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Possible New Hominid Species Discovered, Thanks To Google Earth

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the but-not-street-view dept.

Earth 86

mindbrane writes "The BBC is reporting on fossil finds 'uncovered in cave deposits near Malapa in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site near Johannesburg.' The fossils of a mature female and juvenile male have '...small teeth, projecting nose, very advanced pelvis, and long legs ...' suggesting more modern forms. 'And yet its very long arms and small brain case might echo the much older Australopithecine group to which Professor Berger and colleagues have assigned it.' Aside from the debate as to classification, the find is noteworthy in that its discovery came about 'thanks to the "virtual globe" software Google Earth, which allowed the group to map and visualise the most promising fossil grounds in the World Heritage Site.' Further, the find in a cave bears the hallmarks of chance that often plays so large a part in fossilisation. 'Their bones were laid down with the remains of other dead animals, including a sabre-toothed cat, antelope, mice and rabbits. The fact that none of the bodies appear to have been scavenged indicates that all died suddenly and were entombed rapidly.'"

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Frist psot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31787724)

Post first!!!!!
Take that Australopithecus!

Re:Frist psot (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31787764)

I bet the mice and rabbits were just whacky sidekicks, and the real protagonist was the Antelope who had a grumpy saber-tooth cat and a monkey as butler.

Missing Link Between Man and Apes? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31787726)

Only on Fox.

Probably not the missing link (3, Interesting)

Dan East (318230) | more than 4 years ago | (#31789176)

There are a number of issues that have some scientists skeptical that the newly found Australopithecus Sediba is our ancestor. One is that Homo habilis is significantly older (by around half a million years), and is more human-like than Australopithecus Sediba. The other is that the anatomy simply does not fall into line with the other specimens. The length of the arms, etc, seem a step backwards. Perhaps it was a parallel branch that died out.

It's hard to argue this is the ancestor of Homo when it's occurring much later than the earliest members of the genus Homo by half a million years," said anthropologist Brian Richmond of George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

National Geographic [nationalgeographic.com]

Re:Probably not the missing link (1)

cathyp (1776852) | more than 4 years ago | (#31790032)

Good point - but it doesn't even have to be a parallel branch. It could just be individual variation (within species variation) based on family line or environment/developmental stress. The "advanced pelvis" is a good sign, though.

Re:Probably not the missing link (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 4 years ago | (#31790378)

Hear that OpenSource guys, even nature agrees that forking doesn't work out.

Re:Probably not the missing link (1)

c++0xFF (1758032) | more than 4 years ago | (#31790702)

On the contrary, nature often forks and merges beneficial changes back into the trunk. As long as two branches are close enough to have viable offspring, the beneficial mutations can intermingle enough to spread.

On the other hand, if branches differ by too much, it's impossible to merge the changes back in. Your comment, while humorous, does point out an apt analogy.

Re:Probably not the missing link (1)

eleuthero (812560) | more than 4 years ago | (#31791464)

I am completely unfamiliar with the issue, but if they aren't in the human line of descent, are we looking at gorillas / orangutans / etc. as possible relatives for these here (or is this a completely off base question)?

Re:Probably not the missing link (1)

Beezlebub33 (1220368) | more than 4 years ago | (#31794500)

No, humans split from other apes (gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans) long before this.

These guys are IMHO cousins in a branch that died out. Think of it as a branching tree, one branch of which are humans as we know today, other apes are other branches. If you move back in time towards the root of the tree, our branch meets up with the other ape branches. This creature is from a branch that came off of our branch after the split with other apes, and then for some reason their branch stopped. The real questions are how far back down the branch was the split, and how far out on their branch were they.

Re:Probably not the missing link (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 4 years ago | (#31791902)

Maybe he was just using his arms too much to lift with
and developed extreme carpotunnel syndrome?

"My name is Hans , his name is Frans and we want to pump....YOU up!"

Re:Missing Link Between Man and Apes? (1)

Phoghat (1288088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31806272)

Only on Fox.

