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Posted: Jan 25, 2015 - 2:31pm

Why Bill Nye Calls Evolution 'Undeniable' and Creationism 'Inane'
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Posted: Jan 18, 2015 - 10:08am


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Posted: Dec 13, 2014 - 10:26am


 


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Posted: Oct 15, 2014 - 5:29pm

A History of Life In 10 Fossils
From their new book A History of Life in 100 Fossils, Paul Taylor and Aaron O'Dea share the story of 10 incredible fossils
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Posted: Oct 9, 2014 - 4:34pm

Found: closest link to Mitochondrial Eve, our universal ancestor - life - 09 October 2014 - New Scientist

A man who died in 315 BC in southern Africa is the closest relative yet known to humanity’s common female ancestor – mitochondrial Eve

HE DIED later than Socrates and Aristotle, but a man who fished along the coast of southern Africa is the closest genetic match for our common female ancestor yet found.

If you trace back the DNA in the maternally inherited mitochondria within our cells, all humans have a theoretical common ancestor. This woman, known as "mitochondrial Eve", lived between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago in southern Africa. She was not the first human, but every other female lineage eventually had no female offspring, failing to pass on their mitochondrial DNA. As a result, all humans today can trace their mitochondrial DNA back to her.

Within her DNA, and that of her peers, existed almost all the genetic variation we see in contemporary humans. Since Eve's time, different populations of humans have drifted apart genetically, forming the distinct ethnic groups we see today.

Now a skeleton from around 315 BC, not long after the death of Alexander the Great, has been identified as a member of a previously unknown branch on the human family tree. It is the earliest group to diverge from all other modern humans ever identified (Genome Biology and Evolution, doi.org/v59). The man was 50 years old when he died, and is the first ancient human from sub-Saharan Africa – the cradle of humanity – to have had its DNA sequenced.

"He belongs to the earliest diverged lineage – the oldest we know of," says Vanessa Hayes of the Garvan Institute in Sydney, Australia, who led the work. She says his ancestors diverged from other humans roughly 150,000 years ago. (...)


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Posted: Oct 3, 2014 - 11:22am

The Evolution of Sleep: 700 Million Years of Melatonin
(...) A new study on melatonin hints that it evolved some 700 million years ago. The authors of the study propose that our nightly slumbers evolved from the rise and fall of our tiny oceangoing ancestors, as they swam up to the surface of the sea at twilight and then sank in a sleepy fall through the night. (...)
A highly-magnified view of young larvae of the marine worm Platynereis dumerilii. Credit Harald Hausen

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Posted: Sep 28, 2014 - 10:19am

Human genome was shaped by an evolutionary arms race with itself

New findings by scientists at the University of California, Santa Cruz, suggest that an evolutionary arms race between rival elements within the genomes of primates drove the evolution of complex regulatory networks that orchestrate the activity of genes in every cell of our bodies.

The arms race is between mobile DNA sequences known as "retrotransposons" (a.k.a. "jumping genes") and the genes that have evolved to control them. The UC Santa Cruz researchers have, for the first time, identified genes in humans that make repressor proteins to shut down specific jumping genes. The researchers also traced the rapid evolution of the repressor genes in the primate lineage.

Their findings, published September 28 in Nature, show that over evolutionary time, primate genomes have undergone repeated episodes in which mutations in jumping genes allowed them to escape repression, which drove the evolution of new repressor genes, and so on. Furthermore, their findings suggest that repressor genes that originally evolved to shut down jumping genes have since come to play other regulatory roles in the genome.

"We have basically the same 20,000 protein-coding genes as a frog, yet our genome is much more complicated, with more layers of gene regulation. This study helps explain how that came about," said Sofie Salama, a research associate at the UC Santa Cruz Genomics Institute who led the study. (...)


