New DNA Study Reveals We Are No More Than 7% Modern Humans

A new study on DNA has revealed that people living today are only between 1.5% and 7% modern humans. No, this doesn’t mean that we’re over 90% alien (or are we…?), but it does indicate that we have very old DNA belonging to our ancient ancestors.

According to the study, only a very small percentage of our genome is uniquely human. Researchers extracted DNA belonging to skeletal remains of Neanderthals and Denisovans as well as from 279 people living in different parts of the world today. Then the experts took that information regarding sequenced genomes and developed a family tree for Homo sapiens, Neanderthals and Denisovans.

They found two important factors that really stood out: the first bombshell was that between 1.5 and 7% of our genome is unique to our species which means that at least 93% of our genome is a result of a mixture between Homo sapiens, Neanderthals, and Denisovans. The second discovery was that in the past 600,000 years, there were numerous bursts of genetic adaptations regarding brain development and function of humans.

By creating the evolutionary trees, the team of researchers were able to find very important times in history when Homo sapiens adapted and separated from our ancient ancestors. In order to find out how closely related we actually are to Neanderthals and Denisovans, experts had to study both the genes as well as when the genes were turned into proteins.

In an interview with Inverse, Nathan Schaefer, who is a bioinformatician at the University of California, San Francisco, explained this in further detail, “When you ask that question, we are very similar to Neanderthals.” “We have, you know, around 20,000 genes, and somewhere around 40 of them have these actual coding differences that all humans have one version, and the Neanderthals have the other version.” “That’s already like, ‘Wow, we’re really, really close to them.”

Fernando Villanea, who is a population geneticist at the University of Colorado, Boulder, but wasn’t involved with the study, told Inverse, “Their results support the most exciting new views on the interactions between humans, Neanderthals, and Denisovans.” He went on to talk about the human brain development over the past several hundred thousand years, “These adaptation events which define our species possibly happened around [600,000] and [200,000] years ago in Africa.”

In other words, this new study seems to indicate that the most genetically unique difference between modern humans and Neanderthals and Denisovans is our cognitive development over the past several hundred thousand years as explained by University of California, Santa Cruz computational biologist Richard Green, “We can tell those regions of the genome are highly enriched for genes that have to do with neural development and brain function.”

As for the researchers’ next steps regarding their studies, Schaefer stated, “What I’m interested in doing now is trying to learn more about how genes work and what these genes do.” The study was published in the journal Science Advances.

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Coinbase customer sues exchange for $5 million after “misleading” Dogecoin advert

A Coinbase customer is suing the firm for a misleading Dogecoin trading campaign and seeks $5 million in damages.
Elsewhere, Axe is set to launch a limited run of a DOGE-themed body spray known as “Dogecan” for US DOGE fanatics.

A Coinbase user has filed a class-action lawsuit against Coinbase, for an allegedly misleading Dogecoin campaign. According to the case’s legal document, the plaintiff David Suski reported being deceived by Coinbase to trade Dogecoin worth $100.

The legal document went on to state that Suski’s trading action was motivated by Coinbase’s $1.2 million sweepstakes offer. He further claims that the exchange failed to communicate purchasing $100 of Dogecoin as a non-requisite to entering the sweepstakes offer.

Details of the lawsuit against Coinbase

Earlier on June 3, 2021, Dogecoin became available for trading on the Coinbase crypto exchange. On the same day, the company sent out emails to its users about the sweepstakes. Part of the message read, “Trade Doge, Win Doge.”

Moreover, the email detailed that to enter the competition, users had to trade. Alternatively, it provided the option of sending Coinbase a 3×5-inch index card to participate in the competition. The index card had to have a customer’s details including name, address, email address, phone number, and date of birth. This second option, however, was placed on a separate “rules and details” page.

For this reason, the complainant alleged the campaign as misleading as it failed to highlight the free entry option. Furthermore, he alleges that the sweepstakes advertisement was devised to “deceive and confuse” him and other customers. Many customers were hoodwinked into trading $100 of Dogecoin to qualify for entry.

Additionally, the plaintiff says he would not have put $100 in Coinbase or paid the trading commission to acquire DOGE. More so, the plaintiff claims he already owned 1,000 Dogecoin in a separate account with a different company. However, the ads were not clear about the 100 percent free entry option.

