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Earliest Image of Egyptian Ruler Wearing 'White Crown' of Royalty Brought to Light PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 09 August 2011 02:27
The earliest known image of an Egyptian ruler wearing the "White Crown" associated with Egyptian dynastic power has been brought to light by an international team of archaeologists led by Egyptologists from Yale University.

Carved around 3200 BCE, this unique record of a royal celebration at the dawn of the Egyptian dynastic period was found at a site discovered almost a half-century ago by Egyptologist Labib Habachi at Nag el-Hamdulab, on the West Bank of the Nile to the north of Aswan.

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La Nina's Distant Effects in East Africa: Droughts and Floods Are Remote-Controlled Climate Effects PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 09 August 2011 02:19
For 20,000 years, climate variability in East Africa has been following a pattern that is evidently a remote effect of the ENSO phenomenon (El Niño Southern Oscillation) known as El Niño/La Niña. During the cold phase of La Niña, there is marginal rainfall and stronger winds in East Africa, while the El Niño warm phase leads to weak wind conditions with frequent rain. Moreover, during the coldest period of the last ice age about 18 000 to 21 000 years ago, East Africa's climate was relatively stable and dry.
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Females Can Place Limits on Evolution of Attractive Features in Males, Research Shows PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 05 August 2011 22:48
Female cognitive ability can limit how melodious or handsome males become over evolutionary time, biologists from The University of Texas at Austin, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute have observed.

Males across the animal world have evolved elaborate traits to attract females, from huge peacock tails to complex bird songs and frog calls. But what keeps them from getting more colorful feathers, longer tails, or more melodious songs? Predators, for one. Increased elaboration can draw predators in, placing an enormous cost to males with these sexy traits.

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Sea Squirt Pacemaker Gives New Insight Into Evolution of the Human Heart PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 05 August 2011 22:43
An international team of molecular scientists have discovered that star ascidians, also known as sea squirts, have pacemaker cells similar to that of the human heart. The research, published in the JEZ A: Ecological Genetics and Physiology, may offer a new insight into the early evolution of the heart as star ascidians are one of the closest related invertebrates to mammals.
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Public divided over how to manage invasive animal and plant species on Cumberland Island PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 05 August 2011 22:38

Visitors to Cumberland Island flock to the barrier island to see its famed feral horses, likely unaware of the damage the wild animals can inflict on the seashore’s ecosystem. Park managers are often in a quandary over what to do about the horses and other invasive species that threaten a local environment. A new study by the University of Georgia could help shed some light on what management methods the public would support—and that could help shape future park policies on how to control damaging invasive species like the island’s charismatic horses.

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On Darwin and gender PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 03 August 2011 23:16

In 1864, German naturalist Ernst Haeckel wrote to naturalist Charles Darwin, promising to send some marine shells that displayed “a detailed representation of the Rhizopod organism.” But for the “female members of your family,” Haeckel quickly added, the intricate shells would make nice “embroidery patterns.”

This fragment of correspondence illustrates what historians now see as a vast 19th century gender divide, even among scientists renowned for the assumed dispassion of their work. But most of those scientists 150 years ago regarded the gender divide as merely the way that things were.

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Ruminant headgear: A mystery awaiting unraveling PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 03 August 2011 23:05

Emerging from the heads of most cud-chewing mammals, headgear inspire an almost mystical and certainly majestic aura. But, scientists say, we know shockingly little about them.

In a paper appearing online ahead of regular publication in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, a London-based international journal dedicated to biology, a three-member scientific team spells out what is known -- and not known -- about antlers, horns, pronghorns and ossicones.

For antlers, think deer, moose and elk. Horns are worn by cattle, sheep and goats; ossicones by giraffes and okapi. Pronghorns are found on pronghorn antelope, a strictly North American mammal.

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Ancient Tides Quite Different from Today -- Some Dramatically Higher, Some Lower PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 01 August 2011 20:17
The ebb and flow of the ocean tides, generally thought to be one of the most predictable forces on Earth, are actually quite variable over long time periods, in ways that have not been adequately accounted for in most evaluations of prehistoric sea level changes.

Due to phenomena such as ice ages, plate tectonics, land uplift, erosion and sedimentation, tides have changed dramatically over thousands of years and may change again in the future, a new study concludes.

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Genetic Evidence Clears Ben Franklin: Invasive Tree Afflicting Gulf Coast Was Not Brought to U.S. by Famed Statesman PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 01 August 2011 20:11
The DNA evidence is in, and Ben Franklin didn't do it.

Genetic tests on more than 1,000 Chinese tallow trees from the United States and China show the famed U.S. statesman did not import the tallow trees that are overrunning thousands of acres of U.S. coastal prairie from Florida to East Texas.

"It's widely known that Franklin introduced tallow trees to the U.S. in the late 1700s," said Rice University biologist Evan Siemann, co-author the new study in this month's American Journal of Botany. "Franklin was living in London, and he had tallow seeds shipped to associates in Georgia."

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Reservoirs of Ancient Lava Shaped Earth PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 30 July 2011 06:19
Geological history has periodically featured giant lava eruptions that coat large swaths of land or ocean floor with basaltic lava, which hardens into rock formations called flood basalt. New research from Matthew Jackson and Richard Carlson proposes that the remnants of six of the largest volcanic events of the past 250 million years contain traces of the ancient Earth's primitive mantle -- which existed before the largely differentiated mantle of today -- offering clues to the geochemical history of the planet.

