55 Evolution News Articles
from 2nd Half of 2014
Click on the links below to get the full story from its source
11-29-14 'Mass Extinction' vivifies the science of die-offs
'Mass Extinction' vivifies the science of die-offs
Documentary explores causes of dinosaur disappearance, 'Great Dying' Mass Extinction: Life on the Brink. Anyone with a passing interest in dinosaurs knows that the beasts were killed off some 65 million years ago after a colossal asteroid struck Earth. But what many people probably don't know is how paleontologists came to that conclusion.
11-29-14 Early animals couldn't catch a breath
Early animals couldn't catch a breath
Low oxygen leels may have hindered evolution of complex life. The diversification of early animals may have been suffocated by a lack of oxygen. A new analysis of ancient rocks offers a glimpse of conditions in the millions of years leading up to the proliferation of animals. The data suggest that oxygen levels were less than 1 percent of today's levels, low enough that they may have stalled the emergence of animal life.
11-29-14 Oldest known human DNA analyzed
Oldest known human DNA analyzed
Genome narrows down time of mating with Neandertals. DNA of a 45,000-year-old Siberian Man, the oldest modern human genetic material retrieved to date, indicates that he lived a short time after Homo sapiens interbred with Neandertals.
11-27-14 The "Lucy" fossil rewrote the story of humanity
The "Lucy" fossil rewrote the story of humanity
Forty years ago in east Africa, a team of scientists found a fossil that changed our understanding of human evolution.
11-19-14 Infanticide drives female promiscuity and big balls
Infanticide drives female promiscuity and big balls
The researchers found a strong correlation between infanticide and testicle size. A female evolutionary response to infanticide is to become promiscuous, which blurs the paternity of their offspring. That in turn forces males into a race to produce more sperm and boost their chances of fatherhood, so they grow larger testicles.
11-19-14 Largest study of gay brothers homes in on 'gay genes'
Largest study of gay brothers homes in on 'gay genes'
MANY gay people say they have always known they were different. Now we have taken a step towards understanding why. A major study of gay brothers has yielded the best evidence yet that gay people are born that way. It links sexual orientation in men with two regions of the genome highlighted by previous studies - suggesting that being gay is biologically determined.
11-19-14 Gay gene discovery has good and bad implications
Gay gene discovery has good and bad implications
The finding that male homosexuality has a strong genetic component should be a boon for gay rights - but it could backfire. FOR gay rights activists, it's a dilemma. Does it help or hinder their cause if science shows that homosexuality is partly or largely biologically determined, rather than a lifestyle choice?
11-17-14 Seals discovered having sex with penguins
Seals discovered having sex with penguins
Fur seals have been caught engaging in an extreme form of sexual behaviour. Specifically, trying to have sex with penguins. (Webmaster's comment: And goats have been seen mating with sheep. Seems human males having sex with Shetland ponies in England are not the only ones caught having sex with the wrong species. The drive and desire to breed is second only to that of the drive and desire to survive.)
11-12-14 Oldest European genome illuminates diverse ancestry
Oldest European genome illuminates diverse ancestry
EUROPEANS are a mixed bunch - a hybrid of ancient hunter-gatherers and early farmers with elements of Native American thrown in. How did this strange genetic cocktail come to be? The DNA from the fossilised bones of a 37,000-year-old man found in southern Russia - the oldest European genome sequenced so far - provides new clues for teams trying to crack this mystery.
11-8-14 Brain's taste secrets uncovered
Brain's taste secrets uncovered
The brain has specialist neurons for each of the five taste categories - salty, bitter, sour, sweet and umami - US scientists have discovered.
11-8-14 A Point Of View: Why capitalism hasn't triumphed
A Point Of View: Why capitalism hasn't triumphed
Capitalism may seem like "survival of the fittest", but it could be halted or reversed by politics or the random flux of human events, says John Gray.
11-6-14 First Europeans 'weathered Ice Age'
First Europeans 'weathered Ice Age'
The genetic ancestry of the earliest Europeans survived the ferocious Ice Age that took hold after the continent was initially settled by modern people.
11-5-14 Left or right-wing? Brain's disgust response tells all
Left or right-wing? Brain's disgust response tells all
THE way your brain reacts to a single disgusting image can be used to predict whether you lean to the left or the right politically. Several studies have probed the emotions of people along the political spectrum, and found that disgust in particular is tightly linked to political orientation. People who react strongly to disgusting images are more likely to sit on the political right and show concern for what they see as bodily and spiritual purity. They tend to oppose abortion and gay marriage, for example. But how ingrained is it?