An excerpt of the class action complaint reads:

The only reason that Plaintiff undertook to buy more Dogecoins from Coinbase was because the Company led him to believe that doing so was necessary to enter Coinbase’s $1.2 Million Sweepstakes.

The lawsuit now seeks over $5 million in damages on behalf of the complainant besides millions of other Coinbase users.

Dogecoin and the crypto space

In other news, the Axe male grooming products company plans to launch a limited production of a DOGE-themed body spray. Consumers get a chance of acquiring the free “crypto scented” product dubbed “Dogecan” by registering on Axe’s website. The limited-run however, excludes DOGE fanatics outside the US. Already, the DOGE co-founder, who recently re-embraced the crypto community, has received an early sample.

We’re Going To The Moon!!!!@AXE #DogeCan

Thanks For The Gift @AXE #DogecoinRise pic.twitter.com/a3aIyWe31w

— Dogecoin Rise (@DogecoinRise) July 19, 2021

These events follow as the price of DOGE hovers between $0.18 and $0.16. At press time, DOGE was worth $0.16 having shed 9 percent in the last 24-hours. The coin has also declined by about 76 percent since its May all-time high of $0.73, according to our data. Nevertheless, the DOGE volume has increased almost 13 times in Q2 to reach about $1 billion on daily average.

Read More: Dogecoin volume shot up 1,250% to $1B a day in Q2 as Elon Musk led a massive price rally

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Concordium to developers: join our revolution

Zug, Switzerland, 20th July, 2021,

Concordium has today unveiled an ambitious, industry-leading partnership programme for global developers as part of its ongoing commitment to build a credible, trusted and sustainable blockchain industry.

The programme offers developers a chance to work alongside some of the most respected names in the blockchain industry and help release the full potential of blockchain and cryptocurrency technology.  

Concordium’s platform offers access to a safe, transparent, regulatable and sustainable blockchain and cryptocurrency, marking the end of an era of anonymity and distrust that has undermined the development of the industry.

The Concordium platform differs from other industry participants by offering previously unseen guarantees of governance and transparency, without compromising privacy. 

Users are identifiable and the provenance of every transaction is trackable, creating trust for users and meeting the needs of global regulators. At the same time, identities can be made available, but only if necessary

The Swiss-based company made its Mainnet debut in June, clearing the way for any developer or user to access the Concordium platform and – from today – start receiving financial support to work alongside the company in its mission to revolutionise the industry.   

The newly-announced Concordium Free & Open Grants Programme offers developers up to USD20,000 for initial grants and USD75,000 for follow-up grants. 

“We are not just a company, we are part of a community,” said Lone Fønss Schrøder, Concordium’s chief executive. “We know we can’t help this industry maximise its potential alone. That’s why we are supporting developers and asking them to join us.” 

Developers will be able to work alongside members of Concordium’s Executive and Steering Committee, which includes some of the most respected names in the industry, such as ETH Zurich Prof. Ueli Mahrer and Prof. Hans Gersbach, Dr. Torben Pedersen Concordium’s CTO and Father of the Pedersen Commitment, and Michael Jackson former Skype COO and Mangrove Capital Partner. 

“This is a two way street,” said Torben Pryds Pedersen, Concordium’s CTO. “All good science is collaborative. As an open and decentralized project, Concordium’s vision is grounded in reciprocity and giving back to developers and the science community. First, we created the Concordium Blockchain Research Center in Aarhus, then we announced the DevX Initiative and now, with this grants programme, we will support and strengthen the science and development behind blockchain and technology in general.”

Concordium believes credible participants in the blockchain industry must be responsible for driving change and building trust in the technology. 

“The need is urgent,” said Lone Fønss Schrøder. “Failure to act risks delaying the broader adoption of the technology and will prevent businesses and consumers from benefiting from the potential blockchain and cryptocurrency offers.”

Concordium focuses on the requirements of developers and companies, taking into account future regulatory rules and doing so sustainably solves the problems that have so far prevented the widespread use of blockchain technology.

Concordium was founded by a non-profit Swiss foundation and is backed by a select group of respected academics and industry veterans. From its birth in 2018, it has combined the development of its own blockchain and cryptocurrency with a desire to help redefine the values upon which the industry has been associated.

The company’s combination of cutting-edge technology and commitment to a global rules-based system has attracted the interest of investors. Earlier this year, it successfully raised over USD 41m from private and strategic sales, valuing the company at USD4.45bn. 

