Bildagentur-online/UIG via Getty Images(AUSTIN, Texas) — “Lucy," the famous upright-walking human ancestor who is estimated to be more than 3 million years old, may have died after from falling from a tree, according to a study published Monday in the journal Nature by researchers from the University of Texas at Austin.
What caused Lucy's death has been the source of much debate in the scientific community since the discovery of her partial skeleton in 1974.
At 3.18-million-years-old, Lucy's skeleton is one of the oldest and most complete fossils of an erect-walking hominim ever discovered, according to a statement from UT Austin announcing the research. Lucy's remains have also caused a major debate over whether her species (Australopithecus afarensis) was arboreal, or spent time in trees, according to the UT Austin researchers.
An autopsy performed on her remains suggests that she did spend some time in trees, according to John Kappelman, a UT Austin professor and the lead author of the study, who calls the cause of death "ironic."
“It is ironic that the fossil at the center of a debate about the role of arborealism in human evolution likely died from injuries suffered from a fall out of a tree,” Kappelman, the professor of anthropology and geological sciences at UT Austin, said in a statement.
Kappelman studied thousands of high-resolution CT scans of Lucy's remains and noticed unusual fractures in her bones, which led him to theorize that Lucy may have fallen to her death. He believes that Lucy most likely sought refuge in trees during the night, according to a statement from UT Austin.
“When the extent of Lucy’s multiple injuries first came into focus, her image popped into my mind’s eye, and I felt a jump of empathy across time and space,” Kappelman said. “Lucy was no longer simply a box of bones but in death became a real individual: a small, broken body lying helpless at the bottom of a tree.”
Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A lightning storm killed more than 300 reindeer in Norway over the weekend, according to the Norwegian Environment Agency, which released photos of reindeer carcasses lining the Hardangervidda mountain plateau.
The Norwegian Nature Inspectorate (also known by its Norwegian acronym SNO) said that 323 animals died, of which 70 were calves. Of the 323 dead, five reindeer had to be euthanized by the SNO.
The SNO and representatives from the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research visited the area on Sunday and extracted samples from the animals, the SNO said in a statement.
Hardangervidda is home to about 10,000 to 11,000 reindeer, the largest population of wild reindeer in Norway, according to the Norwegian Wild Reindeer Centre.
iStock/Thinkstock(SABRATHA, Libya) — Thousands of refugees trying to reach Europe were rescued off the coast of Libya on Monday morning after their overcrowded wooden boats sent people falling into the Mediterranean Sea.
The refugees, many of them from Eritrea, jumped into the water from more than 20 boats roughly 13 miles north of Sabratha, a coastal city in Libya. They were helped by the Italian Coast Guard and workers for a non-governmental organization.
Images show people struggling to swim in the water and groups clustered together in the rescue vessels.
Large numbers of small children who apparently braved the perilous journey along with their families can be seen seated on the laps of adults.
In one image, clusters of personal belongings are shown scattered around the deck of an abandoned ship.
Imagery of refugees crossing the Mediterranean Sea has become iconic in recent years, as hundreds of thousands seek safety or employment by journeying to Europe from the shores of Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, and Turkey.
The UN reports that 271,218 of people arrived by sea this year, and that 3,167 who attempted such a trip are either missing or dead.
Although much attention has focused on refugees from war-torn Syria, many refugees are also from Eritrea.
Hundreds of thousands have fled Eritrea, located on the horn of Africa and bordering Sudan, due to the country's violent, repressive government and limited opportunity for many citizens, according to rights organizations.
"Eritrea’s dismal human rights situation, exacerbated by indefinite military conscription, has led thousands of Eritreans to flee every month," according to Human Rights Watch.
The group cites forced labor, arbitrary arrests, detentions, torture, restrictions on freedoms of expression and movement, and repression of religious freedom as being among the incentives Eritreans have to flee their country.
Mike Trew/ABC News(LONDON) — In this age of the cell phone, Britain’s iconic red phone booths are quickly disappearing from the streets. Originally designed by Giles Gilbert Scott in the 1920s, the red booths were a 20th-century necessity of life.
Now, sadly, like the dinosaur, extinction threatens. They are being removed to junk yards to decay or sold to collectors as a little bit of British fun.
