Archive for africa

Human evolution ON FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRE!

Posted in Evolution with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 9, 2010 by airtightnoodle

The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire!

Ok, maybe not the roof, but the Turkana Basin in Kenya is certainly pretty toasty, and has evidently been that way for quite some time. 

Turkana Basin, you say?  Huh?  Where is that?  Why, northeastern Kenya, of course!  These maps help illustrate its location:

Kenya Basins

Map of Kenya

Map of Kenya

 So now you know where it is.  Why is this important, is probably your next question.

Earth scientist Benjamin Passey, as part of a team from the California Institute of Technology, developed a way to measure ancient temperatures and climates by examining isotopes found in carbonates in the soil.  Upon examination of the Turkana Basin soil isotopes, scientists concluded that it was very hot in northeastern Kenya “back in the day”. 

This provides some interesting chex mix to munch on for evolutionists.  The Turkana Basin is home to some of the fossils that have been discovered which document human evolution.  The hot temperatures of the area may help explain why human ancestors lost the fur that mammals are known for. 

More reading:

Some Like It Hot

East African Human Ancestors Lived in Hot Environments

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Isolation–not just geographical!

Posted in Evolution with tags , , , , , , , , on October 7, 2008 by airtightnoodle

Researchers working in Africa have reported strong evidence for speciation among cichlid fish in Lake Victoria, based not on geographical isolation, but on how they perceive color.  Interesting!

African Cichlid

African Cichlid

In two related species the females choose mates based on their coloration. In one, found in deeper parts of the lake, the males have red features. In the other, found in shallower waters, the males are blue. What’s more, in some parts of the lake the two aren’t really separate species, but rather are intermixed.

You can read more about it in Nature or in the New York Times.