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.

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.

Gigi Hadid Transforms Into Debbie Harry, Queen of Punk By Mert + Marcus For W Magazine #8

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Gigi Hadid Transforms Into Debbie Harry, Queen of Punk By Mert + Marcus For W Magazine #8

Supermodel Gigi Hadid doesn’t tart up often, but she does a great job of channeling the cool rock star Debbie Harry, circa 1975, lensed by Mert + Marcus for W Magazine’s Issue #8 ‘Celebrate’.

Carlos Nazario styles Gigi in Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello, Chanel, Isabel Marant, Gucci , DSquared2 and more for Gigi Hadid Transforms Into Debbie Harry, Queen of Punk./ Hair by Tomi Kono; makeup by Diane Kendal

"I've always studied how models made pictures," said Gigi, who had been staring intently at a mood board covered with photos of Harry from Blondie's heyday. "It’s always been important to me to make a picture better. I can look at a shot and see where I fit into it, what I can add to the picture. I don’t want to be just another person on the page.” She paused. “I want people to see the new picture with me and one day remember it the way we remember these pictures of Debbie Harry.” So then: Iconic? “Iconic!” Gigi said. “What else is there?”

Right-Wing Bogeyperson Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Challenges Sen. Joe Manchin's Energy Committee Role

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Right-Wing Bogeyperson Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Challenges Sen. Joe Manchin's Energy Committee Role

Politico writes Monday that Ocasio-Cortez is leading a group of progressives very unsettled by the prospect of West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin assuming a minority leadership position on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

At a Friday rally outside the Capitol, Ocasio-Cortez joined other Democratic lawmakers and other incoming Democratic freshmen, arguing that allowing Manchin to become the ranking member of the Energy committee would undercut the momentum behind their "Green New Deal" proposal that calls for transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy sources within a decade of initiating the plan.

“The vast majority of Americans believe that we should not be taking money from the industries that we are legislating and really presiding over in our committee work, but in D.C. that’s a controversial opinion,” Ocasio-Cortez said alongside youth climate activists from the Sunrise Movement.

Manchin, who has a 47 percent lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters Joe Manchin has a steady — and expected position given that he’s elected to support voters in his coal country state — regularly accepts election campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry.

Supporters of the Green New Deal say the activism that propelled candidates like Ocasio-Cortez to Washington underscores the citizen support for action on climate change. The argument gained momentum with federal scientists from 13 agencies last week issuing a report forecasting dire economic and physical consequences across America if greenhouse gas emissions continue rising.

“A decade ago it was a little easier to hide behind, ‘I’ve got a state where we can’t do this,’” Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) told POLITICO after the event, noting her Maine delegation colleagues Sens. Angus King (I) and Susan Collins (R) often side with Democrats on climate issues. “It may be hard for Joe Manchin to be there, but I think there’s going to be a lot of other colleagues who say, ‘Hey, this needs to be on our agenda, we’ve got to move forward with some legislation.’ And they could be on both sides of the aisle.”

Girl Baby Elephants Become Proxy Matriarchs At Kenya's Reteti Elephant Sanctuary

Girl Baby Elephants Become Proxy Matriarchs At Kenya's Reteti Elephant Sanctuary

Sunday night has been elephant update night for Anne. My head is swimming in new information and stories. Before I venture out, let me share this charming, empathetic story in National Geographic about Kenya’s Reteti Elephant Sanctuary in Kenya.

A few weeks ago, AOC featured the entire short virtual reality film ‘My Africa’, narrated by Lupita Nyong’o and set among the Samburu people. The region of the film and this May, 2017 article includes the Turkana, Rendille, Borana, and Somali peoples — besides the Samburu. Knowledgeable about many of the civil wars that have ravaged Africa (and America) I’m not familiar with tensions in this area. The point of our story and ‘My Africa’ is how these ethnic groups are working together today to strengthen their communities while protecting the estimated 6,000 elephants, according to National Geographic, who share the land.

In fact, I pursued the article because of this beautiful image of Mary Lengees, one of Reteti’s first female elephant keepers and Shyian. Upon landing at National Geographic, I felt a poignant moment for Shaba, a little female elephant who is now the boss. So much has been written about the great elephant matriarchs, strong leaders who sleep hardly at all to protect their herd.

The notion of a baby girl elephant’s natural instincts taking hold, making her the leader and caretaker long before her time is due reminds me of stories of young girls with countless siblings — too many for mom to manage — or even orphan girls with young brothers and sisters who suddenly rise to positions of leadership, almost out of instinct.