But some imaginative people are saving these noble edifices, their beloved "telephone boxes," on their original sites, throwing away the phones and repurposing the space inside for the 21st century. Phone booths have been transformed into lending libraries, tourist information points, Wi-Fi hubs, defibrillator stations, places to charge electric cars, coffee shops and more.
In the leafy North London suburb of Hampstead, a few of telephone booths still survive, but one is very special. Since February, this one booth has morphed into Kape Barako, a coffee shop owned by Pakistani-born Umar Khalid and his wife Alona. They see it as a unique business opportunity.
When they opened, they served coffee, tea, hot chocolate, pastries and pies. With summer, the oven was replaced by a fridge for cold drinks along with sandwiches and milkshakes. The coffee is good and cheaper than a lot of nearby coffee shops. They are building up a loyal clientele, particularly the local dog walkers, who can enjoy their coffees without having to tether their dogs in the street.
For Umar and Alona it's full steam ahead for what Umar says must be the smallest coffee shop.
The head of Colombia's FARC leftist guerrilla, Timoleon Jimenez, aka 'Timochenko,' speaks during a press conference with other members of his delegation in Havana on August 28, 2016. Colombia's FARC rebel force ordered a definitive ceasefire late Sunday as part of an accord to end 52 years of conflict with the government. YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images(BOGOTA, Colombia) -- A ceasefire between the Colombian government and the main rebel group, the FARC, was announced Sunday evening.
The ceasefire brings an end to the 52-year-old war, one of the world's largest insurgencies, following four years of peace negotiations in Cuba. An official agreement is expected to be signed in the coming weeks, the BBC reports.
FARC's leader Rodrigo Londono ordered all of his group's combatants to "cease fire and hostilities against the Colombian state from midnight tonight" on Sunday evening. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos signed a decree earlier in the day that halted military action against FARC.
On Friday, Santos tweeted that the end of the conflict had arrived.
According to the BBC, the more than 50 years of conflict left more than 260,000 people dead and millions displaced internally.
The FARC is expected to abandon its armed resistance and join the legal political process, the BBC says. In March, the Colombian government announced the beginning of negotiations with the second largest rebel group, the ELN, but that group has yet to reach the government's requirement to release all hostages and stop all kidnapping.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Hurricane Gaston has reformed in the Atlantic Ocean and although it's not expected to reach land, experts say it could grow stronger in the next few days.
"We're not forecasting it to become a major hurricane, but it could near major hurricane status during the next 48 hours," forecaster Todd Kimberlain of the National Hurricane Center (NHC) told ABC News.
The category 1 storm's highest sustained winds are 85 miles per hour while moving slowly northwest at 8 miles per hour, according to NHC.
Separately, another storm system is headed to Florida and could be this season's next named storm. The low pressure wave, with some tropical storm force winds, is moving west after lingering over the Caribbean for a few days, the NHC said.
"The computer models are saying some kind of low pressure area is likely to form in the eastern Gulf of Mexico earlier this week and it is possible that it could become a tropical cyclone at that point," Kimberlain said to ABC News.
izustun/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- By Monday, more than 10,000 Syrian refugees will have been accepted into the United States in the 2016 fiscal year, the U.S. Ambassador to Jordan announced Sunday.
The Syrian refugee resettlement program aimed to accept 10,000 refugees for the entire 2016 fiscal year. The American program looks to take in the most vulnerable refugees from Syria.
Ambassador Alice Wells said Sunday that the refugees who are accepted are the most thoroughly screened of all travelers to the United States.
Jordan, which neighbors Syria, has taken in approximately 660,000 refugees.
The latest group of refugees accepted into the U.S. are expected to go to California and Virginia.
Stocktrek Images/Thinkstock(MAUNA LOA, Hawaii) -- A year-long mission to simulate life on Mars has ended, with six crew members exiting their geodesic dome in Hawaii.
The six-member crew lived in isolation in the dome, which was set at about 8,200 feet above sea level as part of the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation project known as HI-SEAS.
The simulation, which lasted 365 days, was focused on crewmember cohesion and performance over such a long time period in a Mars-like environment.
"The [University of Hawaii] research going on up here is just super vital when it comes to picking crews, figuring out how people are going to actually work on different kinds of missions, and sort of the human factors of space travel, colonization, whatever it is you are actually looking at," said Tristan Bassingthwaighte, a doctor of Architecture candidate at the school. Bassingthwaighte was the simulation crew's architect.
