Speech is be older than we thought

The theory of the “descent of the larynx” has advanced for 50 years that the low position of the larynx of the human ( Homo sapiens ) is necessary to produce differentiated vowels, and that this capacity necessary for the appearance of speech would have appeared about 75,000 years ago, in its development.

This idea suggested that monkeys, whose anatomy of the vocal tract is very similar to that of humans, but whose larynx is higher, cannot produce differentiated vocalizations because of this latter characteristic.

You should know that humans are the only monkey that has a communication system which, by combining a small number of sound units (vowels and consonants), allows to generate an infinity of statements carrying meaning.

An anatomical lock

In the years 1930-1950, experiments carried out with chimpanzees raised in human families had not enabled them to learn to speak, as one generally does with children. In order to explain this reality, researcher Philip Lieberman had proposed in 1969 the theory of the descent of the larynx, an anatomical lock making spoken communication impossible. Despite some criticisms, this explanation had been widely accepted by a majority of primatologists.

The work of a French team, with the collaboration of Quebec researchers from the University of Quebec’s Phonetics Laboratory, today shows that monkeys are capable of producing well-differentiated protovoyelles.

A reality which contradicts the initial theory and which shows, taking into account the acoustic cavities formed by the tongue, the mandible and the lips, that the production of differentiated vocalizations is not an anatomical question, but that it would rather be linked to control the articulators.

This new knowledge suggests that the ability to speak was born earlier in the evolution of Homo sapiens, well beyond 200,000 years ago, the time of the appearance of the species.

In fact, scientists can even envision an emergence of speech that dates back to 20 million years ago, when our common ancestor lived with monkeys, who probably had the capacity to produce contrasted vocalizations.

The details of this work are published in the journal Science Advances.

Here is the virtual skull of the ancestor of all Homo sapiens

Despite an age of some 300,000 years, the oldest ancestor common to all Homo sapiens had a surprisingly modern skull, showing a modeling carried out by European paleoanthropologists.

The Homo sapiens emerged in Africa there are about 300 000 years, and its infancy remain mysterious to this day.

African fossils less than 500 000 years old are few, it lacks pieces to the puzzle of the history of our species.

In the present works, the Frenchman Aurélien Mounier, of the National Museum of Natural History of Paris, and the Briton Marta Mirazon Lahr, of the University of Cambridge, analyzed in detail 263 skulls old and current with the aim of making virtual fossils of missing elements.

We carried out a modeling to reconstruct possible morphologies to the ancestral population to all modern men.

Aurélien Mounier, paleoanthropologist at the National Museum of Natural History of Paris

Create a virtual fossil

There are currently only five skulls found in the Maghreb, East Africa and South Africa dating back to the period when Homo sapiens appeared in Africa.

To create a virtual fossil of the skull of the ancestor of Homo sapiens , the researchers modeled average individuals from 29 different populations: 21 modern living in different regions of the world and 8 fossil populations. They then went back up the evolutionary tree of Sapiens to deduce its morphological characters.

The features of this virtual fossil, whose theoretical age would be 300 000 years, appear relatively modern. He owns :

a rounded cranial box;
a relatively high forehead;
slight orbital bulges;
a face slightly projected forward.

Basically, its morphology is close to some fossils dating back to only 100,000 years ago.

Separate populations in Africa have helped to form the ancestral population of our species.

Aurélien Mounier

According to the authors of this work, published in the journal Nature Communications (New Window) , Homo sapiens was born from the hybridization of populations in southern and eastern Africa.

North African populations would have mixed with Neanderthals as a result of migrations to Europe, contributing less to our species.

These conclusions bring to the fore, once again, the hypothesis of a linear human evolution whose cradle would be East Africa.

They support the hypothesis, established by other researchers on the basis of genetic analyzes, that following a first exit from Africa which left traces only in Oceania, a second migration would have allowed to Homo sapiens successively populate Europe, Asia and America.

Spider Photobombs Perseid Meteor Shower Picture

The Perseid Meteor Shower is one of the most spectacular shows of nature and it’s all going right on schedule, just like it happened the previous years.

NASA set a camera designed to photograph meteors during the Perseid meteor shower, and it turns out that the shower is so amazing that even spiders want to watch it all: a spider appeared in a photo taken by NASA’s special camera that was set up at Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter near Tucson, Arizona on August 5.

