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The Ornithology Department of the National Museum is calling upon members of the public to look out for the Red- Billed Buffalo- weaver in the Free State and to report any sightings. From the distribution data available, this weaver is now extinct to the Free State. Deforestation of large tracks of camel thorn savannah for agriculture and firewood has been identified as the likely cause of the local extinction of this weaver.

The Red-billed Buffalo-weaver is a large, heavy-billed weaver that has a red to orange coloured bill. The male has black plumage and its flank feathers are mottled with white. The female’s plumage is more brownish black and the feathers on the belly are slightly scaled.

In 1902 the Cape Parliament introduced the first radio legislation in the world: “Electric Telegraph shall be interpreted as including any system or means of conveying signs, signals or communication by electricity, magnetism, electro-magnetism or other like agencies, whether with or without the aid of wires, and including the system commonly known as Wireless Telegraphy or Aetheric Signalling and any improvement and development of such system.” The first wireless licences in the world were also introduced in South Africa (1902), and by 1910 the country was producing its own radio equipment.

Hendrik Johannes van der Bijl was born in Pretoria in 1887 and studied at Victoria College (today Stellenbosch University) before travelling to Germany to complete his doctorate in electrical engineering. While busy with his studies he unwittingly reinvented the thermionic valve that had first been developed by the American Lee de Forest in 1906. Van der Bijl’s research came to the attention of the American physicist Robert Millikan, who invited him to join his staff at the University of Chicago.

Date: 9 April 2019, Bloemfontein

The National Museum, Bloemfontein today unveiled the complete skull and skeleton of Tapinocaninus, which was a 3-metre long dinocephalian, an ancient ancestor of mammals.

The specimen is the most complete dinocephalian yet discovered and has been beautifully prepared by the University of the Witwatersrand. The fossil was loaned to the University as several blocks of rocks 29 years ago. It has now been returned to the National Museum as a fully prepared specimen, which will soon be placed on exhibit. A month ago, Bruce Rubidge, Romalo Govender and Marco Romano published the full skeletal description of Tapinocaninus in the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology.