Humans, Monkeys of One Mind When It Comes to Changing It
Covert changes of mind can be discovered by tracking neural activity when subjects make decisions, researchers from New York Univ. and Stanford Univ. have found. Their results, which appear in the journal Current Biology, offer new insights into how we make decisions and point to innovative ways to study this process in the future.
“The methods used in this study allowed us to see the idiosyncratic nature of decision making that was inaccessible before,” explains Roozbeh Kiani, an assistant professor in NYU’s Center for Neural Science and the study’s lead author.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/06/humans-monkeys-one-mind-when-it-comes-changing-it
Faces May Have Evolved Specifically to Handle Punches
What contributed to the evolution of faces in the ape-like ancestors of humans? The prehistoric version of a bar fight — over women, resources and other slug-worthy disagreements, new research from the Univ. of Utah, published today in the journal Biological Reviews, suggests.
Univ. of Utah biologist David Carrier and Michael Morgan, a Univ. of Utah physician, contend that human faces — especially those of our australopith ancestors — evolved to minimize injury from punches to the face during fights between males.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/06/faces-may-have-evolved-specifically-handle-punches
Researchers Sequence DNA of First Near Eastern Farmers
The mitochondrial DNA of the first Near Eastern farmers has been sequenced for the first time. In the research, published in the journal PLOS Genetics, experts analyzed samples from three sites located in the birthplace of Neolithic agricultural practices: the Middle Euphrates basin and the oasis of Damascus, located in today’s Syria. The samples date from about 8,000 BC.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/06/researcher-sequence-dna-first-near-eastern-farmers
Mice Can Mimic Human Breast Cancer at Gene Level
Scientists have routinely used mice to replicate aspects of human breast cancer in an effort to find a cure to the most common type of cancer among women. But how effective are these preclinical models in actually mimicking the disease and giving scientists the ability to develop real comparisons?
Eran Andrechek, a physiology professor in the College of Human Medicine at Michigan State Univ., has discovered that many of the various models used in breast cancer research can replicate several characteristics of the human disease, especially at the gene level.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/06/mice-can-mimic-human-breast-cancer-gene-level
Climate Not Responsible for Large Mammal Extinction
Was it mankind or climate change that caused the extinction of a considerable number of large mammals about the time of the last Ice Age? Researchers at Aarhus Univ. have carried out the first global analysis of the extinction of the large animals, and the conclusion is clear – humans are to blame.
“Our results strongly underline the fact that human expansion throughout the world has meant an enormous loss of large animals,” says Postdoctoral Fellow Søren Faurby, Aarhus Univ.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/06/climate-not-responsible-large-mammal-extinction
Single-Letter Change in DNA Responsible for Blond Hair
A single-letter change in the genetic code is enough to generate blond hair in humans, in dramatic contrast to our dark-haired ancestors. A new analysis by Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) scientists has pinpointed that change, which is common in the genomes of Northern Europeans, and shown how it fine-tunes the regulation of an essential gene.
“This particular genetic variation in humans is associated with blond hair, but it isn’t associated with eye color or other pigmentation traits,” says David Kingsley, an HHMI investigator at Stanford Univ. who led the study. “The specificity of the switch shows exactly how independent color changes can be encoded to produce specific traits in humans.”
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/06/single-letter-change-dna-responsible-blond-hair
Evolution Picked Brains Over Brawn
Compared to many other species in the animal kingdom, human muscles are relatively weak. A team of researchers have delved into the evolutionary mechanisms that have caused humans to prioritize brain development over pure muscle power.
While humans are almost certainly one of the smartest species to have ever walked the planet, Homo sapiens may have paid a steep price for all of that added brain power. While humans are more intelligent than other animals, they have weaker muscles. New research conducted by scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) in Shanghai shows that all of the energy put into brain development may have led to decreased development in human musculature. The researchers published their findings in the online journal PLOS Biology.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/06/evolution-picked-brains-over-brawn
Domestication of Dogs Linked to Mammoth Kills, Success of Humans
A new analysis of European archaeological sites containing large numbers of dead mammoths and dwellings built with mammoth bones has led Pennsylvania State Univ. Prof. Emerita Pat Shipman to formulate a new interpretation of how these sites were formed. She suggests that their abrupt appearance may have been because of early modern humans working with the earliest domestic dogs to kill the mammoth — a now-extinct animal distantly related to the modern-day elephant. Shipman’s analysis also provides a way to test the predictions of her new hypothesis. Advance publication of her article is available online through Quaternary International.
