Interesting Science In The News

Some interesting news items that caught my eye.

First, the American Association for the Advancement of Science had a session based on Wilton Krogman’s The Scars of Human Evolution. Krogman, for those unfamiliar with him, was a pioneer in the Field of Forensice Anthropology. He also did some interesting research on primates. You can find more about the symposium here and here. Here is a quote that sums up the session from Eureka Alert:

But applying Darwinian evolutionary theory to the human condition offers a window to why humans suffer from physical ailments that no other animals do, said Latimer, who is on the faculty in the Department of Orthodontics at Case Western Reserve.

Evolving from four-footed walking has created issues from flat feet and bunions to slipped discs, hernias and fallen pelvic floors. And as bizarre as it sounds, rising from four to two feet resulted in reshaping the face and head, which is why humans suffers with such dental problems as wisdom teeth with no room to grow.

Also at the AAAS was a presentation by Nina Jablonski, which sounded fascinating. From Phys.Org:

“We can make a visual impact and present a completely different impression than we can with regular, undecorated skin,” said Jablonski, who reports on her research today (Feb. 16) at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston. Over the millennia, people turned their skin into canvases of self-expression in different ways, including permanent methods, such as tattooing and branding, as well as temporary ones, including cosmetics and body painting, according to the researcher.

And of course, giving Carl Zimmer yet another book idea.

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Interesting Science News

Still working on my review of Science and Human Origins (yes, I have been somewhat lazy when it comes to blogging) in the meantime enjoy the following items.
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Interesting Science Stories In The News

Some science stories I found interesting below the fold. Continue reading

Cool Archaeological Stories!

I stumbled across a couple of cool archaeological stories today. Continue reading

Interesting Science News

A number of items, ranging from paleontology and developmental genetics to osteology and primatology caught my attention this week. Continue reading

Interesting Science News From Around The Web

Ruminant diets and the Miocene extinction of European great apes in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. From the abstract:

The successful evolutionary radiations of European hominoids and pliopithecoids came to an end during the Late Miocene. Using ruminant diets as environmental proxies, it becomes possible to detect variations in vegetation over time with the potential to explain fluctuations in primate diversity along a NW-SE European transect. Analysis shows that ruminants had diverse diets when primate diversity reached its peak, with more grazers in eastern Europe and more browsers farther west. After the drop in primate diversity, grazers accounted for a greater part of western and central European communities. Eastwards, the converse trend was evident with more browsing ruminants. These opposite trends indicate habitat loss and an increase in environmental uniformity that may have severely favoured the decline of primate diversity.

The article is open access.

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Interesting Evolution and Anthropology News

There is a bunch of interesting news relating to evolution and anthropology.

Ed Yong discusses and interesting new study, published in PNAS, on coloration in lizards at White Sands, New Mexico. I have touched on the subject in a previous post. The paper can be found here for those who have access.
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Interesting Science Stuff

Something that will make the creationists and ID types sad. Here is the abstract:

Vestigial structures occur at both the anatomical and molecular levels, but studies documenting the co-occurrence of morphological degeneration in the fossil record and molecular decay in the genome are rare. Here, we use morphology, the fossil record, and phylogenetics to predict the occurrence of “molecular fossils” of the enamelin (ENAM) gene in four different orders of placental mammals (Tubulidentata, Pholidota, Cetacea, Xenarthra) with toothless and/or enamelless taxa. Our results support the “molecular fossil” hypothesis and demonstrate the occurrence of frameshift mutations and/or stop codons in all toothless and enamelless taxa. We then use a novel method based on selection intensity estimates for codons (ω) to calculate the timing of iterated enamel loss in the fossil record of aardvarks and pangolins, and further show that the molecular evolutionary history of ENAM predicts the occurrence of enamel in basal representatives of Xenarthra (sloths, anteaters, armadillos) even though frameshift mutations are ubiquitous in ENAM sequences of living xenarthrans. The molecular decay of ENAM parallels the morphological degeneration of enamel in the fossil record of placental mammals and provides manifest evidence for the predictive power of Darwin’s theory.

I’ll have more to say about it later.

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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.
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Interesting Anthropology and Paleontology News

There is some interesting news relating to anthropology and evolution – over and above Darwinius masillae (which I will have a couple of posts about next week). Continue reading

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