Friday, November 6, 2015

CASHP professor, Dr. Sergio Almécija, aids in discovery of new genus and species of ape

Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Dr. Sergio Almécija and a team of researchers from GW have partnered with the Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont to publish evidence in Science Magazine of a new genus and species of ape that is an unlikely ancestor of both apes and humans. (source)
According to Science News, the partial skeleton of an 11.6-million-year-old primitive ape, dubbed Pliobates cataloniae and found near Barcelona, Spain, may force scientists to re-imagine the ancestor of all living apes and humans. With a muzzle like a gibbon but a large brain for its body size, the ancient primate has traits that link it to all apes and humans—yet it weighed only 4 kg to 5 kg.
“This is the first small ape in the fossil record that shows clear features present in all living apes,” says Almécija. “Before this discovery, we had assumed that the living small apes, the gibbons and siamangs, had evolved from larger apes of a size similar to that of a chimpanzee,”
Almécija said he was invited to analyze the fossilized remains by IPC back in 2011, when they were discovered during the construction of a landfill near Barcelona. He said he and his teammates were “stunned” to find a number of similarities between the new species and living apes.
“All scholars in the field of anthropology will start paying more attention to the small primates that lived alongside larger fossil apes in the past,” Almécija said. “Some of them could be also small apes. They just look slightly different that what we would expect, that’s why it’s difficult to identify them for what they are.” (source)

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

GW Anthropology Professor Stephen Lubkemann, Slave Wrecks Project on 60 Minutes

The Department of Anthropology's own Dr. Stephen Lubkemann was featured on CBS's 60 Minutes this past Sunday, November 1st. Dr. Lubkemann discussed his involvement with the recovery of the slaving vessel the Sao Jose, which foundered off the coast of Mozambique and South Africa in 1794. 

The excavation of the ship was a collaborative effort undertaken by members of the international Slave Wrecks Project including Dr. Lubkemann, curator at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, Dr. Paul Gardullo, IZIKO (Museums of South Africa), and the U.S. Park Service. In an exciting partnership, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture will showcase select artifacts from the site in its inaugural exhibit on the history of the slave trade upon opening in 2016.

The Slave Wrecks Project grew out of research initiated here at GW and incorporates a variety of different GW departments and programs including Anthropology, the Capitol Archaeological Institute, Africana Studies, the Diaspora Research Program, and the GW Institute for International Tourism Studies.

According to Dr. Lubkemann, the project has in turn been able to offer opportunities for research and various other types of involvement to over twenty undergraduate and graduate GW students since 2010. It has also spearheaded the development of in-depth GW partnerships with the newest of the Smithsonian museums, as well as with other national and international partners—now in at least 9 different countries including Mozambique, South Africa, Senegal, Portugal, Brazil, and Cuba.

View the 60 Minutes segment on the Sao Jose project here!