It's rumored to be a summer replacement for "Fringe"

very advanced pelvis (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31787734)

very advanced pelvis

Dear Professor, I am intrigued by your findings and wish to learn more, how can I subscribe to your newsletter?

Re:very advanced pelvis (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 4 years ago | (#31787818)

It had built in accelerometers and GPS that fed back to the beings legs so that they could use their brain for other things than menial tasks like travelling to where they want to be.

Oh, and it had laser blasters on the sides too.

Re:very advanced pelvis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31788080)

with some scientists arguing the species may well be a Homo itself.

These are not the homonoids you are looking for. Move along. Or is it?

Re:very advanced pelvis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31788156)

The creature is thought to have had a 36-inch penis. That's 36 inches flaccid, not erect. You would love it.

Re:very advanced pelvis (1)

daem0n1x (748565) | more than 4 years ago | (#31788712)

What's an "inch"?

Re:very advanced pelvis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31789546)

A size you'll never achieve. Stick with millimeters.

Poor langauge use? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31787768)

Ok, I'm reading that as an adult female, juvenile male, sabre-tooth cat, antelope, rabbits and mice were all in a cave and suddenly entombed. Although I suppose the "died suddenly" bit is looking a bit more obvious given that sabre-tooth cats are quite large in my mind.

Re:Poor langauge use? (1)

eleuthero (812560) | more than 4 years ago | (#31791494)

I want to know why they were "suddenly entombed" together - what was going on outside that they all died in the cave together - it would seem strange to me to have that combination together (or is "suddenly" a geologic thing where one died in one year and another five years later?)

Re:Poor langauge use? (1)

Danse (1026) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801502)

I want to know why they were "suddenly entombed" together - what was going on outside that they all died in the cave together - it would seem strange to me to have that combination together (or is "suddenly" a geologic thing where one died in one year and another five years later?)

According to the article, it sounds like they got trapped in some kind of pit inside a cave. There were animal remains in the pit as well, so they probably weren't the first things to end up there.

Why Google Earth? (1)

complacence (214847) | more than 4 years ago | (#31787820)

thanks to the "virtual globe" software Google Earth, which allowed the group to map and visualise the most promising fossil grounds

These are scientists who busy themselves with "finding stuff at locations". Did they really not have access to map software that offered similar features long before Google Earth?

Re:Why Google Earth? (5, Interesting)

Xest (935314) | more than 4 years ago | (#31787860)

I think you'd be suprised, there seems to be a similar trend in other universities, I think it's because many departments run on shoe string budgets, and GIS was often an expense they couldn't afford.

Now it's available free to them, and cross platform so they can make use of it anywhere from their desktop to their laptop at home to their mobile phone/PDA in the field.

A friend who is a botanist working at a university in Brazil makes heavy use of it along with the rest of his department to map various plant species, and their spread and decline as a tool for helping map the discovery and decline of species, as well as acting as an aid to give clues as to how newly discovered, or previously poorly classified species might be classified or re-classified taxonomically. It helps give clues to where hybridisation may have led to new distinct species and so forth.

It's a tool his department simply didn't have before, but perhaps that's part of it too. Those who are experts in one field, don't necessarily know enough to know tools like this even exist, until companies like Google make them popular and put them in the public eye. When those experts do see these tools they realise how utterly useful they are- remember, not everyone knows enough about computers to know what's out there, or to realise the many ways in which they can assist their day to day work.

Advancement of the tools matters too- phones/pdas with built in GPS and access to these applications, cameras that tag photos with GPS coordinates, cheaper than ever GPS devices and so on all increase the attractiveness and ease of use of these apps where people may previously have found them too difficult or too much hassle to work with over their existing methods too I suppose.

Re:Why Google Earth? (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 4 years ago | (#31788000)

Google has now helped build upon our understanding of we came from, as a species. They are officially off my shit list.