11-5-14 My lizard persona depends on my neighbours
My lizard persona depends on my neighbours
LIZARDS are famed for a rather extreme escape tactic - they shed their tails to avoid predation. But for Erhard's wall lizard, found across Greece's Cyclades islands, its tendency to jettison the tail - and indeed its tolerance for disturbance - depends on which island it lives on. (Webmaster's comment: Just like Darwin's finches on the Galapagos Islands the same species evolve slightly differently when isolated in different environments.)
11-5-14 Egg shape 'helped birds survive' asteroid impact
Egg shape 'helped birds survive' asteroid impact
The shape of birds' eggs could have helped them survive the mass extinction event that killed off the dinosaurs, new research proposes. Before the extinction event about 65 million years ago, eggshells had notable differences to the lineage that survived. It is these survivors that all modern day birds descend from.
11-1-14 Eurasians showed toolmaking skills
Eurasians showed toolmaking skills
Hominids' stone flakes may not owe origin to Africans. Hominids in Eurasia 330,000 years ago crafted stone tools using flake making technology they may have invented themselves.
10-30-14 Why bird divorces are good news for the females
Why bird divorces are good news for the females
Many birds may seem like model parents, with males and females investing more equally in caring for their young than the average mammal. While 85 per cent of bird species are socially monogamous - they form pair bonds and share the workload - divorce is common, occurring in 92 per cent of these species, including the humble great tit.
10-30-14 Low oxygen 'delayed animal life on Earth'
Low oxygen 'delayed animal life on Earth'
There's been much debate about why animals took so long to evolve and thrive on Earth. Now scientists say it was due to incredibly low levels of oxygen on Earth more than a billion years ago. A team determined the chemical composition of ancient rocks to find there was about 0.1% of the oxygen levels present compared with today.
10-28-14 Two genes linked with violent crime
Two genes linked with violent crime
A genetic analysis of almost 900 offenders in Finland has revealed two genes associated with violent crime. The association between genes and violence was strongest for repeat violent offenders. Those with the genes were 13 times more likely to have a history of repeated violent behavior. "Studies like this really document that a large percentage of our behavior in terms of violence or aggression is influenced by our biology - our genes - and our brain anatomy." (Webmaster's comment: Like I've always said your behavior is highly influenced by your genetics. The only way to beat that is to turn on your conscious mind and take charge of your behavior and decide to do other than what your feelings are pushing you to do. Never blindly follow your feelings, think about the consequences of following those feelings first, then decide what to do based on what your reason tells you what would be best thing to do.)
10-23-14 Thoroughly modern humans interbred with Neanderthals
Thoroughly modern humans interbred with Neanderthals
The oldest DNA of a modern human ever to be sequenced shows that the Homo sapiens that interbred with the Neanderthals were very modern - not just anatomically but with modern behaviour including painting, modern tools, music and jewellery.
10-22-14 DNA yields secrets of human pioneer
DNA yields secrets of human pioneer
DNA analysis of a 45,000-year-old human has helped scientists pinpoint when our ancestors interbred with Neanderthals. The genome sequence from a thigh bone found in Siberia shows the first episode of mixing occurred between 50,000 and 60,000 years ago. The study in Nature journal also supports the finding that our species emerged from Africa some 60,000 years ago, before spreading around the world.
10-18-14 "Human interference does not cause chimpanzees to kill rivals
Human interference does not cause chimpanzees to kill rivals
Chimpanzees gang up on and kill stray members of nearby chimp communities to eliminate competitors for food and mates, whether or not people have intruded on the animals' territories.
10-18-14 Fossils push back origin of mammals
Fossils push back origin of mammals
Common ancestor appeared on Late Triassic, study suggests.
10-9-14 Found: closest link to Eve, our universal ancestor
Found: closest link to Eve, our universal ancestor
A man who died in 315 BC in southern Africa is the closest relative yet known to humanity's common female ancestor - mitochondrial Eve.
10-8-14 Cerebellum's growth spurt turned monkeys into humans
Cerebellum's growth spurt turned monkeys into humans
WHEN we search for the seat of humanity, we might be looking at the wrong part of the brain. Most neuroscientists assume that the neocortex, the brain's distinctive folded outer layer, is what makes us uniquely human. But a new study suggests it was the cerebellum that grew much faster in our ape ancestors.
10-6-14 Friends are the family you choose
Friends are the family you choose
Genome-wide analysis reveals genetic similarities among friends.
