Credit them with a pivotal innovation in human history: the invention of symbolic expression.
Scientists scrape samples for dating from the polychrome ceiling in Spain’s Altamira Cave, festooned with animals painted 19,000 to 15,000 years ago. Uncovered in 2008, the Venus figurine from Hohle Fels Cave in Germany is the oldest undisputed image of a human being. Delicately carved from mammoth tusk, the Lady of Brassempouy was discovered in southwest France in 1894. Perched near Africa’s southern tip, Blombos Cave has yielded some of the earliest evidence of symbolic expression, including shell beads, engraved ocher, and ocher-processing kits that are 100,000 years old. National Geographic grantee Christopher Henshilwood and his team dig for clues to the origins of modern human behavior at Klipdrift Shelter, which, like Blombos Cave, has yielded early art. A block of red ocher found in Blombos Cave in 2000 bears a pattern of cross-hatchings and parallel lines etched by a human hand 75,000 years ago.
In addition to traces of ocher, Klipdrift Shelter has yielded more than a hundred pieces of crosshatch-engraved ostrich eggshells dated to between 65,000 and 59,000 years ago. A young Himba woman applies ocher to another’s hair on a riverbank in northwestern Namibia.
The artists of the Upper Paleolithic sometimes left their work in intimate enclosures, such as this recess no bigger than a small closet in Las Chimeneas Cave near El Castillo. Assisted by Gustavo Sanz Palomera (left), researchers Dirk Hoffmann and Alistair Pike collect dating samples in a slender recess in Cantabria’s Arco B Cave. At his studio in Toulouse, France, artist Gilles Tosello paints an exact reproduction of the Great Panel from Chauvet Cave. Go behind-the-scenes with our storytellers and join conversations about photography, art, and journalism. Scientists have long held that modern humans originated in Africa because that's where they've found the oldest bones.
More than two miles down, the ghostly bow of the Titanic emerges from the darkness on a dive by explorer and filmmaker James Cameron in 2001.
With her rudder cleaving the sand and two propeller blades peeking from the murk, Titanic’s mangled stern rests on the abyssal plain, 1,970 feet south of the more photographed bow.
The first complete views of the legendary wreckEthereal views of Titanic’s bow offer a comprehensiveness of detail never seen before. The first complete views of the legendary wreckTitanic’s battered stern is captured overhead here.
This porthole is among more than 5,500 objects retrieved from the ocean floor around the wreck of the Titanic. A gentleman’s pocket watch in a sterling silver case may have been set to New York time in anticipation of a safe arrival.
See the Titanic like never before in the award-winning iPad edition of National Geographic magazine. Investigate the ship’s remains and its contents sprawled across a thousand acres of gently sloping seafloor.
Get facts, photos, and travel tips for this World Heritage site off the coast of Australia.
With a cultural map in one hand and a culinary compass in the other, savor authentic views and food in one of Australia's largest cities.
Discover the best things to do and see—from incredible beaches to the rugged outback—in this Australian gem.
Discover an impressive scenic highway that follows the windswept coastline of the land down under. National Geographic Traveler presents the New Year's must-see places, from Argentina to Oz. Fish school around the Juan Fernandez seamounts chain off Chile, examples of the biodiverse places now protected from trawling by the country.
I’m happy to start 2013 by sharing some inspiring news from my country, Chile, one of the world’s top fishing nations. According to a report presented to Chilean lawmakers by Oceana, in the past decade catch limits for three of Chile’s major fisheries – anchovy, jack mackerel, and hake – far exceeded scientific recommendation (by 78 percent, 87 percent, and 193 percent, respectively) and as a result, this blatant overfishing greatly endangered the future viability of these resources.

