Archives for posts with tag: evolution

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.

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Work on the Y chromosome shows that men’s common ancestor is around 120,000 to 156,000 years ago, around the same time of that of women.

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.

Messages in your DNA can give geographic clues to your family’s past, creating a ‘GPS’ for your genes. This uses software to locate single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs – changes in single letters in the DNA code) that have mutated in the past and have then been passed on to a population in a specific place. The researchers believe that this allows people’s origin to be placed on a map on the basis of their genetic information alone.

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

Researchers have evolved a community of fruit flies that can count. It took a while, but by the researchers combining flashing lights and vibrations, the 40th generation of flies was able to associated the flashes of light with the shaking sensation, which the flies disliked. It’s not yet clear how the genetics of the flies or their neurobiology has changed.

Because of fossils and anatomy studies it looked like turtles evolved from lizards and snakes, but new genetic research shows that they have evolved from the same ancestor as birds and crocodiles.

Read the abstract in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.

Some bees are genetically more likely to go to find new nest sites or new sources of food than other bees, who just go to the same old sites.

honey beeThe bees who do something different – their brains show similar genes and similar brain chemicals to those in people who bungee jump or go white water rafting.

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