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2010 News Coverage

2010 Featured Science

When the Sea Saved Humanity Scientific American Cover Story and Interactive Website


"Everyone alive today is descended from a small population that lived in one region of Africa sometime during this global cooling phase,” IHO Associate Director Curtis Marean writes of discoveries at Pinnacle Point, South Africa in the cover story of the August issue of Scientific American.

The cover story is supported by web-based interactive images, video, and maps at http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=interactive-seas-saved-humanity.

Link to ASU News: Paleoanthropologist writes ‘untold story of our salvation’
Inside caves near Mossel Bay, South Africa, a team of explorers have been piecing together an account of survival, ingenuity and endurance—of the species known as Homo sapiens. Team leader Curtis Marean, a paleoanthropologist with the Institute of Human Origins at Arizona State University, writes of their discoveries at Pinnacle Point in the cover story of the August issue of Scientific American


The First Cut            
Nature Cover Story                                                           

IHO Associate Director Curtis Marean and former postdoctoral fellow Zeresenay Alemseged are part of the team of researchers whose discovery points to ancestor species Australopithecus afarensis (“Lucy’s” species) use of stone tools and meat consumption.

Link to ASU News: Discovery points to ancestor “Lucy” use of stone tools, meat consumption
Two Arizona State University researchers conducting zooarchaeological and archaeometric analyses of four fossilized animal bone fragments found by the Dikika Research Project in northeastern Ethiopia—within walking distance of the discovery of the hominin skeleton “Lucy” (Australopithecus afarensis)—confirm that unusual marks on the bones were inflicted by stone tools. Their conclusion weighs in on findings reported in the Aug. 12 journal Nature, that A. afarensis used sharp-edged stones and a strong striking force to cleave flesh and marrow from large-sized animal carcasses some 3.4 million years ago.

Editor's note: This article was chosen as one of ASU's highlights from 2010.

Link to NPR “Science Friday” podcast for 08.13.2010 with Zeresenay Alemseged: Study Suggests Earlier Meat-eating in Homonids
Link to New York Times story
Link to National Geographic story
Link to Wall Street Journal story

Web Conference for Nature announcement (Video)
The team at IHO organized a web conference for last week's announcement in Nature so that our board of directors and past IHO-sponsored travelers to South Africa, Galapagos, and Madagascar could hear about this exciting new research firsthand from ASU scientists and researchers, Curtis Marean and Hamdallah Bearat with an introduction by Director Bill Kimbel. This exclusive conversation is now available to watch online. (Video link no longer active.) (51:25 min)


ASU News (top)

ASU alumna named 2010 National Geographic Emerging Explorer
ASU alumna Christine Lee selected as one of National Geographic's 2010 Emerging Explorers for her bioarchaeological work investigating the mysteries of ancient China's diverse populations. Professor Don Johanson was Lee's dissertation committee co-chair. 
Link to ASU News: https://asunews.asu.edu/20100709_lee.
Link to National Geographic story: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/explorers/grants-programs/emerging-explorers/

Making Sense of New Discoveries in the Family Tree
04.08.2010 (reposted to ASU News 07.02.2010)
New fossil remains discovered in South Africa by Lee Berger of the Institute for Human Evolution at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg in April 2010 may be a transitional species between “Lucy,” the 3.2 million-year-old fossils discovered by ASU Professor Donald Johanson, and our own evolutionary branch of the human family tree. Top national news outlets contacted ASU paleoanthropologist Bill Kimbel and Johanson prior to the announcement of the new discovery in the journal Science for expert analysis and evolutionary context. As founding director and current director of the ASU Institute of Human Origins, Johanson and Kimbel, respectively, are top, sought-after experts in the world in this field and among the first to be consulted on any new discovery.

The following are the major news outlets' stories that quote or use Johanson/Kimbel as experts.
(Some links may expire for users who are not subscribers to the news outlets.)

60 Minutes (Johanson) Link to online video of 10-minute segment
MSNBC.com (Johanson) Link here
New York Times (Kimbel) Link here
Wall Street Journal (Kimbel) Link here
Inside Science News Service (Kimbel) Link here
Los Angeles Times (Kimbel) Link here
National Geographic News (Kimbel) Link here
Scientific American (Kimbel) Web article link here; magazine coverage article link here
Time Magazine (Kimbel) Link here
Wired magazine (Kimbel) Link here

Ten outstanding professors receive 2010 Faculty Achievement Awards
Professor Gary Schwartz selected as 2010 Faculty Achievement Award for Defining Edge Research/Creative Activities: Social Science
Link to ASU News article: https://asunews.asu.edu/20100511_facultyawards

ASU Institute of Human Origins and "Lucy" are now on Facebook and Twitter!
Keep track of events, lectures, breaking news in anthropology, and find out where in the world our faculty are traveling!
"Like" us on Facebook or "Follow" us on Twitter.

