In Uganda, a white German aid worker becomes an unlikely local pop star

Photo: Spiegel
Student Deena Herr, 22, has recently become a very unlikely superstar in the East African nation of Uganda.

Meet Homo naledi, the distant ancestor you never knew


In South Africa, scientists have unearthed a humanoid species from what appears to be a burial chamber hidden deep inside a system of caves. They discovered 15 partial skeletons, with evidence leading researchers to believe the hominids had enough intelligence to conduct rituals. This is the single largest discovery of its kind ever in Africa, and scientists claim it will change our ideas about our human ancestors. More on the findings in the journal Elife.

BBC News:

The species, which has been named naledi, has been classified in the grouping, or genus, Homo, to which modern humans belong. The researchers who made the find have not been able to find out how long ago these creatures lived - but the scientist who led the team, Prof Lee Berger, told BBC News that he believed they could be among the first of our kind (genus Homo) and could have lived in Africa up to three million years ago.

The team of scientists who discovered the Homo naledi remains pose for a picture

Here's the abstract:

Homo naledi is a previously-unknown species of extinct hominin discovered within the Dinaledi Chamber of the Rising Star cave system, Cradle of Humankind, South Africa. This species is characterized by body mass and stature similar to small-bodied human populations but a small endocranial volume similar to australopiths. Cranial morphology of H. naledi is unique, but most similar to early Homo species including Homo erectus, Homo habilis or Homo rudolfensis. While primitive, the dentition is generally small and simple in occlusal morphology.

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Minnesota kids get creative to protest lion-killing dentist


Kids in the Twin Cities asked their families what they could do to express their feelings about local lion-killing dentist Walter Palmer. Star-Tribune's Glen Stubbe got some great shots during protests at Palmer's office. Read the rest

US dentist blamed for killing beloved lion in Zimbabwe

Cecil the lion and his alleged killer, Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer.
Palmer is said to have paid $50,000 for the privilege of killing the big cat with a bow and arrow.

Cameras embedded in rhino horns to fight poaching


Researchers developed an anti-poaching system for Rhinos that integrates a camera embedded in the rhino's horn with a GPS and heart rate monitors that switch on the camera and guide authorities to the animal's location. Read the rest

Journalists arrested in Zambia for publishing allegedly classified documents

Map of Zambia.
A spokesman for police told reporters that both journalists were denying that the letter was classified.

Map shows where world's oldest and youngest populations live

The world’s 15 youngest countries are all in Africa.
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Africa's cellphone sneakernets for music sharing


In certain regions of Africa, where basic "feature phones" are ubiquitous but Internet connectivity is mostly non-existent, the only network for new music are physical markets where téléchargeurs (downloaders) transfer playlists directly to their customers' devices. Read the rest

Portraits of e-waste pickers in Ghana

German photographer Kevin McElvaney shot portraits of the itinerant pickers who work on Agbogbloshie, the toxic e-waste dump outside of Accra, Ghana. Read the rest

Learn about game development in Africa


Game development is on the rise in Africa. Just for example, the first-ever West African Gaming Expo was hosted in Lagos last fall, and an eagerly-anticipated roleplaying game made in Cameroon will launch later this year. Read the rest

Privatized offshore cities: the new climate apartheid

Financier-developers with ties to some of the century's most notorious war criminals are building Eko Atlantic, an offshore city near Lagos, to house the burgeoning, confiscatory millionaires of Nigeria, while in the oft-bulldozed slums of Lagos genuine, climate-resilient floating buildings are taking to sea. Read the rest

Kenya's Parliament erupts into chaos as government rams through brutal "anti-terrorism" law

MPs shredded their papers and threw them, and got into fistfights with one another over the new law, which allows the government to imprison suspects for 360 days without charge, and to fine press outlets millions for publishing articles "likely to cause fear or alarm" (this term is not defined in the statute). Read the rest

Luxury South African safari train where work is forbidden

The 3-day, $2750/person Rovos Rail train safari from Pretoria to Durban is pulled by 1930s steam trains; features giant, luxurious staterooms with their own bathtubs; offers high tea; and, true to its Edwardian time-warp, passengers are prohibited from working in public areas, lest this break the atmosphere of idle wealth and privilege. Read the rest

Localizing an operating system for a language with no high-tech vocabulary

When Senegalese Mozillan Ibrahima Sarr translated Firefox OS into Fulah, he had to coin an entire technological vocabulary, so "crash" became "hookii" (a cow falling over but not dying). Read the rest

African ISPs talk interconnection

The hot topic at this week's Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum is increasing the cross-links between African nations, who often have to route traffic through interchanges in distant nations (or on other continents!) in order to reach nearby networks. Read the rest

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