Ebola resurfaced: some viruses are never really gone

Seven years after the last Ebola epidemic in Guinea, the virus has once again raised its ugly head, with 23 cases and 12 deaths in a new outbreak. They were caused not by a spillover of the virus from animals to humans, but by latent Ebola hiding inside surviving patients. What is Ebola? Ebola virus … Continue reading Ebola resurfaced: some viruses are never really gone

Oldest human burial in Africa unearthed

About 78,000 years ago, at the mouth of a yawning cave complex in today’s south-eastern Kenya, someone placed the body of a three-year-old child on its side in a purpose-dug grave and covered it with earth from the cave floor. Whatever else was said or done in those moments is lost in time, but this … Continue reading Oldest human burial in Africa unearthed

Wangarĩ Maathai grows a movement

In 1977, more than 40 years before United States Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York unveiled the Green New Deal, which the New York Times in 2019 described as “a congressional resolution that lays out a grand plan for tackling climate change”, Wangarĩ Muta Maathai launched the Green Belt Movement (GBM), through the National Council of Women of Kenya. … Continue reading Wangarĩ Maathai grows a movement

Signs of change from a turbulent era

A new drill core, preserving a million years of environmental history in the East African Rift Valley, is helping untangle the complex relationship between human evolution and climate change. For hundreds of thousands of years, our ancestors lived in this predictable environment. With reliable access to water from freshwater lakes and meat from large grazing … Continue reading Signs of change from a turbulent era

Cichlids set the pace in east Africa’s lakes

Species formation typically happens slowly through new mutations over millions of years, but there are exceptions. The Galapagos Islands is one of the best known; there, for example, 15 bird species are thought to have evolved in just three million years. A series of lakes in eastern Africa appears to hold the record, however. Research … Continue reading Cichlids set the pace in east Africa’s lakes

Genetic consequences of the slave trade

Until less than two centuries ago, millions of people were forcibly removed from Africa by European colonisers and taken across the Atlantic to become slaves in the Americas. Helping to unravel the pervasive, ongoing impacts of this enslavement, an extensive population genetic study has added to historical records gathered by the slave trade database, concurring … Continue reading Genetic consequences of the slave trade

Crocodiles bound for America

How crocodiles first reached the Americas has long been a matter of debate. Now Italian researchers are suggesting they came from Australasia, migrating west via Africa during the Late Miocene epoch (11–5 million years ago). This follows a detailed analysis of a skull unearthed in Libya that has similarities to living species in America but … Continue reading Crocodiles bound for America

How African ancestors moved and mingled

Revelations about Africa’s past just got more colourful as ancient DNA analysis shows historical population interactions and movements were richer and more complex than previously thought. “Sub-Saharan Africa hosts tremendous cultural and economic diversity,” says Steven Goldstein from the Max Planck Institute, Germany, with various food systems that drove migrations and patterns of population change. … Continue reading How African ancestors moved and mingled

Why some countries have few COVID-19 cases

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in Wuhan, China in December 2019, we have seen the virus spread to over 160 countries. Several countries have experienced large outbreaks, including China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, Spain and France, with the US and UK seeing rapidly increasing numbers. But most countries in the world have reported very few to no … Continue reading Why some countries have few COVID-19 cases