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.

Celebrity bioarchaeology continues apace with the recent finding of the glorious son of York, King Richard III. The latest update concerns attempts to obtain nuclear DNA – in particular the researchers are looking for Y-chromosome material. More about this can be found here. Also, the remains of Anna Maria Louisa de’ Medici were exhumed last October. Researchers were looking for evidence of either syphilis or breast cancer:

In 1743, the last member of the family that had ruled Florence for almost 300 years died a slow and painful death. Historical documents suggest that Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici suffered from syphilis or breast cancer. But a first look at samples of her bone suggests that syphilis may not have killed her.

An interesting article on Norwegian guerrilla warfare can be found here.

Science Daily mentions a study that shows how dental plaque can shed light on the evolution of disease:

“This is the first record of how our evolution over the last 7500 years has impacted the bacteria we carry with us, and the important health consequences,” says study leader Professor Alan Cooper, ACAD Director.

“Oral bacteria in modern man are markedly less diverse than historic populations and this is thought to contribute to chronic oral and other disease in post-industrial lifestyles.”

Finally, Also from Science Daily, Christianity Influences Meat Taboos in Amazon:

Research by Stanford biologists suggests that the introduction of Western religions is altering the biodiversity in the region.

In some cases, tribal members acting on newly adopted religious beliefs may benefit animal populations in ways similar to conservation efforts. Other introduced behaviors, however, might be endangering animals once protected by indigenous practices.

The study mentioned in the press release can be found here

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