Ancient DNA Changes Everything We Know About The Evolution of Elephants

A study by Meyer et al reconfigures the elephant family tree, placing the straight-tusked elephant (Palaeoloxodon antiquus) closer to the African forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis), than to the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus), which was once thought to be its closest living relative. Image credit: Asier Larramendi Eskorza / Julie McMahon.

A study by Meyer et al reconfigures the elephant family tree, placing the straight-tusked elephant (Palaeoloxodon antiquus) closer to the African forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis), than to the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus), which was once thought to be its closest living relative. Image credit: Asier Larramendi Eskorza / Julie McMahon.

Ancient DNA Changes Everything We Know About The Evolution of Elephants

By Julien Benoit, Postdoc in Vertebrate Palaeontology, University of the Witwatersrand. First published on The Conversation Africa.

For a long time, zoologists assumed that there were only two species of elephant: one Asian and one African. Then genetic analyses suggested that the African Elephant could be divided into two distinct species, the African Forest and African Savannah elephants.

Now a new elephant has been added to the mix. The palaeoloxodon antiquus has been extinct for 120 000 years. This elephant roamed Europe and western Asia during the last ice age, about 400 000 years ago. A study of its DNA shows that this supposedly European animal is actually the African forest elephants’ closest relative. Another study by the same team found that at a genetic level, it may even have more in common with the modern African forest elephant than the African savannah elephant.

This study changes everything we thought we knew about the evolutionary history and ancestry of modern elephants and their closest relatives. It also shows that the African elephant’s lineage was not confined to Africa; the animals actually went out of the continent, which we didn’t know before. It roamed Europe and – through a lot of interbreeding – left its genetic mark far from its original stomping grounds.

The new find, based on DNA from fossils found in Germany, may also shed light on a DNA discrepancy that has puzzled scientists for some time.

Nancy Pelosi's Max Mara 'Fire Coat' Worn To Obama's Second Inauguration Will Be Reissued

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Nancy Pelosi's Max Mara 'Fire Coat' Worn To Obama's Second Inauguration Will Be Reissued

Nancy Pelosi's 2013 Max Mara ‘Fire Coat’ is about to make a comeback!! ‘Beale’ Street Director Barry Jenkins must be orgasmic.

On Wednesday evening, Max Mara announced that the jacket setting Twitter blazing was its "Fire Coat," which the Italian fashion house last sold in 2013. However, because the coat is drawing so much attention, the Italian fashion brand confirms that it will reissue it in 2019 in a range of colors, including Pelosi's red/rust shade.

Now all we need is 'Beale Street' director Barry Jenkins -- who really was the catalyst behind the red coat blast -- and Pelosi in a DC ad shot, and fashion has made history.

In a statement, Max Mara Creative Director Ian Griffiths said:

The FIRE COAT is a boule shaped coat with a funnel collar — which is very feminine — but it has a shoulder and sleeve that are cut quite sharply. So whilst the body is soft, the shoulders give it structure. That contrast between masculine and feminine gives it modernity. This coat was designed over 6 years ago; a good coat is a life companion so it should be designed not to date. Ms Pelosi wore this coat to the Presidential Inauguration in 2013, and again for her historic meeting at the White House in 2018, so it clearly means something to her. You develop an emotional relationship with a coat like nothing else in your wardrobe and Max Mara coats are much more than just clothes. They represent lasting values, they project personal strength and glamour. I can imagine why Ms Pelosi chose to wear the FIRE COAT for this important moment and I'm honoured.

Elephant Conservation Update From Botswana Includes Pending Prince Harry Transfer Of Elephants To Zambia

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Elephant Conservation Update From Botswana Includes Pending Prince Harry Transfer Of Elephants To Zambia

PORTER escapes to Belmond Savute Elephant Lodge, an adventurous tented hideaway in Botswana’s Savute Channel, part of Chobe National Park and boasting the highest concentration of elephants in Africa.

Belmond Savute prides itself on a “happy marriage of style and substance; for the eco-conscious traveler”, offering “the tents’ sustainable design features (that) include the removal of all concrete, the use of eco-friendly composite bamboo decking in the principal areas, and a 95% solar-grid system for power.” 

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Elephant Deaths in Botswana

Since September 2018, controversy has swirled in Botswana around the story that 87 elephants were reported to be “killed by poachers’ in Botswana. The high-impact story originated with “Elephants Without Borders,” an NGO in the USA and Botswana surveying the elephant population.

Under the new government of Mokgweetsi Masisi, Botswana’s parliament is exploring its ban on trophy hunting, citing the large size of Botswana’s elephant population and the growing issue of human-elephant conflic (HEC) in the country.

Politicians have quoted the Botswana elephant population to be as large as 237,000. However the African Elephant Status Report (AESR) estimates Botswana’s elephant population to be 131,626 individuals migrating across an area of 228,073 square kilometres. The vast majority of these elephants occur in the northern region that includes Chobe, Moremi, and the Okavango Delta.

