This mandible is the oldest human fossil uncovered from scientific excavations in Morocco. The discovery will help better define northern Africa's possible role in first populating southern Europe.
A Homo erectus half-jaw had already been found at the Thomas I quarry in 1969, but it was a chance discovery and therefore with no archeological context. This is not the case for the fossil discovered May 15, 2008, whose characteristics are very similar to those of the half-jaw found in 1969. The morphology of these remains is different from the three mandibles found at the Tighenif site in Algeria that were used, in 1963, to define the North African variety of Homo erectus, known as Homo mauritanicus, dated to 700,000 B.C.
The mandible from the Thomas I quarry was found in a layer below one where the team has previously found four human teeth (three premolars and one incisor) from Homo erectus, one of which was dated to 500,000 B.C. The human remains were grouped with carved stone tools characteristic of the Acheulian civilization and numerous animal remains (baboons, gazelles, equines, bears, rhinoceroses, and elephants), as well as large numbers of small mammals, which point to a slightly older time frame. Several dating methods are being used to refine the chronology.
The Thomas I quarry in Casablanca confirms its role as one of the most important prehistoric sites for understanding the early population of northwest Africa. The excavations that CNRS and the Institut National des Sciences de l'Archéologie et du Patrimoine du Maroc have led there since 1988 are part of a French-Moroccan collaboration. They have been jointly financed by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Human Evolution at the Max Plank Institute in Leipzig (Germany), INSAP (Morocco) and the Aquitaine region. De la Préhistoire à l'Actuel : Culture, Environnement et Anthropologie (From Prehistory to Present day: Culture, Environment, and Anthropology)
 (Mission archéologique « littoral » Maroc, led by J.P. Raynal). (INSAP-Rabat) which falls under the authority of the Moroccan Ministry of Cultural Affairs.
Julien Guillaume | alfa
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The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet
22.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
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Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
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Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
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