Prof Rossouw Von Solms is the leader of the research team at NMMU.(Image:MyPE) Many unsuspecting people have become victims of internet fraud.(Image:Internet legal advisor) MEDIA CONTACTS • Prof Rossouw von Solms NMMU research leader +27 41 504 9604 RELATED ARTICLES • New unit to crack down on crime • Mobile swipe machines take off in South Africa • Smart card ID system for South Africa • Social media to help Nigerian poll Musa MkalipiA team of researchers in the School of Information and Communication Technology at the Eastern Cape’s Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University has come up with a solution to mitigate SIM swap fraud and fraudulent internet banking transactions, using just a USB stick.Like others around the world, South Africans are not immune to internet crime. The NMMU innovation is a solution to help people to avoid falling prey to fraudsters, and will also make it possible to carry out secure internet banking from any computer, even a public one in an internet café.The technology is based on a custom-built operating system residing on the USB drive, and into which the client computer boots. The system is used solely to do online banking, and can’t be cracked, hacked or broken into, according to NMMU.The bank will issue the device in the same manner as a credit card or debit card is issued currently. The USB stick is unique in that it incorporates a SIM card and a modem. The bank sends a text message containing a security code to the user’s phone, which offers double protection.When a client wants to do online banking via the computer, he or she plugs in the banking stick but will first need to enter a PIN number to prove authenticity, after which a communication link is created between the client and the bank that cannot be compromised.“We are currently experimenting with a fingerprint reader on the banking stick to offer maximum protection,” said Prof Rossouw von Solms, a cyber-security specialist and leader of the research team that created the technology. “Thus the bank will know that it is me doing banking as only I have this unique banking stick.”Cutting down on internet banking risksAccording to Von Solms, the USB stick could be a potential solution to most current online banking risks – if not all of them.“More than one thousand cases of online banking fraud have been reported over the last few months,” he said.Von Solms added that South African banks are currently running a fairly secure internet banking system, but that the systems are deployed in an insecure environment where clients are not always aware of the risks, and need to be educated as to what steps to take to prevent themselves from being victims of internet banking fraud.Putting together the solution took about 18 months. The university is doing similar solution-based research in the information and security field, but specifically from an educational point of view. Von Solms said that primary schools, old age homes, and corporate environments are taught about the basic principles of information security. “The main message is to make them information- and cyber-aware,” he said.According to Von Solms, fraudsters use the practice of phishing to get your pin and password to access your bank account. This means that they lure people to a dubious – but authentic-looking – website using emails from what appear to be well known and trustworthy sites, ask them to enter their security details, and then capture those details.“When you enter your user ID and password for internet banking, your details are transferred to a secret destination,” said Von Solms. Once the fraudsters have these details, they are able to gain access to your funds. Illegal SIM swaps have become widespread to intercept one-time-pin codes sent by banks to online clients to finalise a transaction.Mary-Ann Chetty, innovation manager in NMMU’s department of technology transfer, said that the university approached two of the country’s major banks, demonstrated the technology and offered it to them, but neither was interested. “According to them, ‘one more click’ is not acceptable to their online clients,” she said in a statement.A third bank has been approached and negotiations are under way. “We really hope after all the media buzz that has appeared lately, banks will be more serious about taking the solution,” said Von Solms. He added that the team needs a bank to work with them to develop this technology, tweak and implement it.Internet banking fraud on the riseA report on banking services compiled by Clive Pillay from the Ombudsman for Banking Services, says that in 2012, South African internet fraud rose by 3% and mobile banking fraud by 8%. The report also said the growing trend is linked with the rising use of mobile phone banking technology in the country.The ombudsman urged banks not to compromise on security and control in the banking environment, in order to provide a reliable payment system.While victims may take steps to protect themselves, it is difficult for them to identify internet fraudsters as they are usually nameless and faceless.In 2009 only 45 cases of internet banking fraud were reported by the banking ombudsman. In 2010 the number rose to 484 cases. By 2011 there were 591 complaints on record.In 2012, banking fraud complaints constituted 20% of the complaints handled by the ombudsman. Of these complaints, 1 335 were from Absa, 1 260 from First National Bank, 845 from Standard Bank, 648 from Nedbank and 252 from Capitec Bank, according to Pillay’s report.How to protect yourselfAccording to business publisher ITWeb Africa, African nations such as Uganda and Nigeria have announced deadlines for SIM registration, to combat criminal activity. However, in a