Kaywin Feldman Becomes Director Of National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC

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The National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, has named Kaywin Feldman as its new director, replacing Earl “Rusty” Powell III, who has led the National Gallery since 1992 Feldman will be the fifth director—and the first ever female director—at the 77-year-old American institution with annual visitors of more than 5.2 million visitors . Feldman, who has been director of the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) since 2008, will take up the new position in March 2019.

artnet News writes: “Under her leadership, attendance at Mia has nearly doubled, from around 450,000 in 2009 to more than 700,000 in 2018 to date. She has also expanded the museum’s digital presence—something the NGA has been conspicuously slow to invest in—and championed equity and social justice in the museum’s program. Earlier this year, the museum announced the launch of its Center for Empathy and the Visual Arts, a think tank dedicated to exploring how museums can build a more just society.

She is also not afraid of experimentation. Last year, for example, the Mia unveiled an unorthodox overhaul of six of its 17 period rooms designed to highlight the power structures behind them. (The fact that one of the room’s previous inhabitants was a slave owner was made explicit, as were his ties to the local Native American community.)

As Feldman moves to lead a DC organization mired in partisan politics, her principled, diplomacy skills will be tested fully by Congress and line staff.

New NY State Atty Gen Letitia James Prepares To Launch Massive Trump Business Investigation

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo campaigning with then candidate for NY State Atty General Letitia James.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo campaigning with then candidate for NY State Atty General Letitia James.

Besides Nancy Pelosi, another bad-ass lady boss has entered Trump's sweet dreams.

Newly-elected New York Attorney General Letitia James, has reached out to former US Atty General Loretta Lynch to be part of her transition team, with an eye on bringing in experts for its Trump-related investigations, writes NBC News.

Writing Hillary Women News on FB for 3 yrs. I know well the mountain of dead bodies in Trump's namesake business. And the NY Feds have watched the Trump family since the mid-80s, preferring to monitor his ties to the Russian mob and money-laundering -- leading to numerous arrests -- and not going after Trump himself. Trump was the honey bait, if you will.

When Trump supporters start screaming that this is all Trump hate, it's important to understand that Trump's brazen actions now threaten democracy in America, and so both the feds and state legal entities are moving in on Trump as part of an international network up to no good.

If the Zembla videos out of The Netherlands are correct -- and they have been on everything so far -- the missing piece in the public domain is the relationship of Israel's right wing to Russia. Israel is the one big chess piece not openly on the legal chess board. Not yet. But Russia has courted Israel's right-wing billionaires extensively. Jared Kushner is, of course, a major conduit in the Zembla analysis.

Zembla is the equivalent of '60 Minutes' in the Netherlands.

The Daily Beast writes Thursday that the ‘Russia investigation’ is set to go global. In court filings due to drop in 2019, prosecutors will unveil Middle Eastern countries’ attempts to influence U.S. politics.

Various witnesses affiliated with the Trump campaign have been questioned about their conversations with deeply connected individuals from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Israel, according to people familiar with the probe. Topics in those meetings ranged from the use of social-media manipulation to help install Trump in the White House to the overthrow of the regime in Iran.

This week has been a blockbuster headache for Trump, with so much breaking news that it’s almost impossible to track all the lawsuits and investigations surround Trump and the Trump family.

Felicity Jones Talks Playing Ruth Bader Ginsburg In 'The Illusionist' For Porter Edit Dec. 7, 2018

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Felicity Jones Talks Playing Ruth Bader Ginsburg In 'The Illusionist' For Porter Edit Dec. 7, 2018

Actor Felicity Jones graces the pages of Porter Edit’s Dec. 7 issue, styled by Tracy Taylor in ‘The Illusionist’ by Matthew Sprout.

Jones was in Washington, DC Tuesday night for the premier of the new biopic ‘On the Basis of Sex’, in which Jones plays Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Notorious RBG, now 85, posed with Jones and also Armie Hammer who plays her late husband Martin Ginsburg, and Justin Theroux, who plays former ACLU legal director Melvin Wulf. Read the opening night details at The Hollywood Reporter.

Back to Porter Edit, Jane Mulkerrins interviews Jones about playing heroic women.

While the film documents Ginsburg’s path to the highest legal appointment in the land, a path beset by sexism and misogyny, it is also a portrait of her very modern marriage to fellow lawyer Marty, played in the film by Armie Hammer, who supported his wife’s career unreservedly. Marty did all the cooking at home, says Jones: “They believed that gender stereotypes limit both men and women, that the patriarchy holds everyone back.” The apartment, she says, remains full of “the remnants of their life together – including racks of Marty’s cooking pots”. Now, Jones does not take her own opportunities for granted. “You’re not just expected to settle down and have children,” she notes. “If you want to do that, then that’s equally as valid a choice. But if you have ambition, why not follow it?”

The film ‘On the Basis of Sex’ opens in US theaters on Dec. 25 and in the UK on Feb. 8.