Biology news

The Irish Elk

The Irish Elk was in fact a giant deer - part of the Pleistocene megafauna - found in Britain, Ireland, and across northern Europe into Asia as far as Siberia. The best preserved remains were found in bogs in Ireland - hence the name. They flourished in NW Europe around 32,000 to 40,000 years ago - during a warm period within the last Ice Age (just prior to the Late Glacial Maximum, or LGM). At this time the Chauvet cave paintings show a grassland savannah across France and central Europe, with lions part of the landscape.

Microscopic life in the oceans

At ... a fascinating piece on ocean life cycles and sampling a cup full of sea water. A glass of water from the oceans would possess several bursts of organic matter with an origin in dying organisms (as small as plankton), continuous showers of 'marine snow' from the upper layers of water columns, and nutrients leaking from creatures so tiny they are invisible to the naked eye.

Collective consciousness

Another story from the Daily Mail - see ... which suggests sixth sense (which we may very well possess) is a psychic power ... a sort of telepathy. Behaviour, it is alleged, can spread throughout a species telepathically, adapted by groups that have not met. Why do people think about someone before they call or have a feeling something is about to happen before it actually does happen.

'On Growth and Form'

D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson, 'On Growth and Form' (1917) was critical of Darwin and thought that biologists of the day over emphasized evolution as the fundamental determinant of form and structure of living organisms - and also over emphasized the roles of physical laws and mechanics. He advocated structuralism as an alternative to survival of the fittest in governing the form of species. Thompson did not reject natural selection but regarded it as a secondary to the origin of biological form (quoting from Wikipedia).

Patterns in Nature

A really fascinating series of posts over at Tim Cullen's blog ... which goes back to experimentation in the 19th century that resulted in the discovery of photography and television, creating pictures out of nowhere.

Earth's wobble and how it effects life in the oceans

At ... research at Princetown University and the Swiss Institution of Technology in Zurich have discovered the wobble of the Earth on its axis controls the population of fertilising nitrogen connected to life in the oceans. The wobble, or axial precession, causes an upwelling of bottom water and this is rich in phosphorous, among other things. This occurs at 23,000 year intervals - in a mainstream perspective.

A human brain reproduced in a laboratory

At ... the first example of a developing human brain to have been created in a laboratory - using stem cell technology

Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch

It might be the title of an old pop song but there is something in those words. Go to ... salt, sugar, and dried rice can be kept for long periods of time without deteriorating, and so can honey. Archaeologists in Egypt have come across pots of honey that are still well preserved, and edible, in spite of a shelf life of several thousands of years. Why is this?

Gorillas, like Pandas, have an appetite for bamboo

An interesting story at ... African mountain bamboos are hidden away, like the mountain gorillas that feed on them, in the mountains at the  tropics. Similarly, Chinese bamboos are the diet of Giant Pandas, and they too are hidden away in remote locations. How did bamboos get from a tropical location in Africa to a temperate location in China? Could the latter once have been in the tropics?


Giant Redwoods and co2

At ... very often we hear negative stories about the Californian giant redwood tree - they are on the verge of dying, global warming will suffocate them, and that kind of doomsaying. These trees are important as unlike European oaks that live for hundreds of years they can live for thousands of years. One tree near Crescent City is 2520 years of age and there is a giant sequoia that has survived for over 3000 years.