Re:Why Google Earth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31788046)

Google has now helped build upon our understanding of we came from, as a species. They are officially off my shit list.

They produced a piece of software. I guess if the scientists were running Windows that means we should similarly laud MS for this discovery?

Re:Why Google Earth? (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#31788198)

Of course! And don't forget that some of the hardware they were running on was probably produced in China. Now we can finally all be one big, happy family - yay!

Re:Why Google Earth? (1)

AlecC (512609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31788880)

They also got the licensing for relatively up-to-date satellite/aerial photography. Previously, the owners of this had charged very high fees because their customers typically wanted only a tiny area, so they had to charge a large per-square-mile rate to cover their costs. By doing a bulk buy and putting it, effectively, in the public domain, Google have both given the original owners as much money as they could ever have expected from residual sales and given the public, including academics, a valuable dataset (plus the tool to look at it).

Microsoft have followed suit to some extent, but they would never have gone there if Google hadn't gone there first.

Re:Why Google Earth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31788674)

Not only is GIS expensive (ESRI ArcGIS' licensing costs are in the hundreds of thousands plus the license needs to be renewed every year), but the remote sensing imagery is also very expensive. So, really, why not use Google Earth or Maps when the minimum resolution you're going to get is LANDSAT anyways?

In addition to this, GIS software like that from ESRI or ENVI have a learning curve that is much, much greater than that for Google's programs, so there are cost, time, and expertise savings for the user.

Re:Why Google Earth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31788982)

... I think it's because many departments run on shoe string budgets, and GIS was often an expense they couldn't afford.

Couldn't afford free [geocomm.com] Really? [stanford.edu]

There's plenty of free GIS data out there.

Re:Why Google Earth? (1)

dkf (304284) | more than 4 years ago | (#31789606)

Couldn't afford free [geocomm.com] Really? [stanford.edu]

There's plenty of free GIS data out there.

Does that include high quality data for South Africa (near Johannesburg) or were you planning to ask that prehistoric man be relocated to near San Jose so can take advantage of the free GIS data for California?

You've got to map things where they are, not where it's convenient for you to map. Moreover, Google's data is free to use, global in scope, and their application is easy to use too.

Re:Why Google Earth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31791290)

Does that include high quality data for South Africa (near Johannesburg) ... ?

Yes.

Oh, and by the way, you should probably read the Google Earth terms of use. You can only use the data using their apps. You want to publish something using an image from Google Earth or Google Maps, you need to pay.

Re:Why Google Earth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31788146)

It's free (as in beer), easy to use, fast, cross-platform, lends itself to custom solutions (e.g., a program to generate a KML file from your data is easy), has a detailed global dataset, and it is widely supported. Augmenting it with GPS support is cheap.

Despite its limitations, that combination is a rarity among GIS programs, which tend to be expensive, single-platform, and complicated.

I have access to fancy GIS tools but I often use Google Earth anyway. It's especially useful for teaching because it is so simple to use and students can run it on their own machines.

Re:Why Google Earth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31789944)

Clearly you never tried to use commercial GIS offerings that were around before Google Earth. They were all total crap. There is a reason Google bought Keyhole; their software was absolutely better than anything else. Prior to the release of Google Earth the only place you would see that level of functionality in mapping software was in the fake computer screens in bad spy movies.

Re:Why Google Earth? (2, Interesting)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 4 years ago | (#31790084)

Because Google Earth is a quantum leap in Atlas technology.

Prior to Google Earth/Maps, the dominant atlas technology was, well, Atlases; Big hefty books with discrete resolutions, fixed orientations, no hyper-linking(obviously), nice indices but no search functionality, oh and finally, they were super expensive. Google Earth is an improvement on the Atlas in every conceivable sense of the world, especially the most important ones; usability and accessibility. And the proof of this fact is in the increased amount of people using it, and getting results from it.

