Neanderthals, Humans had ‘Ample Time’ to Mix
Humans and Neanderthals may have coexisted in Europe for more than 5,000 years, providing ample time for the two species to meet and mix, according to new research.
Using new carbon dating techniques and mathematical models, researchers examined about 200 samples found at 40 sites from Spain to Russia, according to a study published in the journal Nature. They concluded with a high probability that pockets of Neanderthal culture survived until between 41,030 and 39,260 years ago.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/08/neanderthals-humans-had-ample-time-mix
Almost Half of All Languages May Be Endangered
Sometime in the 1970s, a linguist named James Rementer, moved into the house of an elderly woman in Oklahoma. That woman, Nora Thompson Dean, was one of the last persons to speak Unami, a dialect of the Delaware (Lenni Lenape) language. When she died in 1984, the language spoken by the Native Americans who left their place names all over New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, and signed the famous peace treaty with William Penn in 1683, went silent.
Thousands of languages have gone extinct in the last few centuries, and an economist at Case Western Reserve Univ. thinks the language of any people whose total population is fewer than 35,000, is possibly endangered. That does not mean they will disappear, said David Clingingsmith. “I think that’s what the data says on average.”
There are approximately 7,000 languages in the world, and 95 percent of the world’s population speak 300 of them. Half the world speaks the largest 16. According to the Endangered Languages Project, some 40 percent of the world’s languages are threatened.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/08/almost-half-all-languages-may-be-endangered
August 20, 1779- Jöns Jacob Berzelius
Jöns Jacob Berzelius, born August 20, 1779, was a Swedish chemist who established the beginnings of modern chemistry. Among his contributions are his determination of atomic weights, the replacement of alchemical signs with letters for chemical symbols and the use small numbers to indicate relative proportions the formula of a compound, new analytical methods and an electrochemical theory.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2012/09/today-lab-history-j%C3%B6ns-jacob-berzelius
500 M-Year Immune System Reset
A single factor can reset the immune system of mice to a state likely similar to what it was 500 million years ago, when the first vertebrates emerged.
Scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics (MPI-IE) in Freiburg re-activated expression of an ancient gene, which is not normally expressed in the mammalian immune system, and found that the animals developed a fish-like thymus. To the researchers surprise, while the mammalian thymus is utilized exclusively for T cell maturation, the reset thymus produced not only T cells, but also served as a maturation site for B cells – a property normally seen only in the thymus of fish. Thus the model could provide an explanation of how the immune system had developed in the course of evolution.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/08/image-week-500-m-year-immune-system-reset
Sun’s Activity Impacts Climate Change
A new study from Lund Univ. has, for the first time, reconstructed solar activity during the last ice age. The study shows that the regional climate is influenced by the sun and offers opportunities to better predict future climate conditions in certain regions.
For the first time, a research team has been able to reconstruct the solar activity at the end of the last ice age, around 20,000–10,000 years ago, by analyzing trace elements in ice cores in Greenland and cave formations from China. During the last glacial maximum, Sweden was covered in a thick ice sheet that stretched all the way down to northern Germany and sea levels were more than 100 meters lower than they are today, because the water was frozen in the extensive ice caps. The new study shows that the sun’s variation influences the climate in a similar way regardless of whether the climate is extreme, as during the Ice Age, or as it is today.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/08/sun%E2%80%99s-activity-impacts-climate-change
Today in Lab History: August 18, 1908- Frederick Bawden
Frederick Bawden, born Aug. 18, 1908, was an English plant pathologist whose research interest was in plant viruses, and how best to ensure that a farmer could grow healthy and productive crops. With his associates, in 1937, he discovered that the tobacco mozaic virus contained ribonucleic acid (RNA).
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2012/09/today-lab-history-frederick-bawden
Legged, Spikey ‘Worm’ Finds Place in Evolutionary Tree
One of the most bizarre-looking fossils ever found — a worm-like creature with legs, spikes and a head difficult to distinguish from its tail — has found its place in the evolutionary Tree of Life, definitively linking it with a group of modern animals for the first time.
