Our ancestors still climbed trees even when they were already able to walk




That our ancestors were adept at climbing trees is widely proven by science: just like our closest ape relatives, such as chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans, the ancestors of man used the branches as a shelter or place in the have to find sustenance. However, the question that alludes to when we get off of them to start walk on our two legs, a trait that clearly identifies us as humans, is an unknown that still lasts. Even if there was a time when we combine life on the ground with regular crossings between branches. A new study led by the Kent University He claims to have found evidence that this important transition was not as abrupt as previously thought.

Research indicates that some of our hominid ancestors routinely combined both environments just between one and three million years ago, as reflected in the study published in the journal « Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences»(PNAS). This new research, based on fossil leg bone analysis, provides evidence that at least one species of hominid (it is not clear if the Paranthropus robustus or is it a Homo early, since both they coincided in space and time) regularly adopted highly flexed hip joints, a posture associated with tree climbing by other apes.

“While we know that all human ancestors practiced some form of walking -they walked on his two feet-, it is not clear when (and what) human ancestors they walked from the same way as modern humans“Say the researchers. “There is increasing evidence that these ancestors walked on their two legs in a different way than ours, and many fossils still display ape features, especially in their upper limbs. Therefore, there has been a long debate about the importance of climbing (tree locomotion) in our evolutionary history, and whether our ancestors were focused on walking on the ground alone or whether trees were still an important part of their lifestyle. ».

In search of the inner secret of the bones

The team analyzed and compared the internal bone structures of two leg bones found in the Sterkfontein cave, in South Africa, on an expedition about 60 years ago. Dating places these remains between 1 and 3 million years ago and it is known that both were bipeds. Externally, in both cases, a joint more human-like than ape-like was shown, suggesting that these ancient hominids did indeed walk on both legs. However, by analyzing the interior of the head of the femur with high-resolution microtomography (microCT) techniques – which is similar to computed tomography, but with higher resolution – the team realized that the hip joints they carried more similarly to that of primates that climb trees.

Digital CT-based representations of the StW 522 (Australopithecus africanus) and StW 311 (Paranthropus / Homo) fossils. The top two images show the fossils as they are preserved. The bottom two images show cross sections through the fossils to reveal the trabecular bone, the distribution of which reveals that these individuals practiced different climbing frequencies.
Digital CT-based representations of the StW 522 (Australopithecus africanus) and StW 311 (Paranthropus / Homo) fossils. The top two images show the fossils as they are preserved. The bottom two images show cross sections through the fossils to reveal the trabecular bone, the distribution of which reveals that these individuals practiced different climbing frequencies – Matthew Skinner

“It has been a challenge to find a solution to the debates about how exactly our ancestors walked bipeds and whether they still climbed trees because the external shape of the bones can be misleading. In particular, it is not clear whether the ape features in some hominin fossils were still functionally useful, or if they were simply reminiscent of a more arboreal ancestor that had not yet been lost (because behavior can evolve faster than morphology), “the researchers explain.

When we start walking on two legs

It is known that first human ancestors they started to walk on both legs they did it between 4 and 7 million years, although they carried out this practice in a occasional, the trees being their natural environment. The general consensus was that it was approximately 2 million years when our relatives, both Paranthropus and the first Homo, began to make life on the ground on a regular basis, moving to sporadic climbing.

But the evidence has been scant, controversial, and not widely accepted. Our results provide direct evidence that members of one of these species regularly adopted highly flexed hip joints, a posture that in other non-human apes is associated with tree climbing, “they state. That is, we walk on the ground as much as we climb trees.

Possible revolution

In addition to the evidence that these specimens lived on land and in “air,” the research leaders, Leoni Georgiou, Matthew Skinner Y Tracy Kivell, from the University of Kent School of Anthropology and Conservation, stress that this technique can shed light on secrets that still exist within fossil bones, which can literally alter or even revolutionize what we think we know about our ancestors.

