Albuquerque, Nov 24 (AP/UNB) — The earliest known example of a plant-eating reptile has been found in the fossil record in southern New Mexico, the New Mexico Museum of Natural History said.
The museum made the announcement this week , saying the unique structure of the skull, jaws and teeth of the sail-backed reptile indicate it was an herbivore, and that such specialized plant-eating wasn't previously known in reptiles older than about 200 million years.
The fossil bones were discovered near Alamogordo by Ethan Schuth while on a University of Oklahoma geology class field trip in 2013. The bones were part of an exquisitely preserved but incomplete skeleton.
Field crews spent about a year collecting the bones from the site and more time was spent removing the hard sandstone surrounding the fossils so research could ensue.
Paleontology curator Spencer Lucas and his team from the museum determined the bones were about 300 million years old, meaning the reptile lived during the early part of the Permian Period, or more than 50 million years before the origin of dinosaurs.
Lucas and research associate Matt Celeskey identified the skeleton as belonging to a new genus and species that they named Gordodon kraineri. Gordodon is derived from the Spanish word gordo, or fat, and the Greek word odon, or tooth, as the species had large pointed teeth at the tips of its jaws.
The species name kraineri honors Karl Krainer, an Austrian geologist who contributed to knowledge about the Permian period in New Mexico.
"Gordodon rewrites the books by pushing back our understanding of the evolution of such specialized herbivory by about 100 million years," Lucas said in a statement issued Wednesday.
Gordodon was about 5 feet (1.5 meters) long and weighed an estimated 75 pounds (34 kilograms). It was believed to have been a selective feeder on high-nutrient plants due to the advanced structure of its skull, jaws and teeth.
Experts at the museum say other early herbivorous reptiles were not selective, chomping on any plants they came across. They say Gordodon had some of the same specializations found in modern animals like goats and deer.
Paris, Nov 24 (AP/UNB) — African artworks held in French museums — richly carved thrones, doors to a royal kingdom, wooden statues imbued with spiritual meaning — may be heading back home to Africa at last.
French President Emmanuel Macron, trying to turn the page on France's colonial past , received a report Friday on returning art looted from African lands.
From Senegal to Ethiopia, artists, governments and museums eagerly awaited the report by French art historian Benedicte Savoy and Senegalese economist Felwine Sarr, and commissioned by Macron himself.
It recommends that French museums give back works that were taken without consent, if African countries request them — and could increase pressure on museums elsewhere in Europe to follow suit.
The experts estimate that up to 90 percent of African art is outside the continent, including statues, thrones and manuscripts. Thousands of works are held by just one museum, the Quai Branly Museum in Paris, opened in 2006 to showcase non-European art — much of it from former French colonies. The museum wouldn't immediately comment on the report.
A wooden door of the king's palace Gele of the Dahomey kingdom, dated 19th century, today's Benin, is displayed at Quai Branly museum in Paris, France, Friday, Nov. 23, 2018.
Among disputed treasures in the Quai Branly are several works from the Dahomey kingdom, in today's West African country of Benin: the metal-and-wood throne of 19th-century King Ghezo, the doors to the palace of Kign Gele, and imposing, wooden statues.
The head of Ethiopia's Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage, Yonas Desta, said the report shows "a new era of thought" in Europe's relations with Africa.
Senegal's culture minister, Abdou Latif Coulibaly, told The Associated Press: "It's entirely logical that Africans should get back their artworks. ... These works were taken in conditions that were perhaps legitimate at the time, but illegitimate today."
The report is just a first step. Challenges ahead include enforcing the report's recommendations, especially if museums resist, and determining how objects were obtained and whom to give them to.
The report is part of broader promises by Macron to turn the page on France's troubled relationship with Africa. In a groundbreaking meeting with students in Burkina Faso last year, Macron stressed the "undeniable crimes of European colonization" and said he wants pieces of African cultural heritage to return to Africa "temporarily or definitively."
"I cannot accept that a large part of African heritage is in France," he said at the time.
The French report could have broader repercussions. In Cameroon, professor Verkijika Fanso, historian at the University of Yaounde One, said: "France is feeling the heat of what others will face. Let their decision to bring back what is ours motivate others."
Germany has worked to return art seized by the Nazis, and in May the organization that coordinates that effort, the German Lost Art Foundation, said it was starting a program to research the provenance of cultural objects collected during the country's colonial past.
Britain is also under pressure to return art taken from its former colonies. In recent months, Ethiopian officials have increased efforts to secure the return of looted artifacts and manuscripts from museums, personal collections and government institutions across Britain, including valuable items taken in the 1860s after battles in northern Ethiopia, Yonas said.
In Nigeria, a group of bronze casters over the years has strongly supported calls for the return of artifacts taken from the Palace of the Oba of Benin in 1897 when the British raided it. The group still uses their forefathers' centuries-old skills to produce bronze works in Igun Street, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Eric Osamudiamen Ogbemudia, secretary of the Igun Bronze Casters Union in Benin City, said: "It was never the intention of our fathers to give these works to the British. It is important that we get them back so as to see what our ancestors left behind."
