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Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

Where Humankind First Kicked The Bucket

Caves of the Ape-menNoor-Jehan Yoro Badat has written a “Cradle of Mankind Bucket List” – a list of top places to visit when you venture to the Cradle of Mankind, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Gauteng province of South Africa. The site contains one of the largest and oldest numbers of of hominid fossils dating as far back as 3.5 million years ago. Caves of the Ape-Men is a new title from Wits Press that focuses on the caves in the Sterkfontein and Swartkrans region, where the fossils of Australopithecus and Paranthropus were found. Read the bucket list:

1 Maropeng Visitor Centre is an impressive centre jam-packed with informative exhibitions about the journey of mankind. Housed in the Tumulus Building, likened to a giant burial mound, it showcases the evolution of life, fossils, formation of earth’s continent and stone tools. The creative and interactive displays will captivate both young and old.

Call 014 577 9000 or see the website, www.maropeng.co.za

2 Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve, which is just 40km from Johannesburg, offers game viewing of species such as white rhino, lion, hippo, wild dog, bengal tiger, blue crane as well as a live snake display. At the reserve’s animal creche, the public can touch and take photographs with a lion or tiger cub. For those wanting to stay longer, the reserve also offers accommodation.

Call 011 957 0349/0106 or see the website, www.rhinolion.co.za

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Digging Up Some Solid Life Lessons from Paleoanthropologist Phillip Tobias

chimpy

Tobias in ConversationRenowned South African paleoanthropologist Phillip Tobias is a leading authority on human evolution, best known for his pioneering work on South Africa’s hominid fossil sites – such as the Cradle of Humankind in Sterkfontein. He was also actively involved in campaigns against apartheid, having formed the first anti-apartheid movement at Wits University. He talks to Marion Scher about some of the life lessons he’s picked up along the way – on retirement the 85-year old says, “You must not retire unless you’ve got books to write, travels to travel, music to perform or listen to, sports to take part in or to watch”.

For more on Phillip Tobias, get hold of Tobias in Conversation: Genes, Fossils and Anthropology by Wits Press.

Being surrounded by young people who are researching, coming up with new ideas and sharing their work with me is an enormously rejuvenating experience.

Africa still has so much to teach us. Although the area around Sterkfontein has now been named the Cradle of Humankind and there is the Cradle of Mankind in northern Tanzania, in fact Africa is the cradle of mankind. The oldest hominids are from Ethiopia, Chad and Kenya by a few more million years than ours. But it still doesn’t prove where it all started, so we still have to seek out answers.

Book details

  • Tobias in Conversation: Genes, Fossils and Anthropology by Phillip Tobias, Goran Strkajl, edited by Jane Dugard
    EAN: 9781868144778
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

Image courtesy TerraeAntiqvae


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Bat Expert Fenton “Woody” Cotterill Talks About His Bats of Southern and Central Africa

sitBats of Central and Southern AfricaDr. Fenton “Woody” Cotterill, researcher at the University of Cape Town‘s Department of Geological Sciences and Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, is UCT’s resident batman – having spent his time moonlighting on the Bats of Southern and Central Africa: A Biogeographic and Taxonomic Synthesis with associate professor Ara Monadjem. Here’s an interview with the scientist:

“It is a synthesis of over a century of research, and the authors, some of the foremost scientists in the study of African bats, have done an exceptional job in making this information available to natural historians, bat enthusiasts, and scientists alike. The text reflects their intimate knowledge of these animals in the field and their detailed studies of specimens in museums around the world.”

Book details

  • Bats of Central and Southern Africa: A Biogeographic and Taxonomic Synthesis by Ara Monadjem, Peter John Taylor, FPD (Woody) Cotterill, Corrie Schoeman
    EAN: 9781868145089
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

Image courtesy UCT


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Photos from the Durban Launches of Nature’s Gift and Bats of Southern and Central Africa

Nature's GiftsBats of Central and Southern AfricaIn Nature’s Gift, Wilmot James draws on established biological science to tell some compelling stories about the genome, why we have different skin colours, how blood tells a special story of human history, why the brain likes music, how smell works, the nature of rock art, why kids love bugs and the teaching of evolution.

Including colour plates of bats, skull photographs, and spectrograms of bat echolocation calls, Bat of Central and Southern Africa features full-colour distribution maps, and accurate point maps (with modeled potential ranges overlaid) that illustrate the distribution of 102 species of bats throughout south-central Africa.

