June 19, 2024

I, Science

The science magazine of Imperial College

Your I, Science News Roundup this week covers a statement endorsed by 11,000 scientists about the implications of climate change, new fossil evidence causing us to rethink human evolution, and the first evidence of mammoth hunting pits.

The ‘untold suffering’ that the climate crisis could cause

A new statement, published in the journal Bioscience, supported by 11,000 researchers across the globe warns of potential ‘untold suffering’ from climate change unless radical changes to society are made. The lead author of the statement said he was driven to initiate it by the increase in extreme weather he was seeing. A key aim of the warning is to set out a full range of ‘vital sign’ indicators of the causes and effects of climate breakdown, rather than only carbon emissions and surface temperature rise.

This warning comes just after the US notifying the UN that they’ve begun the process of withdrawing from the Paris Agreement – the famous agreement within the UN that sets out the participating countries’ commitments to combating climate change.

New fossil pushes back the date humans started to walk upright

Fossils of a newly discovered ancient ape suggest that it may have been able to walk upright around 12 million years ago – currently the earliest fossils that show an ape walking upright are from 6 million years ago. This new evidence effectively raises fundamental questions about our previous understanding of the evolution of humans and the great apes.

The four fossils – of a male, two females and a juvenile – were unearthed in a clay pit in Bavaria between 2015 and 2018. Previously we thought that our ancestors developed their upright posture in Africa as opposed to Europe, so these findings show just how much more there is to learn.

First evidence of prehistoric mammoth hunting pits

Two pits discovered north of Mexico City appear to be the first human-made mammoth traps we’ve ever found. At least 14 woolly mammoth skeletons were found in the 15,000 year old traps, which could change our understanding of how early humans hunted the animals; previously we believed that early humans only killed mammoths if they were injured or hurt.

Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) believes that more traps could be uncovered in the surrounding areas.

This week’s news was written by Harry Jenkins, who is studying for an MSc in Science Communication at Imperial College London. Photo by pixabay.