Crocodiles are fascinating and fearsome creatures, and along with sharks today they are at the top of the food chain in the Animal Kingdom. Adult crocs have almost no natural enemies, apart from humans. Crocodiles are some of Earth’s oldest inhabitants, descending about 94 million years ago from the non-avian reptiles—pseudosuchians—that appeared 248 million years ago.
In a situation of life and death during wartime, it might sound superfluous that concern for Ukraine’s cultural heritage has also become newsworthy since its invasion by Russia on the 24th of February 2022. The Ukrainians themselves are risking their lives to safeguard cultural objects by transporting movable objects and artworks to safer areas and safeguarding immovable objects such as statues by covering them with sandbags. Ukraine has a long and illustrious history and as a result also a rich legacy of cultural heritage which, given the severity of the invasion, is near on impossible to safeguard.
In many African cultures, the aardvark is viewed as a symbol of strength and resilience, and anyone fortunate enough to see one is said to be blessed. The Hausa healers in West Africa pound and grind the heart, skin, and nails with the roots of a specific tree to create a charm that supposedly makes the wearer invisible at night – no doubt a great concern for any father with beautiful daughters at home!
Figure 1: An inyanga in her ndumba, a sacred hut used for healing. On the shelves are her mutis (medicine). (Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0)
Traditional medicine practice is deep-rooted in African cultures. Approximately 80% of southern Africa’s population relies on medicinal plants for its primary health care needs because modern medicine is either unobtainable or prohibitively expensive.
Archaeology is the study of the ancient and recent human past through their material remains obtained through systematic excavation and the analysis of artefacts and other physical remains. Archaeologists have long studied diseases in past populations through various evidence such as settlement layout, burials, funerary remains, and human (including hominid) skeletal remains. In this way they gain insight into the ideal environments for a pandemic to get a foothold and the strategies that earlier societies adopted to deal with it.