UH professor Kim Binsted, the principal investigator of the HI-SEAS project, said that everyone involved is "proud to be helping NASA reduce or remove the barriers to long-duration space exploration."
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(TALLINN, Estona) -- With less than 75 days until the United States presidential election, one world leader has weighed in on the prospect of a Donald Trump administration.
“I would certainly hope that he would be well-briefed on foreign affairs, so that he knows who does what,” Toomas Hendrik Ilves, the president of Estonia, said in an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Martha Raddatz.
Trump has repeatedly questioned the U.S. commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, refusing to guarantee military support to Baltic states if invaded by Russia.
“We have many NATO members that aren’t paying their bills,” Trump told The New York Times in July.
Ilves noted that his country, one of the most vulnerable to Russian aggression, is also one of the few NATO allies that meets the target spending of two percent of gross domestic product on defense. Following a meeting of Baltic leaders with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden in Latvia where Biden reiterated America’s commitment to the security of Europe, Ilves said he’s not worried about “that rhetoric flying around.”
Ilves, who was raised in New Jersey and educated at Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania, said the biggest problem for Estonia is people who don’t know anything about Europe. But regarding Trump’s knowledge of foreign affairs, the Estonian president, noted for calling out a Trump supporter for improper spelling on Twitter last month, said, “I’m told it’s improving.”
“That’s very diplomatic of you,” Raddatz responded .
As for Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom Trump has called for improved relations with, Ilves didn’t mince his words -- he sees no rhyme or reason to Putin’s aggression.
“I don't see a strategy given, especially, the severe economic problems they are facing,” Ilves said. “It’s more of an ad hoc 'let's try this let's try that.'”
He added he thinks Putin acts not out of craziness but to keep others off balance, with his biggest concern being not conscious Russian maneuvering, but “some stupid accident.”
Ashley Bartyik (SURREY, British Columbia) -- An elderly couple from the town of Surrey in British Columbia, Canada, was recently photographed crying after apparently being moved to separate nursing homes a few months ago.
The emotional photo was taken Monday during a visit between the couple. Ashley Bartyik, the couple's granddaughter, told ABC News this week she's worried that their "heartbreak and the stress could literally kill them."
"This is the saddest photo I have ever taken," Bartyik, 29, wrote in the photo's caption. It has been shared nearly 3,000 times on Facebook.
She explained that after 62 years of marriage, her grandparents have been separated for eight months "due to backlogs and delays by our heath care system."
Bartyik said her grandpa, 83-year-old Wolfram Gottschalk, was first put in an assisted living home in January after he suffered health complications from dementia that made it impossible for her family to take care of him at home.
Four months later, her grandmother -- 81-year-old Anita Gottschalk -- also had to enter assisted living, but she was put in a different home than Wolfram, Bartyik said.
Since then, Wolfram has been put on a waiting list to be able to move in with Anita, she added.
For now, Bartyik and her parents try to drive Anita to Wolfram's center at least every two days, so they can see each other, "even if for only a little bit."
She said the photo of her grandparents’ crying was taken during a recent visit.
"They're heartbroken, they cry every time they see each other," Bartyik said. "In addition to the dementia, we recently learned my grandfather also has cancer now. My grandma needs to be able to spend these last few days with him, not worried about when the next time she'll see him is."
A spokeswoman for Fraser Health Authority, which manages the assisted living residences in the area, said it has been working to get the couple together but space is unavailable.
"We certainly understand how heartbreaking this is for the family," spokeswoman Tasleem Juma told ABC News partner CTV News. "It’s upsetting for us as well."
Juma added that Fraser Health would "continue to work to reunite this couple and hope to do so in the next few weeks."
Meanwhile, Bartyik said she and her family will continue trying to get her grandparents back together.
"They've been together since they got married in 1954," she said. "They're completely infatuated with each other and have been together in sickness and health. They deserve to stay together."
studioportosabbia/iStock/Thinkstock(AMATRICE, Italy) -- Italy's national day of mourning following Wednesday's deadly earthquake kicked off Saturday morning with an increase in the death toll to at least 290 and a series of aftershocks that rattled the already-frayed nerves of shaken residents.
