Who Is the Bigger Bully? Anonymous or Donald Trump?

Anonymous targets Donald Trump for his proposed ban on allowing Muslims to enter the United States.

In a written statement on Monday, the Donald Trump campaign made its position clear on Muslim immigration into the United States. Trump “wants a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on.” The billionaire proposed barring the entry of Muslims shortly after the shooting spree in San Bernardino, California, where 14 people were brutally gunned down by ISIS-influenced husband and wife Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik.


"Without looking at the various polling data, it is obvious to anybody the hatred is beyond comprehension. Where this hatred comes from and why we will have to determine,” Trump said. “Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life.”

Then on Friday, Trump became a target of Anonymous. Dubbed #OpTrump, the hacker collective declared Trump fair game for his stance on the Muslim immigration ban.

This should sound familiar. Earlier this year, Anonymous doxed the KKK and then announced that it was taking the fight to ISIS. Anonymous’ goal in the KKK operation was to release personally identifying information of alleged members of the white supremacist group. The attack on ISIS, begun shortly after the Paris atrocities, attempted to remove ISIS-affiliated accounts from Twitter and other social media sites.

And now, it has focused on Trump. Earlier this week, Anonymous released a YouTube video with the message: “The more the United States appears to be targeting Muslims, not just radical Muslims, you can be sure that ISIS will be putting that on their social media campaign.” Adding, “Donald Trump think twice before you speak anything. You have been warned, Mr. Donald Trump. We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. Expect us."

On Friday, it followed through with its threat by taking offline the website for Trump Towers, Trump’s ritzy skyscraper in Manhattan that has sometimes been used for his presidential campaign. A tweet from an account associated with Anonymous claimed "Trump Towers NY site taken down as statement against racism and hatred.”

Gabriella Coleman, who is the Wolfe Chair in Scientific and Technological Literacy at McGill University and has studied the hacker group, told CBS News that it's not surprising Trump is a target. “He's the biggest bully and the only other bully that's bigger is possibly trolls and Anonymous," she said.

Anonymous could begin “hacking into his headquarters or releasing something that exposed some hypocrisy or wrongdoing of some kind. Or get him to comment on something. That is possible when you have a bunch of these groups working on this problem. It's always hard to know whether they will succeed or not," she said.

Coleman brings up an interesting point. Is Anonymous — like Donald Trump — a bully? Or is the hacker group more like the schoolyard hero who comes to the aid of those less able to defend themselves? Either way, in the event it does dig up something scandalous and revealing about Trump, I’m not entirely sure it would outdo what he already says in public.

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Experts argue the jaws of an ancient European ape reveal a key human ancestor.

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  • The jaw bones of an 8-million-year-old ape were discovered at Nikiti, Greece, in the '90s.
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Homo sapiens have been on earth for 200,000 years — give or take a few ten-thousand-year stretches. Much of that time is shrouded in the fog of prehistory. What we do know has been pieced together by deciphering the fossil record through the principles of evolutionary theory. Yet new discoveries contain the potential to refashion that knowledge and lead scientists to new, previously unconsidered conclusions.

A set of 8-million-year-old teeth may have done just that. Researchers recently inspected the upper and lower jaw of an ancient European ape. Their conclusions suggest that humanity's forebearers may have arisen in Europe before migrating to Africa, potentially upending a scientific consensus that has stood since Darwin's day.

Rethinking humanity's origin story

The frontispiece of Thomas Huxley's Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature (1863) sketched by natural history artist Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

As reported in New Scientist, the 8- to 9-million-year-old hominin jaw bones were found at Nikiti, northern Greece, in the '90s. Scientists originally pegged the chompers as belonging to a member of Ouranopithecus, an genus of extinct Eurasian ape.

David Begun, an anthropologist at the University of Toronto, and his team recently reexamined the jaw bones. They argue that the original identification was incorrect. Based on the fossil's hominin-like canines and premolar roots, they identify that the ape belongs to a previously unknown proto-hominin.

The researchers hypothesize that these proto-hominins were the evolutionary ancestors of another European great ape Graecopithecus, which the same team tentatively identified as an early hominin in 2017. Graecopithecus lived in south-east Europe 7.2 million years ago. If the premise is correct, these hominins would have migrated to Africa 7 million years ago, after undergoing much of their evolutionary development in Europe.

Begun points out that south-east Europe was once occupied by the ancestors of animals like the giraffe and rhino, too. "It's widely agreed that this was the found fauna of most of what we see in Africa today," he told New Scientists. "If the antelopes and giraffes could get into Africa 7 million years ago, why not the apes?"

He recently outlined this idea at a conference of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists.

It's worth noting that Begun has made similar hypotheses before. Writing for the Journal of Human Evolution in 2002, Begun and Elmar Heizmann of the Natural history Museum of Stuttgart discussed a great ape fossil found in Germany that they argued could be the ancestor (broadly speaking) of all living great apes and humans.

"Found in Germany 20 years ago, this specimen is about 16.5 million years old, some 1.5 million years older than similar species from East Africa," Begun said in a statement then. "It suggests that the great ape and human lineage first appeared in Eurasia and not Africa."

Migrating out of Africa

In the Descent of Man, Charles Darwin proposed that hominins descended out of Africa. Considering the relatively few fossils available at the time, it is a testament to Darwin's astuteness that his hypothesis remains the leading theory.

Since Darwin's time, we have unearthed many more fossils and discovered new evidence in genetics. As such, our African-origin story has undergone many updates and revisions since 1871. Today, it has splintered into two theories: the "out of Africa" theory and the "multi-regional" theory.

The out of Africa theory suggests that the cradle of all humanity was Africa. Homo sapiens evolved exclusively and recently on that continent. At some point in prehistory, our ancestors migrated from Africa to Eurasia and replaced other subspecies of the genus Homo, such as Neanderthals. This is the dominant theory among scientists, and current evidence seems to support it best — though, say that in some circles and be prepared for a late-night debate that goes well past last call.

The multi-regional theory suggests that humans evolved in parallel across various regions. According to this model, the hominins Homo erectus left Africa to settle across Eurasia and (maybe) Australia. These disparate populations eventually evolved into modern humans thanks to a helping dollop of gene flow.

Of course, there are the broad strokes of very nuanced models, and we're leaving a lot of discussion out. There is, for example, a debate as to whether African Homo erectus fossils should be considered alongside Asian ones or should be labeled as a different subspecies, Homo ergaster.

Proponents of the out-of-Africa model aren't sure whether non-African humans descended from a single migration out of Africa or at least two major waves of migration followed by a lot of interbreeding.

Did we head east or south of Eden?

Not all anthropologists agree with Begun and his team's conclusions. As noted by New Scientist, it is possible that the Nikiti ape is not related to hominins at all. It may have evolved similar features independently, developing teeth to eat similar foods or chew in a similar manner as early hominins.

Ultimately, Nikiti ape alone doesn't offer enough evidence to upend the out of Africa model, which is supported by a more robust fossil record and DNA evidence. But additional evidence may be uncovered to lend further credence to Begun's hypothesis or lead us to yet unconsidered ideas about humanity's evolution.