Posts

September 20, 2014

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8:56 PM | Morsels For The Mind – 19/09/2014
Every day we provide you with Six Incredible Things Before Breakfast to nibble away at. Here you can fill your brain with the most intellectually stimulating “amuse bouches” from the past week – a veritable smorgasbord for the cranium. They’re all here for you to load up your plate – this week’s “Morsels for the mind”. Enjoy! If you do nothing else, make sure to check out the “Reads / views / listens of the week”. **** Feather, fur […]
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5:01 PM | Hierarchy and fairness in primates: the source of indignation and the elusive Baldwin effect
Evolutionary Psychology (EP) is controversial, there is no doubt, and a lot of criticism is fairly solid; it is also an intriguing and prolific source of click-baits, spurring equal amounts of excitement and criticism both in the professional and popular…Read more ›
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4:00 AM | Modern Humans and Neanderthals co-existed in Europe for thousands of years
Cross-posted with the permission of Dr. Nathan Lents from his The Human Evolution Blog.   In the extended family tree of the modern human species, our closest relatives are the Neanderthals, officially called Homo neanderthalensis. Although it...

September 19, 2014

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9:59 PM | A week of links
Links this week: The Genetic Genealogist responds to Vox’s tabloid piece on genetic testing. Attempts to correct false claims often entrench them – the backfire effect. But telling politicians they will be fact checked still reduced their number of lies. Razib on heritability. Low heritability doesn’t make it easier to shape our children – once […]
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9:00 PM | Nature’s beautiful death­traps
We’ve all heard of the Venus flytrap, but the plant kingdom contains many more wonderful examples of meat-eating species. Some plants have been known to feed on insects, frogs, and even birds and small mammals. But if plants are so good at getting energy from the sun, why would these eating habits ever have evolved […]
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6:50 PM | Humans Evolved To Be Fair For Selfish Reasons
New research suggests we're motivated to seek equal rewards — despite the disadvantages to ourselves — to prevent our partners from being unhappy and to avoid any negative outcomes that may follow. Read more...
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5:23 PM | Europeans descended from at least 3, not 2, groups of ancient humans
Previous work suggested that Europeans descended from two ancestral groups: indigenous hunter-gatherers and early European farmers. This new study shows that there was also a third ancestral group, the Ancient North Eurasians, who contributed genetic material to almost all present-day Europeans. The research also reveals an even older lineage, the Basal Eurasians. Genetic and archaeological … Continue reading →
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4:54 PM | A distasteful & disgraceful "Are there limits to evolution?" meeting at the University of Cambridge #YAMMM
Well, I saw this Tweet the other day Another for @phylogenomics's list of YAMMMs (Yet Another Mostly Male Mtg). Ratio = 1F speaker to 23M speakers. http://t.co/qgEfwtBS2B— Hopi Hoekstra (@hopihoekstra) September 16, 2014 And though there was a bit of a discussion on Twitter I felt I had to follow up with a blog post. When I saw the post I was at a conference (Lake Arrowhead Microbial Genomes) where I could get Twitter access but for some reason very little web access. So I could not […]
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4:52 PM | Can epigenetic inheritance occur without concurrent changes in morphology AND behavior?
Heritable Histones Scientists show how roundworm daughter cells remember the histone modification patterns of their parents. By Ruth Williams | September 18, 2014 My comment: Strike three, your theories are out. Re: Strike 1) Combating Evolution to Fight Disease Strike...Read more
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2:45 PM | Alternative antibody architecture
The complex genomic apparatus for making lampreys' antibody-like receptors The post Alternative antibody architecture appeared first on Lab Land.
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2:15 PM | Memory of repression and memory of behavior (2)
“Mutations that become so common that they affect more than 1% of a population are called polymorphisms (for example, the human blood types A, B, AB, and O).“ The claim that human blood types are mutations should be supported with...Read more
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3:52 AM | Under the Deep Sea (A Little Mermaid Parody)
Those of you following this blog know that I love me a great science music video parody. This awesome one from College Humor does not disappoint! Marine biologists will celebrate this awesome video... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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1:47 AM | What we are not afraid to say about Ebola virus
In a recent New York Times OpEd entitled What We’re Afraid to Say About Ebola, Michael Osterholm wonders whether Ebola virus could go airborne: You can now get Ebola only through direct contact with bodily fluids. If certain mutations occurred, it would mean that just breathing would put one at risk of contracting Ebola. Infections could spread […]
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1:22 AM | Tree Rings Keep A Record Of Arroyo Evolution
A new study uses tree rings to document arroyo evolution along the lower Rio Puerco and Chaco Wash in northern New Mexico.read more