Google is delivering us the technologies sci-fi was promising over 60 years ago. It's delivering them because it understands that immediate and all consuming lust for payment and profit is not always the best way to improve technology or its use. The Anglo-Saxon model of money up front for everything is not what's going to take humanity into the 22nd century.

Re:Why Google Earth? (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 4 years ago | (#31793646)

Google is delivering us the technologies sci-fi was promising over 60 years ago. It's delivering them because it understands that immediate and all consuming lust for payment and profit is not always the best way to improve technology or its use.

And, ironically enough, it's making money hand over fist [yahoo.com] as a result.

But yeah, all those old "cyber-space" things have pretty much been superceded. The one thing we still don't have is faster-than-light travel and nuclear fusion. Two things: FTL travel, nuclear fusion and... Amongst the things we still don't have - I'll come in again. Nobody expects the actual future!

Re:Why Google Earth? (1)

penguinchris (1020961) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796884)

Uh, it has nothing to do with that - that's one reason google earth is great, yes, but that's not why scientists are increasingly using it for GIS-type work.

These scientists already had detailed maps of the areas they're working on. Believe me, they weren't carrying around big hefty atlases with them - that's a ridiculous thought.

Even scientists in heavily geographical fields (like mine, geology) aren't always familiar with computers. Xest already hit the nail on the head here, and I won't reiterate his post, but I will put forth an anecdote. As I said, I'm in the field of geology. In my department, I would estimate that less than 30-40% of people doing serious research (grad students, professors, etc. - not undergrads) use GIS *at all*, and 5-10% might be particularly proficient in its use.

I count myself among that 5-10% - my entire research revolves around GIS-based analysis. But I won't pretend that it's easy to figure out how it works - it's extraordinarily complex, even to people familiar with working with spatial data. That said, if you're not doing complex analyses that require the advanced capabilities of ArcGIS or other complex software, it *shouldn't be* particularly difficult - but it is, if you use that software.

That's where Google Earth comes in. In comparison to ArcGIS or anything else (including the free open-source GIS software), it is extremely limited in its capabilities. But, it is extremely easy to figure out and to use, and that's beside the fact that it offers you free high-resolution aerial imagery and terrain information as its basemap. GIS software typically doesn't have a basemap - you have to supply everything yourself (the latest versions of ArcGIS offer optional decent base imagery, served up by their servers like Google does, but usability and simplicity is not the same).

This analogy may seem odd, but I think it works (you have to ignore issues relating to proprietary vs. open, etc, for it to work). ArcGIS and the like are like linux in that it's fairly technical and to do complex stuff with it, you need to be a proficient technically-inclined user. Not that you can't learn it, but it takes time. In the end, for your effort put into learning you're rewarded with a much more powerful system to work with. On the other hand, Google Earth is like Windows. Anyone can pick it up and use it (more or less), but to do really cool stuff, you have to futz around a whole lot more. If you're doing complex stuff you end up spending a lot of time fighting limitations of the system, using weird workaround and such, in exchange for a relatively more simple interface for day-to-day stuff.

What else is here? (1)

telomerewhythere (1493937) | more than 4 years ago | (#31787842)

The researchers identified the fossils of at least 25 other species of animals, including saber-toothed cats, a wildcat, a brown hyena, a wild dog, antelopes, and a horse in the cave as well.

Also, I thought this was interesting:

"Before this discovery, you could pretty much fit the entire record of fossils that are candidates for the origin of the genus Homo from this time period onto a small table. But, with the discovery of Australopithecus sediba and the wealth of fossils we've recovered -- and are recovering* -- that has changed dramatically," Berger said.

Keep digging guys!!!

*bold mine

The final story (5, Funny)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 4 years ago | (#31787846)

Their bones were laid down with the remains of other dead animals, including a sabre-toothed cat, antelope, mice and rabbits. The fact that none of the bodies appear to have been scavenged indicates that all died suddenly and were entombed rapidly

I'm imagening, as they used caves for living and spoiling a decent cave giving protection and housing was used as a "burial" or dumpster is unlikely, the cave was uninhabitable by humans for one or another reason. A likely scenario seems to be that the young and unknowingly couple ran off to have some funky frisky time, ended up in a cave inhabited by preditors and got owned. A predator yet unknown, but one that can eat animals from the size of a mouse up to a sabretooth tiger without biting marks.