Their work is published online July 27 by Nature.

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Fossils of Forest Rodents Found in Highland Desert PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 09 August 2011 02:23
Two new rodent fossils were discovered in the arid highlands of southern Bolivia by researchers from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and Universidad Autónoma Tomás Frías.

The larger of the two rodents, named Mesoprocta hypsodus, probably looked something like a guinea pig on stilts, said Darin Croft, an anatomy professor at Case Western Reserve. The smaller, Quebradahondomys potosiensis, was a spiny rat.

An online article in the Journal of Mammalian Evolution describes the new species, a possible third, and two known species that are new inhabitants to that location.

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Nobel Prize Winner’s Unfinished Symphony PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 09 August 2011 02:17
When Robert Burns Woodward passed away in 1979 he left 699 pages of handwritten notes. Because R.B. Woodward was a Nobel Laureate (Chemistry, 1965) his family had carefully preserved his notes for posterity. A paper published in Elsevier's Tetrahedron summarizes the process of an extensive study uncovering the hidden treasures in these notes.

The notes were meticulously drawn sketches outlining Woodward's ideas on organic superconductors. Woodward's family felt these notes could provide valuable insights to other chemists.

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The Last 3 Million Years at a Snail's Pace: A Tiny Trapdoor Opens a New Way to Date the Past PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 05 August 2011 22:46
Scientists at the University of York, using an 'amino acid time capsule', have led the largest ever programme to date the British Quaternary period, stretching back nearly three million years.

It is the first widespread application of refinements of the 40-year-old technique of amino acid geochronology. The refined method, developed at York's BioArCh laboratories, measures the breakdown of a closed system of protein in fossil snail shells, and provides a method of dating archaeological and geological sites.

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Six Million Years of Savanna: Grasslands, Wooded Grasslands Accompanied Human Evolution PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 05 August 2011 22:40
University of Utah scientists used chemical isotopes in ancient soil to measure prehistoric tree cover -- in effect, shade -- and found that grassy, tree-dotted savannas prevailed at most East African sites where human ancestors and their ape relatives evolved during the past 6 million years.

"We've been able to quantify how much shade was available in the geological past," says geochemist Thure Cerling, senior author of a study of the new method in the journal Nature. "And it shows there have been open habitats for all of the last 6 million years in the environments in eastern Africa where some of the most significant early human fossils were found."

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It's dim up north PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 03 August 2011 23:23

The farther that human populations live from the equator, the bigger their brains, according to a new study by Oxford University. But it turns out that this is not because they are smarter, but because they need bigger vision areas in the brain to cope with the low light levels experienced at high latitudes.

Scientists have found that people living in countries with dull, grey, cloudy skies and long winters have evolved bigger eyes and brains so they can visually process what they see, reports the journal Biology Letters.

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Researcher argues that sex reduces genetic variation PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 03 August 2011 23:14

Biology textbooks maintain that the main function of sex is to promote genetic diversity. But Henry Heng, Ph.D., associate professor in WSU's Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics, says that's not the case.

Heng and fellow researcher Root Gorelick, Ph.D., associate professor at Carleton University in Canada, propose that although diversity may result from a combination of genes, the primary function of sex is not about promoting diversity. Rather, it's about keeping the genome context – an organism's complete collection of genes arranged by chromosome composition and topology – as unchanged as possible, thereby maintaining a species' identity.

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UBC graduate student discovers key to 'bifocals' in mangrove fish species PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 01 August 2011 20:19

A "four-eyed" fish that sees simultaneously above and below the water line has offered up a dramatic example of how gene expression allows organisms to adapt to their environment.

Gregory L. Owens, a University of British Columbia graduate student, found a sharp divide between the upper and lower sections of the eyes of Anableps anableps, a six- to 12-inch fish closely related to guppies. The findings were published today online in Biology Letters.

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Fall of the Neanderthals: Volume of Modern Humans Infiltrating Europe Cited as Critical Factor PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 01 August 2011 20:14
New research sheds light on why, after 300,000 years of domination, European Neanderthals abruptly disappeared. Researchers from the University of Cambridge have discovered that modern humans coming from Africa swarmed the region, arriving with over ten times the population as the Neanderthal inhabitants.

The reasons for the relatively sudden disappearance of the European Neanderthal populations across the continent around 40,000 years ago has for long remained one of the great mysteries of human evolution.

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Sea Level Rise Less from Greenland, More from Antarctica, Than Expected During Last Interglacial PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 30 July 2011 06:21
During the last prolonged warm spell on Earth, the oceans were at least four meters -- and possibly as much as 6.5 meters, or about 20 feet -- higher than they are now.

Where did all that extra water come from? Mainly from melting ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica, and many scientists, including University of Wisconsin-Madison geoscience assistant professor Anders Carlson, have expected that Greenland was the main culprit.

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Common Korean Surname Tells Tale of Nationhood PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 30 July 2011 06:18
The most common surname in Korea -- Kim -- has been traced back 1500 years using a statistical model, providing evidence of a strong, stable culture that has remained intact to this day.

In a study published July 28, 2011 in the Institute of Physics and German Physical Society's New Journal of Physics, researchers have been able to estimate that in the year 500 AD, 50,000 people carried a Korean family name, of which there were 150 variations and 10,000 people carrying the name Kim.

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