The Concordium Free & Open Grants Programme process is open to any developer or technology project eager to contribute to the Concordium and/or Rustlang ecosystems.

Applicants can find a list of areas in the Concordium Technology Stack that demand particular development here. The application is open to any developer or technology project, if you are interested you can apply here.  

Grants are tracked transparently on GitHub and disbursed in Euros, US Dollars, or GTU, Concordium’s cryptocurrency.  

About Concordium

Concordium is a Public and Sustainable Proof-of-Stake-blockchain with a unique Identity layer at the protocol level. Concordium differs from other participants by offering previously unseen guarantees of transparency, and regulation without compromising privacy by introducing built-in identity management at the protocol level and zero-knowledge proofs, which are used to replace anonymity with perfect privacy.  

Contacts

Maria Rojas
mar@concordium.com

Der Beitrag Concordium to developers: join our revolution erschien zuerst auf Crypto News Flash.

Ethereum documentary featuring Vitalik Buterin raises $1.9M in 3 days

The funding campaign raised 1,035.96 ETH ($1.9M), surpassing its goal of 750 ETH, between Wednesday and Friday.
The film will premier in winter 2023, showcasing Ethereum as an “infinite garden” and its blockchain as a “decentralized ecosystem with soil, plants, and insects”.

The Ethereum-themed documentary known as Ethereum: The Infinite Garden, has raised a total of 1,035.96 Ether (ETH) worth $1.9 million. The whole amount was amassed in just 3 days and exceeded the initial goal of 750 ETH, as creators announced.

The funding campaign kicked off on Wednesday. Its goal was to enable the production of a feature-length and character-driven documentary. The film would explore the “innovative real-world applications of the Ethereum blockchain, the die-hard community of enthusiasts and developers, and its creator, Vitalik Buterin.”

By Friday, the last day of the event, the campaign had attracted 662 supporters. All of them contributed through a decentralized crypto-based network known as Mirror.

“We are blown away by the support of the community. In 3 days we surpassed our goal,” said the project creators.

Having surpassed expected donations, the total contributions will be divided three-way. 95 percent will be allocated a budget for the Ethereum film. Additionally, 3 percent will be assigned to Gitcoin grants to be used in supporting Ethereum open-source projects. The remaining 2 percent will be donated to Carbonfund.org, a program geared towards reducing and offsetting the carbon footprint.

More on the Ethereum documentary

The cryptocurrency community is waiting with bated breaths on the new documentary, especially as it features an Ethereum co-founder. Premiering in the winter of 2023, the film will showcase Ethereum as an “infinite garden”. Moreover, Ethereum’s blockchain will be depicted as a “decentralized ecosystem with soil, plants, and insects”. The latter idea appealed more than illustrating the blockchain as a “machine controlled by a central brain.”

Notably, the Infinite Garden concept was developed by the executive director of the Ethereum Foundation, Aya Miyaguchi.

Furthermore, the Ethereum documentary creators came up with nonfungible tokens that give the owners designated on-screen credits in the film. These were awarded to the top three fundraisers of the project. The NFTs were designed by the digital artist Pplpleasr, who is popular for his visual works in films like Batman V Superman, Wonder Woman, and Star Trek Beyond.

Cryptocurrencies and their films

Bitcoin, the largest digital asset, has not been left behind in film creation. Recently, a cluster of pro-Bitcoin investors joined efforts to raise funds for a Bitcoin anti-FUD documentary film through crowdfunding. FUD which stands for fear, uncertainty, and doubt, has been piling up due to Bitcoin’s environmental impact.

According to a tweet by podcast host, investor and Bitcoin proponent Brad Mills, the creation would be a “definitive short film on why Bitcoin will transition the world to renewable energy faster than governments.”

Of note, the film will be directed by Jamie King. He is renowned for the BitTorrent documentary series known as STEAL THIS FILM. Other Bitcoin films have also been released since digital currency started becoming popular. Such are “The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin” and “Banking on Bitcoin.” Ethereum on the other hand has the Ethereum Movie Venture for funding movies through ETH.