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Posted: Sep 25, 2014 - 1:32pm

Birds Evolved From Dinosaurs Slowly—Then Took Off
An 80-million-year transition was capped with a burst of feathered diversity.
These fossils found in northeastern China show the diversity and small sizes of some of the feathered dinosaurs. Many avian traits evolved in dinosaurs long before birds themselves appeared.
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Posted: Sep 24, 2014 - 11:21pm

Fossil of ancient multicellular life sets evolutionary timeline back 60 million years — ScienceDaily
A Virginia Tech geobiologist with collaborators from the Chinese Academy of Sciences have found evidence in the fossil record that complex multicellularity appeared in living things about 600 million years ago — nearly 60 million years before skeletal animals appeared during a huge growth spurt of new life on Earth known as the Cambrian Explosion.

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Posted: Sep 16, 2014 - 11:15am

It's Thanks to Evolution That No Two Faces Are Alike, Study Finds
Humans' stunning diversity of facial features evolved to make recognition easier, a study says.

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Posted: Sep 11, 2014 - 6:00pm

Chisel-Toothed Beasts Push Back Origin of Mammals

Squirrel-size mammals scampered through the trees above dinosaurs' heads, newfound Chinese fossils show, revising our image of the first furry beasts. Three newly described species suggest that mammals evolved earlier, and faster, than previously thought.

Called haramiyids, the recently discovered mammals lived in Jurassic China around 160 million years ago. Slender and graceful, the animals appear to have been specialized for life in the trees, with hands and feet that could grasp branches and a long prehensile tail like today's monkeys.

"The picture that Mesozoic mammals were shrew-like insectivores that lived in the shadow of the dinosaurs needs to be repainted," says American Museum of Natural History paleontologist Jin Meng, a coauthor of the new study. Discoveries during the past few decades, including the haramiyids, have shown that early mammals occupied a variety of habitats. "They walked on the ground; they also swam, dug to burrow, and glided in the forests," Meng says. (...)

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Posted: Sep 10, 2014 - 7:54pm

Shattering DNA may have let gibbons evolve new species
Gibbons have such strange, scrambled DNA, it looks like someone has taken a hammer to it. Their genome has been massively reshuffled, and some biologists say that could be how new gibbon species evolved.

Gibbons are apes, and were the first to break away from the line that led to humans. There are around 16 living gibbon species, in four genera. They all have small bodies, long arms and no tails. But it's what gibbons don't share that is most unusual. Each species carries a distinct number of chromosomes in its genome: some species have just 38 pairs, some as many as 52 pairs.

"This 'genome plasticity' has always been a mystery," says Wesley Warren of Washington University in St Louis, Missouri. It is almost as if the genome exploded and was then pieced back together in the wrong order.

To understand why, Warren and his colleagues have now produced the first draft of a gibbon genome. It comes from a female northern white-cheeked gibbon (Nomascus leucogenys) called Asia. (...)

Nature
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Posted: Sep 5, 2014 - 10:50am

How Caffeine Evolved to Help Plants Survive and Help People Wake Up - NYTimes.com/Carl Zimmer
 Coffea canephora, also known as robusta coffee, drying in Laos. Scientists have sequenced its genome to understand how it evolved the ability to produce caffeine. Credit Barbara Walton/European Pressphoto Agency

Every second, people around the world drink more than 26,000 cups of coffee. And while some of them may care only about the taste, most use it as a way to deliver caffeine into their bloodstream. Caffeine is the most widely consumed psychoactive substance in the world.

Many of us get our caffeine fix in tea, and still others drink mate, brewed from the South American yerba mate plant. Cacao plants produce caffeine, too, meaning that you can get a mild dose from eating chocolate.

Caffeine may be a drug, but it’s not the product of some underworld chemistry lab; rather, it’s the result of millions of years of plant evolution. Despite our huge appetite for caffeine, however, scientists know little about how and why plants make it. (...)


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Posted: Sep 4, 2014 - 1:28pm

 RichardPrins wrote: 
man ...where would  he sit? 

