scientists

Scientists find a new species of hominid
Via io9
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We're probably not alone in the universe and we were definitely not alone on this planet.

Scientists have discovered the remains of 15 partial skeletons deep within a South African cave system. They belong to a species of hominid unlike anything ever found before.

They aren't neanderthals, they aren't homo sapiens, but they seem to come from one of our common ancestors. Scientists named the bones homo naledi.



io9 has a good write up on the findings.

While Lee Berger, the lead researcher behind the study, tells New Scientist that the species "doesn't look a lot like us," his team believes that features observed in the skull, hands and teeth of the skeletons make it part of the Homo genus.

They certainly have enough evidence from which to draw that kind of conclusion: the fossil find in the cave system was particularly rich. In fact, the team uncovered an amazing 1,400 bones and 140 teeth during a single field trip to the site. The team reckons the fossils could date back as far as 3 million years — though an accurate date is yet to be confirmed.

...The remains that have so far been studied suggest that Homo naledi was an unusual-looking creature. Its pelvis and shoulder are, apparently, reminiscent of apes that lived 4 million years ago, while its feet resemble Homo sapien remains from just 200,000 years ago. Meanwhile, its skull was much smaller, containing a brain less than half the size of modern humans. The team reckon the creature could have stood 5 feet tall and weighed almost 100 pounds.



What is the craziest part of this discovery is that these non-humans were intelligent enough to pull their dead into the sort of burial chamber, which hints at basic emotional understanding. They knew things!

Mashable put together this great video showcasing some of the researchers who discovered these mysterious hominid cousins:

Scientists will reanimate a 30,000 year old frozen virus found in Siberia.
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Defying all common sense, a group of French researchers who recently found a 30,000-year-old virus buried in the frozen Siberian tundra want to reanimate it.

Oh, and it's also a 'giant virus' as well.

Science Alert has at least a little bit more on the confusing story

Mollivirus sibericum, which translates to "soft virus from Siberia", is the fourth such 'giant virus' discovered this century. The same team of scientists discovered another of these, Pithovirus sibericum, last year, and Mollivirus sibericum was isolated from the same sample of permafrost.

These prehistoric viruses are called 'giant viruses' because they're visible by light microscopy, with lengths greater than half a micron - a thousandth of a millimetre. As bugs go, they're big.

If the idea that scientists are going to wake this thing up sounds a little disconcerting – and, to be honest, it's not altogether unlike the opening scenes of a plague disaster movie – don't worry. The researchers say they will only revive the virus if they can be certain it's not a threat to animals or humans.



Of course it sounds like the beginning of a movie like Outbreak, but the idea of reintroducing a 30,000-year-old thing back into society also sounds a lot like Encino Man.



The reanimating is meant to be held in the context of our warming Earth. Over time, those frozen Siberian tundras ain't going to be so frozen anymore and the Brendan Frasers of the virus world will reawaken without the help of Pauly Shore scientists.

So, that's terrifying.

But there's still little in the way of explanation as to why these researchers want to reanimate this ancient virus. Either they are just doing it to do it, or they are servants of Cthulhu and this is how they call him to come devour our world.



The whole thing reminds me of the massive plan to blow up the moon.