Ancient poop could save lives: ‘Exquisitely preserved’ lost microbes discovered in 2,000-year old feces could help battle chronic illnesses

Ancient poop could save lives: ‘Exquisitely preserved’ lost microbes discovered in 2,000-year old feces could help battle chronic illnesses

Previous research has made a connection between preindustrial diets, greater diversity in the gut microbiome and lower rates of chronic ...
Science Facts and Fallacies Podcast: COVID's mysterious origins; Why some anti-vaxxers got their shots; Unwise J&J 'pause'?

Science Facts and Fallacies Podcast: COVID’s mysterious origins; Why some anti-vaxxers got their shots; Unwise J&J ‘pause’?

Where did SARS-COV-2 come from? For most of the last year a natural origin story was the predominant view among ...
Is the clock ticking for the human race?

Is the clock ticking for the human race?

At a recent lecture to Harvard alumni I was asked how long I expect our technological civilization to survive. My ...
Are human brains the evolved pinnacle of problem-solving evolution? The reality may be more mundane

Are human brains the evolved pinnacle of problem-solving evolution? The reality may be more mundane

People often assume that evolution has progressed in an upward trajectory, from simple organisms to more complex ones. Because humans ...
'Gene Conservation Units' may be key to preserving rare species — and maintaining evolutionary processes to help them adapt to environmental change

‘Gene Conservation Units’ may be key to preserving rare species — and maintaining evolutionary processes to help them adapt to environmental change

UK landowners and conservationists welcome wider-spread use of Gene Conservation Units (GCUs) to help protect some of the rarest plants ...
‘Humans developed complex belief systems around death’: 78,000-year old gravesite marks oldest human burial in Africa

‘Humans developed complex belief systems around death’: 78,000-year old gravesite marks oldest human burial in Africa

Archaeologists have identified the oldest known human burial in Africa during field work that uncovered the remains of a child ...
What might happen if viruses jump from pet dogs to humans? That worrisome future is already here

What might happen if viruses jump from pet dogs to humans? That worrisome future is already here

[S]cientists are reporting that they have discovered what may be the latest coronavirus to jump from animals into people. And ...
Rapidly-spreading COVID-19 variant currently ravaging India makes first appearance in the US — in children with no recent travel history

Rapidly-spreading COVID-19 variant currently ravaging India makes first appearance in the US — in children with no recent travel history

Scientists [at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center found] two cases of the variant first detected in India using ...
Why do some animals live extraordinarily long lives — and can humans benefit from studying them?

Why do some animals live extraordinarily long lives — and can humans benefit from studying them?

Life, for most of us, ends far too soon — hence the effort by biomedical researchers to find ways to ...
Were self awareness and the ability to plan what set us apart from Neanderthals?

Were self awareness and the ability to plan what set us apart from Neanderthals?

We bear a trace of Neandertal legacy in our genome, a bequest from ancestral interbreeding. But some experts argue that, ...
Are trees social beings? They exchange nutrients, help one another, and communicate about pests and other environmental threats

Are trees social beings? They exchange nutrients, help one another, and communicate about pests and other environmental threats

Previous ecologists had focused on what happens aboveground, but [Suzanne] Simard used radioactive isotopes of carbon to trace how trees ...
In research breakthrough, ancient human remains can now be preserved and analyzed without destroying genetic material

In research breakthrough, ancient human remains can now be preserved and analyzed without destroying genetic material

An Austrian-American research team (University of Vienna, Department Evolutionary Anthropology and Harvard Medical School, Department of Genetics), in collaboration with ...
Plants respond to injuries in fascinating ways. Can they feel pain?

Plants respond to injuries in fascinating ways. Can they feel pain?

Lacking the brain and nervous system needed to conjure consciousness (not to mention nociceptors, the animalian cells that react to ...
Altruism in animals: Why do animals sometimes adopt other species’ unrelated orphans?

Altruism in animals: Why do animals sometimes adopt other species’ unrelated orphans?