...I guess anywhere he wants....  {#Drummer}
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Posted: Sep 4, 2014 - 1:11pm

Meet Dreadnoughtus, the 65-ton dinosaur | Ars Technica

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Posted: Aug 24, 2014 - 12:24pm

Evolutionary history of honeybees revealed by genomics
The honeybee is of crucial importance for humanity. One third of our food is dependent on the pollination of fruits, nuts and vegetables by bees and other insects. Credit: Matthew Webster
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Posted: Aug 21, 2014 - 9:36pm

Canola genome sequence reveals evolutionary 'love triangle'

An international team of scientists including researchers from the University of Georgia recently published the genome of Brassica napus—commonly known as canola—in the journal Science. Their discovery paves the way for improved versions of the plant, which is used widely in farming and industry.

Canola is grown across much of Canada and its native Europe, but the winter crop is increasingly cultivated in Georgia. Canola oil used for cooking is prized for its naturally low levels of saturated fat and rich supply of omega-3 fatty acids, but the plant is also used to produce feed for farm animals and as an efficient source for biodiesel.

"This genome sequence opens new doors to accelerating the improvement of canola," said Andrew Paterson, Regents Professor, director of UGA's Plant Genome Mapping Laboratory and co-corresponding author for the study. "We can use this knowledge to tailor the plant's flowering time, make it more resistant to disease and improve a myriad of other traits that will make it more profitable for production in Georgia and across the country."

Canola has one of the most complex genomes among flowering plants, forming thousands of years ago during the Neolithic Era when two plant speciesBrassica rapa and Brassica oleracea—combined in the wild. Plants in the B. rapa family include turnips and cabbages, while B. oleracea encompasses cauliflower, cabbage, collards, broccoli, kale and other common vegetables.

The Plant Genome Mapping Laboratory played prominent roles in the sequencing both B. rapa and B. oleracea in 2011 and 2014, respectively.

"Understanding the genomes of B. rapa and B. oleracea was key to piecing together the canola genome," Paterson said. "It's like a genetic love triangle between the three species, with canola sometimes favoring genes from B. rapa or B. oleracea or sometimes both."

While much the world's canola is used to make cooking oil and protein-rich animal feed, it is also used in the production of lipstick, lip gloss, soap, lotion, printing ink and de-icing agents. (...)


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Posted: Aug 17, 2014 - 12:08pm

Worm-like creature with legs and spikes finds its place in the evolutionary tree of life

One of the most bizarre-looking fossils ever found - a worm-like creature with legs, spikes and a head difficult to distinguish from its tail – has found its place in the evolutionary Tree of Life, definitively linking it with a group of modern animals for the first time.

The animal, known as Hallucigenia due to its otherworldly appearance, had been considered an 'evolutionary misfit' as it was not clear how it related to modern animal groups. Researchers from the University of Cambridge have discovered an important link with modern velvet worms, also known as onychophorans, a relatively small group of worm-like animals that live in tropical forests. The results are published in the advance online edition of the journal Nature.

The affinity of Hallucigenia and other contemporary 'legged worms', collectively known as lobopodians, has been very controversial, as a lack of clear characteristics linking them to each other or to modern animals has made it difficult to determine their evolutionary home.

What is more, early interpretations of Hallucigenia, which was first identified in the 1970s, placed it both backwards and upside-down. The spines along the creature's back were originally thought to be legs, its legs were thought to be tentacles along its back, and its head was mistaken for its tail.

Hallucigenia lived approximately 505 million years ago during the Cambrian Explosion, a period of rapid evolution when most major animal groups first appear in the fossil record. These particular fossils come from the Burgess Shale in Canada's Rocky Mountains, one of the richest Cambrian fossil deposits in the world. (...)


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Posted: Aug 16, 2014 - 6:57am

The mother of all, and her name was LUCA

A four billion-year-old mystery surrounding the one common ancestor of all life on Earth has been solved by scientists. 

All life evolved from a single celled organism known as life's Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA). However, few details are known about what it looked like, how it lived and how it evolved.


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Posted: Jul 26, 2014 - 12:32am

Once thought to be too complex an emotion for nonhumans, jealousy in canines—and the “pay attention to me” behaviors that arise from it—probably evolved to protect important social bonds in the pack, according to a new paper.


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