Elephants Are Herbivores And Congo Would Love GlamTribal's Elephant Garden Party Pendant

Congo loves her watermelon at the Dallas Zoo

Congo loves her watermelon at the Dallas Zoo

Elephants Are Herbivores And Congo Would Love GlamTribal's Elephant Garden Party Pendant

A circus retiree, the Dallas Zoo’s elephant Congo is called smart, investigative, and inquisitive and is enjoying exploring all of the new things she can do at the savanna. She loves to munch on bamboo, stripping layers of fibers and leaves off for a good chew, and enjoys regular pedicures with toenail filing, explains the Dallas Zoo in describing their Elephants on the Savanna exhibit. .

For all my love of elephants, I never considered their diet — specifically do they eat meat? One thinks of elephants as being herbivores, but is that actually a fact? The question was front and center in my mind, after planting a little garden in the tummy of our new GlamTribal Garden Party Elephant Pendant.

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Elephants are primarily herbivores, spending 16 to 19 hours a day eating and looking for food. An elephant’s diet in the wild is comprised of 50% grasses that are supplemented with twigs, leaves, bamboo, roots, bark and small amounts of seeds, flowers and fruits. Read on.

Boston Globe Denies Ever Accusing Karl Templer Of Sexual Coercion Of Models

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Boston Globe Denies Ever Accusing Karl Templer Of Sexual Coercion Of Models

In February 2018, the Boston Globe published a 5,100-word investigation into alleged mistreatment of, and sexual misconduct against fashion models. Stylist Karl Templer was mentioned in the Globe investigation when three models explained that as a stylist, Templer yanked at the underwear and shorts of one, touched another’s crotch and a third model’s breast.

The paper reported that models felt this behavior “crossed the line of professionalism”, seeming to question if this behavior was truly necessary to get the job done on an assignment. One of the models interviewed recalled the instance of her underwear and shorts being pulled off as “trying to get me naked,” although she’d told her agent she did not want to be nude below the waist.

“A stylist’s movement of clothes multiple times — over three decades and possibly tens of thousands of interactions — is not the same as sexual predation or sexual harassment or touching with the intent of self-gratification,” Templer said in an open letter to WWD published the next day.

He added that it was “impossible” for him to defend himself, as the prominent stylist been given no specific information to which he could respond.

On Oct. 2, the Boston Globe responded to Templer’s lawyer, asserting that it never reported that the stylist was accused by any model of “coercing or trying to coerce models to engage in sex or sexual activities” with him.

Street Art Pilot Comes To New York's Never-Ending Scaffolding and Protective Construction Structures

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In a moment of utter foolery, I once asked myself if I could live in New York and walk my neighborhood just one month without dealing with the pervasive scaffolding and protective construction structures that litter the city with boring, nondescript ugliness.

There are over 300 miles of construction fences and sidewalk sheds across the city, but New York City construction codes currently prohibit anyone from posting on them, writes artNet News.

Think again. What if all those ugly construction-related walls could be repurposed as canvasses for public art, a showcase for NYC’s world class artists? This is the vision of City Canvas, the latest program from the New York City of Cultural Affairs, in collaboration with the Department of Buildings and the Office of the Mayor.

Adriana Lima Becomes Puma Women's Training Ambassador

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Adriana Lima Becomes Puma Women's Training Ambassador

Victoria’s Secret Angel Adriana Lima has staying power, being hard at work since the late 90s. Now the boxing queen ‘gym inspo’ has been named Puma’s international training ambassador, and she sits down with Glamour UK to talk her badass fearless female self.

All the sweat in the campaign is my own — I want to show the reality . . .

I believe in advertising that people want to feel related to you as a human. What I always stand for through my work is that I like to show reality, what is real. For instance, over the last few days, shooting for Puma, everything that you see in the campaign is real, I go out there and I am working out for real. The sweat you are going to see is real, it’s not a set up. I believe Puma wants to empower women to stretch and reach their goals whatever they are and whatever that takes whether that is through being fashionable or feeling good about themselves.

Adriana Lima Archives @ AOC

Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen Named Head Of Planned Parenthood

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Baltimore health commissioner Dr. Leana Wen has been named the new head of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Growing up poor in California as a Chinese refugee, Dr. Wen, her little sister and mother received ongoing health care from Planned Parenthood.

Wen is a prodigy who enrolled at Cal State University at age 13, graduating at 18 with a degree in biochemistry. She attended Washington University in St. Louis for medical school and was a fellow at Harvard. Dr. Wen also studied public health at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar.

Before taking the health commissioner position in Baltimore, Dr. Wen forked as an emergency room doctor at George Washington University, where she was also a professor.

Dr. Wen says she is leaving a job she loves in Baltimore because of growing attacks by the Trump administration and other conservatives on Planned Parenthood and women’s reproductive health rights.

“I see how the single, biggest health catastrophe of our times is the threat to women’s health,” Wen said. “I am deeply troubled by how women’s health issues are singled out, stigmatized and attacked.”

Planned Parenthood’s need for an articulate and fierce public voice is filled by the outspoken commissioner who is widely known for her newspaper op-eds and TV appearances, writes The Baltimore Sun.