During his visit to Washington last month, China's President Xi Jinping vowed to stop the commercial trade in ivory in his nation, but didn't say much about when or how.
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.
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.
Here's the abstract:
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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.
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
The most common way of representing Africa on maps and globes dramatically understates the size of the continent. Read the rest
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
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
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
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
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
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