Angelina Jolie has found her next movie to direct. The actress and now busy helmer has signed on to for Africa, an epic tale for David Ellison’s Skydance Productions. Written by Oscar winner Eric Roth, the pic is based on paleo-archaeologist Richard Leakey’s late-’80s battle with ivory poachers in Kenya that threatened the existence of the African elephant population and the soul of Africa.

Evolution Skeptics Will Soon be Silenced by Science: Richard Leakey

Richard Leakey predicts skepticism over evolution will soon be history.

Not that the avowed atheist has any doubts himself.

Sometime in the next 15 to 30 years, scientific discoveries will have accelerated to the point that “even the skeptics can accept it,” the Kenyan-born paleoanthropologist said.

"If you get to the stage where you can persuade people on the evidence, that it’s solid, that we are all African, that color is superficial, that stages of development of culture are all interactive, then I think we have a chance of a world that will respond better to global challenges."

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Oldest Human Fossils Identified

Human fossils found 40 years ago in Africa are 65,000 years older than previously thought, a new study says—pushing the dawn of “modern” humans back 35,000 years.

New dating techniques indicate that the fossils are 195,000 years old. The two skulls and some bones were first uncovered on opposite sides of Ethiopia’s Omo River in 1967 by a team led by Richard Leakey. The fossils, dubbed Omo I and Omo II, were dated at the time as being about 130,000 years old. But even then the researchers themselves questioned the accuracy of the dating technique.

The new findings, published in the February 17 issue of the journal Nature, establish Omo I and II as the oldest known fossils of modern humans. The prior record holders were fossils from Herto, Ethiopia, which dated the emergence of modern humans in Africa to about 160,000 years ago.

"The new dating confirms the place of the Omo fossils as landmark finds in unraveling our origins," said Chris Stringer, director of the Human Origins Group at the Natural History Museum in London.

The 195,000-year-old date coincides with findings from genetic studies on modern human populations. Such studies can be used to determine when the earliest modern humans lived.

The findings also add credibility to the widely accepted “Out of Africa” theory of human origins which holds that modern humans (later versions of Homo sapiens) first appeared in Africa and then spread out to colonize the rest of the world.

(Source: National Geographic News)

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Richard Leakey is a famous and influential paleoanthropologist and conservationist. He is the son of equally famous archaeologists Louis and Mary Leakey. A member of Leakey’s team discovered the homo erectus (or sometimes identified as homo ergaster) skeleton KNM-WT 15000, or more commonly known as Turkana Boy. He speaks regularly at University lectures and anthropological conferences. 

In other words, if you are considering a career in anthropology or if you enjoy studying it as a hobby Richard Leakey is basically Jesus.

Dedicated to anon who did not know of the Leakeys.

"Homo sapiens has become the most dominant species on earth.  Unfortunately, our impact is devastating, and if we continue to destroy the environment as we do today, half the worlds species will become extinct early in the next century. "-Richard Leakey and Roger Lewin 

That (Richard) Leakey is back on the anti­poaching campaign trail is good news for African conservationists. When he last rode to the rescue 25 years ago, appointed by the then Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi to be the head of a bankrupt, corrupt and incompetent Wildlife and Conservation Department, Leakey stopped a tidal wave of poaching.

He turned the department, which was renamed the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), into a paramilitary organisation that had presidential permission to shoot poachers on sight

One conservationist said, “If Richard Leakey hadn’t been around then we’d have probably lost our wildlife by now.”

Now the wildlife of Kenya, indeed of the entire African continent, is in crisis again. It is threatened by a combination of growing demand for ivory and rhino horn in the Far East, increased activity from Al­-Shabaab terrorists and Somali criminal gangs, and endemic corruption in the wildlife services. The soaring value of wildlife products has driven this latest poaching pandemic – in the Far East a single elephant’s tusks that weighs 10kg will fetch more than $30,000, while rhino horn is selling at $65,000 a kilogram, more than twice the price of gold.

In August, it was announced that a tipping point had been reached: more African elephants are being killed each year than are being born.

Their end is in sight. Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that between 2010 and 2013, Africa lost an average of 7% of its elephant population each year; at this rate, the animals could be wiped out in 100 years.

According to the KWS, last year Kenya lost 59 rhinos, a significant number because the entire population numbers only around 1,000.

Also, according to KWS, 300 elephants were poached last year, a figure that draws snorts of derision from Leakey. “They’re lying,” he says. “We think it is ten times that number.”

There are now more than 30,000 African elephants a year being poached for their ivory, according to conservation groups, and in South Africa, which has more than 85% of the continent’s remaining rhino, they are losing a rhino every 8 hours to poachers. Lion populations are also threatened, with five lions a day being killed illegally. At this rate these signature species will no longer exist in the wild within a generation or two.

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“My Elephants, My Heritage”

Perhaps most importantly, Leakey and Kahumbu have, through the use of social media, engaged their fellow Kenyans in citizen conservation. Kahumbu says there is now an unprecedented groundswell of “citizen concern”, a significant shift in public engagement. The slogan “My elephants, my heritage” is constantly re­tweeted because “elephants are part of our heritage,” she says.

Kahumbu adds that while white conservationists have sometimes dominated the African wildlife theatre and propagated the view that black Africans are uninterested in their wild animals, “Our social media traffic completely undermines that stereotyping.”

Leakey cites recent evidence of corruption within the KWS – six senior deputy directors were recently suspended and more than 30 KWS rangers have also been suspended – as reason to radically reform the organisation at the heart of Kenyan anti­-poaching operations. He has also made a formal request to President Uhuru Kenyatta to declare a state of national emergency on wildlife poaching. At the time of writing the president has not responded.

About Richard Leakey and the elephants click herehere and here.

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Turkana Landrovers

Turkana is a beautiful yet unforgiving place. The terrain will take your breath away, as well as your car’s shocks, springs and about any moving part.

In the 1960s and 70s, teams the National Museums of Kenya were sent to explore the eastern shores of Lake Turkana in the best 4 X 4 X far. They excavated fossils in areas where no car had been to before and while at it, carved out roads that are used to this day. These are the machines that made sure the teams led by Dr Richard Leakey shared their discoveries with the world, making Sibiloi the Cradle of Mankind. These Landrover Defenders now remain abandoned at the Koobi Fora Museum in Turkana. 

Original post by clicking with a purpose

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