Biology news

Cooking up a nice dinner

At we learn that cooking meat played a key role in driving the evolution of man from apes. The study is in PNAS and actually builds on earlier studies in the same field. I can remember something on these lines a couple of years ago. However, in the recent paper, Rachel Carmody of Harvard's dept of Human Evolutionary Biology, has expanded on what went before - but what will the vegans think?

Humans and Apes

At, it is junk DNA that defines the differences between humans and chimpanzees but at culture in humans and apes has the same evolutionary roots - orang utans in this instance. It is a fact that geneticists were flabbergasted when they found that the human genome differed hardly from that of chimpanzees - it didn't make sense. However, as a scientific fact it was accepted but it seems that biologists were somewhat restless, chewing the situation over.

Electric Plankton

At a PNAS paper has shown that electricity lies at the root of blue flashes, a kind of bioluminescence, visible at night in various marine environments, is activated by tiny plankton.

Eating Information

At ... Chinese researchers at Nanking University have found some unknown effects from eating plants and herbs. The plant miRNAs may get into the blood and tissue of the host species - simply in the process of eating those plants and their fruits. Once inside the host body they can elicit functions by regulating host 'target' genes and then regulate host physiology. In a nutshell, in this godsend research for the traditional Chinese health industry, plants can cause the host community, over time, to adapt in ways beneficial to the plant.

Pleistocene mammals

At ... is a report on a paper published in Science (Sept 2nd) and is all about the discovery of a new cache of mammal fossils - this time found in the foothills of the Himalayas, on the high Tibetan plateau. The bones date back nearly 4 million years ago - preceding the so called Ice Ages. Concentrating on the rhinoceros it was found they had some features in common with the woolly rhinoceros of the Ice Ages.

Shorter In the News - links

At is a report on s study published in PNAS which uses evidence from the fossil record, and therefore relies on geological dating methodology, which is based on uniformitarianism. The object is to inform us  that lasting evolutionary change takes on average a million years to take place.

Its all in the genes

Interesting web site to browse ..., while at, BBC News reports on a DNA study that overturns earlier genetic research which claimed farmers displaced the indigenous Mesolithic population of Europe - or a large part thereof. The latest research now says that most of Europe's males can trace descent from Stone Age hunters (research published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B). It seems the results vary depending on the genetic markers studied and different interpretations are being made.

Life from Space

At ... the headline reads, 'DNA building blocks can be made in space, NASA evidence suggests' while at it is 'Meteorites Tool kits for creating life on earth' and the same story appears all over the blogosphere, even at - which has some interesting comments including one that simply says this is a bit more information to confirm an already existing hypothesis.

Pandemics from Space

Mike Baillie's book, 'New Light on the Black Death: The Cosmic Connection', Tempus:2006, drew on the Hoyle and Wickramasinghe theory of Panspermia to make the astonishing claim that the 14th century plague outbreak that struck the medieval world came from space. This idea had merit in so far as peoples, separated by long distances, fell victim at roughly the same time, even where the rat population was minimal.

Jumping Genes

At ... Murdoch University researchers have gathered evidence on jumping genes - why some species adapt and others fail. Jumping genes are sequences of DNA that can move to a new position within the genome of a cell. Such movement can result in mutations.