country like South Africa where these registrations exist, criminals still find a way to scam. Millions are being stolen from clients even with such monitoring.Criminals use online accounts or credit card details to make fraudulent transactions, and online fraud of any form can have serious financial consequences including damage to a person’s credit record.By diligently following a few recommended steps, people can minimise the risk to themselves, their banking details and their funds:Protect your personal and account information at all times;Never give your cheque account or credit card to unknown callers, as this could be a scam. No credible institution will ask for sensitive details over the phone;Never give out your ATM, debit card or credit card number;Report lost or stolen cheques immediately;If an email claims to be from a bank, but the email address is from a Gmail account or similar, it doesn’t come from the bank. Check the grammar and spelling of such messages – often they will be riddled with errors;If you suspect that your credit or debit card has been compromised, cancel it immediately and request a replacement.
20 February 2014 The South African government is to look into the possibility of legalising the medical use of marijuana, Public Service and Administration Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said during the second day of parliamentary debate on President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation address in Cape Town on Wednesday. The followed a special plea to Zuma by Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) MP Mario Oriani-Ambrosini, who was last year diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, to consider making it legal in South Africa to use marijuana for medical reasons, saying not to do so would be a “crime against humanity”. While tempers often flare in Parliament during fiery debates between the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and opposition parties, Ambrosini’s moving address drew a standing ovation from all members of the house. Ambrosini said that decriminalising marijuana for medical use would not only help millions of South Africans who were suffering from his condition, but would also contribute to transforming the country’s health sector. “Mr President, you have known me for 20 years … I am speaking to you today somehow a changed man, not to curse you, but to plead with you to provide a voice for many people with my condition.” Sisulu, responding a short while later, said: “Mr Ambrosini, I have worked with you for many years and it hurts me to see you in the state that you are in. I had a word, as you were speaking, with [Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi], and he indicates to me we are really keen to follow up on the discussion and research around the world on the issue of the potential of decriminalising medical marijuana. We are a caring society.” Addressing the house earlier, Motsoaledi said South Africa had successfully rolled out an HIV/Aids campaign that was being modelled around the world, and would do the same, going forward, with other diseases. He said a new war had been declared on cervical cancer. According to statistics, cervical cancer affects over 6 000 women annually, with just over half of these cases resulting in death. Motsoaledi said 80% of cervical cancer victims were African women and that the disease was more likely to affect women who were HIV-positive. It is propagated by a virus called the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). “Honourable Speaker, Human Papilloma Virus has a vaccine. It is called the HPV vaccine. The World Health Organisation advises us to vaccinate sexually naive young girls. “I am happy to announce that we are ready to vaccinate young girls against this disease from March this year. We shall vaccinate all the grade 4 learners in public schools. This will then happen every subsequent year in our schools – it will be a feature of any grade 4 class from this year and forever.” Source: SAnews.gov.za
Andy Fennell said he’s usually not very vocal, but he was sick of finger pointing and blame.“I’m definitely not an activist, but you know, I just got a little bit fed up with all the negativity surrounding — especially the Tim Hortons saga in Ontario. From owning a small business, I sort of know the economics of running a business like this and it didn’t jive to well for me,” he said.“Businesses going out of business purely ’cause of government legislation also doesn’t sit well with me. There’s more to it than that.”He admits, recent changes to statutory holiday pay do sting a bit.“In my opinion, the stat holiday guidelines were really fair on employees last year, and this new legislation adds a hell of a lot of extra expense,” he said.“I’m not totally in favour of it, but you know what, I mean, you lobby, you vote, you get on with it and you find a way to make it work.”And he said, he won’t let it hurt his staff. But, that doesn’t mean he’s letting the province off the hook when it comes to stimulating the economy.“There’s been a lot of talk and not a lot of action,” Fennell said.“I don’t think the government, in any level or shape, has really done a great deal to help us. If we want to diversify, this was the time to do it, and we’re probably going to forget that again, and move ahead with oil and gas, and we’ve had the opportunity and we haven’t took it.” The owner of a Calgary coffee bar is slamming corporations for “moaning” about minimum wage hikes.A post on the Facebook page for Gravity Espresso and Wine Bar in Inglewood says the shop supports the increases, and the changes make up “a small drop in the ocean.”It also says the business will “make it work.”
