Biology news

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.

Not so Gradual evolution

At ... is a University of Leeds study published in the journal, Ecology Letters, and provides evidence of rapid evolution as a result of environmental changes. Rapid, as in not gradual or slow, and not in the real context of the word.

How objects from space might have brought life to Earth

At ... researchers from the University of Leeds think they may have solved how objects from space gave rise to life on Earth. Some of the important ingredients may have been in meteorites and cometary dust but it is how they were then transformed into building blocks that has concentrated minds. In a paper in Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta (March 15th), the key, it is suggested, is chemiosmosis, where one chemical is broken down to reform so as to release energy, and possibly, metabolism.

Red Rains of Kerala

This subject seems to have had a bit of a revival again. The red rain of Kerala was speculatively linked to a fireball (and meteorite) over Kerala in southern India a few years ago - but was dismissed by mainstream. In the latest incident it may not be so tenuous - but then again, the Panspermia people are having a job to get their theory across even when they claim to have it under the microscope.

Falkland wolves

Apparently, when European ships first arrived in the Falkland Islands around 300 years ago there was just one mammal species living there - the so called Falkland wolf. They resembled foxes rather than wolves and lived off marine animals such as penguins and seals. There was a similar species living on mainland Argentina but both of them died out after coming into contact sith humans - keeping livestock such as sheep isn't the best thing around wolves.