Interesting Anthropology and Science News

There are several interesting items on Science Daily.

First, Monkeys Get A Groove On, But Only To Monkey Music:

The similarities in communications between monkeys and people suggest deep evolutionary roots for the musical elements of speech, Snowdon says. “The emotional components of music and animal calls might be very similar, and from an evolutionary perspective, we are finding that the note patterns, dissonance and timing are important for communicating affective states in both animals and
people.”

You can hear samples of the music here.

Second, No Such Thing As Ethnic Groups, Genetically Speaking, Researchers Say:

The boundaries used by individuals to distinguish themselves from members of other ethnic groups are generally cultural, linguistic, economic, religious and political. Heyer and her colleagues confirm the absence of common ancestry in a specific ethnic group; there were on average more differences between members of the same ethnic group than there were between groups.

The research is being published in BMC Genetics and is available here

There are also some interesting items on PhysOrg.Com.

First, Several hand-axes discovered in Spain in the 1970’s have been redated, via magnetostratigraphy, to approximately one million years ago.

Second, Cradle and birthday of dog identified:

“For the first time in world history it is possible to provide a detailed picture of the dog, with its birthplace, point in time, and how many wolves were tamed,” says Peter Savolainen, a biology researcher at KTH.

Together with Swedish colleagues and a Chinese research team, he has made a number of new discoveries about the history of the dog.

These discoveries are presented in an article in the scientific journal Molecular Biology and Evolution, where it is claimed that the dog appeared 16,000 years ago, in Asia, south of the Yangtze River in China.

This research can be found here.

Finally, Science has an interesting article on Genes That Make Us Human:

Meanwhile, while looking for gene duplications in humans, geneticists Aoife McLysaght and David Knowles of Trinity College Dublin kept coming across genes that seemed to have no counterparts in other primates, suggesting that new genes arose in us as well. To determine which of these genes with no counterparts were de novo genes, McLysaght and Knowles first used a computer to compare the human, chimp, and other genomes. They eliminated all but three of the 644 candidates because their sequence in the database was not complete–or they had equivalents in other species.

Next, they searched the chimp genome for signs of each gene’s birth. “We strove hard to identify the noncoding DNA that gave rise to the gene,” McLysaght says. Only by finding that DNA could they be sure that the gene wasn’t already present in the chimp genome but was somehow unrecognizable to gene-finding programs. At three locations where the chimp and human genomes were almost identical, telltale mutations indicated that it was impossible to get a viable protein from the chimp DNA sequence. In contrast, the human version of each sequence had mutations that made it a working gene, the researchers report online tomorrow in Genome Research.

The research is available here – subscription required.

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3 Responses

  1. Second, No Such Thing As Ethnic Groups, Genetically Speaking, Researchers Say:

    Let’s see how long it takes for the qualifier to slip away from the coverage, shall we?

  2. Hang on, I thought that last month dogs originated in Africa (possibly). Any chance of a comparison of the papers? I’ve had a quick look, but some of it’s over my head.

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