As there are no biting marks or "scavenging", or disallowing inhabitation it must've been a might impressive beast eating those creatures without teeth. I propose a blob of ooze or slime which liquified, slowly and horribly, those creatures alive while holding them down with their tentacles of doom while floating in the air with lighteningbols-shooting eyes.

Re:The final story (1)

s1lverl0rd (1382241) | more than 4 years ago | (#31787898)

You, sir, have a lively imagination.

I imagine (5, Funny)

killmenow (184444) | more than 4 years ago | (#31787944)

Upon entering the cave it is pitch dark. Therefore, they all were eaten by a grue.

Re:I imagine (1)

CODiNE (27417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31788682)

If it was Pitch Black Vin Diesel killed them by swiftly connecting a blade with the sweet spot.

Re:I imagine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31789656)

Plover

Re:The final story (1)

nottheusualsuspect (1681134) | more than 4 years ago | (#31788014)

Why not a grue? Its slavering fangs would neatly slice the meat clean off of the bone without nicking or breaking the bones. I would daresay that a mature grue, taking its time (and a certain amount of pride) with its work could reasonably be expected to consume an adolescent human without disturbing the skeleton.

Re:The final story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31788038)

...without disturbing the skeleton

Unless he ate the man first and had the woman watch...

Re:The final story (1)

Mirkman (1720140) | more than 4 years ago | (#31788094)

No really though in all seriousness i think your onto something Zero. If we step back and look at the evidence objectively, Its easy to see that we may be dealing with the victims of either an ancient Beholder or Illithid. I think this cave definitely needs more investigation.

Re:The final story (2, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#31788184)

Geology fail: it's not a cave, it's a Sarlacc pit.

Re:The final story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31788214)

Reportedly, the boy was about 10-13 years of age and the woman 20-30. An early example of the elusive MILF?

Re:The final story (1)

vishbar (862440) | more than 4 years ago | (#31788590)

Or his mom. The cougar explanation is way hotter, though. I suppose both could be true, but...ew.

Re:The final story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31788324)

"A predator yet unknown, but one that can eat animals from the size of a mouse up to a sabretooth tiger without biting marks."
Something like carbon monoxide then?

Re:The final story (1)

stms (1132653) | more than 4 years ago | (#31788330)

I for one welcome our new Oozy Overlords.

Re:The final story (1)

irtza (893217) | more than 4 years ago | (#31788340)

a flying spaghetti monster? Is this the proof the church [venganza.org] has needed? Maybe this will cause disheavel and split the followers into the flying slime camp vs the orthodox pastrafarians.

Flying Spaghetti Monster (1)

DocZayus (1046358) | more than 4 years ago | (#31788602)

Sounds like an offering to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster...

Re:The final story (1)

AlecC (512609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31788926)

TFA suggest that the bodies were washed into an inaccessible cave by a sudden flood, and the ages of the skeletons are compatible with mother/son.

Sorry to rain on your parade, but never assume conspiracy when cockup will do.

Re:The final story (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31789316)

the ages of the skeletons are compatible with mother/son.

It's just coincidence the two bodies are together. It was actually a lower level cave, and the upper cave collapsed into it due to an earthquake.

If they dig a little more they'll find a pile of extremely dirty rabbit-fur duds, a heap of bark containers with traces of mammoth fat and a bearskin that's large enough to sleep on; underneath it some charcoal & ochre drawings are reverentially arranged - some say hidden. Smears of a crusty substance like dried glue are found on them.

The significance of the artwork will be a controversy for years, religious interpretations will be assigned and denied, but eventually they'll turn out to be pr0n.

