Archives for category: Evolution

Fossil hunters have found a skull of a horned dinosaur, the oldest found in North America so far at 100 million years | Guardian

Contrary to previous theories, there may only have been one human species walking the earth millions of years ago. According to a paper in Science, Homo habilis, Homo rudolfensis and Homo erectus may have been part of the evolution of humans, rather than separate species.

Researchers have sequenced the coelacanth genome. This deep-sea fish has changed little physically in the last 300 million years, and the genome analysis shows few changes in its protein-coding genes.

The research could tell us more about how animals evolved from fish. Read more in the paper in Nature.

Some fish can climb waterfalls, and they seem to have evolved to use the same muscles as they use for eating. The Nopili rock-climbing goby can climb waterfalls as high as 100 metres, and it uses two suckers, one of which it also uses for feeding on algae.

You don’t just yawn when you are tired – it could be seasonal too. It appears that yawning could help cool your brain, as we yawn more when the weather is cooler – see the paper in Frontiers in Evolutionary Neuroscience.

According to researchers from Tel Aviv and Los Angeles, they can work out where you originate from using software and your genes, creating a kind of genetic ‘GPS’.  The researchers have used a software tool called spatial ancestry analysis (SPA) to locate mutations from the past that can be linked with a specific geographic location, even down to finding your parents’ ancestry too.

CompassThis could be used to trace a change that leads to disease in a specific population, or track the historic movement of human and animal populations. Read the original research in Nature Genetics.

It’s the last day of London 2012, and Mo Farah is presumably still celebrating his 5,000 m win, coming only a week after the 10,000 m win, making him the first man to win both golds for Team GB. So, what’s behind the science of running? Exercise triggers the release of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). As BDNF helps the brain develop, it’s possible that as we evolved and began to pursue prey over long distances on foot, then the increased levels led to us developing bigger brains. So – exercise can keep your brain fit as well as your body!

Olympic Games 27 July – 12 August

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