The new legislation also makes Chile the first country to protect all its seamounts from bottom trawling, a destructive practice that bulldozes ocean habitat in pursuit of a few target species on the seafloor.
Finally, the law requires fishermen to reduce bycatch, which is the incidental catch of species not targeted by the fishing industry. This legislation is an enormous step forward for a country that has, for too long, ignored the environmental impact of its fishing fleet. As we greatly value the advances achieved, now we must work with all the different players involved, especially with a strong Chilean State that will monitor this new fishery legislation. More attention should be putted to the new law, widely rejected for artisanal sector, who are the fishers that shows the most sustained practices, more than industry sector. More interestingly is the case of Salas y Gomez, which the enforcement of the NO-TAKE regime is of tremendous effort for our chilean government because of long distances to the nearest port. I think you have to check if Chile really is the First Country to protect the seabed from bottom trawling . National Geographic VoicesResearchers, conservationists, and others around the world share stories and commentary on the National Geographic Society's conversation platform Voices.
Society Field Inspection 2016: Gulf of CaliforniaDescribed by Jacques Cousteau as the "aquarium of the world," the Gulf of California in Mexico is threatened by coastal development, climate change, and other human activities. Support National GeographicWe've supported more than 11,000 grants to scientists and others in the field.Learn more about our work.
Two years after being discovered deep in a South African cave, the 1,500 fossils excavated during the Rising Star Expedition have been identified as belonging to a previously unknown early human relative that National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Lee Berger and team have named Homo naledi.
With at least 15 individuals of all ages and both sexes represented, the find adds an unprecedented amount of information to our understanding of early human evolution in Africa. In addition, the absence of any other animal remains or large debris in the fossil chamber strongly suggests that these non-human beings intentionally deposited their dead within this cave.
BANABA ISLAND, Kiribati—Asbestos dust covers the floors of Banaba’s crumbling colonial houses, buildings, and schools. Long thought to be extinct, one of the world's rarest primates has been caught on camera for the first time, scientists announced Monday. Follow-up surveys led by the Zoological Society of London finally confirmed the lorises are alivea€”if not exactly wella€”in 2009, when two individuals were photographed and examined. Initial estimates after the rediscovery put the total world population at fewer than a hundred, said the society's conservation biologist Craig Turner.
About 8 inches (20 centimeters) long and weighing just 11 ounces (310 grams), the slow-moving loris has been doomed as forests have been felled for firewood and to make way for tea plantations and other farms, Turner said. The Horton Plains slender loris is generally classified as a subspecies of Sri Lanka's red slender loris. Ongoing tests on DNA samples taken from the few individuals recorded to date, he added, should help to settle the issue. Prized for its warm red hue, ocher is widely used as body ornamentation today, as it was by ancient humans.
The panel will be installed in a complete replica of Chauvet being built near the cave site, scheduled to open to the public in the spring of 2015. Geneticists have come to the same conclusion by looking at Africa's vast genetic diversity, which could only have arisen as DNA mutated over millennia. The ship might have survived a head-on collision with an iceberg, but a sideswipe across her starboard side pierced too many of her watertight compartments.
The good news is that our Government and National Congress, following campaigning by Oceana, overhauled our fishing laws by banning bottom trawling in all vulnerable marine ecosystems (including all seamounts in Chile), requiring the implementation of reduction plans for bycatch and discards of ocean species, and ensuring that fishing quotas are based on science rather than politics. Under the new law, fishing quotas will be decided by independent scientific committees, without participation of the fishing industry.  This means that Chile’s catch will no longer exceed scientific recommendations and will, hopefully, become sustainable. This vicious fishing method destroys precious habitats on seamounts, including remarkable coral gardens which can take centuries to form.
It results in huge amounts of fish and other marine life being thrown back into the ocean, dead or dying. But it took a lot of hard work over the years by Oceana’s staff in Chile and key members of Congress to make it a reality. As we look towards the not-so-distant future, when the world will have a population of 9 billion people by 2050, we must ensure that the oceans are healthy enough to contribute to the increasing demand for food.

With proper enforcement, our fisheries can become healthy and can once again benefit the artisanal fishermen and coastal communities that have depended on them for so long. Like you mention, these benefits can be valued, but remember that largely the practices and power of industrial sector continues at the same point, and that our resources, worst than the past law, now are in the hands of private sector, privatizing fishes, something that sounds crazy. Posters and commenters are required to observe National Geographic's community rules and other terms of service. To learn firsthand what's going on in and around this marine treasure of global importance, the National Geographic Society sent its top scientists and officials to the region in January 2016.
In 2002 a fleeting nighttime sighting of something looking like the elusive tree-dweller, however, gave conservationists hope. And in this case, the world is limited to high cloud forests in the Horton Plains area (map) of central Sri Lankaa€”the animal's only known habitat.
There's less consensus about the routes our ancestors took in their journey out of Africa and around the planet.
This is incredibly important in my country as fishing is a major source of jobs and economic activity. But thanks to the Chilean Congress, all 118 seamounts in Chile are now closed to bottom trawling.
All fisheries must now create plans to reduce bycatch and take added measures to protect species like marine mammals, turtles, and seabirds that are incidentally caught.
Of particular note was the work done by National Geographic and Oceana in 2010 to highlight some of Chile’s precious marine habitat, which helped create the fourth largest fully protected no-take zone around the island of Salas y Gomez, near Easter Island (In 2011, both NatGeo and Oceana, together with the Chilean Navy, conducted a new and unprecedented expedition to Salas y Gomez and have proposed the expansion of the same marine park). Poor people, including many in Chile, are very dependent on seafood for their food security, so the oceans must be healthy and abundant.
They toured the desert islands off the southeastern coast of the Baja Peninsula and they listened to presentations by more than a dozen experts, including several whose Baja California research is funded by the Society. Early migrations stalled but left behind evidence such as a human skull from 92,000 years ago at Qafzeh, Israel.
This is a major development in Chile where some fisheries have enormous amounts of bycatch. Our swordfish fishery, for example, amazingly catches more sharks (as bycatch) than swordfish. But other emigrants who left Africa tens of thousands of years later could also have taken a different route: across the southern end of the Red Sea. Scientists say these more recent wanderers gave rise to the 5.5 billion humans living outside Africa today.
African CradleMost paleoanthropologists and geneticists agree that modern humans arose some 200,000 years ago in Africa. Out of AfricaGenetic data show that a small group of modern humans left Africa for good 70,000 to 50,000 years ago and eventually replaced all earlier types of humans, such as Neandertals. Their descendants, Australian Aborigines, remained genetically isolated on that island continent until recently.4. Early EuropeansPaleoanthropologists long thought that the peopling of Europe followed a route from North Africa through the Levant. But genetic data show that the DNA of today's western Eurasians resembles that of people in India.
Populating AsiaAround 40,000 years ago, humans pushed into Central Asia and arrived on the grassy steppes north of the Himalaya. At the same time, they traveled through Southeast Asia and China, eventually reaching Japan and Siberia. Into the New WorldExactly when the first people arrived in the Americas is still hotly debated. Genetic evidence suggests it was between 20,000 and 15,000 years ago, when sea levels were low and land connected Siberia to Alaska. Ice sheets would have covered the interior of North America, forcing the new arrivals to travel down the west coast.

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