Re:The final story (1)

dasunt (249686) | more than 4 years ago | (#31788948)

I'm imagening, as they used caves for living and spoiling a decent cave giving protection and housing was used as a "burial" or dumpster is unlikely, the cave was uninhabitable by humans for one or another reason. A likely scenario seems to be that the young and unknowingly couple ran off to have some funky frisky time, ended up in a cave inhabited by preditors and got owned. A predator yet unknown, but one that can eat animals from the size of a mouse up to a sabretooth tiger without biting marks.

As there are no biting marks or "scavenging", or disallowing inhabitation it must've been a might impressive beast eating those creatures without teeth. I propose a blob of ooze or slime which liquified, slowly and horribly, those creatures alive while holding them down with their tentacles of doom while floating in the air with lighteningbols-shooting eyes.

Oh goodie. Shoggoths.

Re:The final story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31797788)

They were swallowed whole. Didn't you read where they were found? QUOTE ... the find in a cave bear ... UNQUOTE.

They were found in a cave bear!!!!

Evolution and Africa and Global Climate Change (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31787864)

Millions of years ago, Africa was a continent teeming with life and different varieties of life. As the continents shifted and mountain ranges like the Himalayas rose to block crucial winds to Saharan Africa, the lucky species were able to get out and into Europe and Asia. The not so lucky ones dried up in the desert or learned to survive in the lean environment of the savanna. As European and Asian lifeforms grew more diverse, this giant continent became a sort of Lost World separated from the rest of the world by a large, and largely impassible, desert.

We like to talk about Drake's equation, but sometimes just looking at our planet reveals how unlikely intelligent life is, given how close we as a species came to never being.

Re:Evolution and Africa and Global Climate Change (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31787954)

Dear BadAnalogyGuy, I am intrigued by your findings and wish to learn more, how can I subscribe to your newsletter?

Re:Evolution and Africa and Global Climate Change (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31787966)

I'm pretty sure you get them at stormfront.org...

Don't recommend going there, though.

Re:Evolution and Africa and Global Climate Change (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31788370)

but sometimes just looking at our planet reveals how unlikely intelligent life is

Sometime just reading your posts reveals how unlikely intelligent life is.

Re:Evolution and Africa and Global Climate Change (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 4 years ago | (#31788608)

Wow, Himalayas blocking wind to Africa? Just wow...

Dude, you got to get a globe.

Re:Evolution and Africa and Global Climate Change (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31788966)

It's called the "jetstream"

Summary gives Google Earth too much credit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31787890)

The site was found by the team thanks to the "virtual globe" software Google Earth, which allowed the group to map and visualise the most promising fossil grounds in the World Heritage Site.

Sounds like they could've used a GIS or other software as well, it's not that they spotted something on Google Earth and went "Hey ma, look at this!"

Re:Summary gives Google Earth too much credit (4, Insightful)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#31788068)

Indeed. The news should be "Google Earth lets scientists make discoveries... a bit cheaper than previously" - it still required specialist analytical knowledge, and honestly the story stands on its own as a scientific piece without the technology tie in, surely?

Re:Summary gives Google Earth too much credit (2, Insightful)

res1216 (1785928) | more than 4 years ago | (#31788448)

Indeed. ...The story stands on its own as a scientific piece without the technology tie in, surely?

Absolutely. But "Google Earth: Serious Research Tool" is story-worthy in its own right.

Re:Summary gives Google Earth too much credit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31790642)

Yeah, something useful was accomplished using some software that's got to be quite popular, and costs $0. The donor company - good citizens in the FOSS world, BTW - has no intention of monetizing it, either.
No credit due. Nothing to see. Move on.
 
Things sure have changed around here in the last 10yrs.

Re:Summary gives Google Earth too much credit (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 4 years ago | (#31791924)

Sounds like they could've used a GIS or other software as well, it's not that they spotted something on Google Earth and went "Hey ma, look at this!"