Italy's Civil Protection agency said late Saturday morning that the death toll increased to 290 from 281 as bodies continued to be recovered. The number of injured is 387.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the aftershock struck at 4:50 a.m. local time with a magnitude of 4.2. The Italian Geophysics Institute measure the aftershock at 4.0.
The day of mourning will include a state funeral for some victims in the town of Ascoli Piceno. Premier Matteo Renzi and President Sergio Mattarella are slated to attend.
On Saturday morning, Mattarella toured Amatrice, a town devastated in the earthquake that has the highest death toll. Guided by town mayor Sergio Pirozzi, Mattarella was taken only to the edge of the town, because it is too dangerous to enter the heart of the medieval town due to the extent of the destruction.
Ahead of the funeral, flower-topped caskets filled a gym where mourners are paying their respects to victims of the 6.2 magnitude quake.
More than 200 people were pulled alive from the devastation, including a 10-year-old girl rescued after spending 17 hours buried in a collapsed building. She was reported to be in stable condition after undergoing surgery.
Renzi has declared a state of emergency and authorized 50 million euros to fund the recovery.
More than 2,000 people, left homeless by the quake, have been spending their nights in tent cities.
JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images(PARIS) -- France’s highest court has ruled against the recent ban on "burkinis" in the town of Villeneuve-Loubet, saying it was a clear violation of individual and fundamental liberties.
There are similar bans in about 30 coastal towns in France and each one will remain in place until they are legally challenged. However, Friday's decision by the council of state sets a precedent.
The ruling trumps the recent decision by local authorities to ban “improper clothes that don’t respect good morals or secularism” on beaches between June 15 and Sept. 15.
"Burkinis" are a full body swimsuit worn by Muslim women.
The challenge was brought by the League of Human Rights and the Committee against Islamaphobia.
While France's prime minister supported the ban, calling the burkini an "enslavement of women," the lawyer who challenged the ban in court argued that the burkini was a veil and a wetsuit combined, adding that veils are authorized in public spaces in France.
The ban has been in the media spotlight ever since photos of a woman wearing a headscarf and leggings on a beach in Nice was widely shared on social media. In the photos, armed officers can be seen confronting the Muslim woman about her clothing.
The League of Human Rights, Human Rights Watch and other groups have publicly spoken out against the ban.
Bénédicte Jeannerod, the director of Human Rights Watch in France, wrote in a statement, "Under the pretext of defending France’s republican principles and women’s rights, the burkini ban actually amounts to banning women from the beach, in the middle of the summer, just because they wish to cover their bodies in public. It’s almost a form of collective punishment against Muslim women for the actions of others.”
French President Francois Hollande has not addressed the burkini issue directly, but said in a recent speech that there must be a "need for rules and respect of those rules, without provocation and stigmatization.”
Marco Longari / AFP / Pool/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(PRETORIA, South Africa) -- Oscar Pistorius' 6-year prison sentence still stands after an appeal was rejected.
South African state prosecutors had appealed on that basis that the Paralympic athlete's sentence was too light, but Judge Thokozile Masipa rejected their claim at a hearing in Pretoria on Friday.
Pistorius, 29, did not appear in court.
The amputee sprinter was sentenced in July for the 2013 murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. Pistorius was previously found guilty of culpable homicide in September 2014, and was granted parole and transferred to house arrest in October 2015.
The Supreme Court of Appeals overturned the verdict in December when the appeals judge found Pistorius guilty of murder. Pistorius said he thought Steenkamp was an intruder when he shot her through a locked bathroom door, but the judge said he should have known he was going to kill whoever was on the other side.
U.S. Department of State(GENEVA) -- Progress has been made on a new Syria agreement between the U.S. and Russia, according to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
Kerry and Russia's Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov held talks in Geneva for 12 hours Friday to discuss reinstating a collapsed ceasefire from February and a path forward with Syria.
Kerry said the two had "narrow issues" to resolve but they had "achieved clarity on the path forward," according to BBC.
"We want to have something done that is effective and that works for the people of Syria, that makes the region more stable and secure, and that brings us to the table here in Geneva to find a political solution," he said according to BBC.
He said Friday the widely-circulated image of a 5-year-old boy sitting in an ambulance after an airstrike in Aleppo covered in dust and blood "needs to motivate all of us to get the job done."