Tagged: evolution

Nose evolution shaped by climate - Guest Work

John Kerr Mar 17, 2017

Your nose looks the way it does thanks, in part, to the climate where your ancient ancestors lived, finds new research. The new study, published today in PLOS Genetics, explores the evolutionary history of the nose, focusing on one specific question: “Has climate adaptation played an important role in influencing variation in human nose shape?” The human nose conditions the temperature and … Read More

Dental plaque DNA shows Neandertals used ‘aspirin’ - News

Jean Balchin Mar 09, 2017

Ancient DNA found on Neandertal teeth has revealed fascinating new insights into the behaviour, diet, use of plant-based medicine and the evolutionary history of our nearest extinct relatives. “Dental plaque traps microorganisms that lived in the mouth and pathogens found in the respiratory and gastrointestinal tract, as well as bits of food stuck in the teeth—preserving the DNA for … Read More

Weird Science: Beware the meerkat – cuddly critters the world’s most murderous mammals - Guest Work

Guest Work Dec 24, 2016

Meerkats – delightful, lovable fluffballs, right? Wrong – they’re actually stone-cold killers, the mammalian world’s most prolific murderers in fact, according to a study that came out in September. The scientists looked at murder rates in 1,000 mammal species, compared the meerkat (sorry) with the others, and found that one-in-five of these cuddly critters is killed in cold … Read More

Crocodilians have long been good mothers - Chthonic Wildlife Ramblings

Brendan Moyle Dec 09, 2016

I like to keep informed about research on crocodilians, even if my work on them as waned in recent years.  As is usually popularly known, crocodilians (which includes true crocodiles, as well as alligators and caimans) survived the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction that wiped out most dinosaurs.  That leaves both birds and crocodilians as the only surviving archosaurs.  We know from living … Read More

Actually Arachnophobia is irrational - Chthonic Wildlife Ramblings

Brendan Moyle Oct 26, 2016

I may be turning into a grumpy old man.  But sadly the click-bait title in Stuff about NZ Spiders annoyed me. The actual article was about how fascinating NZ spiders were. Rather than fueling the irrational fear of spiders, the article assuaged it. It pointed out that NZ spiders weren’t particularity dangerous, that the common daddy-long legs was … Read More

When did humans first leave Africa? - News

John Kerr Sep 22, 2016

Where did we come from and when did we leave there? These existential questions are at the heart of several human genetics studies published today in the leading journal Nature, all with links to New Zealand. Tracing our genetic roots The now widely accepted ‘Out of Africa’ hypothesis puts Africa as the origin of all modern humans. However, there is still debate … Read More

Past, present, future: how human evolution and climate are linked - Guest Work

Guest Work Jun 07, 2016

By Andrew Glikson, Australian National University Over the past year, carbon dioxide (CO₂) levels in the atmosphere have risen faster than any period in the past 55 million years. That’s the finding of my study published in Global Change Biology. From April 2015 to April 2016, CO₂ levels rose by 4.6 parts per million (ppm), reaching a … Read More

Disease evolution: our long history of fighting viruses - Guest Work

Guest Work Apr 27, 2016

By Peter C. Doherty, The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity A virus is essentially an information system (encoded in DNA or RNA) surrounded by a protective coat and shaped by evolution to ensure its own replication and survival. Viruses grow only in living cells. But they infect everything from the simplest, single-cell organisms, such as … Read More