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Neanderthal and Homo Sapien DNA: What does it indicate?

Past posts have described the science of evolution, and the development on Earth over time of its atmosphere and of various life forms. Prior posts have also noted that science is a constantly changing picture as new data and information are developed. Speaking of recent developments, research now appears...

DNA analysis suggests polar bears evolved relatively recently

Ursus maritimus , the polar bear, is a specialized predator that (ignoring those that forage for garbage in towns and villages along the Arctic coast) hunts solely on sea ice. Several studies have concurred that polar bears are closely related to brown bears. However, there is substantial disagreement...

Evolution does not always move at a snail's pace

Evolution need not move slowly, even though that is the model that Darwin seems to have developed. In experiments designed to demonstrate that it is possible for evolutionary transition to occur rapidly, researchers exposed baby snails to the metal platinum, causing the animals to develop without external...

The foundations of life may have formed in cold environments, not hot or temperant

The scientific debate over the origins of life have found support for molecular formation and replication in boiling hot deep-sea hydrothermal vents and volcanic hot springs, as well as the warm little ponds postulated by Darwin. Now comes evidence for the other end of the temperature spectrum, the very...

The Cambrian "Explosion" is looking less so

The Cambrian "explosion", as evidenced by the fossil record of specific aspects of the Burgess Shale, has been interpreted as representing the relatively rapid appearance of most major Phyla over the course of several million years. The fossils that began to "emerge" some 505 million...

An important mechanism for the spread of bacterial resistance to antibiotics is identified

The abuse of antibiotics is commonly (and rightly) associated with the development of bacterial resistance to antibiotics. It is a well recognized principle that underlies attempts to limit antibiotic use to only the most necessary conditions, and to eliminate the prophylactic use of antibiotics in animal...

Which came first, the ritual feast or the farm?

Until recently, the oldest remains of feasts by humans came from Middle Eastern sites dating to around 9,500 years ago after farming had been initiated. Researchers, however, appear to have discovered a cave with evidence of a gathering of 35+ members of the Natufian culture [ http://en.wikipedia...

Why are mammals warm blooded? Thank fungi?

The optimum body temperature for warding off fungal infections, without burning too much energy, is 36.7 degrees Celsius (close to the core temperature for mammals), according to researchers. The research supports an emerging theory that fungal organisms may have been a driving force in the evolution...

Antibiotics and vaccines can act as selection factors for bacteria

As noted in prior posts, almost anything has the potential to act as an evolutionary selection factor. [Yes, Virginia, there really is evolution.] A recent assessment that traces the history of a virulent strain of pneumonia-causing bacteria demonstrates that both antibiotics and vaccines can act as...

Evolution is a complex process, just ask the Transylvanian naked-neck chicken

Prior posts have noted that selection factors that influence evolution can be highly variable, and sometimes surprising. It is not the simple "survival of the fitest" postulated by Darwin (who in fairness could not have known about many of the selection factors and processes described in these...

Could DNA that is no longer present in the human genome have helped to make humans what we are? Very likely.

Prior posts have looked at a variety of issues related to genes and what allegedly makes humans what we supposedly are. But, is it possible that DNA that is no longer present in the genome also helped to shape us? How would we know? Most research into homo sapien genomics has focused on teasing out...

Adaptation to poison, evolution at work

Prior posts have noted the wide diversity of selection factors (well beyond Darwin's original thesis) that are able to influence evolution, or what individuals of a population will survive to procreate and define the nature of the future population. Among factors cited in previous posts were toxicants...

Widespread use of herbicides create immunity and resistance in weedy plants

Prior posts have noted that a wide variety of substances, including hazardous substances, can act as selection factors in fostering "evolution" amongst impacted organisms. Now, researchers have found that many weeds, including some of significant economic importance because of the crops impacted...

Coriander oil is found to kill E. Coli, Salmonella, & MRSA

Prior posts have noted the adverse environmental effects that are being seen with some bactericides. Prior posts have also noted the wide variety of substances that can act as selection factors affecting the evolution of various organisms. Researchers now report that oil extracted from coriander seeds...

Genetic assessments often provide fascinating insights into the underlying agents of evolutionary change

Prior posts have noted the numerous selection factors that help to drive evolutionary change. Genetic analysis of two such changes show evolutionary change in action. It turns out that Zygaena caterpillars make cyanide in the same manner as their host plant, the bird's-foot trefoil, but the underlying...

Fungus identified as cause of widespread die-off of little brown bats in U.S.

A lethal disease has been causing large die-offs of little brown bats; it has been found in bats hibernating in 16 States and 4 Canadian provinces. Researchers have now identified the fungus Geomyces destructans as the primary cause of white-nose syndrome. Tests have demonstrated that the fungus can...

The Columbian and Woolly Mammoth may be one highly variable species

What is interesting about genetic analysis is the way it has the potential to upset otherwise well-established classifications of animals. A good example is the Mammoth, Ice Age beasts well known to one and all. Although they both roamed North America a millennia ago, accepted taxonomy had classified...

Evolutionary Change Is Just That, Change, and Change Often Is a Mixed Bag and More Complex Than Anticipated

There is an unfortunate tendency to conceive of evolutionary change as causing an adaption to a selection factor that marks an improvement in addressing the environment in which the selection factor exists. Were it only so simple. Change may be an improvement, but sometimes it brings unfortunate baggage...

Noise Can Alter the Composition of an Ecosystem

Prior posts have reviewed the wide variety of "selection factors" than can drive evolution in a species. Now it appears that noise can alter the makeup of an entire ecosystem. Researchers have found that noise can drive away some species and sometimes encourage others, which in turn can influence...

Having the Right Blend of "Personalities" Can Impact the Survival of the Animal Group

It was not that long ago that anyone who suggested that animals had "personalities" was seen as anthropomorphizing. While that criticism is not without some merit, research has shown that it may not be correct in all or most circumstances. Research is showing that it is not just the meal...

What Makes a Mammal? The Boundaries May Be Getting a Tad Fuzzy

What makes an animal a mammal? Well, in school we all learned the characteristics that determine what is a mammal: "warm blooded" (endothermy), body hair, three middle ear bones, live birth, and functional mammary glands in mothers with young. Most mammals also have sweat glands and specialised...

Do comb jellies indicate that evolutionary theory needs a serious rethink? Maybe instead they are a door to understanding the evolution of complexity

When viewing evolution over time, scientists generally favor parsimony, that is, lineages radiating from a common ancestor share most of the ancestor's features. This also means that animals at the bottom have simple features, which may grow more complex or which may become more specialized as other...