10-6-14 Nobel Prize for the brain's GPS discovery
Nobel Prize for the brain's GPS discovery
The Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine has been awarded to three scientists who discovered the brain's "GPS system". They discovered how the brain knows where we are and is able to navigate from one place to another.
10-5-14 Height differences 'could be caused by DNA changes'
Height differences 'could be caused by DNA changes'
Subtle changes in our genetic make-up could help to explain why some people are taller than others, the largest ever study of height has suggested. Thousands of genes could be involved in height, according to the study. About 400 genome regions have been identified that may be responsible for the extra inches, according to research involving more than 250,000 people. Studies suggest up to 80% of what determines height lies in our genetic code.
9-28-14 Is your brain male or female?
Is your brain male or female?
Do you have a "male" or "female" brain? Are there really significant brain differences between the sexes and if so, do these differences matter? (Webmaster's comment: Male monkeys prefer playing with trucks and female monkeys prefer playing with dolls. It's a built-in preference. This study has been repeated many times in monkeys. And the same preferences exist in human children. It's built-in us too.)
9-20-14 New demise date for Neandertals
New demise date for Neandertals
Study estimates extinction in Europe at 40,000 years ago. Neandertals died out in Western Europe earlier than many scientists thought, between about 41,000 and 39,000 years ago, after interbreeding with modern humans for a few thousand years, a new study suggests.
9-18-14 Murder 'comes naturally' to chimpanzees
Murder 'comes naturally' to chimpanzees
A major study suggests that killing among chimpanzees results from normal competition, not human interference. Apart from humans, chimpanzees are the only primates known to gang up on their neighbours with lethal results. Murder rates in different chimp communities simply reflect the numerical make-up of the local population.
9-18-14 Primal pull of a baby crying reaches across species
Primal pull of a baby crying reaches across species
THERE'S something primal in a mother's response to a crying infant. So primal, in fact, that mother deer will rush protectively to the distress calls of other infant mammals, such as fur seals, marmots and even humans. This suggests such calls might share common elements - and perhaps that these animals experience similar emotions. Researchers - and, indeed, all pet owners - know that humans respond emotionally to the distress cries of their domestic animals, and there is some evidence that dogs also respond to human cries. However, most people have assumed this is a by-product of domestication.
9-17-14 Europeans drawn from three ancient 'tribes'
Europeans drawn from three ancient 'tribes'
The modern European gene pool was formed when three ancient populations mixed within the last 7,000 years, Nature journal reports. Blue-eyed, swarthy hunters mingled with brown-eyed, pale skinned farmers as the latter swept into Europe from the Near East. But another, mysterious population with Siberian affinities also contributed to the genetic landscape of the continent.
9-16-14 Study: We Can Smell People With Similar Political Views
Study: We Can Smell People With Similar Political Views
Sure, that sounds totally gross, but humans are more attracted to the B.O. of people with similar political views, according to a recent study published in the American Journal of Political Science. This subconscious armpit-to-nose communication might be "a modern way of signalling compatibility to potential mates."
9-12-14 Life Is Random - Why identical twins are different
Life Is Random - Why identical twins are different
Biologists now realize that "nature vs. nurture" misses the importance of noise. Is our behavior determined by genetics, or are we products of our environments? What matters more for the development of living things-internal factors or external ones?
9-8-14 Coffee genes help hackers home in on the perfect brew
Coffee genes help hackers home in on the perfect brew
It gets you up in the morning and helps you power through the day. Now coffee aficionados have been armed with a new tool in their quest for the perfect cup - the coffee genome.
9-2-14 Monkey leaders and followers have 'specialised brains'
Monkey leaders and followers have 'specialised brains'
Monkeys at the top and bottom of the social pecking order have physically different brains, research has found. A particular network of brain areas was bigger in dominant animals, while other regions were bigger in subordinates. The study suggests that primate brains, including ours, can be specialised for life at either end of the hierarchy. The differences might reflect inherited tendencies toward leading or following, or the brain adapting to an animal's role in life - or a little of both.
8-28-14 Genetic clues to spread of Ebola
Genetic clues to spread of Ebola
Scientists have tracked the spread of Ebola in West Africa, revealing genetic clues to the course of the outbreak. Genetic analysis of patient samples suggests the virus spread from Guinea to Sierra Leone at a single funeral.
