Archives for the month of: June, 2012

Researchers who have mapped part of the genome of hunter gatherers from the Mesolithic period (7000 years ago) have found that they are not the ancestors of the modern Spanish people.

Hunter gatherer skeleton

Reconstruction of individual Braña‑1. Credit: Alberto Tapia

The research was published in Current Biology.

When teenagers play a computer videogame called Re-Mission, where a nanobot called Roxxi fights cancer cells, they are more likely to stick to their cancer treatment.

Roxxi the nanobot

The paper was published in Pediatrics in 2008.



Your genes might make you more likely to become an alcoholic. Researchers have found that copy number variations (CNVs; increases or decreases in the number of copies of each gene) seem to be linked with the chance of developing a dependence on alcohol.

Glass of beer

Having a genetic predisposition does not mean that addiction is inevitable, just that there is a higher risk, and it does not mean that people with the predisposition will not be able to give up, just that it may be more difficult and that they may need more support. The results are published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

Researchers have found four new mutations in people with migraines without aura, the most common form of migraine. Other studies have also found links between migraine and genes on the X chromosome, which might explain why more women get migraine than men.

man with a headacheRead the paper in Nature Genetics.

The Scotland’s DNA project has found that the population of Scotland is very genetically diverse, with around 150 different genetic lines of female ancestry from Europe, Asia, and Africa and 100 different groups of male ancestry from Europe and elsewhere. According to the study, actor Tom Conti is related to Napoleon Bonaparte.

Read more on the Scotland’s DNA website.

The bellies of pygmy sharks glow in the dark (bioluminescence) – this makes it harder for predators to spot them from below, because they blend into the brighter light from the ocean surface.  This is controlled by two hormones, melatonin and prolactin.

Read the research in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

Bacteria, fungi and primitive organisms (archaea) living on rocky soils on volcanoes in South America seem to convert energy from gases such as carbon monoxide and dimethyl sulfide rather than using known processes like photosynthesis.

Read the abstract in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Biogeosciences.

Researchers found the Lord Howe phasmid, a giant stick insect, on Ball’s Pyramid, off the coast of Australia, in 2001.This was thought to have gone extinct in the late 20th century but the team has created new breeding colonies.

Lord Howe's phasmid

Source: Patrick Honan, Zoos Victoria

They hope to reintroduce the insects to their native habitat on nearby Lord Howe Island once they have eradicated the non-native predators.

The Map of Life is an interactive website that maps fish and land-based vertebrates around the world to create a searchable map. Later in the year there will be more species added, including plants and invertebrates.

See the report in Nature.

One year old babies that go to interactive music classes where their parents play instruments and sing songs, rather than just listen to music, smile more, communicate better, and their brains respond earlier to music. They are also calmer. So get singing ‘The Wheels On The Bus‘ to your baby!

See the abstract in Developmental Science.

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