Scientists say they have finally calculated the age of the youngest known remains of Homo erectus, which is generally considered an ancestor of our species.
The fossilized skull fragments and other bones were uncovered on the Indonesian island of Java in the 1930s. Determining their age has been a scientific challenge, and a wide range has been proposed by numerous studies.
In a report released Wednesday by the journal Nature, scientists conclude the remains are between 108,000 and 117,000 years old. Researchers used five dating techniques on sediments and fossil animal bones from the area, combining 52 age estimates for the analysis. The project took 13 years to complete.
“I don’t see any way to date this site more thoroughly,” said paleoanthropologist Russell Ciochon of the University of Iowa, an author of the study. He was part of an international team that also included other researchers from the U.S., along with Indonesia, Australia, the UK, Denmark and Canada.
H. erectus arose in Africa about 2 million years ago and spread widely there and in Asia, and possibly into Europe. It reached Java more than 1.5 million years ago, and the new dates suggest it died out at least 35,000 years before the arrival there of our own species, Homo sapiens.
“Uncertainty of the age of the Ngandong Homo erectus beds has prevented us from accurately assessing the relationship of these early humans to other human species,” noted John-Paul Zonneveld, a sedimentology and paleontology researcher at the University of Alberta who co-authored the study, in a statement.
Longest existence of a Homo species
H. erectus may have been doomed on Java by climate change that turned its open woodland environment into rain forest, Ciochon said. Still, it evidently existed longer on Earth than any other species on our “Homo” branch of the evolutionary tree.
Susan Anton, a New York University anthropologist who did not participate in the work, called the dating effort “heroic.” But she said she considered the reported age range to be too narrow. She said she preferred a span of less than 550,000 years old to more than 100,000 years old.
That’s roughly what she and co-authors proposed in a paper published in 2011. The younger end of the range in that paper was as recent as 120,000 years, which she said is virtually the same as the new result.
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Pool closures a bitter pill for people with disabilities – CBC.ca
Mary Jane Clinkard suffers from a neuromuscular disability that requires her to exercise to maintain her strength, but with municipal pools under lockdown since Boxing Day, she hasn’t been able to do that.
Now her muscles feel weak, stiff and painful, and her independence is in jeopardy. The 50-year-old fears she’ll need a personal support worker to get in and out of her wheelchair if she can’t get back into the water soon.
Clinkard, who has hypotonia, told CBC’s Ottawa Morning it’s especially disheartening when she hears others talking about the activities they’re able to do during the lockdown.
“I get really, really frustrated when I hear, ‘We all go skating or go skiing,’ and I’m like, ‘Well, I can’t do either of those,'” Clinkard said.
Once the pools reopened in July, it took Clinkard months of swimming three times a week to get back into shape. Then Ontario entered another lockdown.
The Sandy Hill woman would like to see swimming pools deemed essential, and said she’s not the only one who depends on them for her health.
“There are other people who cannot walk, who cannot ski, cannot skate,” she said.
According to Dan Chenier, the city’s general manager of recreation, cultural and facility services, the provincial restrictions currently in place don’t allow exemptions for people wishing to use indoor municipal facilities for physical therapy or rehabilitation.
“Provincial authorities have been made aware of the request for an exemption for […] these services and the City will be monitoring the revised regulations for any changes,” Chenier said in an emailed statement.
When am I going to be back in the water? When am I going to be able to swim again?– Mary Jane Clinkard
According to the office of Sylvia Jones, Ontario’s solicitor general, the second wave of COVID-19 poses a serious threat to the province’s most vulnerable.
“The single most important thing Ontarians can do right now to protect our most vulnerable is to stay at home,” wrote Stephen Warner, Jones’s press secretary and issues manager. “As we continue our vaccine rollout, this is our best defense against this virus.”
According to Warner, municipalities don’t have the power to ease restrictions put in place under the province’s lockdown.
Restrictions ‘frustrating and difficult’
Under the stay-at-home order, only “exercising, including walking or moving around outdoors using an assistive mobility device, or using an outdoor recreational amenity” are allowed.
Coun. Matt Luloff, who represents Orléans and sits on the city’s community and protective services committee, called that lack of flexibility “frustrating and difficult.”
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On Monday, Luloff told Ottawa Morning if exemptions can be made for NHL players, then people who rely on certain facilities for their health and well-being should be granted similar leeway.
“We can say to one group of people that it’s fine to … bubble and to provide entertainment for us,” he told Ottawa Morning on Monday. “But when there’s a real need, a real physical [or] mental health need, that’s just not as important as getting to see the Sens play.”
“Maybe if the city doesn’t feel comfortable opening people pools for everybody, they can open one pool for people who really need it,” Clinkard suggested. “When am I going to be back in the water? When am I going to be able to swim again?”
Report says Ontario planning to open hospital dedicated to COVID-19 patients – Newstalk 610 CKTB (iHeartRadio)
Ontario is preparing to open its first hospital dedicated to treating COVID-19 patients.
The Globe and Mail is reporting that Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital will open next month as COVID-19 infections continue to surge in the province.
This hospital was scheduled to open as part of the Mackenzie Health Network and would be the first brand new hospital in the province in three decades.
With hospitals stretched to the limit, the province reportedly asked Mackenzie health about using the site for COVID-19 patients.
An unnamed official tells the Globe the hospital will initially be staffed by existing Mackenzie workers, with a plan to hire more as capacity increases.
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