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By Andrew Heavens

If you are in Sudan it is a 'missed call'. In Ethiopia it is a 'miskin' or a 'pitiful' call. In other parts of Africa it is a case of 'flashing', 'beeping' or in French-speaking areas 'bipage'.

Wherever you are, it is one of the fastest-growing phenomena in the continent's booming mobile telephone markets -- and it's a headache for mobile operators who are trying to figure out how to make some money out of it.

You beep someone when you call them up on their mobile phone -- setting its display screen briefly flashing -- then hang up half a second later, before they have had a chance to answer. Your friend -- you hope -- sees your name and number on their list of 'Missed Calls' and calls you back at his or her expense.

It is a tactic born out of ingenuity and necessity, say analysts who have tracked an explosion in miskin calls by cash-strapped cellphone users from Cape Town to Cairo.

"Its roots are as a strategy to save money," said Jonathan Donner, an India-based researcher for Microsoft who is due to publish a paper on "The Rules of Beeping" in the high-brow online Journal of Computer Mediated Communication in October.

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22nd-Feb-2007 04:07 pm - Chimpanzees 'hunt using spears'
Chimpanzees in Senegal have been observed making and using wooden spears to hunt other primates, according to a study in the journal Current Biology.
Over 4000 years ago, prehistoric chimpanzees were using stone tools to smash nuts in the west African rainforest, a new study suggests.

The discovery represents the earliest known use of technology by chimps, and could indicate we share a common tool-wielding ancestor with them.

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The site and tools found near Walker, Minn., date back 13,000 to 14,000 years -- the oldest on the continent.

By Robert Franklin, Star Tribune
Atop the highest hill in Walker, Minn., archaeologists have found what they believe to be evidence of the oldest human habitation in the state -- perhaps 13,000 to 14,000 years old.

From the rough stone tools that were found, archaeologists are speculating that "we're looking at certainly the relatively earliest occupants of the North American continent," said Matt Mattson, a biologist and archaeologist who worked on the project for the Leech Lake Heritage Sites Program, which is based near Cass Lake.

They would be related to those who, according to conventional wisdom, came across the Bering Strait from Asia, Mattson said.

Britta Bloomberg, Minnesota's deputy historic preservation officer, said it may be among the oldest known archaeological sites in North and South America.

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17th-Oct-2006 02:21 am - Stonehenge Theory

A man moves large blocks and demonstrates technology that could have been used to construct Stonehenge.
6th-Oct-2006 01:24 pm - Early humans followed the coast
Learning how to live off the sea may have played a key role in the expansion of early humans around the globe.

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Cross-posted to archaeological
30th-Jun-2006 09:20 am - Early signs of elephant butchers
Bones and tusks dating back 400,000 years are the earliest signs in Britain of ancient humans butchering elephants for meat, say archaeologists.

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20th-Jun-2006 08:31 am - Front garden yields ancient tools
The Britons of 250,000 years ago were a good deal more sophisticated than they are sometimes given credit for, new archaeological evidence suggests.

It comes in the form of giant flint handaxes that have been unearthed at a site at Cuxton in Kent.

The tools display exquisite, almost flamboyant, workmanship not associated with this period until now.

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1st-Jun-2006 10:18 am - New twist in 'hobbit' human story
The hobbit-like human was smart enough to make stone tools despite its small brain, according to research.

Sharpened flints found on the remote Indonesian island where it lived suggest the human "cousin" inherited tool-making skills from its ancestors.

Some have claimed its brain was too tiny to perform a complex task seen as a hallmark of human culture.

The study in Nature backs the view that the hobbit is a new species rather than a modern human with a brain disease.

"People have said that the brain size was way too small for them to be capable of any sort of sophisticated culture, but this might not have been the case," said chief researcher Adam Brumm, of the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia.

"The brain size was very small but it would have been capable of what we call culture. It's an aspect of humanity we don't see in the likes of chimps and other great apes."

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(cross-posted to archaeological)
19th-May-2006 03:29 pm - Study shows apes can plan ahead
By Rebecca Morelle BBC News science reporter

Bonobos and orangutans are capable of future planning, according to a study published in the journal Science.

Researchers found the apes could select a suitable tool for reaching a treat, carry it away, and return with it to retrieve the reward hours later.

Forward planning is thought by some to be a uniquely human trait.

The German team suggests such skills may have evolved about 14 million years ago, when bonobos, orangutans and humans shared a common ancestor.

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5th-Apr-2006 03:02 pm - 9,000-Year-Old Dental Drill Is Found

Proving prehistoric man's ingenuity and ability to withstand and inflict excruciating pain, researchers have found that dental drilling dates back 9,000 years.

Primitive dentists drilled nearly perfect holes into live but undoubtedly unhappy patients between 5500 B.C. and 7000 B.C., an article in Thursday's journal Nature reports. Researchers carbon-dated at least nine skulls with 11 drill holes found in a Pakistan graveyard.

That means dentistry is at least 4,000 years older than first thought — and far older than the useful invention of anesthesia.

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