Thursday, November 14, 2013

Rising Star Expedition

For those of you who know me well you know I have a lifelong passion for paleoanthropology - the study of early human and human like fossils. I had the great thrill to spend a week last July in Dr. Lee Berger's lab in Johannesburg, South Africa. I had the chance to see the detailed work that is going on regarding his signature discovery, the 2 million year old specimens of the new species Australopithecus sediba which he and his son Matthew discovered in 2009.

This past week his team began the process of retrieving fossils from deep (30 meters down) in a cave located in the Cradle of Humankind near Johannesburg. The team has been doing a GREAT job of sharing their discovery in real time through Twitter. Seeing the work happen like this is amazing and I have been sharing it with my middle and high school students. I have begun creating a daily video update of relevant tweets from teh team to give sort of a "play by play" for those without access or the inclination to use Twitter. Below you will find my videos - feel free to get caught up and experience Science in the making! 

UPDATE (September 2015) - With the results of the Rising Star Expedition soon to be released, I had the chance to visit the Rising Star cave and work with many of the team members.  I interviewed them and many of those interviews can be found at THE RISING STAR INTERVIEWS page here on the Blue Lion Blog. 

Listen to Lindsay Eaves Describe the thrill of getting the skull from the deepest part of the Rising Star Cave to the surface! 

Thanks so much for sharing this Lindsay!  

I'll be adding new updates and links about the Rising Star Expedition in this space as time progresses! 


Toad Hollow Photography said...

Wow, John, what an experience! Just this year I turned 47 and can honestly say I cannot get my head around the whole 2 million year thing. My grandmother used to tell me stories when I was young about the way the world was when she was a little girl... in the context of all of this, that's just so amazing. I love your posts my friend, they are a real highlight for me!

John Mead said...

Tanks so much Toad! I have always been passionate about Paleoanthropology since I was a young kiddo with my beloved "Time/Life" book about "Early Man". having the chance to visit Lee Berger & his team in South Africa last July was truly inspiring. I am loving the chance to help newcomers to this topic get a better understanding of the monumental nature of what's happening with Riding Star. They are sharing scientific discovery much as you share the great photography of others. I am honored to know both of you!

Michael Hutzler said...

I found the link here from the "Human Evolution: Past and Future" discussions. It is a small world, even long after the last population bottleneck.

John Mead said...

Indeed it is a small world! Glad to see you participating in John Hawk's MOOC - it's a superb course! I was lucky enough to spend time with John in South Africa last July when I visited Lee Berger. It was an amazing experience!

As our communication capabilities increase, it seems we are doing a good job of making the world a smaller place which means we get to be better connected! Please give my best to your family! CHEERS!

Lauralee Moss said...

This is fabulous! What an exciting adventure. My children are at school right now, but they will be thrilled when they come home and get to watch these videos. Thanks for sharing science with me, and your kind words on my blog.

John Mead said...

You're welcome, Lauralee! I hope they got a blast from this fascinating science adventure! I know my students are still talking about ot several months after it closed up shop for the season. I especially love that we all get our chance to digest the information that came from the caves to start and then we get to follow our hypotheses as the science on these fossils gets done. Such "open access" to expeditions like this is unheard of! I know that the Rising Star team is already looking at dates for their next excavation underground. I'll be sure to share it when it goes public!

Cynthia McWilliams said...

This is indeed very exciting! Your students are so llucky to have you.. I will be watching the Sept 16 program & following the exoedition on Twitter!