These titles were recently launched in Durban, below are images from the two events:

Nature's Gift LaunchBats Launch

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Book Launch (Cape Town, Durban): Bats of Central and Southern Africa: A Biogeographic and Taxonomic Synthesis

Invitation to the launch of Bats of Southern and Central Africa

Bats of Central and Southern Africa: A Biogeographic and Taxonomic SynthesisWits University Press and SANBI invite you to the Cape Town launch of a new landmark reference book, Bats of Southern and Central Africa: A Biogeographic and Taxonomic Synthesis.

Authors Ara Monadjem, Peter John Taylor, Woody Cotterill and Corrie Schoeman will be joined by guest speaker Professor Philip Hockey, director of the Percy FitzPatrick Institute for African Ornithology at UCT.

Event Details – Cape Town

~ ~ ~

We’re also pleased to invite you to the book’s Durban launch, held in conjunction with Adam’s Books:

Event Details – Durban

Book Details

  • Bats of Central and Southern Africa: A Biogeographic and Taxonomic Synthesis by Ara Monadjem, Peter John Taylor, Woody Cotterill and Corrie Schoeman
    EAN: 9781868145089
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

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Forthcoming: Bats of Central and Southern Africa: A Biogeographic and Taxonomic Synthesis

Bats of Central and Southern AfricaForthcoming from Wits University Press

Bats of Central and Southern Africa is a full colour book, co-published with the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), including chapters on the evolution, biogeography, ecology and echolocation of bats, and providing accounts for the 116 bat species known to occur in southern and central Africa. The identification of families, genera and species is aided by character matrices.

The species accounts provide descriptions, measurements, and diagnostic characters, as well as detailed information on the distribution, habitat, roosting habits, foraging ecology, and reproduction of each species. Photographs of the bats, including their skulls and dentition, and accurate time-expanded echolocation call spectrograms illustrate the accounts.

Species distribution maps are based on the recorded localities of 6000 museum specimens, most of which were checked by at least one of the co-authors. The maps show known localities, as well as the potential distribution range predicted by computer modelling. A comprehensive appendix lists the accession number, locality and co-ordinates of every specimen represented on the distribution maps. The book also includes a complete reference list, glossary and index.

Bats of Central and Southern Africa contains an extraordinary wealth of information… It is a synthesis of over a century of research in the southern portion of the continent. The authors, some of the foremost scientists in the study of African bats, have done an exceptional job in making this information available to natural historians, bat enthusiasts, and scientists alike. There is vitality and precision to the text that clearly reflects their intimate knowledge of these animals in the field and their detailed studies of specimens in museums around the world. — Steven M. Goodman, Field Museum of Natural History, USA

About the authors

Ara Monadjem is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Swaziland where he has been lecturing Zoology for the past 17 years; Peter Taylor is an Associate Professor in the Department of Ecology and Resource Management at the University of Venda. He is the Convener of the Durban Bat Interest Group and was Curator of Mammals at the Durban Natural Science Museum for more than 20 years; Woody Cotterill is the ERANDA Research Fellow at the Africa Earth Observatory Network(AEON) and Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Cape Town, and Corrie Schoeman is a Lecturer in the School of Biological and Conservation Sciences at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.

Book details

  • Bats of Central and Southern Africa: A Biogeographic and Taxonomic Synthesis by Ara Monadjem, Peter John Taylor, Woody Cotterill, and Corrie Schoeman
    EAN: 9781868145089
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

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More on the Launch of Caves of the Ape-men

Ron Clarke at the launch

Caves of the Ape-menRon Clarke made world history with his discovery of unique fossils at the Cradle of Humankind. His book, Caves of the Ape-men, co-authored by Tim Partrdige and Kathleen Kuman, was launched at the Circa Gallery last week. Herewith a second report on the event and the significance of the book:

Caves of the Ape-Men by Professor Ron Clarke, the late Professor Tim Partridge and Dr Kathleen Kuman (S.E. Publications, 2010) is a seminal work, and the first of its kind to explore in detail the palaeoanthropological and archaeological wealth of the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site. The book was launched on Saturday, June 26, at the Everard Read Art Gallery in Johannesburg.

The unique fossils featured in this book were excavated from caves clustered within the Cradle of Humankind. It is the first time so many of these fossils have been photographed and visually presented in book form.