There is specialized software for this. There is even a whole new GIS/Archaeology field with its own name: Predictive Modelling [wikipedia.org] .

Is evolution science? (1)

Alsee (515537) | more than 4 years ago | (#31787896)

The defining characteristic of science is that it needs to be able to make testable predictions.

And to test whether or not evolution is valid science, I suggest the following evolutionist-worldview based prediction: Half of creationists will categorize this fossil as fully human, the other half will classify it as fully ape.

-

Another good example of 'free' geo-information use (1)

Bearhouse (1034238) | more than 4 years ago | (#31787904)

I never cease to be amazed and geekily interested in the vast number of applications that people find with for Google maps & earth data.
That and the GPS are, for me, great examples of the gov/military and private enterprise really giving something back to the community.
Now if only we can have street maps & associated guidance software of the same quality as the commercial stuff.
http://www.openstreetmap.org/ [openstreetmap.org] is a good start, but it has a long way to go...

Re:Another good example of 'free' geo-information (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 4 years ago | (#31787968)

It never ceases to amaze me that people do not put together that free software is far superior to pay-for software. This type of data has always been available, for high cost, to those who were able to acquire it (ArcView for example) and be trained to use it. With the advent of Google Earth people can still access much of that ArcView stuff (with SHP2KML conversion) and use this information for a wide range of research.

Say what you want about Google's privacy scares but some of the shit they've put out is absolutely wonderful for those of us more interested in spending our money on what's important.

Re:Another good example of 'free' geo-information (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31788672)

I never cease to be amazed and geekily interested in the vast number of applications that people find with for Google maps & earth data

I never cease, but that's probably because I never start.

The story is basically "Some foobarologists used a computer a bit".

Coming up later, "Grahite solves the DNA conundrum!" And why not - I'm sure Watson & Crick owned at least one pencil between them.

Re:Another good example of 'free' geo-information (1)

AlecC (512609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31788992)

As a long time reader of Science Fiction, I am interested that no SF writer (to my knowledge) ever predicted GPS. They predicted many other things that we now have (and, of course, tons of stuff that we don't have and probably never will have). But nobody seems ever realized how useful it is to have a device that quietly, cheaply, and easily tells you exactly where you are. Possibly they never put it together with the other necessary component for most applications: cheap, fast, low power storage of a few hundred megabytes of map data,

Re:Another good example of 'free' geo-information (1)

bhagwad (1426855) | more than 4 years ago | (#31799258)

I'm reading Asimov's works and I'm always surprised that he never predicted:

1. The Internet - he had scientists creating an "Encyclopedia Galactica" when it was feared that all science knowledge would be lost. We just use Wikipedia!
2. Cellphones - Trimensional viewing is horribly inconvenient. Often the characters don't know where others are. Now we just give them a call
3. Ebooks - He predicted film strips which are inconvenient and need to be borrowed from a library. Nuff said.

He wrote some mind blowing stuff though...

Or...... (1)

thefear (1011449) | more than 4 years ago | (#31787918)

The fact that none of the bodies appear to have been scavenged indicates that all died suddenly and were entombed rapidly.

Either that or all the animals fell into a hole and became trapped over the course of a few years.

Undiscovered Hominids (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 4 years ago | (#31788006)

I saw the headline, and immediately thought that Google Earth had finally got around to photographing Falkirk [wikia.com]

Journalistic fun (1)

codeButcher (223668) | more than 4 years ago | (#31788188)

When this came out on the local news websites yesterday, a few claimed these finds where "a new species of ancient descendants of modern-day humans" (*), along with other bad logic/grammar. My first thought is that these might have been the love children of one one Julius Malema [wikipedia.org] . Then again, it might just have been that the journalists have procreated....

(* = In the mean time edited and corrected, but at the moment still viewable on this British site [inthenews.co.uk] . Or in Google's caches [google.com] ).

Didn't RTA (1)

Lueseiseki (1189513) | more than 4 years ago | (#31788442)

Maybe it was some sort of burial ritual? Just an idea.