8-28-14 DNA reveals history of vanished 'Paleo-Eskimos'
DNA reveals history of vanished 'Paleo-Eskimos'
A new "genetic prehistory" provides the best picture ever assembled of how the North American Arctic was populated, from 6,000 years ago to the present. DNA sequences from living and ancient inhabitants show a single influx from Siberia produced all the "Paleo-Eskimo" cultures, which died out 700 years ago. Modern-day Inuit and Native Americans arose from separate migrations.
8-27-14 Chimps show empathy by mimicking pupil size
Chimps show empathy by mimicking pupil size
IT'S one in the eye for a "uniquely" human trait. Chimpanzees may share our ability to empathise with other individuals by involuntarily matching their pupil size. The signalling may reinforce social bonds.
8-20-14 Neanderthal demise traced in unprecedented detail
Neanderthal demise traced in unprecedented detail
GUILTY as charged. Over the years, humans have often been accused of killing off our Neanderthal cousins, although climate change, stupidity and even bad luck have been blamed too. Now we are back in the frame.
8-20-14 New dates rewrite Neanderthal story
New dates rewrite Neanderthal story
Modern humans and Neanderthals co-existed in Europe 10 times longer than previously thought, a study suggests. The most comprehensive dating of Neanderthal bones and tools ever carried out suggests that the two species lived side-by-side for up to 5,000 years.
8-19-14 Child's drawing 'predicts later intelligence'
Child's drawing 'predicts later intelligence'
The way children draw at the age of four can be a predictor of later intelligence, a study has suggested. The pictures with more physical features scored more highly. Researchers found a moderately strong link between higher drawing scores and the later intelligence test results.
8-17-14 Hints of epigenetic role in Alzheimer's disease
Hints of epigenetic role in Alzheimer's disease
Pioneering studies of post-mortem brain tissues have yielded the first evidence of a potential association between Alzheimer's disease and the epigenetic alteration of gene function. The researchers stress, however, that more research is needed to find out if the changes play a causal role in the disease or occur as a result of it.
8-7-14 Cunning Neanderthals hunted and ate wild pigeons
Cunning Neanderthals hunted and ate wild pigeons
Neanderthals had the brains and guile to catch and eat birds, a skill many had assumed was beyond them. Bones found in Gibraltar suggest Neanderthals hunted wild pigeons, possibly by climbing steep cliffs to reach their nests.
7-29-14 Eggshells act like 'sunblock', study suggests
Eggshells act like 'sunblock', study suggests
The eggshells of wild birds may act like "sunblock", scientists have said.Blue, white or spotted: Eggshell pigmentation may act as 'sunblock' controlling the light reaching embryos.
7-28-14 How fear can be 'programmed' into infants by the smell their parents give off when they're scared
How fear can be 'programmed' into infants by the smell their parents give off when they're scared
Fear 'passed between generations', with mother to child primary route The tantalising idea comes from research into the 'smell of fear' Scientist believes that children learn some of their mother's fears - with some being passed on very early in life Examples may include fear of dentist, fear of violence and extreme shyness.
7-28-14 'Pea-sized brain hub could shed light on depression'
'Pea-sized brain hub could shed light on depression'
Scientists say a part of the brain, smaller than a pea, triggers the instinctive feeling that something bad is about to happen. (Webmaster's comment: This is a primative brain structure and is in animals too. We all have it. Like I've said: "Anything that can be encoded in DNA that improves a living organism's ability to survive and breed will be encoded.")
7-16-14 Meet the electric life forms that live on pure energy
Meet the electric life forms that live on pure energy
Unlike any other life on Earth, these extraordinary bacteria use energy in its purest form - they eat and breathe electrons - and they are everywhere
7-15-14 Do friends have similar genomes?
Do friends have similar genomes?
A study from a controversial pair of US researchers claims that we are more genetically similar to our friends than we are to strangers. A study from US researchers suggests that friends are more genetically similar than strangers - to the same degree as fourth cousins.
7-14-14 Reaping the whirlwind of Nazi eugenics
Reaping the whirlwind of Nazi eugenics
I'm inclined to think not, both from a commitment to intellectual freedom and for the practical reason that if you put up such notices, trespassers are guaranteed.
7-8-14 Same genes 'drive maths and reading ability'
Same genes 'drive maths and reading ability'
The same genes drive maths and reading ability, research suggests. Around half of the genes that influence a child's aptitude for reading also play a role in how easily they learn maths, say scientists.
7-2-14 Tibetan altitude gene inherited 'from extinct species'
Tibetan altitude gene inherited 'from extinct species'
A gene that allows present-day people to cope with life at high altitude was inherited from an extinct species of human, Nature journal has reported.