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Image courtesy Maropeng


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Flow’s Janet Berger on Designing Caves of the Ape-men

Communications company Flow was responsible for designing the newly released Caves of the Ape-men, published by Wits University Press. Janet Butler describes the journey, including talks of Australopithecus over lunch:

There aren’t many communications companies where lunchtime chats are littered with references to Australopithecus, the artefacts of Mapungubwe and trance dances depicted in rock art. This is what happens, though, when you work with a number of key players in South Africa’s heritage industry.
 
Flow has been involved in creating and maintaining websites for a range of organisations integral to heritage in South Africa including , the Origins Centre, the South African Association of Professional Archaeologists, the South African Association of Professional Archaeologists, the PanAfrican Archaeological Association, the South African Archaeological Society (not yet live), the South African Rock Art Digital Archive (also not yet live), and, of course, Maropeng, the official visitor centre of the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site.

Book details

Image courtesy Flow


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Announcing Caves of the Ape-Men from Wits Press (Plus: Launch Details)

Caves of the Ape-Men - Launch Invite

Wits University Press, in association with S.E. Publishers, is pleased to announce the publication of Caves of the Ape-Men: South Africa’s Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site by Ronald J Clarke and Timothy C Partridge, with contributions by Kathleen Kuman.

Caves of the Ape-Men: South Africa's Cradle of Humankind World Heritage SiteThe unique fossils featured in Caves of the Ape-Men were excavated at cave-sites which today are clustered within the first World Heritage Site to be proclaimed in South Africa under the auspices of UNESCO. This is a hard back, full colour, coffee table book which includes excellent visuals of the area, a brief account of its history, and an accessible assessment of its importance for understanding the emergence of hominids – the early creatures transitional between the great apes and man – and, later, some of the earliest representatives of our own species. The publication is based on short text boxes interspersed with illustrations of key fossil specimens as old as four million years. Also included are reconstructions of how these hominids might have appeared and the dramatic landscapes within which they were discovered.

Please join us for the launch of Caves of the Ape-Men at the Everard Read gallery in Johannesburg. Guest speakers will be Professor Rob Blumenschine of the Centre for Human Evolutionary Sciences at Rutgers University and Professor Francis Thackeray, Director of the Institute for Human Evolution, at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Event Details

  • Date: Saturday, 26 June 2010
  • Time: 11:30 AM for 12:00 PM
  • Venue: Everard Read Gallery
    6 Jellicoe Avenue
    Rosebank, Johannesburg | Map
  • Guest Speakers: Rob Blumenschine, Francis Thackeray
  • RSVP: Tshepo Neito, Wits, tshepo.neito@wits.ac.za, 011 484 6728

More about the book

Three scientific books on different aspects of the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site have appeared recently. No informative, lavishly illustrated book has, however, been produced for purchase by the many international and local tourists who visit the area. As Sterkfontein is the richest single fossil hominid site in the world it deserves to be promoted as one of the foremost tourist attractions in Africa, along with half a dozen other local sites also immensely rich in fossil specimens. Together, these sites proclaim South Africa as one of the key areas which saw the emergence of human ancestors in the distant past.

The Cradle of Humankind clearly meets the criterion of an internationally acclaimed destination to which justice should be accorded in a volume, containing high quality visuals while at the same time informing the visitor and providing an accurate account, which will be treasured forever.

Book Details

  • Caves of the Ape-Men: South Africa’s Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site by Ronald J Clarke and Timothy C Partridge, with contributions by Kathleen Kuman
    Book Homepage
    EAN: 9781868145102
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

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Invaded Author Leonie Joubert is Environmental Journalist of the Year

Leonie Joubert

InvadedBoiling PointScorchedWits University Press congratulates Leonie Joubert, author, most recently, of Invaded, who has been named the SAB Environmental Journalist of the Year in the Print and Internet Category, an award that carries a R15 000 prize.

A passionate environmentalist, Joubert, also the author of Boiling Point and Scorched, publishes a regular column on environmental issues in the Mail & Guardian.

Honoured alongside her as SAB Environmental Journalist in the print & internet category was Leoni Joubert who has always been committed to drawing the nation’s attention to a whole range of environmental concerns. She has produced two excellent books this year including Boiling Point: People in a Changing Climate and Invaded: The Biological Invasion of South Africa while maintaining several columns in The Mail & Guardian and other outlets.

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