Spectacular archaeological sites yielding stone tools and extraordinary numbers of dead mammoths — some containing the remains of hundreds of individuals — suddenly became common in central and eastern Eurasia between about 45,000 and 15,000 years ago, although mammoths previously had been hunted by humans and their extinct relatives and ancestors for at least a million years. Some of these mysterious sites have huts built of mammoth bones in complex, geometric patterns as well as piles of butchered mammoth bones.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/05/domestication-dogs-linked-mammoth-kills-success-humans
Cataloging Discovers 193 Human Proteins
Striving for the protein equivalent of the Human Genome Project, an international team of researchers has created an initial catalog of the human “proteome,” or all of the proteins in the human body. In total, using 30 different human tissues, the team identified proteins encoded by 17,294 genes, which is about 84 percent of all of the genes in the human genome predicted to encode proteins.
In a summary of the effort, to be published today in the journal Nature, the team also reports the identification of 193 novel proteins that came from regions of the genome not predicted to code for proteins, suggesting that the human genome is more complex than previously thought. The cataloging project, led by researchers at The Johns Hopkins Univ. and the Institute of Bioinformatics in Bangalore, India, should prove an important resource for biological research and medical diagnostics, according to the team’s leaders.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/05/cataloging-discovers-193-human-proteins
Light Can Coax Stem Cells to Heal Teeth
A Harvard-led team is the first to demonstrate the ability to use low-power light to trigger stem cells inside the body to regenerate tissue, an advance they reported in Science Translational Medicine. The research, led by David Mooney, professor of bioengineering at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), lays the foundation for a host of clinical applications in restorative dentistry and regenerative medicine more broadly, such as wound healing, bone regeneration and more.
The team used a low-power laser to trigger human dental stem cells to form dentin, the hard tissue that is similar to bone and makes up the bulk of teeth. What’s more, they outlined the precise molecular mechanism involved, and demonstrated its prowess using multiple laboratory and animal models.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/05/light-can-coax-stem-cells-heal-teeth
Man, Dog Share Similar ‘Albino’ Gene
Michigan State Univ. researchers have identified a genetic mutation in Doberman pinschers that causes albinism in the breed, a discovery that has eluded veterinarians and breeders worldwide up until now.
Paige Winkler, a doctoral student in the College of Veterinary Medicine, co-led the study with Joshua Bartoe, an assistant professor in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, and discovered a mutated gene that is associated with a form of albinism in humans.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/05/man-dog-share-similar-%E2%80%98albino%E2%80%99-gene
Tool Spots Bot-controlled Twitter Accounts
Complex network researchers at Indiana Univ. have developed a tool that helps anyone determine whether a Twitter account is operated by a human or an automated software application known as a social bot. The new analysis tool stems from research at the IU Bloomington School of Informatics and Computing funded by the U.S. Department of Defense to counter technology-based misinformation and deception campaigns.
BotOrNot analyzes over 1,000 features from a user’s friendship network, their Twitter content and temporal information, all in real time. It then calculates the likelihood that the account may or may not be a bot. The National Science Foundation and the U.S. military are funding the research after recognizing that increased information flow — blogs, social networking sites, media-sharing technology — along with an accelerated proliferation of mobile technology is changing the way communication and possibly misinformation campaigns are conducted.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/05/tool-spots-bot-controlled-twitter-accounts
Humans, Squid Evolved Same Eyes with Same Gene
Eyes and wings are among the most stunning innovations evolution has created. Remarkably these features have evolved multiple times in different lineages of animals. For instance, the avian ancestors of birds and the mammalian ancestors of bats both evolved wings independently, in an example of convergent evolution. The same happened for the eyes of squid and humans. Exactly how such convergent evolution arises is not always clear.
In a new study, published in Nature Scientific Reports, researchers have found that, despite belonging to completely different lineages, humans and squid evolved through tweaks to the same gene.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/05/humans-squid-evolved-same-eyes-same-gene
Our Teeth Gave Us the Edge Over Our Primitive Relatives
Along with our big brains and upright posture, thick tooth enamel is one of the features that distinguishes our genus, Homo, from our primate relatives and forebears. A new study, published in the Journal of Human Evolution, offers insight into how evolution shaped our teeth, one gene at a time.
By comparing the human genome with those of five other primate species, a team of geneticists and evolutionary anthropologists at Duke Univ. has identified two segments of DNA where natural selection may have acted to give modern humans their thick enamel. Teeth have been an invaluable resource for scientists who study evolution, the authors says.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/05/our-teeth-gave-us-edge-over-our-primitive-relatives