On October 20, British adventurer Tom Morgan soared over South Africa seated in a camp chair strapped to 100 helium balloons. During the two-hour flight, the balloonist covered 16 miles and reached heights of up to 8,000 feet. Though the daredevil later called the experience “unbelievably cool,” he did admit feeling “somewhere between terrified and elated” during the flight.
Morgan, the founder of the League of Adventurists, a British group whose mission is to make the world “less boring,” says the flight was initially supposed to take off from Botswana. However, after intense gusts of winds shredded the balloons three times, the team decided to attempt it from the outskirts of Johannesburg. Given that they only had enough helium left for one more try, Morgan was happy he was finally able to complete the flight without any mishaps.
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Biologists have long believed the common ancestor of all primates was a small, deliberate animal which used its grasping hands and feet to scamper along thin branches foraging for fruits and insects. They theorized that the leaping skills came later, after the proto-primate evolved into two distinct groups — wet-nosed primates like lemurs and dry-nosed primates that include monkeys, apes, and humans. However, the discovery of a perfectly preserved 52-million-year-old fossil seems to suggest that the first primate might have been leading an impressively acrobatic lifestyle, leaping from one tree to another.
Paleontologists discovered the quarter-inch-long ankle bone on an expedition near Marseilles, in south-eastern France, more than 30 years ago. However, it is only recently that a team led by Duke University assistant professor Doug Boyer, decided to study it in detail.
As it turns out, the fossil belonged to one of the oldest known wet-nosed primates — a chipmunk-sized creature called Donrussellia provincialis. Since the mammal has previously only been identified by its jaws and teeth, the team decided to conduct an extensive analysis, by comparing 3-D scans of the tiny bone with those of other animal species.
The series that includes Kid Presidents, Kid Artists, and Kid Athletes now chronicles the lives of Kid Authors! Here are true tales of famous writers, from long before they were famous—or even old enough to drive. Did you know:
• Sam Clemens (aka Mark Twain) loved to skip school and make mischief, with his best friend Tom, of course!
• A young J. R. R. Tolkien was bitten by a huge tarantula—or as he called it, “a spider as big as a dragon.”
• Toddler Zora Neale Hurston took her first steps when a wild hog entered her house and started chasing her!
The diverse and inclusive cast includes Roald Dahl, Beverly Cleary, J. K. Rowling, Langston Hughes, Jules Verne, Lewis Carroll, Stan Lee, and many more.
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