Guide Discover Africa (Discover Reading Level 2)

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Planning the first follow-up expedition then fell upon the capable shoulders of Kew Gardens botanist Jonathan Timberlake. He assembled and led an international team of 28 scientists on the first expedition to Mount Mabu in October and November The team consisted of scientists and support staff from the UK, Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, Belgium and Switzerland, and they relied upon 70 porters to help them with their work.

Even today we cannot say we know all of the world's key areas for biodiversity -- there are still new ones to discover", Mr Timberlake was quoted as saying in a Kew Gardens press release. Some of the plants they found included a rarely seen orchid, and they discovered a tropical mistletoe, Helixanthera schizocalyx , a hairless parasitic shrub that attaches to tree branches, growing up to 50 cm 1.

All together, the team collected and brought back more than plant specimens, which are being studied in Kew's Herbarium. In addition to thousands of tropical plants, they also saw blue duiker antelope, samango monkeys, elephant shrews, and almost different types of butterflies.

Mount Mabu is also home to a variety of birds, many rare or endangered, including a population of the vulnerable Swynnerton's robin, Swynnertonia swynnertoni , whose continued existence is threatened by habitat loss elsewhere. The Thyolo Alethe, Alethe choloensis , which is endangered elsewhere in its small range, is common throughout the Mabu forest.

Six other globally threatened bird species were among the species identified on the first expedition. In addition to rare birds, the team has discovered a new pygmy chameleon, Nadzikambia baylissi , which is the second species in what was previously thought to be a monotypic genus, Nadzikambia. They also discovered a previously unknown bush viper, Atheris mabuensis , and two more species of snakes that are new to science, four new butterfly species, a crab, and five plants.

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Further analysis will reveal whether they also discovered even more new species as the team members suspect, including a new shrew, a pseudo-scorpion, frogs, snails, bats, catfish, and a variety of insects. On their first expedition, the team hiked up the mountain to its peak, documenting and collecting species along the way. Since that initial expedition, scientists have returned several times, and more expeditions are in the planning stages. Equally exciting is the proactive stance of the Mozambique government: they announced in that they would establish conservation measures to prevent commercial logging in the Mabu forest.

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Did you know? Discount applies to item prices; cannot be combined with other offers or coupons. Clues can be derived from the present: from the peoples living today in Africa, the languages they speak, and their plant crops and domestic animals. Clues can also be dug up from the past, from the bones and artifacts of long-dead peoples. By examining these clues one at a time and then combining all of them, we can begin to reconstruct who moved where at what time in Africa, and what let them move--with enormous consequences for the modern continent.

As I mentioned, the africa encountered by the first European explorers in the fifteenth century was already home to five human races: blacks, whites, Pygmies, Khoisan, and Asians.


The only race not found in Africa is the aboriginal Australians and their relatives. Now, I know that classifying people into arbitrary races is stereotyping. Each of these groups is actually very diverse, and lumping people as different as the Zulu, Masai, and Ibo under the single heading "blacks" ignores the differences between them.

So does lumping Africa's Egyptians and Berbers with each other and with Europe's Swedes under the single heading "whites. All the human groups on Earth have mated with humans of every other group they've encountered. Nevertheless, recognizing these major groups and calling them by these inexact names is a shorthand that makes it easier to understand history. By analogy, it's also useful to divide classical music into periods like "baroque," "classical," and "romantic," even though each period is diverse and shades into other periods. By the time European colonialists arrived, most of Africa's major population movements had already taken place see map on next page.

Blacks occupied the largest area, from the southern Sahara to most of sub-Saharan Africa. The ancestors of most African Americans came from Africa's western coastal zone, but similar peoples occupied East Africa as well, north to the Sudan and south to the southeast coast of South Africa. They were mostly farmers or herders, as were the native African whites, who occupied Africa's northern coastal zone and the northern Sahara.

Few of those northern Africans--the Egyptians, Libyans, and Moroccans, for instance-- would be confused with a blond, blue-eyed Swede, but they're often considered white because they have lighter skin and straighter hair than the peoples to the south. At the same time, the Pygmies were already living in groups widely scattered through the central African rain forest. Although they were traditionally hunter-gatherers, they also traded with or worked for neighboring black farmers.

Like their neighbors, the Pygmies are dark- skinned and have tightly curled hair, but that hair is more thickly distributed over their body and face. They also are much smaller in size and have more prominent foreheads, eyes, and teeth.

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In the s they were actually two groups, found over much of southern Africa: large-statured Khoi herders, pejoratively known as Hottentots, and smaller San hunter-gatherers, pejoratively called Bushmen. Most of the Khoi populations no longer exist; European colonists shot, displaced, or infected many of them, and the survivors interbred with Europeans. Though the San hunter-gatherers were similarly shot, displaced, and infected, a dwindling number managed to preserve their distinctness in Namibian desert areas unsuitable for agriculture.

The Khoisan today look quite unlike African blacks: they have light brown skin sometimes described as yellow, and their hair is even more tightly coiled. Of these population distributions, that of North Africa's whites is the least surprising because physically similar peoples live in adjacent areas of the Middle East and Europe. Throughout recorded history people have been moving back and forth between Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa.