Ogbemudia warned the new French report should not remain just a "recommendation merely to make Africans to calm down.
"Let us see the action."
Dhaka, Nov 23 (UNB) - A unique fashion show titled ‘Haute Couture’ will be held at hotel Le Meridien Dhaka on Saturday to raise funds for the underprivileged children in the country and promote new designers.
Brazilian Embassy in Dhaka, Spouses of Head of Missions (SHOM) and the Fashion Design Council of Bangladesh joined hands to host the fashion show where the spouses of heads of missions will be the models to touch the hearts of those children.
Cosmos Group, REVIVE, Bashundhara Group, Mutual Trust Bank Limited, Dhaka Page3, Bay Developments Ltd, Bangladesh Heritage Crafts Foundation and Le Meridien Dhaka are the sponsors of the event while United News of Bangladesh (UNB) is the media partner.
Before the formal beginning of the fashion show, participants will enjoy a live music at the event where an American band will perform.
“Our expectation is to help the disabled, abandoned and disadvantaged children who need us and our help. We want to raise funds and touch their hearts,” said Sandra Tabajara, wife of Brazilian Ambassador in Dhaka, ahead of the event.
Apart from raising funds for the disadvantaged children in Bangladesh, Tabajara said, they also want to promote the new and young designers of Bangladesh. “That’s why we joined hands with them (Fashion Design Council).”
About live music at the fashion show, she said, “An American band will perform. I’ve another friend -- the drummer of the band -- from the Embassy of Sweden.”
Tabajara said everything there will be in blue and white. “We’ve to wear either blue or white; or blue and white together. That’s the idea of colour code.”
She shared her idea with Maheen Khan, a well-known pioneer in the design industry of Bangladesh, and spouses of Ambassadors and High Commissioners who responded positively.
“We’ll be the models. People will really have fun seeing us as models,” she said.
Moscow, Nov 21 (AP/UNB) — As freezing temperatures are setting in, Russians are rediscovering an old winter staple — felt boots called valenki.
Valenki are traditional winter footwear in Russia, prized for their ability to endure frosty conditions and a dry winter, which is typical for most of the country.
Dating back to the times of nomads in the windy steppes of southern Russia, valenki didn't become widespread until the 19th century, when they started being produced on an industrial scale. They were quickly adopted by all classes and everyone wore wearing valenki — from the czar to the peasant in the most remote village.
The felt boots, however, went out of fashion in the 1950s, when Russians got wider access to warm, Western-style footwear.
These days, Russians still wear valenki on trips in the countryside, and one can spot a pair of "designer valenki" on a cold day in Moscow. The Russian military and law enforcement personnel still get them as part of their standard gear.
A recent exhibition in the Russian capital displayed historical footwear, like the valenki worn by Marshal Georgy Zhukov as he led Soviet forces throughout World War II, as well as the boots as cutting-edge fashion items.
Rome, Nov 20 (AP/UNB) — Archaeologists have found a fresco in an ancient Pompeii bedroom that depicts a sensual scene of the Roman god Jupiter, disguised as a swan, and a legendary queen of Sparta from Greek mythology.
The figure of Leda being impregnated by the god in swan form was a fairly common home decoration theme in Pompeii and Herculaneum, another town destroyed in A.D. 79 by the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius near present-day Naples.
But Pompeii archaeological park director Massimo Osanna praised this fresco as exceptional since it was painted to make it appear Leda was looking at whoever saw the fresco upon entering the bedroom.
"Leda watches the spectator with a sensuality that's absolutely pronounced," Osanna told Italian news agency ANSA.
The fresco's details include a depiction of Leda protecting the swan with her cloak as the bird sits on her lap.
Osanna noted the fresco's context of the Greek "myth of love, with an explicit sensuality in a bedroom where, obviously beside sleep, there could be other activities."
The fresco, with its colors still remarkably vivid, was discovered Friday during ongoing work to consolidate the ancient city's structures after rains and wear-and-tear in past years caused some ruins to collapse, the tourist site's officials said.
The bedroom is located near a corridor by the entranceway of an upscale domus, or home, where another splendid fresco was discovered earlier this year, said the archaeological park, which is part of the Italian Culture Ministry.
Leda is an important figure in Greek mythology. She was said to have borne children fathered by the god Zeus, the Greek version of Jupiter, and by a mortal king of Sparta. According to myth, her children included the beautiful Helen of Troy and the twins Castor and Pollux.
Osanna said one hypothesis is that the home's owner was a rich merchant who wanted to give the impression he was culturally advanced by incorporating myth-inspired frescoes. It appeared the artist was inspired by a 4th century B.C. sculpture by Timotheos, he said.
Because of safety concerns, unexcavated parts of the domus will probably remain that way, ANSA said. Archaeologists are considering removing both frescos found in the home to a place where "they can be protected and shown to the public," Osanna was quoted as saying.
Pompeii's sprawling, partially excavated grounds are one of Italy's top tourist attractions.