“It is very exciting to be able to reconstruct the actual behavior of these people who lived millions of years ago, and every time we explore a new fossil with this new technology, it is an opportunity to learn something new about our evolutionary history,” says Georgiou. For his part, Skinner points out: “It has been a challenge to resolve debates about the degree to which climbing continued to be an important behavior in our past. Further analysis of the internal structure of other skeletal bones may reveal interesting findings about the evolution of other key human behaviors, such as stone tool making and the Tools use. Our research team is now expanding our work to look at the hands, feet, knees, shoulders, and spine. ”


“In Iraq, the risk of escalation between Iran and the United States”

La Croix.com: The Iraqi president has just appointed Adnane Zorfi, the former governor of the Shiite holy city of Nadjaf, on Tuesday (March 17th) to form a government. What is his profile?

Hosham Dawod: As a deputy, Adnane Zorfi sits in the Victory (an-Nasr) parliamentary bloc of former Prime Minister Haïder al-Abadi. After participating in the Shiite uprising that followed Saddam Hussein’s defeat in Kuwait in 1991, he took refuge in Saudi Arabia and then went into exile in the United States. He was on the team that thought about the fall of Saddam Hussein. His appointment as governor of Najaf in 2003 shows his importance for Washington.

In this position, he established good relations with the relatives of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. On the other hand, its relations are strained with the Shiite political-religious parties and religious dignitaries close to the velayat-al-faqih in Iran.

Since the start of the protest movement on October 1, he has taken sides with the protesters but above all with a political objective: he has constantly criticized the government in place and tried to present himself as the alternative. Adnane Zorfi has never hidden his ambition to one day become Prime Minister. He has the opportunity today but he appears to be politically isolated, even among the Shiites, and there is nothing to say that he will obtain the approval of Parliament in 30 days.

What are his chances of success, when his predecessor, Mohammed Allawi, failed to gain the confidence of Parliament?

H. D.: If a message emerges from the uprising, it is the protesters’ will to end the sectarian political logic. He will have to seek support one by one, among the Kurds, the Sunnites and even the Shiites and he will have to give wages to each.

Kurds are used to voting according to their interests, which include the distribution of oil revenues and the preservation of their broad autonomy. For them, as the saying goes, it doesn’t matter the color of the cat as long as it catches mice.

Within the Shiite camp, Adnane Zorfi has the explicit support of Haïder al-Abadi, the former prime minister, the tacit support of the secular current, and probably of a part of the disputing youth. On the other hand, he is known for his position hostile to the militias, for rebalancing the position of Iraq with all its neighbors and for the “institutionalization” of Iraqi political life. For this reason, the party in power since 2003 sees it as a threat, as does Iran.

Who is Mohammed Allawi, the new Iraqi Prime Minister?

Adnane Zorfi is the fifth nominated candidate, the others were all rejected by the street and / or by the Parliament. Will it be the same for him, despite a form of political fatigue felt by the Iraqis? The country has been without government since November 29, and protesters are unable to offer an alternative.

Is the future prime minister the one who will expel American forces from Iraq, as claimed by some pro-Iranian Shiite militias?

H. D.: I do not think that such a law would pass in Parliament, or then only thanks to the Shiite vote, and still only of a part of the Shiite parliamentarians. For the Kurds and the Sunnis, the presence of American forces in Iraq is a form of guarantee against the appetite of the militias and the almost total takeover of Iran.

The risk is rather that of climbing. In recent days, hostilities have resumed. In the past few months, and even more since the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, the Americans have suffered numerous attacks. They react with rapid and violent counterattacks, which transform their strategy in Iraq into all-out hostility towards the militias.

“In Iraq, anti-American sentiment is spreading”

Until recently, the Iranians believed that Donald Trump would be re-elected, which would mean an additional four years of suffocation under US sanctions for them. Hence the decisions of Tehran to provoke some mini-military crises with the Americans in the region (in the Gulf, in Iraq or in Syria). It is about forcing Washington, in a delicate electoral moment, to return to the negotiating table.