But the puzzling placements of blacks, Pygmies, and Khoisan hint at past population upheavals. Today there are just , Pygmies scattered amid million blacks. This fragmentation suggests that Pygmy hunters lived throughout the equatorial forests until they were displaced and isolated into small groups by the arrival of black farmers.

Similarly, the Khoisan area of southern Africa is surprisingly small for a people so distinct in anatomy and language. Could the Khoisan as well have been originally more widespread until their more northerly populations were somehow eliminated? Perhaps the greatest puzzle, however, involves the island of Madagascar, which lies just miles off the coast of southeastern Africa, much closer to Africa than to any other continent.

It's in Madagascar that the fifth African race is found.

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Madagascar's people prove to be a mixture of two elements: African blacks and--surprisingly, given the separation seemingly dictated by the whole expanse of the Indian Ocean--Southeast Asians, specifically Indonesians. As it happens, the language of the Malagasy people is very close to the Ma'anyan language spoken on the Indonesian island of Borneo, over 4, miles away.

No one even remotely resembling the Borneans lives within thousands of miles of Madagascar. These Indonesians, their language, and their modified culture were already established on Madagascar by the time it was first visited by Europeans in To me this is the single most astonishing fact of human geography in the whole world. It's as if Columbus, on reaching Cuba, had found it occupied by blue-eyed, towheaded Scandinavians speaking a language close to Swedish, even though the nearby North American continent was inhabited by Indians speaking Indian languages.

How on earth could prehistoric people of Borneo, presumably voyaging in boats without maps or compasses, have ended up in Madagascar?

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The case of Madagascar shows how peoples' languages, as well as their physical appearance, can yield important clues to their origins. Similarly, there's much to be learned from African languages that can't be gleaned from African faces. In the mind-boggling complexities of Africa's 1, languages were simplified by the great linguist Joseph Greenberg of Stanford. Greenberg recognized that all those languages can be divided into just four broad families.

And, because languages of a given language family tend to be spoken by distinct peoples, in Africa there are some rough correspondences between the language families and the anatomically defined human groups see map at right. Afro-Asiatic languages, however, are spoken by a wide variety of both whites and blacks. The language of Madagascar belongs to yet another, non-African category, the Austronesian language family. What about the Pygmies? They're the only one of Africa's five races that lacks a distinct language: each band of Pygmies speaks the language of its neighboring black farmers.

If you compare a given language as spoken by Pygmies with the same language as spoken by blacks, however, the Pygmy version contains unique words and, sometimes, distinctive sounds. That makes sense, of course: originally the Pygmies, living in a place as distinctive as the equatorial African rain forest, must have been sufficiently isolated to develop their own language family.

Today, however, those languages' disappearance and the Pygmies' highly fragmented distribution both suggest that the Pygmy homeland was engulfed by invading black farmers.

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The remaining small bands of Pygmies adopted the invaders' languages, with only traces of their original languages surviving in a few words and sounds. The distribution of Khoisan languages testifies to an even more dramatic engulfing. Those languages are famously unique--they're the ones that use clicks as consonants. All the existing Khoisan languages are confined to southern Africa, with two exceptions: the click-laden Hadza and Sandawe languages spoken in Tanzania, some 1, miles from their nearest linguistic kin.

In addition, clicks have made it into a few of the Niger-Congo languages of southern Africa, such as Zulu and Xhosa which is the language of Nelson Mandela. Clicks or Khoisan words also appear in two Afro-Asiatic languages spoken by blacks in Kenya, stranded even farther from the Khoisan peoples of today than are the Hadza and Sandawe speakers of Tanzania. All this suggests that Khoisan languages and peoples formerly extended far north into Africa until the Khoisan, like the Pygmies, were engulfed by the blacks, leaving behind only a linguistic legacy to testify to their former presence.

Perhaps the most important discovery from linguistic sleuthing, however, involves the Niger-Congo language family, which today is spread all over West Africa and most of subequatorial Africa. Its current enormous range seems to give no clue as to precisely where the family originated. However, Greenberg has pointed out that the Bantu languages of subequatorial Africa, once thought to be their own language family, are actually a subfamily of the Niger-Congo language family.

Technically they're a sub-sub-sub-sub-sub-sub-sub-sub-sub-subfamily. These Bantu languages today account for nearly half of the 1, Niger-Congo languages, and Bantu speakers account for more than half nearly million of the Niger-Congo speakers. Yet all Bantu languages are so similar to one another that they've been facetiously described as dialects of a single language. There are some other such Niger-Congo subfamilies, most of which are crammed into West Africa, a small fraction of the entire Niger- Congo range.

Even the most distinctive Bantu languages, as well as the Niger-Congo languages most closely related to Bantu, are concentrated there, in a tiny area of Cameroon and adjacent east and central Nigeria. From Greenberg's evidence it seems obvious that the Niger-Congo language family arose in West Africa, while the Bantu subfamily arose at the east end of that range, in Cameroon and Nigeria, and then spread out over most of subequatorial Africa. That spread must have begun sufficiently long ago that the ancestral Bantu language had time to split into daughter languages, but nevertheless recently enough that all those daughter languages are still very similar to one another.