths but is closer to Au. africanus and thus forms a southern African sister group. This has an impact on our modern understanding of the evolution of early hominins from the late Pliocene. As such, Au. sediba and maybe even Au. africanus were not descended from Au. afarensis.


The lower jaw of the female skeleton was also examined along with previously unknown incisors and premolars. As noted already on the skull and other areas of the skeleton, the mandibular remains show similarities with other australopiths. They differ, however, in size and shape as well as in ontogenetic growth changes of Au. africanus. These results support the hypothesis that Au. sediba is taxonomically different from Au. africanus. In the relevant differences the parts of the lower jaw appear most to resemble those representatives of early Homo.


An analysis of the cervical, thoracic, lumbar and sacral region of the spinal column shows that Au. sediba had the same number of lumbar vertebrae as modern man. The strong hollow back suggests that he was more advanced in this area than Au. africanus and may be more likely compared with Homo erectus.


The new studies show a unique image of a human species with a mosaic-like physique. Some body parts are similar to those of earlier and others to those of later hominins. “The numerous similarities with Homo erectus suggest that Au. sediba represents the most appropriate early form of the genus Homo,” says Peter Schmid. The previous candidates are too fragmentary to be capable of occupying this position.


Mathematical breakthrough sets out rules for more effective teleportation

flickr-51018405--560x315For the last ten years, theoretical physicists have shown that the intense connections generated between particles as established in the quantum law of ‘entanglement’ may hold the key to eventual teleportation of information.

Now, for the first time, researchers have worked out how entanglement could be ‘recycled’ to increase the efficiency of these connections. Published in the journal Physical Review Letters, the result could conceivably take us a step closer to sci-fi style teleportation in the future, although this research is purely theoretical in nature.

The team have also devised a generalised form of teleportation, which allows for a wide variety of potential applications in quantum physics.

Once considered impossible, in 1993 a team of scientists calculated that teleportation could work in principle using quantum laws. Quantum teleportation harnesses the ‘entanglement’ law to transmit particle-sized bites of information across potentially vast distances in an instant.

Entanglement involves a pair of quantum particles such as electrons or protons that are intrinsically bound together, retaining synchronisation between the two that holds whether the particles are next to each other or on opposing sides of a galaxy. Through this connection, quantum bits of information – qubits – can be relayed using only traditional forms of classical communication.

Previous teleportation protocols have fallen into one of two camps, those that could only send scrambled information requiring correction by the receiver or, more recently, “port-based” teleportation that doesn’t require a correction, but needs an impractical amount of entanglement – as each object sent would destroy the entangled state.

Now, physicists from Cambridge, University College London, and the University of Gdansk have developed a protocol to provide an optimal solution in which the entangled state is ‘recycled’, so that the gateway between particles holds for the teleportation of multiple objects.

They have even devised a protocol in which multiple qubits can be teleported simultaneously, although the entangled state degrades proportionally to the amount of qubits sent in both cases.

“The first protocol consists of sequentially teleporting states, and the second teleports them in a bulk,” said Sergii Strelchuk from Cambridge’s Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, who led the research with colleagues Jonathan Oppenheim of Cambridge and UCL and Michal Horodecki of the University of Gdansk.

“We have also found a generalised teleportation technique which we hope will find applications in areas such as quantum computation.”

Einstein famously loathed the theory of quantum entanglement, dismissing it as “spooky action at a distance”. But entanglement has since been proven to be a very real feature of our universe, and one that has extraordinary potential to advance all manner of scientific endeavor.

“There is a close connection between teleportation and quantum computers, which are devices which exploit quantum mechanics to perform computations which would not be feasible on a classical computer,” said Strelchuk.

“Building a quantum computer is one of the great challenges of modern physics, and it is hoped that the new teleportation protocol will lead to advances in this area.”

While the Cambridge physicists’ protocol is completely theoretical, last year a team of Chinese scientists reported teleporting photons over 143km, breaking previous records, and quantum entanglement is increasingly seen as an important area of scientific investment. Teleportation of information carried by single atoms is feasible with current technologies, but the teleportation of large objects – such as Captain Kirk – remains in the realm of science fiction.

Adds Strelchuk: “Entanglement can be thought of as the fuel, which powers teleportation. Our protocol is more fuel efficient, able to use entanglement thriftily while eliminating the need for error correction.”

More fake ingriedents in everyday foods

food-photoResearch by the U.S. food watchdog USP has shown that increasing food nepingrediënten be processed.

