Who Were the Mysterious Neolithic People That Enabled the Rise of Ancient Egypt?

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Who Were the Mysterious Neolithic People That Enabled the Rise of Ancient Egypt?

To many, ancient Egypt is synonymous with the pharaohs and pyramids of the Dynastic period starting about 3,100BC. Yet long before that, about 9,300-4,000BC, enigmatic Neolithic peoples flourished. Indeed, it was the lifestyles and cultural innovations of these peoples that provided the very foundation for the advanced civilisations to come.

But who were they? As it turns out, they haven’t actually been studied much, at least relative to their successors. But our excavations of six burial sites – with some of the analyses recently published – have now provided important insights into their mysterious ways of life.

One reason why we know so little about Neolithic Egypt is that the sites are often inaccessible, lying beneath the Nile’s former flood plain or in outlying deserts.

How Fireflies Glow -- And What Signals They're Sending

How Fireflies Glow -- And What Signals They're Sending

You might not really be sure you saw what you think you saw when the first one shows up. But you stare in the direction of the flicker of light and there it is again – the first firefly of the evening. If you are in good firefly habitat, soon there are dozens, or even hundreds, of the insects flying about, flashing their mysterious signals.

Fireflies – alternatively known as lightning bugs in much of the United States – are neither flies nor bugs. They’re soft-winged beetles, related to click beetles and others. The most dramatic aspect of their biology is that they can produce light; this ability in a living organism, called bioluminescence, is relatively rare.

I’m an entomologist who does research on, and teaches about, the ecology and biology of insects. Recently, I’ve been trying to understand the diversity and ecology of fireflies in my home state of North Carolina. Fireflies are found widely across North America, including many places in the west, but they are most abundant and diverse in the eastern half of the continent, from Florida to southern Canada.

Forest Elephants Are Our Allies in the Fight Against Climate Change, Say Researchers

Forest Elephants Are Our Allies in the Fight Against Climate Change, Say Researchers

Forest elephant extinction would exacerbate climate change. That’s according to a new study in Nature Geoscience which links feeding by elephants with an increase in the amount of carbon that forests are able to store.

The bad news is that African forest elephants – smaller and more vulnerable relatives of the better known African bush elephant – are fast going extinct. If we allow their ongoing extermination to continue, we will be also worsening climate change. The good news is that if we protect and conserve these elephants, we will simultaneously fight climate change.

One of the Largest Subspecies of Giraffes Is Declared Endangered: the Masai

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One of the Largest Subspecies of Giraffes Is Declared Endangered: the Masai

Conservationists have been sounding the alarm bells on giraffes for several years. In 2016, the IUCN listed giraffes as a whole as vulnerable, the status just above endangered after finding that over three decades giraffes suffered up to a 40 percent population drop, plummeting from an estimated 157,000 individuals to 97,500.

Currently, two of the nine giraffe subspecies—the Kordofan and Nubian—are critically endangered, while the Reticulated is endangered. Now, after a recent assessment, the Masai subspecies has also been listed as endangered. It’s the first time the population has been analyzed on its own, and the status is a big deal since there are an estimated 35,000 individual Masai left, making it one of the largest-remaining subspecies of the gentle giants and, therefore, a key population for keeping the species numbers up.

Previously, the Masai subspecies was the most-populous group of giraffes, with an estimated 71,000 individuals. That drop of 49 to 51 percent of the subspecies in the last 30 years was what prompted the listing, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.

The Forgotten History of Segregated Swimming Pools and Amusement Parks

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The Forgotten History of Segregated Swimming Pools and Amusement Parks

By Victoria W. Wolcott

Summers often bring a wave of childhood memories: lounging poolside, trips to the local amusement park, languid, steamy days at the beach.

These nostalgic recollections, however, aren’t held by all Americans.

Municipal swimming pools and urban amusement parks flourished in the 20th century. But too often, their success was based on the exclusion of African Americans.

As a social historian who has written a book on segregated recreation, I have found that the history of recreational segregation is a largely forgotten one. But it has had a lasting significance on modern race relations.

Swimming pools and beaches were among the most segregated and fought over public spaces in the North and the South.

Botswana Has An Elephant Poaching Problem, Not An Overpopulation Problem

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Botswana Has An Elephant Poaching Problem, Not An Overpopulation Problem

The Botswana government recently reintroduced trophy hunting after a five-year moratorium. It did so on the pretext that Botswana has “too many elephants”.

But a new academic paper shows that this argument doesn’t hold.

The researchers compared the results of two aerial surveys in northern Botswana. The first was conducted in 2014, the second in 2018. Both were conducted during the dry season. This allowed for easy detection of changes over time.

A 94,000km2 area was studied and the elephant population estimated at 122,700 in 2018. This was roughly similar to the 2014 numbers.

But comparing results from the 2014 and 2018 aerial surveys, the scientists found that the numbers of elephant carcasses have increased, especially for newer carcasses dead for less than roughly 1 year. Populations can remain stable despite increased carcass counts because of new births and immigration from other range states.

The Botswana government recently reintroduced trophy hunting after a five-year moratorium. It did so on the pretext that Botswana has “too many elephants”.

But a new academic paper shows that this argument doesn’t hold.

The researchers compared the results of two aerial surveys in northern Botswana. The first was conducted in 2014, the second in 2018. Both were conducted during the dry season. This allowed for easy detection of changes over time.

A 94,000km2 area was studied and the elephant population estimated at 122,700 in 2018. This was roughly similar to the 2014 numbers.

But comparing results from the 2014 and 2018 aerial surveys, the scientists found that the numbers of elephant carcasses have increased, especially for newer carcasses dead for less than roughly 1 year. Populations can remain stable despite increased carcass counts because of new births and immigration from other range states.