Under the new fund, child care spaces created by child development centres or Indigenous communities remain eligible for 100 percent of the cost of their projects, up to a maximum of $500,000. Not-for-profit organizations will be supported to create new child care spaces under the new fund, with these organizations remaining eligible for up to 90 percent of the total cost of their projects, up to a maximum of $500,000. Private child care providers remain eligible for 75 percent of the total cost of their project, up to a maximum of $250,000.Conroy said that the government will adopt a streamlined application process with a continuous intake, rather than fixed application dates. Boards of education will have 100 percent eligibility of the total cost of their project up to a maximum of $500,000 for child care spaces they create.“Too many parents are dealing with a lack of good options when it comes to child care, and that’s only made worse as spaces close due to financial pressures on child care operators,” said Katrina Chen, Minister of State for Child Care. “With our Childcare BC plan, we’re letting operators and parents know that government is on their side, and investing in their future. Creating these new spaces is the latest step in making child care more available and affordable for more families.”More information on these changes will be available later in the coming months. COQUITLAM, B.C. – The provincial government announced today that it will be funding 22,000 new licensed child care spaces coming over the next three years.The new spaces will be created through a $221-million investment in the Childcare BC New Spaces Fund, which replaces the Child Care Major Capital Funding Program. Children and Family Development Minister Katrine Conroy said that the government will be looking to leverage existing facilities – such as those on school grounds, in churches, at recreation centres, and other public places – to expand child care for B.C. families. Creating new infant and toddler spaces will be a priority.“Parents are struggling to find quality, affordable child care, and it’s time we made the investments that are good for families, and for our economy,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development. “Creating more licensed, affordable child care spaces is a key part of our new Childcare BC plan, so parents can have the peace of mind they need and quality care they can rely on.”
Brendan Rodgers revealed the shock and stress of being fired by Liverpool caused him to end up in hospitalThe Northen Irishman coached Liverpool for three years and in the 2013/14 season he won the club’s first Manager of the Year award in 20 years after leading them to a second-place finish in the Premier League.Rodgers was soon awarded a new four-year contract at Anfield, but things soon began to fall apart with Liverpool finishing down in sixth the following season before he was fired on October 2015 after a 1-1 draw against Everton.While the 45-year-old was immediately offered a new job the day after being dismissed, Rodgers needed a timeout before an unexpected hospital visit came his way.“I took the call on the Sunday evening, after the Merseyside derby,” Rodgers told The Coaches’ Voice.“The owners felt they needed to make a change. I accepted the decision, and from that point I was no longer the Liverpool manager.“On the Monday, I was offered another job. But I had always felt that I wanted to go in, where I could, at the beginning of a season.“On top of that, I needed the recovery. Needed to get away. Liverpool had been an emotional rollercoaster.Liverpool legend Nicol slams Harry Maguire’s Man United form Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Steve Nicol believes Harry Maguire has made some “horrendous mistakes” recently, and has failed to find his best form since joining Manchester United.“At such a huge club, one of the great clubs of the world, even the good days are difficult. I enjoyed every single minute of it, but it had taken a toll.“I went to Spain for a week. Then I came back, and flew to Dubai. Within a couple of days in Dubai, I was rushed into hospital.“I went through all the tests. It was felt that I was having some issues internally, but then they got into the process of what had happened with work, with my life.“They pieced it all together, and it was simply a case of my body being so tense, so tight, from all that had happened in finishing my time at Liverpool.“It reminded me of the pressures you experience, and the expectations you carry, as a manager. Especially at the bigger clubs.“It reinforced for me that it was time to find a calmness, to re-energise and make sure I was genuinely ready for the next challenge.”Rodgers is now the manager of Scottish Premiership side Celtic and has led them to two league titles and Scottish Cups along with three Scottish League Cups.