Re:Didn't RTA (1)

AlecC (512609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31789036)

Strange burial that buries people with miscellaneous wildlife. While it has been known for people to be buried with pets, it is usually just one or two. And known burial rituals only data back about 50,000 years, whereas these are just under 2 million.

TFA suggest they were washed into an inaccessible cave system by a sudden flood.

Heh heh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31788968)

He said "cave bears".

Nothing to see here, move along (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#31788972)

Scientists have been using aerial photography for such purposes practically since the dawn of aviation (when it was noticed that things could be seen from the air that couldn't from the ground).

Discovery - South Africa (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31789018)

See the story reported on the South African news (News24.com) regarding the finding:
http://www.news24.com/SciTech/News/Boy-9-found-new-hominid-species-20100408

Re:Discovery - South Africa (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31789126)

By the way - explain based on the official report (http://www.news24.com/SciTech/News/Boy-9-found-new-hominid-species-20100408) from the professor himself about the discovery, how did you link the discovery and Google Earth together? The professor's 9 year old found it in a CAVE. Or was it "Google inside the earth" which was used?

The fossils was found in: August 15 2008... and only officially unvailed now. How sure are they about them having used Google Earth as a tool back then?

Neotenic Dividing Line? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31789678)

.' The fossils of a mature female and juvenile male have '...small teeth, projecting nose, very advanced pelvis, and long legs ...' suggesting more modern forms. 'And yet its very long arms and small brain case might echo the much older Australopithecine group to which Professor Berger and colleagues have assigned it.

Does this stuff suggest that neoteny [wikipedia.org] can be viewed as a dividing line between older Australopithecine groups and modern hominids? "Neoteny... also called juvenilization, is the retention, by adults in a species, of traits previously seen only in juveniles..." and further from the Wikipedia article:

The idea that adult humans exhibit certain neotenous (juvenile) features, not evinced in the great apes, is about a century old. Louis Bolk made a long list of such traits,[3] and Stephen Jay Gould published a short list in Ontogeny and Phylogeny.[4] "Man, in his bodily development, is a primate foetus that has become sexually mature" (Bolk). The human capacity for long continued learning may be construed as a juvenile trait greatly extended. However, there are, of course, significant differences between juvenile chimpanzees and adult humans, most obviously in human abstract rational thought and language and, less obviously, in the human female sexual cycle.[5] Therefore, neoteny is just one aspect of the story of human evolution.

Another theory suggests that humans' neotenous characteristics were an evolutionary strategy that enabled Cro-Magnons (Homo sapiens) to gain predominance over H. neanderthalensis (and possibly H. erectus and H. heidelbergensis) by appealing to these species' nurturing instincts through paedomorphic cuteness to avoid territorial aggression. Noted anthropologist Björn Kurtén explores this concept in his paleofictional Dance of the Tiger (1980).

New Hominid? (0)

517714 (762276) | more than 4 years ago | (#31790682)

News: Possible New Hominid Species Discovered, Thanks To Google Earth

"New"? As in an extinct species that lived 1.8 to 2 million years ago? "Discovered" covers it in this instance and "new" confuses the issue. I was expecting a story about some isolated population of hominids.

Matt, I told you to stop playing around ... whoa! (1)

nervouscat (597962) | more than 4 years ago | (#31791428)

This quote from Matthew Berger, son of Professor Lee Berger, was posted on Good Morning Silicon Valley today.

http://blogs.siliconvalley.com/gmsv/2010/04/quoted-matt-i-told-you-to-stop-playing-around-while-were-whoa.html [siliconvalley.com]

“I turned the rock over and I saw the clavicle sticking out — that’s the collar bone. I didn’t know what it was at first; I thought it was just an antelope. So I called my dad over and about five meters away he started swearing, and I was like ‘What did I do wrong?’ and he’s like, ‘Nothing, nothing — you found a hominid’.”

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