Scibraai Monday Menu #2: Overberg’s new crab and hyena hair, among others

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In our new Scibraai slot, we take a very brief look at a few new research papers from South Africa. Scibraai Monday Menu #2 introduces a new crab species found in the Overberg. It features the use of aloes to extract gold, the secrets of fossilized hyena hair from the Sterkfontein area, and the forgotten Indian diaspora to the Cape from 1658 to 1834.

New crab for the Overberg

A new mountain living freshwater crab species have been found in the Overberg mountains in the Western Cape. The research was done by Louisa Wood and Savel Daniels of Stellenbosch University. The new species is named Potamonautes tuerkayi sp. nov. These results highlight the importance of continued sampling of mountain habitats to document aquatic diversity of invertebrate groups.

Reference: Wood, L. & Daniels. S. (2016). Genetic and morphological evidence for a new mountain living freshwater crab species (Decapoda: Potamonautidae: Potamonautes) from the Western Cape province of South Africa. Invertebrate Systematics

 

Aloes go for gold

There’s more to aloes than just health benefits, researchers of the University of KwaZulu-Natal have shown. They used kranz aloe (Aloe arborescens) leaf extract to extract gold nanoparticles in water at room temperature under very mild conditions. The synthesis of the gold nanoparticles was complete in several minutes, and no extra stabilizing or capping agents were necessary. The size of the nanoparticles could be controlled by varying the concentration of the leaf extract. The research was published in the journal Synthesis and Reactivity in Inorganic, Metal-Organic, and Nano-Metal Chemistry.

Reference: Altaf, M. et al (2016). Characterization of triangular gold nanoparticles (GNPs) using Aloe Arborescens leaf extract: A green synthesis approach, Synthesis and Reactivity in Inorganic, Metal-Organic, and Nano-Metal Chemistry.

 Hyaena hair tell all

In the good old primitive Middle Pleistocene days, brown hyaenas were found in the Sterkfontein valley alongside humans, warthog, impala, zebra, kudu and black wildebeest. That’s among the leads that palaeontologists from the University of the Witwatersrand picked up from fossilised hair. These were found at Gladysvale Cave in the Sterkfontein valley. Phillip Taru’s research was published in the journal Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments

Reference: Taru, P. (2016). Fossil hair in brown hyaena (Parahyaena brunnea) coprolites from Middle Pleistocene deposits at Gladysvale Cave, South Africa, Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments


A forgotten diaspora: forced Indian migration to the Cape Colony from 1658 to 1834

Long before the arrival between 1860 and 1911 of indentured Indians to South Africa, there happened a forced migration to the Cape Colony from 1658 to 1834. This diaspora has been forgotten, partially because these migrants came as slaves. Data was collected from the newly transcribed Master of the Orphan Chamber (MOOC) series and slave transfers which are housed in the Western Cape Provincial Archives and Records Service (WCARS). It was the topic of Parbavat Rama’s PhD thesis received from the University of the Western Cape.

Reference: Parbavat, R. (2015). A forgotten diaspora: forced Indian Migration to the Cape Colony, 1658 to 1834, PhD thesis

 

 

 

Engela Duvenage

Co-founder of SciBraai.co.za. Day job: Science writer and science communicator who loves turning research papers into news stories. Claim to fame: mother of two daughters; winner of the Izethelo Award for Outstanding Journalism (2016) from the South African fruit industry, and winner of the best technical article award (2016) as presented by the South African Agricultural Writers' Association Background: MPhil (Journalism, specialising in science journalism) and HonsBA (Psychology).

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