Related Items:five cays, Pdm, premier rufus ewing, sean astwood TCI Premier blasts Opposition side for “slop” information, sets it straight in HOA Only Doug and Ralph and Ruth can fit, that’s why Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsAppProvidenciales, 17 Dec 2014 – The Premier is not being proactive enough about the so called, ‘sluggish processing’of the Crown Land Unit application of the resort development project touted for Five Cays. It was during the PDM Party’s mid-term report card press Conference, that shadow minister for business in the Opposition Party and Member for Five Cays, Hon Sean Astwood explained the problems and the TC Weekly news quotes him saying: “I do know that government departments that have responsibility of facilitating this development need to get their act together.” As for what the Member feels is at stake here, everything. “I am afraid that if that doesn’t happen soon the developers might look somewhere else to do their project.” Cabinet has already approved and bragged about the development; five months later the eco-adventure, low density, spa resort project remains in limbo because of bureaucracy. Recommended for you TCI Country Leaders condemn vicious memes Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp
Aug 26 • Activists challenge 2020 candidates to sign net neutrality pledge Net Fix Apr 9 • Mitch McConnell: Democrats’ net neutrality bill is ‘dead on arrival’ in Senate Apr 10 • Democrats’ net neutrality bill passes House Post a comment Jun 11 • Net neutrality has been dead for a year: What you need to know • Net neutrality FCC Internet Sarah Tew/CNET Most of the FCC’s staff may be furloughed because of the government shutdown, but the agency’s lawyers are still expected to show up in court next month to defend its repeal of Obama-era net neutrality rules. On Thursday the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rejected the Federal Communications Commission’s request to delay oral arguments in the case, which is scheduled for Feb. 1. The Republican-led agency voted a year ago last month to repeal the rules adopted in 2015, which were designed to ensure that all traffic on the internet was treated equally. Attorneys general from 22 states, along with several activist groups and tech companies like Mozilla, filed a lawsuit accusing the FCC of arbitrarily rolling back the rules and overstepping its authority to ban states from passing their own protections.The DC Circuit, which has twice before heard cases involving net neutrality, is expected to render a decision sometime this summer. The court confirmed this week on its website that the government shutdown wouldn’t affect its schedule. It said it has enough funding to hear cases through January and February. But the FCC, which has only about 20 percent of its staff working, filed a motion yesterday asking the court to postpone oral arguments in the net neutrality case. The FCC said in its filing that because of the “lapse in funding for the FCC and the relevant component of the Department of Justice, the Commission believes that, in an abundance of caution, it should move for an extension to ensure that attorneys may fully prepare for argument.”The FCC said that the Department of Justice has advised all “government attorneys to request that active [civil] cases be postponed until funding is available.” But the agency said it would be prepared regardless. The FCC didn’t respond to a request for comment.The issue over the net neutrality rules has become a lightning rod for controversy. The FCC, led by Chairman Ajit Pai, an appointee of President Donald Trump, has argued that the “heavy-handed” rules deterred internet service providers’ investment and innovation. (Read Pai’s op-ed on CNET here.) Large internet service providers, like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon agree with Pai’s argument.But supporters of net neutrality say the internet as we know it may not exist much longer without the protections. Big tech companies, such as Google and Facebook, and internet luminaries, such as web creator Tim Berners-Lee, fall into that camp. Since the repeal, they’ve been working in Congress and in state legislatures to reinstate the rules.Congressional Democrats last year tried to undo the the rollback of the popular rules through the Congressional Review Act. The Senate passed its resolution in May. But the effort failed to get enough votes in the House of Representatives by the end of the year as is required by the act. Now the fight heads to the courts. The heated legal battle could eventually end up at the Supreme Court, where all eyes would be on newly appointed Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who questioned the FCC’s authority to adopt the original net neutrality protections. That position was expressed in a dissent he wrote last year that challenged the rules.The Smartest Stuff: Innovators are thinking up new ways to make you, and the things around you, smarter.5G is your next big upgrade: Everything you need to know about the 5G revolution. 0 Tags reading • No delay for net neutrality lawsuit in spite of government shutdown Net Fix See All Share your voice