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Donut Universe, Drunk Droning, UFO Speed Calculated and More Mysterious News Briefly — July 20, 2021

Mysterious News Briefly — July 20, 2021

The UFO Travel Calculator from the Omni Calculator Project has calculated the size and speed of the famous Tic Tac UFOs encountered by military pilots – they’re estimated to weigh more than 47,000 pounds (21,320 kg) with a span of 44.6 ft (13.6 m) and a speed of more than 11,800 mph, which would allow one to travel from London to San Francisco (5,351 miles) in 27 minutes. What would really be interesting is calculating how fast their flight attendants can serve drinks and pick up the empty cups.

A new study of ‘little’ black holes by an international team of astronomers using the Event Horizon Telescope found that they behave much like their supermassive big brothers, spewing mini jets of matter into space. Little black holes probably feel the same way as Indiana Jones – “Don’t call me Junior!”

If you’ve ever wondered what happens to yak poop (you need to get out more), a new study reveals that the Plateau pikas — small, rabbit-like animals often compared to Pokémon’s Pikachu character – eat them to help survive the cold Himalayan winters. “They’re NOT Pikachus!” said Pikachu.

Magic mushroom fans rejoice — a new study by Yale researchers found that a single dose of psilocybin, the active ingredient in psychedelic ‘shrooms, given to mice prompted an immediate and long-lasting increase in connections between neurons in their brains. Not to mention some really cool new ideas about cheesemaking.

Astrophysicists from the University of Lyon in France propose that the universe is closed in on itself in all three dimensions like a three-dimensional donut, which would make it finite and allow a space traveler to head off in one direction and eventually end up back in the same spot. Are scientists who disagree with the universal donut theory called ‘sprinkles’?

Italian scientists have opened Nemo’s Garden — the world’s first underwater farm – and it is now producing crops of basil, tomatoes, squash, beans, green peas, mushrooms and more. That explains the mermaids swimming outside the windows with topless pizzas.

In a real-life scene straight out of Battle Bots, an Ocado grocery customer fulfillment center south of London that’s run by autonomous robots had to be partially shut down when three robots collided, causing a fire to break out. The bots exchanged insurance information and went looking for a combination ER/body shop.

In the first incident of this kind in Japan, a 56-year-old man was arrested for violating a new law against flying a drone while intoxicated after he crashed his into a neighbor’s window. Watch for drone makers to branch off into alcohol-free saké microbreweries.

An international team of researchers analyzed wild pig populations around the world and found they are uprooting carbon trapped in soil and releasing around 4.9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually across the globe, the equivalent of 1.1 million cars. Possible solution – hickory-smoked wild pig bacon.

Scientists at UC Berkeley developed the world’s thinnest magnet that is able to operate at room temperature and could lead to new applications in computing and electronics such as high-density, compact spintronic memory devices. It will also be a lifesaver for people living in tiny houses with mini-refrigerators.

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U.S. Senators object the use of Digital Yuan at 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing

The three Republican senators raising objections have cited privacy and security concerns with the use of Digital Yuan.
The lawmakers noted that the CCP can exploit the use of e-CNY as a surveillance tool.

China’s plans of putting its Digital Yuan to use at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing face a severe hurdle. Putting the spanner-in-the-wheel, U.S. Senators have objected to the use of Chinese CBDC citing security concerns.

On Monday, July 19, three U.S. Senators from the Republican party – Marsha Blackburn, Cynthia Lummis and Roger Wicker – wrote a letter to the U.S. Olympic Committee leadership. Thus, the lawmakers have asked the decision-makers to forbid the U.S. athletes from “receiving or using digital yuan during the Beijing Olympics”. Citing privacy concerns, the lawmakers wrote:

Olympic athletes should be aware that the digital yuan may be used to surveil Chinese citizens and those visiting China on an unprecedented scale, with the hopes that they will maintain digital yuan wallets on their smartphones and continue to use it upon return.

Additionally, the senators have requested a briefing of their appeal in the next 30 days. This will also be a display of a fresh battle between the two giant economies in the digital currency race.

Besides, in the letter, the senators also raised the concern of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) using such emerging technologies to suppress the Uyghur minority and the people of Hong Kong. They also targeted China’s popular digital payments & messaging platforms like WeChat calling it a tool to “surveil, threaten, and arrest” Chinese citizens.

Earlier in July, the Biden administration blacklisted some more Chinese firms on concerns of human rights abuses in the Xinjiang province.

China’s progress report with Digital Yuan

The People’s Bank of China (PBoC) has accelerated the development of the Digital Yuan over the last few years. Undoubtedly, it is one of the most advanced CBDC projects in the world.

