Biology news

Mammoth Blood

The New York Times (at www.nytimes.com ) May 3rd (see also Science Daily and www.physorg.com ) all have a story about research on mammoths, claiming they have adapted to living in a cold environment. Scientists have managed to reconstruct mammoth hemoglabin. Mammoths originated in a tropical climate but diverged from elephants some 7 million years ago. They adapted to a cold environment by developing smaller ears, a thick coat of fur, and glands in their skin to keep the fur well oiled.

Lizards on islands

At www.physorg.com/print191781096.html April 29th ... a genetic study of lizards isolated geographically on islands, sometimes for thousands of years, possibly even millions of years, do not appear to have evolved into separate species as demanded by conventional evolutional theory. They remained stubbornly like their predecessors. They were also capable of reproducing with similar species from elsewhere. However, the PLoS Genetics paper says that research was ongoing.

Intelligent Design and Human Behaviour

At www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100413170731.htm ... although evolutionists and creationists strongly differ over the role of intelligent design in the origin of species they do appear to agree about the role it plays in the origin of human inventiveness. In the May issue of American Scientist there is an article on this issue.

Dogs

www.physorg.com/print188045220.html ... contrary to research published last year, using genetics, domesticated dogs originated in East Asia and were used as a supplementary meat source in lean times of the year. Dogs are still eaten in China - and across Siberia and East Asia (and the practise was transferred into North America by migrants). Another genetic study at about the same time suggested village dogs in Africa may have been the origin of some, if not many, dog breeds.

Human Brains

www.physorg.com id186830615 March 3rd ... free will is apparently an illusion. We are simply conscious machines controlled by a combination of our chemistry and external environmental forces. The human brain operates at the conscious level - and the unconscious. It's our conscious mind that makes us aware of our actions and provides us with the sense we control them - yet without the conscious our brains are still capable of inducing our bodies to act.

Hobbits and small brains.

Science Daily January 30th ... is the brain of the Hobbit too small is the question being asked. Research from a team at Cambridge and Durham universities have challenged the idea that hominid and primate brains tended to get bigger over the course of evolutionary time. They showed that in some primate species brains did evolve to become smaller - in marmots and some lemurs. The Hobbit was no more than 3 feet in height and appears to have lived on Flores Island in Indonesia until 13,000 years ago.

Wolves

Science Daily July 5th 2007 ... although this is an old story it is never the less interesting. Apparently, wolves in Alaska became extinct at the same time as the mammoths and some other large mammals. It seems the region was re-colonised by grey wolves in the Holocene, from a southern species that slightly differed in anatomy. This raises the issue of overkill and Clovis people. Why would Clovis people exterminate the wolf from Alaska - and is there any evidence of Clovis people that far north.

Smoke and Fire

Science Daily ... a paper in Journal of Natural Products claims fire and smoke play a significant role in the rebirth and regeneration of forest and grassland. Smoke seems to affect and promote the germination of seeds of many species following landscape fires. A chemical component in smoke produced from burning plant material has been isolated - and is responsible for the rapid growth that takes place after fires.

Biological Enigmas

Science Daily, November 20th 2009 ... palaeobiological researchers have found evidence that during mass extinction events that punctuate the history of life, open ocean marine life was more susceptible. The research involved an analysis of fossils from the palaeo biology database and concluded that different marine environments responded differently to whatever the agents of mass destruction might be - in other words there were more deep sea fossils than shallow sea life forms.

The Tree that Refuses to Die

Discovery News, 23rd December 2009 ... a tree in southern California, stranded in a suburban environment, has the appearance of a gnarled thicket of stunted oak trees wedged between a heap of stones and boulders - but it is a biological wonder. The centre grove of trees is actually a single plant that is estimated to be 13,000 years old. Genetic analysis has revealed each of its 70 stems, or truncated branches, a few feet tall, are genetically identical - they are one and the same plant.