Rundown road Manikganj’s rural area. Photo: UNBRundown roads, filled with potholes, appear to be becoming a distinguishing feature of Manikganj’s rural areas.Potholes, which pepper the roads, regularly cause severe traffic disruptions.Commuters and vehicle drivers told UNB that woes on the roads were nothing new but students, officer goers, and patients, in particular, suffered the most.Locals blamed public representatives and contractors for the situation but a parliamentarian faulted the Local Government Engineering Department (LGED).It is estimated that dilapidated roads, covering some 100 kilometres, stretch across Manikganj’s seven upazilas. At least 20 newly-built or repaired roads in rural areas had been damaged within a year, with carpeting on most of them wearing off.LGED repaired 90km road in 2017-18 fiscal year with Tk 160 million. For the current fiscal, the government approved Tk 480 million for works on 167km road, including repair of 96km.Locals identified corruption and irregularities as key reasons for the sorry state of the roads. They accused the contractors of using low-quality materials during repairs, which left the roads vulnerable to damage.Manikganj-2 parliamentarian Momtaz Begum blamed the concerned authorities for the road conditions.“Supervising the repair work and taking care of the roads is the responsibility of the concerned department. The roads are not properly repaired because of their negligence,” she claimed.LGED executive engineer Naeema Najnin Naj said the repair works did not take place under her supervision. “I am not responsible for someone else’s alleged negligence,” she said, hoping to do a good job with the scheduled road repair.
Led by Michael R. Vanner in Prof. Markus Aspelmeyer’s Aspelmeyer Group for Quantum Foundation and Quantum Information at the Nano- and Microscale, the team – which also included I. Pikovski, G. D. Cole, M. S. Kim, Č. Brukner, K. Hammerer, and G. J. Milburn – faced a number of challenges in devising their optomechanical scheme to fully reconstruct quantum states of mechanical motion. One of the most fundamental is the attempt to observe quantum mechanical behavior of a macroscopic mechanical object, since any potential quantum features would exhibit themselves only on truly miniscule scales. “For the mechanical structures that we consider,” Vanner explains, “one needs to resolve position displacements of about a femtometer,” or one-trillionth of a millimeter. “This is a mind‐bogglingly small distance that is, in fact, smaller than even the diameter of a hydrogen nucleus.”This then leads to additional challenges: In the attempt to measure an object’s position, the object moves and causes positional smearing by injecting uncertainty into the resulting position information, which is referred to as the Standard Quantum Limit (SQL). “The first challenge that we had to overcome was to find a method which circumvents the SQL,” Vanner continues. “The second was that making measurements of the position alone is insufficient to reconstruct a quantum state. This is because the quantum state contains all that is, at least in principle, knowable about the object. And so, one needs to also measure all the complementary properties of the state, such as its momentum, and to do so also in an equally precise manner.”Since no existing microscopy technology is capable of resolving quantum-scale features, the team addressed these challenges with optical interferometry. “Perhaps where we benefited most,” Vanner reflects, “was from the work of V. B. Braginsky, who made several seminal contributions to the field of quantum measurement1. In particular he introduced a scheme using short pulses of light that can overcome the SQL.” A short pulsed interaction can achieve this because the mechanical object has very little time to move during the interaction, and thus smearing can be dramatically reduced. “Braginsky developed this technique to make sensitive force detectors with the goal of detecting gravitational waves,” notes Vanner. “We’ve utilized this technique to allow for very sensitive position measurements. What we introduce in our proposal is a protocol using these pulsed measurements to perform quantum state reconstruction, which was our primary interest, and also a protocol to prepare low entropy squeezed states.” Proposed design and fabrication procedure for high-finesse optomechanical microcavities: Using microcavities provides optomechanical coupling rates many orders of magnitude larger than current millimeter or centimeter length scale implementations of optomechanical Fabry-Pérot cavities and can provide sufficient radiation-pressure interaction to resolve the small scale quantum properties of the mechanical resonator. Cross-sectional view with a quarter of the device removed. Uppermost (colored green) is the mechanical resonator supported by auxiliary beams. The optical field is injected into the device from below through a transparent handle (colored blue) and the curved rigid