Vast network

Nasa’s network consists of 17 all-sky cameras, which capture black and white images of the night sky using fisheye lens. The camera was purposefully set to spot fireballs that are actually meteors entering our planet’s atmosphere in a streak brighter than Venus’ sky.

Previous encounters

This is not the first time a spider photobombs an important photo that NASA intends to take: NASA has previously released photos of a bug, an owl and a small bird stopping in front of all – sky cameras. Back in 2007, a plumper spider crawled over the lens of the camera that was pointed to the launch site of the space shuttle Atlantis.

Bright skies

This year’s Perseid Meteor Shower is difficult to spot because of the glow of the waxing moon. The Perseids will peak on August 12, when skywatchers will be able to spot between 10 and 15 meteors per hour.

It’s notable that the Perseids happen when Earth intersects paths with debris surrounding Comet Swift – Tuttle.

Moon Bears the Living Creatures from Outer Space

If we can imagine life on other planets, of course we are thinking of human-like creatures. But some recent studies show us that we can encounter animals, as well. How important is this thing for science and how can we benefit from it? Moon strikes again with the most intriguing fact, yet.

The fact that there is a possibility to find life on Moon, changes all the theories that the scientists built their studies, in a good way, of course. These creatures found on the spacecraft that returned successfully from missions are quite intriguing when it comes to analyzing them. They seem indestructible in a way that they are so resistant at radiation, for example, or some of the coldest temperatures of the outer space. We must acknowledge the fact that these are not aliens at all, they are, as scientists officially named them, microscopic Earthlings, also known as tardigrades.

Scientists proved the fact that the creatures bravely survive on a spacecraft through the tumultuous travel back to Earth, when they took a closer look and analyzed the spacecraft’s route and the structure of the device the micro-creatures were kept in.

Nova Spivack, the co-founder of the non-profit Arch Mission Foundation (AFP), stated that the so-called Moon water bears that were identified, they are actually tardigrades, with a multicellular structure and one of the most resistant forms of life in our planet. He also came with more details about their size, about a millimeter in size.

Tardigrades or water bears, sometimes even called moss piglets, are capable of living in both land and water, succeeding to survive and develop at some of the highest temperatures that could reach 150 degrees Celsius, and even the lowest ones, somewhere between minus 200 and minus 272 degrees Celsius. The creatures possess the incredible number of eight legs and have one of the most incredible skills, to come back at their structure after they were dehydrated. Also, they could easily survive a severe burning and even a small pressure on the Moon.

In order to survive, scientists explained the fact that they will always need water and air, letting them live for quite a long time.

Mars’ Smoky Situation – Intriguing Fact Discovered

With all the smoke up there, Mars surely has to give an explanation. Scientists discovered this intriguing fact and it seems hard to believe for such behavior of Mars. For our mighty neighbor things are pretty much changing, but let’s find out first, what it’s really happening.

The fact that the Red Planet has an atmosphere which is too thin, it won’t allow it ever to have water on its surface. Also, there is no free molecular oxygen, just because Mars produces it by ultraviolet radiation adding some carbon dioxide, too. MAVEN, Mars orbiter by NASA, succeeded to take some measurements of the atoms and ions evading from Mars’ land due to the photovoltaic airstream and radiation. All these facts and more but how can we still explain Mars’ plumes of smokes?

Scientists state, however, according to a captured picture of the phenomenon by NASA’s satellite, that it seems clear that it isn’t some activity from the Arsia Mons volcano, even if they tend to believe that, because on Earth such plumes indicate sometimes two factors, fire or  a volcano.

The fact that Mars has 2 volcanoes, the Olympus Mons and Arsia, don’t represent a worrying thing, because they don’t seem to extinct. This could also indicate that Mars has a possibility to be volcanically lively, but so far, there are not any proofs of eruptions.

Scientists of course, searched for any alternative and the most suitable one, they believed, are the clouds. What’s with the clouds and Mars? To understand better this phenomenon on the Red Planet, we must know that water-ice clouds are sometimes found on the planet’s surface, and they have a way of travelling, beginning over the top of high mountains or volcanoes. Mars posses water vapor just like Earth, which creates a circular way of travelling on the Martian area.

The Martian winds, however, have the ability to enclose the globe, they also have with them some atmospheric stuff that they will send over the mountains or in and out of the huge bowls of Mars. With the help of some fast winds in its not so high-density area, Martian clouds can resist for many kilometers and more, creating the effect of some smoke plums. With these said, there is no strange phenomenon at all, and Mars seems just fine.