Iraqi political life is hostage to these conflicts and to a corrupt political class, ready to do anything to stay in power. It demonstrated this with the suppression of the uprising which left more than 600 dead, hundreds of people kidnapped and tortured and more than 20,000 injured. A curfew has just been decreed within the framework of the fight against the coronavirus which will also be a means of extinguishing the dispute. If it started again, I think the repression would be even bloodier.


Ceasefire between Russia and Turkey to stop escalation of violence in Idlib

A ceasefire came into effect yesterday midnight Thursday, March 5 between Russia and Turkey on Idlib territory in Syria. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the announcement after talks in Moscow with Vladimir Putin while warning that Ankara would respond to any attack by the regime.

→ REPORTAGE. Migrants: between Greece and Turkey, a boiling border

The two counterparts said at a joint press conference that they would make the deal lasting. They managed, after long hours of interviews, to agree on a text which, according to the Russian president, “Will serve as a solid foundation for ending the fighting in the Idlib de-escalation area.”

A “safety corridor” set up

In addition, the Russian and Turkish armies will organize joint patrols from March 15 on the M4 motorway, a strategic axis crossing the Idlib region. The two countries have planned to set up a “Security corridor” six kilometers deep on either side of the highway, a total buffer zone of 12 kilometers wide. The parameters of this zone will be defined by Ankara and Moscow within seven days, according to the declaration.

Held in an emergency, the summit between Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin was held after a sudden escalation in IdlIb, a region in northwestern Syria controlled by rebel groups supported by Ankara and jihadist organizations. Bashar Al Assad’s regime, supported by the Russian air force, launched an offensive in December to retake the region, causing a humanitarian disaster with nearly a million displaced people fleeing the violence.

Ankara launched a major offensive against the regime after the death of 34 Turkish soldiers in air strikes attributed by the Turkish government to Damascus.

These clashes have strained relations between Ankara and Moscow which, despite their divergent interests in Syria, have strengthened their cooperation in recent years. Turkey, which already hosts 3.6 million Syrians on its soil, Wednesday demanded European support for “Turkish political and humanitarian solutions in Syria”, essential according to her to set up a truce and resolve the migration crisis.

UN Security Council meeting

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres hoped on Thursday that the ceasefire agreement between Turkey and Russia for the Idleb province in Syria “Will lead to an immediate and lasting cessation of hostilities” for the benefit of the population.

→ READ. Migrants, Syria: what does Erdogan want?

Antonio Guterres said he took note of the ceasefire agreement between Turkey and Russia while mentioning the enormous suffering that the people of Idlib have already endured. He also called for a return to a political process to end the war in Syria.

At the request of Russia, a closed-door meeting of the UN Security Council will be held on Friday, March 6. Very criticized for several weeks by its Council partners, Moscow should explain to them the content of the agreement obtained with Turkey.


Russia sends two frigates to the Mediterranean and Turkey blames climbing

Russia has adopted this friday new challenge gestures and support for his ally’s military offensive, the Bashar el Asad regime, In the Syrian province of Idleb, hours after a thirty Turkish soldiers They lost their lives during a Syrian bombing. Moscow has dispatched to Mediterranean waters to two frigates and has blamed the Turkish Army for the military climbing in the Arab country, which has caused an exodus of about a million people.

In an attempt to contain the crisis, the presidents of Turkey and Russia, Recep Tayyip Erdogan Y Vladimir Putin, have spoken by telephone, as reported by the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov.

The ships concerned are frigates ‘Admiral Makarov’ Y ‘Admiral Grigorievich’, from 124 meters in length and endowed with Kalibr missiles, projectiles of high accuracy able to achieve objectives within a range of 2,600 kilometers. They will join the frigate too ‘Admiral Esen’, similar and operational features in the Eastern Mediterranean since last December, according to Alekséi Rulev, Russian military spokesman.