input mirror (colored pink) and then resonates in the vacuum-gap between this and the mechanical device before being retroreflected. Image: Copyright © PNAS, doi:10.1073/pnas.1105098108 Quantum behavior with a flash The state reconstruction scheme works in much the same way as many modern medical imaging techniques – that is, by taking images from many angles, as in X‐ray computed tomography, it is possible to determine the three-dimensional internal structure within the body. “Applying this analogy to our case,” Vanner continues, “the internal structure is the quantum state and the angles are its various properties: position, momentum, and their combinations. Our state reconstruction protocol uses appropriately timed pulses of light to access all these properties, thus providing a means to determine all the information in the quantum state.” An important point is that the team has analyzed the experimental feasibility and demonstrated that the scheme is realizable with current state‐of‐the‐art technology.Vanner is optimistic about the development of additional innovations and extensions in pulse sequences and measurements based on their pulsed design. “As an example,” Vanner notes, “we’re currently trying to compliment our work reported in PNAS by developing pulsed approaches to quantum state preparation. Combining such results with our state reconstruction results provides a complete experimental framework.”In terms of how their findings might enhance the future exploration of quantum mechanical phenomena on a macroscopic scale, Vanner points out that one important quantum mechanical phenomenon that is little explored in the laboratory is decoherence – the term given to the processes by which the environment surrounding a quantum object gains information about its state, often leading to the undesirable consequence of loss of quantum coherence between superposition components. “Decoherence is often regarded as one of the primary hindrances in efforts to construct a quantum computer. The quantum state tomography scheme that we have introduced can be used to observe and characterize decoherence, thus providing vital experimental data for the development of quantum mechanics based technology.” Moreover, adds Vanner, “It is a fascinating prospect that quantum information can be encoded into the motion of a mechanical object. This may lead to a number of interesting possibilities, such as transduction between flying qubits – i.e., photons – and qubits in a solid state device or superconductor. A pulsed approach may indeed be a feasible route to achieving this goal.”In addition to decoherence as discussed above, adds Vanner, “An attractive feature of the quantum state reconstruction scheme is that it can reconstruct and analyze any quantum state of motion. Thus, a large number of state‐dependent quantum effects can be studied. For example, one could utilize the fragility of a quantum superposition state as an extremely sensitive detector.”For Vanner, one of the key prospects is to see their design actually realized. “We’re currently building an experiment to implement our quantum state reconstruction protocol,” he concludes. “I’m finding it very exciting to be able to physically implement our ideas and begin to experimentally see behavior that is predicted in our theoretical model.” Citation: The quantum world writ large: Using short optical pulses to study macroscopic quantum behavior (2011, September 27) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2011-09-quantum-world-writ-large-short.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Explore further More information: Pulsed quantum optomechanics, PNAS, Published online before print September 7, 2011, doi: 10.1073/pnas.11050981081Related: Quantum nondemolition measurements: the route from toys to tools, V. B. Braginsky and F. Ya. Khalili, Reviews of Modern Physics 68, 1–11 (1996), doi: 10.1103/RevModPhys.68.1 Copyright 2011 PhysOrg.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or part without the express written permission of PhysOrg.com. (PhysOrg.com) — Einstein infamously dismissed quantum entanglement as spooky action at a distance and quantum uncertainty with his quip that God does not play dice with the universe. Aside from revealing his conceptual prejudices, Einstein’s rejection of these now-established hallmarks of quantum mechanics point to the field’s elusive nature: Coherent quantum mechanical phenomena, such as entanglement and superposition, are not apparent at macroscopic levels of scale. In fact, a common view is that on these scales quantum behavior is masked by decoherence, or even that quantum mechanics itself needs revision. Encouragingly, however, researchers at the Vienna Center for Quantum Science and Technology (VCQ), University of Vienna, have recently proposed an experimental design that would use a macroscopic mechanical resonator, short optical pulses and optical microcavities to realize quantum state tomography, squeezing, and state purification that could shed light on this elusive boundary between the quantum and classical worlds.
