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Index » Regional/Local » USA/Canada » Evolution! Page: 1, 2, 3 ... 115, 116, 117  Next
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Posted: Aug 16, 2015 - 11:48am


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Posted: Aug 7, 2015 - 12:27am

BBC - Earth - The mystery of Neanderthals' massive eyes

(...) In 2013, a team led by Eiluned Pearce of the University of Oxford in the UK proposed a radical explanation: their eyes were to blame.

From a detailed analysis of modern human and Neanderthal skulls, Pearce found that both their eyes and their brain's visual system were larger than ours.

Their big eyes meant that they devoted a larger part of their brain to seeing.

However, Pearce suggests that this came at a cost to their social world. Other parts of their brain would in turn have been smaller.

"Since Neanderthals evolved at higher latitudes and also have bigger bodies than modern humans, more of the Neanderthal brain would have been dedicated to vision and body control, leaving less brain to deal with other functions like social networking," Pearce said at the time.

The theory goes that, unlike us, they could not devote large parts of their brain to developing complex social networks. So when they were faced with major threats, such as a changing climate or competition from modern humans, they were at a disadvantage. (...)

It's a neat story. But other biologists are far from convinced, and some of them have set out to unpick the idea.

They have now published their findings in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. The new analysis suggests that Neanderthals' large eyes did not contribute to their extinction after all.

John Hawks of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his colleagues looked at 18 living primate species, to find out whether the size of their eye sockets was linked to the size of their social groups.

Rather than bigger eyes resulting in smaller social groups, they found that the opposite was true. "Big eyes actually indicate bigger social groups in other primates," says Hawks. (...)


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Posted: May 8, 2015 - 1:01am

Apes under pressure show their ingenuity – and hint at our own evolutionary past

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Posted: Apr 22, 2015 - 11:10am

Why I teach evolution to Muslim students
Encouraging students to challenge ideas is crucial to fostering a generation of Muslim scientists who are free thinkers, says Rana Dajani.
Certain problematic attitudes towards science have been imported into Muslim societies as a part of rapid globalization and modernization — the rejection of the theory of evolution, for example. But this also offers an opportunity.

I teach evolution to university students in Jordan. Almost all of them are hostile to the idea at first. Their schoolteachers are likely to have ignored or glossed over it. Still, most students are willing to discuss evolution, and by the end of the course, the majority accept the idea. If Muslim students can challenge ideas on such a controversial academic topic, then they can also approach other aspects of their lives by questioning — and not just blindly accepting — the status quo. These tools and attitudes are crucial to the development of their personalities and to becoming responsible citizens.

Students in my classes often get a shock. I wear a hijab, so they know that I am a practising Muslim, yet they hear me endorsing evolution as a mechanism to explain diversity and the development of species, and citing Charles Darwin as a scientist who contributed to our understanding of the emergence and diversification of life on Earth. I am almost always the first Muslim they have met who says such things. (...)

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Posted: Apr 20, 2015 - 5:47pm

Although evolution is overwhelmingly accepted by scientific communities, it remains a taboo and often misunderstood subject for much of the rural American South. Dr. Amanda Glaze studies this deeply rooted cultural sentiment and its religious and societal influences in universities, schools and communities throughout the Southeastern United States. Using both quantitative surveys and qualitative interviews, she strives to understand the experiences and perceptions of her fellow teachers and the community around her to better inform science teaching and teacher education nationwide. She also teaches evolution-based science courses to high school and college students in the hopes of shifting the next generation's views on the subject.

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Posted: Apr 6, 2015 - 11:30am

How Europeans evolved white skin | Science/AAAS | News
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Posted: Mar 21, 2015 - 11:35am

The origin of the anus: The extraordinary evolution of our most embarrassing organ

Yes that’s a picture of a puppy, with a little bit of its rear end showing. And no, we couldn’t actually illustrate this story with an anus, now could we?

And before we discuss the origin of the anus; let’s back up a little. It’s a subject surrounded by, how should we put it, a bit of cheek. A topic right for puns, or a touch of verbal diarrhoea as we can’t but help see the innuendo.

See what I mean? So we try to get serious, to focus, and ask why has no one gotten to the bottom of this particular mystery before? Is it a crappy research topic, or by not addressing it, have other scientists fallen behind? Is even reporting such a subject, well, a little anal?

Perhaps, if jokes and innuendo are all we care about. But if we’re interested in some of the most fundamental questions about how animals evolved and function, then read on. (...)


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Posted: Feb 21, 2015 - 6:01pm

Everything from criminality to love of gossip is in our genes according to some biologists. Yet behaviour varies dramatically between cultures. Does this cultural variation mean that the theory of evolution is flawed? Can it be rescued with a new theory or is culture beyond genetics?

The Panel

Julian Baggini explores the limits of evolution with philosopher Janet Radcliffe Richards, anthropologist Daniel Everett and Oxford evolutionary psychologist Oliver Scott Curry.


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Posted: Feb 19, 2015 - 6:50pm

A New Theory on How Neanderthal DNA Spread in Asia - NYTimes.com

In 2010, scientists made a startling discovery about our past: About 50,000 years ago, Neanderthals interbred with the ancestors of living Europeans and Asians.

Now two teams of researchers have come to another intriguing conclusion: Neanderthals interbred with the ancestors of Asians at a second point in history, giving them an extra infusion of Neanderthal DNA.

The findings are further evidence that our genomes contain secrets about our evolution that we might have missed by looking at fossils alone. “We’re learning new, big-picture things from the genetic data, rather than just filling in details,” said Kirk E. Lohmueller, a geneticist at the University of California, Los Angeles, and co-author of one of the new studies.

The oldest fossils of Neanderthals date back about 200,000 years, while the most recent are an estimated 40,000 years old. Researchers have found Neanderthal bones at sites across Europe and western Asia, from Spain to Siberia.

Some of those bones still retain fragments of Neanderthal DNA. Scientists have pieced those DNA fragments together, reconstructing the entire Neanderthal genome. It turns out that Neanderthals had a number of distinct genetic mutations that living humans lack. Based on these differences, scientists estimate that the Neanderthals’ ancestors diverged from ours 600,000 years ago. (...)


The Evolution Catechism - The New Yorker
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Posted: Feb 16, 2015 - 12:01pm


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Posted: Feb 12, 2015 - 8:49am

#DarwinDay
What Would Darwin Think About Modern Darwinism? | The Evolution Institute
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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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