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Human ancestor homo erectus may have survived until 108,000 years ago – CBC.ca

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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.

This 2010 photo provided by Russell L. Ciochon shows excavations for Homo erectus fossils at Ngandong, Java, Indonesia. Ciochon’s new study found the remains are between 108,000 and 117,000 years old. (Russell L. Ciochon/University of Iowa via Associated Press)

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.

This 2010 photo provided by Russell L. Ciochon shows an exposed bone bed of Homo erectus fossils at Ngandong, Java, Indonesia. They are the youngest known remains of the species. (Russell L. Ciochon/University of Iowa via Associated Press)

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Northern municipalities put support behind satellite internet service – ElliotLakeToday.com

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The Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) has cast its attention skyward in joining other Northern Ontario stakeholders calling for better access to high-speed internet.

At its recent board meeting, the municipal advocacy group passed a resolution indicating its support for Starlink, a satellite internet service being developed by SpaceX, the company founded by U.S.-based innovator Elon Musk.

“We know today our citizens require greater connectivity than 50/10 megabits per second,” said FONOM president Danny Whalen in a Sept. 16 news release.

“FONOM believes that the Starlink program is our best option.”

According to a report released by Blue Sky Net earlier this year, the average download speed of participants in a study of northern internet users was just below 9 megabits per second (Mbps) and the average upload speed was just above 5 Mbps.

But for the average user that relies on fast internet speeds for business, education and more, download speeds of 50 Mbps and upload speeds of 10 Mbps are required as the bare minimum to participate in those activities.

In 2018, the federal government’s Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) set a new target to have 90 per cent of Canadian households with services that deliver download speeds of 50 Mbps and upload speeds of 10 Mbps by 2021. But that goal is still far from being achieved.

Starlink is aiming to deliver high-speed broadband internet, via satellite, to locations where access has been unreliable, expensive, or completely unavailable.

It’s targetting the northern U.S. and Canada for its initial release in 2020, and has plans to reach “near global coverage” in 2021.

The FONOM resolution calls on the CRTC to provide Starlink with a basic international telecommunications licence, which would allow the company to conduct international telecommunications activities.

FONOM said it would also seek support from its partners for the Starlink program.

FONOM, which represents 100 communities in northeastern Ontario, works to better municipal government in Northern Ontario and improve legislation respecting local government in the North.

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Venus is a Russian planet — say the Russians – CTV News

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No longer confined to territories here on Earth, Russia has now staked its claim on Venus, saying it is a “Russian planet.”

This week, Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Russian space corporation Roscosmos, revealed that the country plans to send its own mission to Venus in addition to “Venera-D,” the planned joint mission with the US, the Russian state news agency TASS reported.

Rogozin was addressing reporters at the HeliRussia 2020 exhibition, an international expo of the helicopter industry in Moscow.

“Resuming Venus exploration is on our agenda,” he told reporters Tuesday.

“We think that Venus is a Russian planet, so we shouldn’t lag behind,” he said.

“Projects of Venus missions are included in the united government program of Russia’s space exploration for 2021-2030.”

The statement came the day after scientists revealed that a gas on Earth called phosphine had also been detected in the atmosphere of Venus.

Venus is similar in size to Earth and is our closest planetary neighbour, but it spins backward compared to other planets.

The study authored by Cardiff University professor Jane Greaves and her colleagues was published Monday in the journal Nature Astronomy.

The discovery of phosphine on Venus elevates it to an area of interest worth exploring in our solar system alongside the ranks of Mars and “water world” moons like Enceladus and Europa, Seager said.

“Our hoped-for impact in the planetary science community is to stimulate more research on Venus itself, research on the possibilities of life in Venus’ atmosphere, and even space missions focused to find signs of life or even life itself in the Venusian atmosphere,” Seager said.

According to the European Space Agency, the Russians do have significant experience when it comes to Venus.

Its website states: “Between 1967-1984 Venusian studies carried out in Russia were at the forefront of international research into this planet.

“Since then, Russia has still preserved its unique expertise in designing and developing landing craft for Venus and continues to define scientific tasks for those craft.”

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COVID-19 messages may need to have greater impact – The Sudbury Star

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As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, there’s a growing risk people may be tuning out information they need to know, says Dr. David Colby.

This undated transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2, also known as novel coronavirus, the virus that causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S. Virus particles are shown emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. The spikes on the outer edge of the virus particles give coronaviruses their name, crown-like.

Photo supplied

As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, there’s a growing risk people may be tuning out information they need to know, says Dr. David Colby.

“Higher-impact” messages may be necessary, said Chatham-Kent’s medical officer of health.

“There is such a thing as message fatigue as well,” Colby said. “Personally, I think it’s not a question of increasing the amount of education we’re doing but rather changing it up into a different style so that it refocuses peoples’ attention on the issues at hand.”

If people keep seeing the same message, eventually they no longer notice it, he said.

“Improvements can always be made,” Colby said. “We never want to get to the point where we basically sit back and say, ‘We’ve done it all. Let’s wait and see what happens.’

“We’re always searching to have a greater impact on people’s behaviour to the benefit of their health.”

The 401 new cases reported Friday in Ontario were the province’s highest single-day total since June 7 had 415 cases.

The numbers are better in Chatham-Kent, which reported no new cases for the sixth consecutive day Friday. The municipality’s cumulative total is 366 cases.

One more recovery raised Chatham-Kent’s total to 362. No one is hospitalized.

Active cases are down to two. Both stem from close contact with other cases.

There have been 25,756 individuals tested in Chatham-Kent.

“As the provincial numbers of new cases are increasing substantially, resulting in all this concern … we are not seeing that yet here,” Colby said, “but we will always be vigilant to deal with whatever comes our way, both in a reactive but especially a proactive way.”

The numbers were reversed in late July and early August. New cases were spiking in Chatham-Kent but sinking overall in the province.

“As our cases were going up, the provincial cases were going down sharply,” Colby said. “At a time when the (daily) number of new cases in the province was less than a hundred, that’s when we were dealing with our huge surge. We dealt with that. We are at a very, very low level now.”

Sarnia-Lambton has one active case, Middlesex-London has 53 active after 13 new cases were confirmed Friday, and Windsor-Essex County has 89 active cases.

Colby sympathizes with people suffering from pandemic fatigue.

“It’s difficult because people are tired of this, and none more than those on the front line that are dealing with it in public health,” he said. “It is very difficult.”

Anyone who says there’s no pandemic shouldn’t look to him for support.

“I have no idea how to deal with people that deny there’s a pandemic,” he said. “It’s sort of, to me, like people that deny that there are trees and rocks.”

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