Last week, PBoC released the official whitepaper for the Digital Yuan. The central bank noted that the CBDC transactions have topped $5.3 billion. To push further the use of Digital Yuan, PBoC will also allow travelers to open Digital Wallets while visiting the country.

As per the official numbers from PBoC, over 20.8 million individuals have already opened the virtual wallet. However, the Digital Yuan still remains in the trial phase. The central bank has yet not officially confirmed the full deployment of the Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DCEP).

There have been concerns that the rapid growth of Chinese CBDC could challenge the status quo of the U.S. Dollar, as the world’s reserve currency, in the international market.  Besides, the Republican senators also fear that the CCP can attempt to exploit the use of e-CNY as a surveillance tool.

Last week in an interview with EpochTV, an American hedge fund manager also warned of the threats of Chinese CBDC. He said:

I think that we should ban the [Chinese digital] currency and not allow any of it to be handled in the United States. I know that sounds hyperbolic, but if you just think all the way through this, you can’t have a little bit of cancer. You either have cancer, or you don’t have cancer.

He also said that the Chinese CBDC will have a “mind of its own”. It could potentially have access to private data of Americans like Social Security numbers and addresses.

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Bitcoin dips under $30K for the first time in 4 weeks, wipes out $90 billion

Bitcoin has slipped under $30,000 for the first time in 4 weeks – the move coming after a prolonged consolidation period.
With 75 percent of Bitcoin in circulation held by long-term holders, there’s optimism that the asset can make a quick recovery.

Bitcoin has in the last 24 hours wiped out more than 6 percent and slipped under $30,000. At the time of press, the top digital asset is exchanging for around $29,700 according to our data. This is the first time the asset has breached this level in four weeks. It further marks a more than 50 percent drop from its all-time high of $65,000.

In its plunge, Bitcoin has dragged with it the rest of the market. In fact, altcoins have been hit hardest with a majority wiping out roughly 10 percent. Ethereum for instance has extended its fall under $2,000 with an 8 percent drop reaching $1,700. XRP, BNB and ADA have recorded steeper falls after wiping out more than 10 percent. Combined with other altcoins, the fall has seen the total market lose more than $90 billion in the last 24 hours.

Despite the major price swing, liquidations data shows that investors aren’t all that surprised. Data from Bybt shows that more than 100,000 traders have been liquidated. However, the amount liquidated is relatively small at slightly above $500 million.

According to some experts, Bitcoin has been a casualty of the wider global stock markets sell-off. On Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had the worst day since last October. While Bitcoin is a hedge against traditional markets, it often reacts to the initial shock. Experts are blaming the current market atmosphere on growing concerns over the economic recovery. Bitcoin has suffered double tragedy as this has been combined with recent technical weakness.

Experts say Bitcoin fundamentals are still strong

Following the crash, experts including Lark Davis are still confident that Bitcoin is strong. Sharing recent data, the analyst points to the increasing Bitcoin outflows from exchanges which are evidence that investors are still confident in the asset, and the demand will secure a rebound. Furthermore, miners are currently not selling.

We are also seeing the market separating the men from the boys with exchange outflows picking up pace. A lot of dip buying is happening! #bitcoin pic.twitter.com/tOiZNa3wcI

— Lark Davis (@TheCryptoLark) July 20, 2021

For a majority of BTC holders, there is still no reason to panic. According to data from Glassnode, most traders selling right now bought at the top. However, long-term holders who bought before the top, are holding on to their positions. Additionally, on-chain data shows that long-term holders have 75 percent of the circulating supply and 92 percent of them are in profit.

As CNF reported, most experts expect Bitcoin to find strong support at $25,000 before rebounding.

Read More: Bitcoin is heading to $23,000 and the dollar is doomed: Billionaire fund manager

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The UFO Phenomenon: Mysterious and Elusive Photographs Said to be Held by Government Agencies

Now and again, I hear of elusive, astounding photos said to be held in government vaults and that are directly relevant to the UFO phenomenon. Of course, in many such cases the whole things just fall apart. We are, after all, talking about the UFO subject. There, are however, some stories that have come my way and that still might be worth looking for. Indeed, you never know what might surface one day. With that said, let’s begin with the first story. Back in 1991, Kevin Randle’s and Don Schmitt’s book, UFO Crash at Roswell, was published. In the book, the pair told an interesting, but brief, story of a man “who said he worked at NORAD in Colorado Springs.” Schmitt and Randle added: “In the course of computerizing some of the files, he came across one labeled: USAAF (United States Army Air Force) Early Automation. The file dealt with the recovery of several small bodies and included black and white photographs of them. The man said the bodies were small, no more than four or five feet tall, with big heads.” And that was it. Despite the fact that the whole thing is short on information, it sounds somewhat like something tied to the Roswell affair of 1947.

