Biology news

Evolution in Rapid Bursts

The Daily Mail has picked up on a story I meant to post but never did. Gary Gilligan has forwarded the links at ... and in the style of said newspaper has the headline, 'Did evolution happen in a rapid burst?' - note the use of singular rather then the plural. Are they aiming the story at anyone in particular?

Manure, rotation, and pathogens

At ... Europe's first farmers, some 8000 years ago, used manure on their fields. It has always been assumed manure was not used until the Iron Age/Roman period but enriched levels of Nitrogen 15, a stable isotope abundant in manure, has been found in charred cereal grains and palaeo seeds (peas, beans, lentils) from 13 different Neolithic sites across Europe (including Britain) between 6000 and 2400BC. Manuring is a long term process - it takes several years for the land to benefit fully from manure.


At ... we learn that Treezilla is a monster map of trees launched by the Open University (or at tax payers expense to be more specific). It intends to map every tree in Britain via ... it is free and open to everybody to use and local groups are being encouraged to upload data. Needless to say it has a CAGW angle - trees are said to capture co2. Well, they would, seeing as co2 is food for plants.

D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson

His book, 'On Growth and Form' appears on page 101 of Trevor Palmer's 'The Perilous Planet Earth; Catastrophes and Catastrophism Through the Ages' Cambidge University Press:2003. He wrote this book when he was Head of Life Sciences at Nottingham Trent University and dedicated it to all the members of SIS.

Gut Bacteria

At ... is an interesting post forwarded by member Brian Sherwood Jones  in response to a post a few days ago. The evolution of microbes in the bodies of humans, and their relatives such as the apes, is the subject of the study. Gut bacteria is passed down from parents to their children and it is no surprise that gorilla gut bacteria differs from that of humans.

Pigeons and Tomatoes

At ... pigeons pecking the ground in search of seeds or crumbs may appear to be acting randomly as a scavenger but the birds have the ability, it would seem, of making intelligent choices.

A Mammoth found with fresh blood - or runny red stuff

This story is at ... in this instance, a female mammoth, on Lyatchovsky Islands (off Novasibirsk archipelago). The tissue of the animal was in almost perfect condition with dark blood (collected in tests taken with a preservative agent) found in ice cavities below its belly. The lower part of the body was actually resting in pure ice and was frozenand the muscle tissue had the natural red colour of fresh meat. It died around 50 years of age. How it died is not known - for the moment.

It's all in the genes ... except when it isn't

An article in Science magazine, May 24th 2013, by Simon Fisher and Matt Ridley, Culture, Genes and Human Revolution - see ... which argues that some evolutionary changes in humans may be as a consequence of cultural evolution rather than the other way round. The idea that over the last 200,000 years biological change was due to genetic mutation may be the wrong way of looking at things. Are evolutionary changes in our genome a source or a consequence of cultural innovation?

Genetic Diversity ... Young or Older

At ... presents us with some evidence genetics is not all it is cracked up to be. Okay, genetic differences crop up but how far back do they go. As the blog author notes, the new study, published by BioMedCentral's open access journal Investigative Genetics could be interpreted as old or new - take your pick of the apples.

Another doomsaying myth may bite the dust

We have  all heard in recent weeks, if not days, about the EU directive against certain insecticides used on seeds being banned as a result of environmentalist pressure. Groups like FoE and Green Peace are cock a hoop at the moment, glorying in the smell of victory, and the annoyance of farmers. What this means is that instead of pesticides that biodegrade in the soil as the plant grows and the seed hull is discarded farmers will go back to spraying their crops as they have no choice. Food is an important part of the economy and we all need to eat.