Animals don’t have reason or moral accountability but there is abundant evidence that mammals and birds have feelings. And feelings ...
Viewpoint: ‘Dump Dimorphism’ — Challenging orthodoxy, neuroscientists claim 30 years of studies show ‘no meaningful male-female brain differences’

Viewpoint: ‘Dump Dimorphism’ — Challenging orthodoxy, neuroscientists claim 30 years of studies show ‘no meaningful male-female brain differences’

Everyone knows the difference between male and female brains. One is chatty and a little nervous, but never forgets and takes ...
Brain size v body size: ‘There is no single evolutionary path to a bigger brain’

Brain size v body size: ‘There is no single evolutionary path to a bigger brain’

Over nearly 200 million years of mammal evolution… researchers have shown that brain size is actually secondary to body size ...
Evolutionary tradeoffs: Here’s why birthing a child is so difficult

Evolutionary tradeoffs: Here’s why birthing a child is so difficult

To pass through the birth canal, human infants have to perform a series of twists and turns, a process called ...
People with compromised immune systems are likeliest evolutionary source of rogue COVID variants

People with compromised immune systems are likeliest evolutionary source of rogue COVID variants

A coronavirus typically gains mutations on a slow-but-steady pace of about two per month. But this variant, called B.1.1.7, had ...
Did Homo sapiens really outcompete Neanderthals? Genetics is rewriting the story of human evolution

Did Homo sapiens really outcompete Neanderthals? Genetics is rewriting the story of human evolution

Homo sapiens evolved in Africa around 300,000 years ago, and between 177,000 and 194,000 years ago they colonized what is ...
COVID-19 variants pose new threats but our antibodies are evolving to fight them

COVID-19 variants pose new threats but our antibodies are evolving to fight them

The emergence of “variants of concern” has raised questions about our long-term immunity to the coronavirus. Will the antibodies we make ...
Brains make the difference: Here's the root of human self-reflection and self awareness

Brains make the difference: Here’s the root of human self-reflection and self awareness

Editor’s note: This is an excerpt from Know Thyself: The Science of Self-Awareness by Stephen M. Fleming. What is it ...
Mars has all the ingredients necessary to support life — in its subsurface

Mars has all the ingredients necessary to support life — in its subsurface

[A] new paper in Astrobiology shows that there might very well be a place where life can sustain itself on ...
Video: Discovery of Homo naledi suggests ‘maybe brain size isn’t all it’s cracked up to be’ when it comes to human evolution

Video: Discovery of Homo naledi suggests ‘maybe brain size isn’t all it’s cracked up to be’ when it comes to human evolution

The small brains of Homo naledi raise new questions about the evolution of human brain size. Big brains were costly ...
Humans lived in caves in Africa and used fire and tools as far as two million years ago

Humans lived in caves in Africa and used fire and tools as far as two million years ago

A large cave nestled in South Africa’s Kalahari Desert might be the first on Earth to have housed human activity, ...
Are rogue COVID variants ahead? ‘It’d be a brave person to say that the virus is nearing the end of its evolutionary route’

Are rogue COVID variants ahead? ‘It’d be a brave person to say that the virus is nearing the end of its evolutionary route’

As the global infection count surges for a seventh consecutive week, after initial optimism that the pandemic had peaked, leading ...
3-D technology is reinventing paleoanthropology and the reconstruction of fossils

3-D technology is reinventing paleoanthropology and the reconstruction of fossils

In 2018 a student excavator, Samantha Good, came upon the adult male skull of a Paranthropus robustus, lying upside down, ...
Viewpoint: A case for moderate exercise — We get the most cognitive benefits by ‘performing activities that we evolved to perform’

Viewpoint: A case for moderate exercise — We get the most cognitive benefits by ‘performing activities that we evolved to perform’

Your body clearly benefits from a daily moderate level of exercising. Does your brain care?  Yes, your brain does pay ...
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