NORAD

Now, let’s take a look at one of the most controversial stories that has ever come my way. Back in 2007, I was told a very strange, and sinister, story by ufologist and priest Ray Boeche. He told me, in a recorded interview, of a group in the U.S. government that was secretly looking into the UFO subject, but from the perspective that aliens are really demons. Ray explained to me that his two “Deep Throat”-type figures told him that the group called the strange entities “Non-Human Entities.” Or, NHEs.” It was at one point in his conversation with the two men (that took place in Lincoln, Nebraska in November 1991) that Ray was given a really weird story. I’ll hand the story over to Ray, himself: “They showed me a dozen photos of three different people – four photos of each person, who had apparently been killed by these experiments. These were all post-mortem photographs, taken in-situ, after the experiments. The areas shown in all of the photographs were like a dentist’s chair or a barber’s chairs, and the bodies were still in those positions, sitting in the chairs. Still there, with EEG and EKG leads coming off of them. They were all wired. It was a very clinical setting, and there was no indication of who they were. It was a very disturbing sort of thing. And I’m thinking in the back of my mind: if these are real, who would they have gotten for these experiments? Were they volunteers? Were they some sort of prisoners? I have no idea. Were they American? Were they foreign? There was no way to tell.”

Ray was, however, allowed to take notes pertaining to the controversial photographs. One of the victims was a white male, age 25-to-30, who had been killed by what was described as  a “remotely induced” cardiac arrest. The second was a white female, somewhere between the ages of 20 and 25, whose death was due to a “remotely transmitted head trauma” that resulted in “crushing of the right anterior portion of the skull.” The third victim was a white male – probably in his 30s – killed by “…remotely controlled suffocation. The deaths and heart attacks were allowed to happen because it served the NHEs goals, the deception that they were aliens trying to help us and give us this advanced technology.” Over the years I’ve quietly and carefully tried to get to the heart of this strange story. So far, no luck. Let’s now move onto the matter of an alien autopsy.

Back in 1986, a well-respected, U.K.-based UFO researcher and writer, Jenny Randles, was approached by a former British Army source who had an incredible story to tell. “Robert,” as Jenny called her informant, said that  – under strange circumstances – he’d seen not just classified documents on crashed UFOs and dead aliens, but autopsy photos, too. Jenny said: “There was a lot of material about Roswell, including photographs of the UFO and of the aliens. One of the most detailed files was an autopsy report – that ran close to 200 pages in length – of the bodies recovered from the Roswell crash. Robert remembered the name of the doctor who had written it. It was Dr. Frederick V. Hauser, a name I’d never seen connected with UFOs in any way whatsoever. Robert said that there was a very detailed account that was mostly filled with medical jargon about the autopsy which he didn’t understand, and there was a photograph of this entity with a slit right down the middle from the neck to the navel.” Of course, today it would be easy to search for Dr. Hauser online. Indeed, you can find about him (briefly) at this link. Back in 1986, however, it would have been very difficult for a British Army solider to find information on Hauser. Unless Robert was telling the truth, of course.

In conclusion, all I can say is that the stories above are intriguing and fascinating. But, so far, nothing solid has surfaced. Maybe, one day, at least some of the photos described in this article will appear. On the other hand, though, the goods may never put in an appearance.

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The Weird Story of Kanzi, the Bonobo Who Can Start Fires and Cook

There seem to be fewer and fewer traits that we can consider to be uniquely human. Our closest relatives, chimpanzees and bonobos, seem to in many ways match us completely. They have tool use, self awareness, complex social systems, and even war. All of our good and bad traits are mirrored in their behavior, and it is sometimes hard to find an aspect of us that they have not demonstrated to some degree. Some people might bring up our use of fire and cooking, as that must surely be a human thing that no other animal can do, but you would be wrong, It turns out that there is a non-human primate out there who can not only build his own fires, but also cook up a nice meal for himself, among various other unique abilities, further tearing down the walls between us.