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lucy-and-ASU-Institute-of-Human-Origins/146317035387367

Blog: Notes from the Field

IHO Notes from the Field: Samantha Russak
Joining Simen Oestmo writing for the IHO: Notes from the Field blog is a new series written by doctoral student Samanth Russak, who will be posting once a month over the course of the next year about her field research in Tanzania. Samantha will be living in the bush hours away from the closest village studying chimpanzees and other animals. Start reading about Samantha's adventures at http://bit.ly/dgPo3d

IHO Notes from the Field: Simen Oestmo
The blog has a new writer—six-time traveler to South Africa—IHO graduate student Simen Oestmo, who will be writing about the current field research and excavations in Mossel Bay, South Africa. To read his first entry, go to http://bit.ly/bhi4yT

IHO Notes from the Field: Amy Shapiro
The blog now has a new writer—IHO doctoral student Amy Shapiro, who will be writing about the current field school in Langebaanweg, South Africa. To read her first entry, go to http://asuiho.wordpress.com/2010/07/21/amy-shapiro-langebaanweg-week-1/

New IHO blog—Notes from the Field—by Ben Schoville on-site at Mossel Bay
This new blog features images and notes from a doctoral student working on excavations in the caves at Mossel Bay during the summer of 2010. http://asuiho.wordpress.com


Noted + Quoted (top)

Fossil Find New Branch in Human Family Tree?
CBS 60 Minutes
Johanson quoted and interviewed on A. sediba discovery

Baby steps: Learning to walk, the hominid way
NPR.org (audio included)
07.12 2010
IHO Board Member Ian Tattersall tells NPR.org that "it makes sense that arboreal primates may have been ‘primed,’ for upright walking on the ground. I don't think you come down to the ground and decide it would be a really good idea to stand upright and move around," he says. "I think the only reason you would do it is because this is what came naturally to you in the first place."

New link in human evolution found in Ethiopia
San Francisco Chronicle sfgate.com 
Don Johanson quoted: But to everyone else interested in the discovery of new fossil evidence for the ancestry of the human lineage, he'll be known as “Lucy's great-grandfather.”. . . Donald Johanson, Lucy's discoverer and founding director of the Institute for Human Origins at Arizona State University in Tempe, called the “grandfather” report intriguing and, recalling the many recent discoveries of Lucy’s fossil relatives, said: “This is really a remarkable time in the history of paleoanthropology.” Johanson noted that although Lucy was tiny—about 3 1/2 feet tall—Kadanuumuu was much larger—about 5 or 5 1/2 feet tall. The size difference between Lucy, who lived 3.2 million years ago, and her “great-grandfather,” is known as sexual dimorphism and is true for humans today, although the wide divergence in size of the two fossils is typical of those early creatures that still bore more traces of their descent from the ape lineage, Johanson said.

Lucy's “great grandfather” found
Don Johanson quoted: That doesn't mean Australopithecus afarensis is out of the spotlight when it comes to studying human origins. Johanson said Lucy and her kin provide an "important reference for assessing other hominid species," in large part because so many specimens have been found over such a wide span of evolutionary time. Going forward, paleoanthropologists may well turn to Lucy, Kadanuumuu and other members of the species to unravel the deeper secrets of ancient human development.

Forest or savanna? U. geologists spar over ancestral human's home
Salt Lake Tribune
Johanson quoted: An upright-walking primate could have done well on this expanding grasslands, spending a lot less energy covering the long distances necessary to find food and shelter in the absence of trees. But Johanson is convinced hominids evolved an upright posture while still inhabiting a partial arboreal setting. "It would have been much too dangerous for hominids to stand up in [savanna] with carnivores everywhere and announce they are on the menu," Johanson said.

Humans: Why They Triumphed
The Wall Street Journal
Curtis Marean cited: Recently at Pinnacle Point in South Africa, Curtis Marean of Arizona State University found evidence of seafood-eating people who made sophisticated "bladelet" stone tools, with small blades less than 10 millimeters wide, and who used ochre pigments to decorate themselves (implying symbolic behavior) as long as 164,000 years ago. They disappeared, but a similar complex culture reemerged around 80,000 years ago at Blombos cave nearby.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History opens the David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins
Smithsonian Institution website
Smithsonian exhibition named for donor and IHO Board Member David H. Koch


Interactive Media (top)

When the Sea Saved Humanity
Scientific American: Interactive website with video, images, and audio

The Big Think.com
Don Johanson interview (3:47 min)
Question: At what point in the evolutionary timeline did humans develop creativity?
Link to website video: http://bigthink.com/videos/the-first-art-was-body-art

CBS News 60 Minutes
Don Johanson: Quoted on Australopithecus sediba discovery 
Full video (link offline)
Individual segment featuring Johanson and Richard Leakey "The Controversy Begins" video at CNET.com (1:43 min)