Biology news

Lactose intolerance in Africa

Chemical analysis has shown that humans in the Sahara were milking cows some 7000 years ago - see ... according to research done at the University of Bristol. This affects the origins of lactose tolerance - as animal milk causes people to have a queasy stomach, or a more serious reaction, until genetic change has taken place.

Richard Dawkins

At apparently, some proponents of 'evolutionary psychology' are opposed to the idea of the Selfish Gene and the God Delusion. Group selection is back in fashion. A similar theme appears at ... make of this what you will

Evidence for YD impact in Cornwall?

At is from a paper delivered at the iNQUA congress at Bern in June 2011 and concerns a geological layer from Bodmin Moor in Cornwall (Hawks Tor, peat sediments). The authors are William Marshall, Katie Head, Robert Clough and Andrew Fisher. It may be that other sites will now be explored for a similar anomaly as geologists notoriously find new things on each visit to quarries and cuttings - missed by others on earlier visits.

The Sun and life on Earth

At Pierre Gosselin's blog ... scientists from Japan's Okayama Univerity claim the Sun influences coral reefs while at ... claims that low activity on the Sun in recent years has shifted the Gulf Stream.

Fish, using tools to ... fish

At ... rather, a fish using a tool to smash open a shell - various species of wrasse do this and there is photographic evidence of a tusk fish doing the same thing. This is distinctly disturbing as we have always been informed that just we humans are that clever. It was bad enough when primates were found to use tools to poke things out of tight places or crack nuts open but then it was found that crafty crows and various other birds, such as the thrush cracking open snails, also used tools in their everyday sort of chore ...

The flora of tucked away places have a secret to tell

At we learn that botanical researchers from Europe and China are looking at remote regions of China to try and discover plants, shrubs and trees that may have survived the Ice Ages - in refugia. One such place they have targeted is in the SW of China, at the eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau and close to the border with Burma - the Hengduan Mountains. Apparently, in China a large number of ancient flora still exist - with lineage going back millions of years ago.

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.