The male bonobo known as Kanzi was born in 1980 at Yerkes Field Station at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia and had a bit of an unusual and turbulent youth. He was stolen from his mother at a very young age by another female of the group by the name of Matata, the chief leader of the group, and it was under her care that his unique talents would become known. They would be moved to the Ape Cognition and Conservation Initiative (ACCI), formerly the Great Ape Trust, in Des Moines, Iowa, where at the time, researchers were using Matata in an experiment to teach her language through keyboard lexigrams, which are basically symbols corresponding to objects or ideas. She had been undergoing constant training in communication through these lexigrams but had been struggling to pick up the 10 words researchers were trying to teach her. During these sessions, little Kanzi was just off on his own, seemingly completely disinterested in what the researchers and his adoptive mother were doing, off in his own little world, but then he would surprise everyone.

One day, during a break for Matata, Kanzi approached the lexigram keyboard and quickly began competently using the 10 lexigrams that the researchers had been trying to teach Matata. The researchers were baffled, as not only was this the first time a bobobo had demonstrated this ability to use language, but he hadn’t even been formally taught it, rather picking it up naturalistically through observation alone. Kanzi quickly picked up more lexigrams until he could use over 200 of them, able to hear spoken words and point to the correct ones almost without fail. Indeed, his ability to understand spoken words was highly advanced, equal to or beyond that of a 2-year-old human child. One of the main researchers who works with Kanzi, Dr. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, Kanzi, has said he has shown a remarkable ability to “understand individual spoken words and how they are used in novel sentences,” following complex commands that are spoken to him. She offers as one example that if he has a carrot next to him but is told to go get the one in the microwave, he will get up, go to the microwave, retrieve the carrot and bring it back. In one experiment giving him 600 spoken instructions asking him to deal with familiar objects in various novel ways, Kanzi was correct 74% of the time, whereas a 2-year-old girl used in the study was only 65% accurate. Presently Kanzi understands over 3,000 spoken words and can “say” close to 500 words by pointing to lexigrams.

Kanzi the bonobo

Beyond his amazing language abilities with spoken words, Kanzi also taught himself American sign language by watching videos of the sign language-using gorilla Koko and he is also an uncommonly accomplished tool user. In one experiment he was tasked with trying to get food out of a clear box wrapped with rope. Researchers showed him how to flake a stone in order to produce a sharp, cutting edge, similar to what human ancestors did when making early stone age tools. It was theorized that he would be able to make a sharp edge and cut the rope to get the food, and Kanzi proved to be a fast learner. Not only did Kanzi figure it all out, but he even developed his own way of flaking the stones that was different from what he had been taught, impressing researchers yet again. However, he was still not finished baffling researchers, because he was soon about to show them something no ape had ever done before.

One very unique skill that Kanzi picked up was the actual ability to make fires. According to Savage-Rumbaugh, Kanzi would sit around watching the movie Quest for Fire constantly, and one day asked for some matches using sign language. Before long, he figured out how to use them and could actually start a fire, even figuring out what things he needed to prepare one. This had never been seen in a non-human primate before, but on top of this, one day he demonstrated the ability to actually cook. Savage-Rumbaugh has said of his fascination with fire and first time cooking something:

Kanzi makes fire because he wants to. He used to watch the film ‘Quest for Fire’ when he was very young, which was about early man struggling to control fire. He watched it spellbound over and over hundreds of times. In an outing in the woods in Georgia, Kanzi touched the symbols for “marshmallows” and “fire.” Given matches and marshmallows, Kanzi snapped twigs for a fire, lit them with the matches and toasted the marshmallows on a stick.

Kanzi then moved on to using a pan to cook food over fires he built himself using matches, including even vegetables or other foods in the pan, flipping them in a way that one researcher described as “eerie” and “remarkably human.” This is not the first time primates have been shown to prefer cooked food, but it is the first time that a great ape has shown the ability to understand how to do it themselves and make a fire to do it. Making it even more impressive is that Kanzi also taught his son Teco how to do it, passing along his knowledge, and it is probable he would to teach it to other bonobos as well.