The scientific non-profit organization published its Food Fraud Database for the first time in April 2012. USP analyzed 1,300 published studies and news from the period between 1980 and 2010.

In 60 percent of cases, the watchdog noted that there was food fraud. Producers defraud the most with pomegranate juice. Pomegranate juice is relatively expensive and is often replaced by other juices or added sugar. It was also entirely ‘synthetic pomegranate juice “found no trace of real juice.

Olive oil is often adulterated with cheaper oils. Lemon juice is made cheaper by mainly water and add sugar. In many cases, only 15 to 35 percent lemon juice lemon juice as 100 percent on the package is stated. Tea bags are filled with lawn grass or yarrow. Spices like paprika and saffron tinted with hazardous dyes.

Furthermore, milk, honey, coffee and syrup according to the USP heavily exposed to food fraud. Seafood is also high on the list.

“There is certainly a health risk,” said John Spink from Michigan State University. “The composition of the food is influenced by people who are not responsible for and therefore can be contamination.”

Spink recommends buying from suppliers and brands that have an interest in the customer keeps coming back. Both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Association of food producers say food adulteration ‘very serious’ take.

Why your consciousness is the greatest power in the universe

According ASAP Science, every thought we have the structure and function of our brains change.

The people of ASAP Science don’t mean this metaphorically. By thinking that you can do something positive and about, changing your brain.

The power of your thoughts can help you learn to play piano for example, or the muscle in your body to increase. Member of a gym is not necessary.

While thinking of the first and perhaps most important step, do the next steps no physical pain, so the researchers emphasize ASAP Science.

Meditation can inhibit chronic inflammation


meditation (Photo credit: HaPe_Gera)

People suffering from chronic inflammatory diseases – such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease or asthma – may benefit from the mindfulness meditation technique.

According to a study by neurologists associated with the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Reducing stress through mindfulness, originally meant for patients with chronic pain, is achieved include through breathing exercises and bodily sensations.


“We wanted to develop an intervention that focused on positive change and the mindfulness approach compared to a similar surgery,” said lead researcher Melissa Rosenkranz. The research is published in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity .

During the study, two methods were compared. One program offered mindfulness while other programs aimed at improving health without making use of mindfulness. The latter program consisted of information about nutrition, physical activity and music.

With the aid of a stress test, and an ointment were respectively psychological stress and inflammation of the skin, after which the induced response of the immune and endocrine systems was measured. The mindfulness approach proved to be more effective in the inhibition of the inflammation.

Standard Treatment

The results have shown that people suffering from chronic inflammatory diseases may benefit from interventions that are designed to reduce emotional reactivity. The study further states that mindfulness inflammation knows better than to inhibit other activities to promote welfare.

Rosenkranz further pointed out that a significant part of the population does not improve the available pharmaceutical treatments. Some patients suffer as a result of the negative side effects of the medications, or simply do not respond to standard treatment.

“The mindfulness approach may offer an inexpensive alternative to standard treatments and can easily be practiced at home,” she said. The University of Wisconsin-Madison doing rigorous research into the physiological effects of meditation on the brain and the power of the mind to affect human health.

IQ is a myth

The idea that intelligence can be measured by a number – your IQ – is incorrect, according to a new study that has been done by researchers at the University of Western Ontario.

There were 100,000 participants subjected to 12 cognitive studies. A small part of them had a brain scan made.

“When we looked at the data, we discovered that the whole concept is a myth,” said lead researcher Adrian Owen. “The IQ can not be used to measure general intelligence.”

Largest research

The study identified three factors fixed, namely reasoning, short-term memory and verbal abilities.Today it is often an IQ test done to measure intelligence.

The researchers in the journal New Scientist and on advertise their research. They took into account several thousand participants, but eventually signed up more than 100,000 people. It was the largest study to date intelligence.

The scientists were in some cases a brain scan. “If IQ is in the brain is we should be able to find a scan. But there is no area of ​​the brain that is responsible for the so-called IQ. There are three completely different networks that respond: verbal abilities, abilities to reason and abilities that deal with short-term memory.These networks are located in different parts of the brain, “explained Owen.

Brain Training

The aging process has such a detrimental effect on reasoning and short-term memory, but leave intact verbal abilities. Smoking has a negative impact on verbal abilities and short-term memory, but let abilities to reason alone.

People who play computer games scored moreover “significantly better” on reasoning and short-term memory.

The study also showed that products on the market to improve brain function is not effective. “People who train their brains score on the three points are not better than people who do not do brain training.

People can still participate in the study: / theIQchallenge . Owen hopes that eventually more than a million people will cooperate in the study.