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
Researchers ID ‘Switchboard’ Important in Attention, Sleep
Researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center and elsewhere, using a mouse model, have recorded the activity of individual nerve cells in a small part of the brain that works as a “switchboard,” directing signals coming from the outside world or internal memories. Because human brain disorders such as schizophrenia, autism and post-traumatic stress disorder typically show disturbances in that switchboard, the investigators say the work suggests new strategies in understanding and treating them.
In a study published in the journal Cell, a team led by Michael Halassa, assistant professor of psychiatry, neuroscience and physiology, and a member of the NYU Neuroscience Institute, showed how neurons in the thalamic reticular nucleus (TRN) — the so-called switchboard — direct sensory signals such as vision from the outside world, and internal information such as memories, to their appropriate destinations.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/08/researchers-id-%E2%80%98switchboard%E2%80%99-important-attention-sleep
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