Interestingly chimpanzees have also been shown to prefer cooked foods and even use a “cooking tool” to do it. In one experiment in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a group of chimpanzees was given a “cooking box” which was actually just a bowl with a false bottom that held cooked food in order to give the illusion that it was cooking it. The chimps would put raw food in and cooked food would come out, to them appearing as if the bowl had cooked their food. When they realized this, they began using it regularly, even holding on to raw food until they could get to the machine, overcoming their impulse to eat food immediately, and before long they had taught the whole group how to use it. One of the researchers would say of seeing it dawn on these apes that they could cook food, “At first, the chimps pretty much ate the food. But then you almost could see them have this insight like, Oh, my goodness, I can put it in this device and it comes back cooked.” This shows that early humans likely also had an innate desire to eat cooked food and similarly learned how to go about getting it and passed this knowledge on. Richard Wrangham, a professor of biological anthropology and author of the book Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human, has said of how our early use of fire and cooking came about in our early ancestors 400,000 and 2 million years ago and how it relates to the behavior seen in the chimps:

All they needed, I think, would be to see a piece of food drop in the fire, pick it out and realize that it tasted good, and then the cultural transmission of that behavior would spread very quickly. What we’re seeing here is that the chimps are surprisingly similar to humans, even though the whole process of cooking seems like something that is a huge divide between humans and other animals.

This desire to cook and our ability to control fire would be a giant evolutionary step for us, leading to larger brain size and changes in social structures that would affect the entire course of our history. It is all very intriguing, but Kanzi is still the only non-human primate who can start his own fires and cook up a meal. He remains a unique curiosity among his kind, and a window with which we can perhaps look back into our past, back to when the first human ancestor first put that food on the fire and changed the course of our entire species.

The post The Weird Story of Kanzi, the Bonobo Who Can Start Fires and Cook first appeared on Mysterious Universe.

Source of Possible Alien Methane Burps on Mars Located

One of the signs that a planet may have once supported life is the presence of methane gas. While it can have inorganic causes, it’s most often due to decaying organic matter as it is on Earth. That’s why scientists have been searching for it in Mars – the one planet where we have both landers and orbiters constantly scanning the surface. While methane has been detected on the Red Planet, its source has never been pinpointed … until now.

“During its five years of operation, the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) Tunable Laser Spectrometer (TLS) on board the Curiosity rover has detected six methane spikes above a low background abundance in Gale crater.”

Curiosity

While new rover on the block Perseverance and its ground-breaking (air-breaking?) Ingenuity helicopter have been getting all of the recent publicity, Curiosity has been trudging along and reliably doing its job since 2012. In that time, it has picked up six blips or ‘burps’ of methane in and around the Gale crater, a 96-mile impression in diameter impression dating back 3.8 billion years. However, it didn’t know the exact locations where the gas was emitted from the ground so it could rover over for a look. According to a new not-yet-peer-reviewed study published in Research Square, researchers at the California Institute of Technology decided to take a new approach – they modeled the methane gas particles where they were detected and split them into small groups. Using the wind speed and direction at the time of detection, along with geographic and topographical maps of the crater and its surrounding area, they were able to trace the methane ‘burps’ back to their belching points.

“Inside Gale crater, the northwestern crater floor casts the strongest influence on the detections. Outside Gale crater, the emission region with the strongest influence extends towards the north. The contrasting results from two consecutive methane measurements point to an active emission region to the west and the southwest of the Curiosity rover on the northwestern crater floor.”

Reviewing the data, Live Science points out that one of those locations is just a few dozen miles from Curiosity’s current location. While that may not seem very far, Curiosity has only traveled about 15.7 miles in total since it landed in 2012. The European Space Agency’s Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) is constantly looking for methane, but it has been unable to detect those recorded by Curiosity. This could change with these new coordinates. However, it would be ideal if Curiosity could get an up-close look or sniff. Methane has a 330-year lifespan, so this could be life existed just a few centuries ago … and perhaps is still there producing it today.

Curiosity roving

Before you ask, Perseverance is about 2,300 miles from Curiosity – to far to travel or send the Ingenuity helicopter. Perseverance has different instruments and missions, but Curiosity’s data can still help it find methane, if it’s being emitted nearby and hasn’t been blown away by Ingenuity. The first manned Mars mission can’t come soon enough.

And yes … the Alien Methane Burps would be a good band name.

The post Source of Possible Alien Methane Burps on Mars Located first appeared on Mysterious Universe.