Explore further (Phys.org)—A team of researchers with affiliations to research facilities in Argentina, the U.K. and New Zealand, has confirmed that fossilized pollen grains found in Antarctica are members of the flowering plant family Asteraceae. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the group describes their research and conclude by suggesting that the fossils represent the family’s oldest fossils ever discovered. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Journal information: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences The Asteraceae family includes a lot of popular modern flowers—daisy’s, chrysanthemums, sunflowers, as well as gerberas, lettuce, artichokes and even dandelions. One of their main characteristics is inflorescence, which means they have clusters of flower heads that form the larger flower. It is believed that they played a major role in the evolutionary history of many insects and pollinating birds and also perhaps that of bees and wasps. Prior research had placed their earliest known evolutionary history to approximately 60 million years ago. This new research has revealed evidence that pushes that history back another 20 million years—to the Cretaceous, which means the flowers were growing back when dinosaurs were still around.The pollen grains were found on the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula, a part of what was once the super-continent Gondwana—back then the area would have been covered by lush grasslands and temperate forests. In studying the fossils, the team noted their shape, size and surface sculpture, placing them in the species Tubulifloridites lillei—other samples had been found in Australia and New Zealand but it was not until the new fossils were found in Antarctica that researchers could definitively prove that they were also members of the Asteraceae family. Further study showed that the more recently found pollen grain fossils were similar in ways to members of the Barnadesioideae subfamily of Asteraceae found today in South America, which offers a hint of what the earlier flowers might have looked like.There is still more work to be done before the new fossil finds can be officially placed in the flowering plants family tree, but once that happens, the researchers are confident that they will be placed at a time approximately 80 million years ago. © 2015 Phys.org Early sunflower family fossil found in South America More information: Early evolution of the angiosperm clade Asteraceae in the Cretaceous of Antarctica, Viviana D. Barreda, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1423653112AbstractThe Asteraceae (sunflowers and daisies) are the most diverse family of flowering plants. Despite their prominent role in extant terrestrial ecosystems, the early evolutionary history of this family remains poorly understood. Here we report the discovery of a number of fossil pollen grains preserved in dinosaur-bearing deposits from the Late Cretaceous of Antarctica that drastically pushes back the timing of assumed origin of the family. Reliably dated to ∼76–66 Mya, these specimens are about 20 million years older than previously known records for the Asteraceae. Using a phylogenetic approach, we interpreted these fossil specimens as members of an extinct early diverging clade of the family, associated with subfamily Barnadesioideae. Based on a molecular phylogenetic tree calibrated using fossils, including the ones reported here, we estimated that the most recent common ancestor of the family lived at least 80 Mya in Gondwana, well before the thermal and biogeographical isolation of Antarctica. Most of the early diverging lineages of the family originated in a narrow time interval after the K/P boundary, 60–50 Mya, coinciding with a pronounced climatic warming during the Late Paleocene and Early Eocene, and the scene of a dramatic rise in flowering plant diversity. Our age estimates reduce earlier discrepancies between the age of the fossil record and previous molecular estimates for the origin of the family, bearing important implications in the evolution of flowering plants in general. Citation: Fossil pollen grains found in Antarctica push back evolutionary history of daisy family (2015, August 12) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2015-08-fossil-pollen-grains-antarctica-evolutionary.html A typical Asteraceae flower head (here Bidens torta) showing the individual flowers. Credit: Marshman/Wikipedia