The animal, known as Hallucigenia because of its otherworldly appearance, had been considered an “evolutionary misfit” as it was not clear how it related to modern animal groups. Researchers from the Univ. of Cambridge have discovered an important link with modern velvet worms, also known as onychophorans, a relatively small group of worm-like animals that live in tropical forests. The results are published in the advance online edition of the journal Nature.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/08/legged-spikey-%E2%80%98worm%E2%80%99-finds-place-evolutionary-tree
Humans were Culturally Diverse Prior to Africa Exodus
Researchers have carried out the biggest ever comparative study of stone tools dating to between 130,000 and 75,000 years ago found in the region between sub-Saharan Africa and Eurasia. They have discovered there are marked differences in the way stone tools were made, reflecting a diversity of cultural traditions. The study has also identified at least four distinct populations, each relatively isolated from each other with their own different cultural characteristics.
The research paper also suggests that early populations took advantage of rivers and lakes that crisscrossed the Saharan desert. A climate model coupled with data about these ancient water courses was matched with the new findings on stone tools to reveal that populations connected by rivers had similarities in their cultures. This could be the earliest evidence of different populations “budding” across the Sahara, using the rivers to disperse and meet people from other populations, says the paper published in the journal, Quaternary Science Reviews.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/08/humans-were-culturally-diverse-prior-africa-exodus
Egyptians Mummified the Dead Earlier than Thought
Researchers from the Universities of York, Macquarie and Oxford have discovered new evidence to suggest that the origins of mummification started in ancient Egypt 1,500 years earlier than previously thought.
The scientific findings of an 11-year study by a researcher in the Department of Archaeology at York, York’s BioArCh facility and an Egyptologist from the Department of Ancient History at Macquarie Univ., push back the origins of a central and vital facet of ancient Egyptian culture by over a millennium.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/08/egyptians-mummified-dead-earlier-thought
Dinos in North America
The Jurassic and Cretaceous periods were the golden age of dinosaurs, during which the prehistoric giants roamed the Earth for nearly 135 million years. Paleontologists have unearthed numerous fossils from these periods, suggesting that dinosaurs were abundant throughout the world. But where and when dinosaurs first came into existence has been difficult to ascertain.
Fossils discovered in Argentina suggest that the first dinosaurs may have appeared in South America during the Late Triassic, about 230 million years ago — a period when today’s continents were fused in a single landmass called Pangaea. Previously discovered fossils in North America have prompted speculation that dinosaurs didn’t appear there until about 212 million years ago — significantly later than in South America. Scientists have devised multiple theories to explain dinosaurs’ delayed appearance in North America, citing environmental factors or a vast desert barrier.
But scientists at MIT now have a bone to pick with such theories: they precisely dated the rocks in which the earliest dinosaur fossils were discovered in the southwestern U.S., and found that dinosaurs appeared there as early as 223 million years ago. What’s more, they demonstrated that these earliest dinosaurs coexisted with close non-dinosaur relatives, as well as significantly more evolved dinosaurs, for more than 12 million years. To add to the mystery, they identified a 16-million-year gap, older than the dinosaur-bearing rocks, where there is either no trace of any vertebrates, including dinosaurs, in the rock record or the corresponding rocks have eroded.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/08/dinos-north-america
Jews Who Fled Nazis Changed U.S. Science Landscape
U.S. patents increased by 31 percent in fields common among Jewish scientists who fled Nazi Germany for America, according to Stanford economist Petra Moser. Their innovative influence rippled outward for generations, as the émigrés attracted new researchers who then trained other up-and-comers.
Anecdotal accounts suggest that the arrival of German Jewish émigrés to America who were fleeing the Nazi regime in the 1930s revolutionized U.S. science and innovation. But this claim has never been empirically confirmed until now.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/08/jews-who-fled-nazis-changed-us-science-landscape
Today in Lab History: June 20, 1861- Sir Frederick Hopkins
Sir Frederick Hopkins was an English biochemist, born June 20, 1861, who shared, with Christiaan Eijkman, the 1929 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of essential nutrient factors, now known as vitamins, needed in animal diets to maintain health. Hopkins fed young rats on a basic diet that, in addition to the necessary salts, contained a carefully purified mixture of lard, starch and casein (the most abundant protein in milk).
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2012/09/today-lab-history-sir-frederick-hopkins