On their journey to the coasts of Syria, the ships they have crossed the Bosphorus Strait, which despite being under Turkish sovereignty has the navigation rights regulated by the Montreux Convention, which guarantees the free passage of Russian ships, whether military or civil, in peacetime. In 2015, during another peak of tension between Moscow and Ankara due to the demolition of a Russian fighter plane that had violated Turkish airspace by anti-aircraft defenses, a russian military aboard a warship from his country that was heading to Syrian waters pointed to the city of Istanbul with an anti-aircraft weapon while the ship was crossing the sea passage, an action that was interpreted as a Russian “provocation” by Ankara.

“Among terrorists”

In parallel, Moscow has blamed to the Turkish side of the death of some thirty of his soldiers during a bombing, and has pointed out that his aviation is not responsible for it, since at that time he was not carrying out operations in the area. “The Turkish military were among fighter units of terrorist groups, and have fallen under fire from Syrian soldiers, “according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Defense. For Moscow, Turkey is violating the agreements it has reached with Russia supporting rebel forces with artillery and airplanes not piloted.

One thing seems clear among so many verbal recrimination. Russia will support until the end Damascus efforts to regain control of the Idleb province, the last rebel stronghold of Syria, controlled by an alliance of insurgent and jihadist forces, where millions of displaced people from other parts of Syria who during different phases of the war have fled from the advance of the pro-government forces.


escalation of police-government violence

The Haiti Carnival, a must-attend event for the people of Port-au-Prince as much as for the local economy, was canceled on Monday February 24. The festivities were to continue until Tuesday 25. But, due to a wave of violence and protests in the capital, President Jovenel Moïse was forced to shorten them to avoid “A bloodbath”.

→ REPORTAGE. Haiti, in pieces, declares the Christmas truce

Monday, February 24, Port-au-Prince was completely paralyzed by the police. They barricaded the main roads and the main shops in the city. The day before, exchanges of fire had broken out between the armed plainclothes police and the soldiers of the Haitian armed forces (FADH), killing one dead on each side and a dozen wounded.

Tensions linked to rising violence

The police, armed with Molotov cocktails and automatic rifles, stormed the FADH headquarters near the Champ-de-Mars in Port-au-Prince, the site of the carnival parade. Faced with this situation, the government issued a press release canceling the event and inviting citizens to wait for the next directives.

As of Sunday, February 23, during the opening of the carnival, stalls were set on fire on Place du Champ-de-Mars by plainclothes police. Several demonstrations on the sidelines of the carnival were also organized by the police, often accompanied by gunshots, symbols of their determination.

The PNH demands the creation of a police union, a revaluation of their profession and wages, as well as the resignation of the controversial president Jovenel Moïse. The average salary of a Haitian police officer at the start of his career is 180,000 gourdes, the equivalent of 180 €. Since January 2020, the PNH has also been faced with an upsurge in violence between the country’s armed gangs, which have continued to confront each other.

Discussions doomed to failure

In an attempt to ease tensions, the director general of the PNH, Rameau Normil, began on Friday, February 21, a tour of the police stations of the country to be able to raise the grievances.

In the process, the Haitian president brought together senior executives of the PNH as well as the members concerned in the government to find solutions to the demands of the protesters. At this meeting, he stressed the importance of “Relentlessly continue discussions in order to address the needs and demands of the police in a serious and urgent manner”.

Haiti: Port-au-Prince, ten years after the earthquake

Jovenel Moïse has committed to creating a dialogue committee within the PNH, as well as a special fund for insurance coverage planned in the next budget. He also announced the modification of the law of the PNH to grant a new statute to the police officers belonging to the specialized units. Its prime minister, Jean-Michel Lapin, said, however, that not all of these proposals would be implemented immediately.

In any event, the government’s statements did not convince the rebels, leading to the protests continuing. Since his election in 2017, Jovenel Moïse has been widely contested by the population. In 2019, the rise in gas prices and the 20% rise in inflation were the triggers for incessant protests. Haitians also denounce the widespread corruption of high levels of government. The clashes between members of the Haitian national police (PNH) and government forces follow, in fact, several months of protests and demands.