September 18, 2014

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4:42 PM | In Search Of… Darwin’s Cryptids
First bones of this mysterious creature were discovered in 1787 near Rio Lujàn (Argentinia), collected and send to Spain two years later. Zoologist Juan Bautista Bru de Ramon (1740-1799)... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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4:42 PM | In Search Of… Darwin’s Cryptids
First bones of this mysterious creature were discovered in 1787 near Rio Lujàn (Argentinia), collected and send to Spain two years later. Zoologist Juan Bautista Bru de Ramon (1740-1799) reconstructed the bones in 1795 as a mounted skeleton for the Real Gabinete de Historia Natural de Madrid, the royal cabinet of curiosities – the first [...]
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2:00 PM | The Molecular Ecologist: Fishing for genetic signals of adaptation
Over at The Molecular Ecologist, I discuss a new paper that exemplifies how we’re going to be studying the genetics of adaptation in the age of high-throughput DNA sequencing—even if it doesn’t quite live up to that promise. It’s a … Continue reading →
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8:55 AM | Scarcity of time, money, friends and bandwidth
Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir’s Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much is full of interesting insight and experimental results. It presents a novel way of looking at scarcity that extends beyond the typical analysis in economics, the original “science of scarcity”, and will certainly change the way I think about it. But by […]
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2:57 AM | Multiscale Structure via Information Theory
We have scienced: B. Allen, B. C. Stacey and Y. Bar-Yam, “An Information-Theoretic Formalism for Multiscale Structure in Complex Systems” [arXiv:1409.4708]. We develop a general formalism for representing and understanding structure in complex systems. In our view, structure is the totality of relationships among a system’s components, and these relationships can be quantified using information […]

September 17, 2014

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11:20 PM | Why Don't Birds Have Teeth?
Why do birds tend to have sharp beaks instead of a mouth full of teeth? The answer may have to do with the mechanics of flight.Read more...
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11:12 PM | Loxton and Prothero’s Abominable Science! Origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and Other Famous Cryptids; the Tet Zoo review
I’m an unashamed fan of cryptozoology – this being (for the two of you that don’t know) the field of study that revolves around those creatures thought to exist by some, but which remain unrecognised... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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7:41 PM | Chinese Sturgeon Give Up, Stop Breeding in Polluted Yangtze River
When an endangered species stops breeding, you know its days are probably numbered. In China the countdown has apparently begun for the critically endangered Chinese sturgeon (Acipenser sinensis).... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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3:00 PM | Sea Lamprey Shows The Origins Of Brain Development
Parasitic lamprey are a challenge to study but an important one - they are an invasive pest in the Great Lakes but difficult to study under controlled conditions because they live up to 10 years and only spawn for a few short weeks in the summer before they die.  Lamprey are slimy, eel-like parasitic fish with tooth-riddled, jawless, sucking mouths, and rather disgusting to look at, but thanks to their important position on the vertebrate family tree, they can offer important insights […]
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2:03 PM | Nothing in Biology Makes Sense: The key to a secure global future is evolution
Over at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense, I discuss a big new review article on all the ways understanding evolutionary biology will be critical for human health and development in the next hundred years: The long list of authors, led … Continue reading →
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12:00 PM | Plankton might evolve to survive climate change
Here’s two things we know: One, the oceans are getting warmer. Two, the oceans are becoming more acidic. Here’s one thing we don’t know: what those two things mean for phytoplankton. The tiny microscopic plants form the base of the marine food web, and are responsible for about half of the planet’s primary production –

September 16, 2014

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11:10 PM | Pseudoscientific nonsense about face and body recognition
It’s Thanks to Evolution That No Two Faces Are Alike, Study Finds Excerpt: “….highly social insects rely on their distinctive face and body patterns to recognize each other…” See: RNA and dynamic nuclear organization My comment: The difference between RNA-mediated events...Read more
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8:53 PM | This Rare White Possum Could Soon Be a Ghostly Memory
A ghost lives in the Daintree Rainforest in northeastern Queensland, Australia. There, on a single mountain range located 1,100 meters above sea level, scientists have recently found what may be the... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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2:00 PM | RNA-mediated species diversification from microbes to primates
Mycobacteriophage-drived diversification of Mycobacterium abscessus Biology Direct (15 September 2014) OPEN ACCESS Excerpt (with my emphasis): “Widespread occurrence of phage sequences in almost all studied M. abscessus complex isolates suggests that the rate of prophage invasion is faster than the...Read more
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2:00 PM | Fossil Burrows Shed Light on Great Plains' Roots
The Great Plains didn't evolve in a vacuum. Ancient rodents helped shape the ecosystem we know today. Fossil burrows are helping scientists figure out how.
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4:30 AM | Rapidly Evolving Lizards Show How Some Creatures Can Adapt To Beat Climate Change
Can the brown anole lizard outrun climate change? Credit: Ianaré Sévi, CC BYBy Amanda Bates, University of Southampton read more
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