The Aquatic Ape Theory
(often referred to as the AAT or AAH) says humans went through an aquatic or semi-aquatic stage in our evolution and that this accounts for many features seen in human anatomy and physiology. Using the principle of convergent evolution, it says that life in an aquatic environment explains these features, and that a transition from ape to hominid in a non-aquatic environment cannot. See also: BBC
posted by grumblebee
on Sep 20, 2005 -
Genes Reveal Recent Human Brain Evolution.
Two important new papers
in the journal Science
) from the evolutionary geneticist and rising star, Bruce T. Lahn (see this
recent profile from The Scientist
), are potentially the tips of some very large icebergs. The papers document how two genes related to brain properties that underwent strong selection during the course of hominid evolution, have continued
undergoing strong selection since the emergence of anatomically modern man. The papers wonderfully illustrate how biological evolution is an ongoing process
as well as the artificial distinction
between “micro” and “macro” evolution, and promise to be controversial for two reasons: First, the brain genes underwent the strongest selection during two periods
of cultural and technological efflorescence (roughly 37,000 and 5,800 years ago). Second, the genes are distributed very differently in modern human population groups, existing at very high frequencies in some groups and being very rare in others, ensuring that the modern function of these genes will be a source of more research and much impassioned debate. More observations
from anthropologist John Hawks.
posted by Jason Malloy
on Sep 8, 2005 -
EMBO's report on Time and Aging (free access) contains an essay
wherein the author, Karin Knorr Cetina, from the University of Konstanz, Germany, argues that death and aging used to be major issues that defined what it means to be human and helped us find our place in society by showing us the limits of what is possible to achieve as a human. With the advances in science, particularly biological advances in slowing aging
and technological advances in extending human function
, we no longer accept our fate. Instead of accepting that we all grow old and die so we should take our place in society, with the expectation that if we contribute, society will take care of us, too, we now have promises being made by science that death and aging are no longer inevitable. Where are we headed, then? If we can no longer find our place by finding the limits of achievement and accepting our place within them, how do we work as a collective?
posted by Mr. Gunn
on Jul 25, 2005 -
Taking a (the) piss.
Handy hints from MoFi.This takes the cake.
*efficiently urination for males:
first of all, learn to urinate while in a seated position. It is more relaxing, less spray intensive, and the spreading of the loins allows for a relatively thorough emptying of the bladder. Spread legs slightly for optimal effect.(There's a lot mi)
posted by johnny7
on Apr 19, 2005 -
A bank of digital resources for teaching biology:
, including B&W and color diagrams (with annotations), photographs, and some videos. Copying the material is permitted with conditions
. Also available en français
And if that is not enough taxonavigation for you, head over to Wikispecies
posted by piskycritter
on Apr 15, 2005 -
The Nature of Normal Human Variety
A talk with Dr. Armand Leroi
"Almost uniquely among modern scientific problems [the problem of normal human variety] is a problem that we can apprehend as we walk down the street. We live in an age now where the deepest scientific problems are buried away from our immediate perception. They concern the origin of the universe. They concern the relationships of subatomic particles. They concern the nature and structure of the human genome. Nobody can see these things without large bits of expensive equipment. But when I consider the problem of human variety I feel as Aristotle must have felt when he first walked down to the shore at Lesvos for the first time. The world is new again." (via Arts & Letters Daily)
posted by Kattullus
on Mar 29, 2005 -
T. rex soft tissue!
No, not dino-kleenex -- scientists have extracted organic compounds from a fossilized Tyrannosaurus rex bone. Can Jurassic Park
be far behind?
posted by jimray
on Mar 24, 2005 -
BIOS-Biological Innovation for Open Society
is an open source biotechnology initiative based in Australia. Along with its parent organization CAMBIA
, it aims to foster a "protected commons" for scientific information and technology. Tools and techniques are shared, and can be improved and repackaged, just like in open source software.
posted by OmieWise
on Mar 4, 2005 -
The BioMotion Walker [flash]
demonstrates that biologically and socially relevant information about a person is conveyed in biological motion patterns. It allows you to manipulate a number of parameters controlling the characteristics of human walking. You can interactively change biological properties, personality traits and emotional expression of a point-light walker. You can even help out their research here
posted by sciurus
on Dec 22, 2004 -
Predicting who'll benefit from anti-depressants
From the study's abstract: "There are well-replicated, independent lines of evidence supporting a role for corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) in the pathophysiology of depression." The NY Times has a bit more readable explanation
(reg-free link) of a recent investigation of into whether there is a genetic explanation for why some people get more from their drugs than others.
posted by billsaysthis
on Dec 18, 2004 -
Tired? Need a boost?
Everything you ever wanted to know about one of America's favourite energy boosters. This website contains 25 pages covering the history, uses (both legitimate and illegitimate), and biological characteristics of cocaine and the coca plant. An interesting read for those with time to kill (like me). Possibly NSFW.
posted by LunaticFringe
on Dec 17, 2004 -
Extinct is forever
. Or is it?
Scientists are hard at work reconstructing entire genomes of our common ancestors. The present technology is a far cry from Jurassic Park, but we're getting there.
posted by mowglisambo
on Dec 8, 2004 -
The Dawkins FAQ.
Interesting Q&A session about evolution, biology, genes, etc with an expert
. Dawkins claims no final answer on the "gay gene" or a Darwinian explanation of homosexuality.
posted by skallas
on Nov 27, 2004 -
Real-Time Biological Natural Gas Generation.
A research lab has discovered that microbes living in Wyoming's Powder River Basin are generating methane (natural gas) through their natural metabolism of local coal beds. In relation to the many Peak Oil discussions here, could be way to get more energy for the future. (via SpaceDaily.com)
posted by zoogleplex
on Nov 17, 2004 -
"We have [a substance]
that extends the life of every species it's given to. We're 50 years ahead of where I thought we would be 10 years ago." While Harvard Medical School rules prevent David Sinclair
from recommending product
, "I know a number of scientists who think [it]
is their best shot. Others satisfy themselves with a glass of red wine
," which contains the compound. Too good to be true?
posted by stbalbach
on Oct 6, 2004 -
the Milky Way at 10 million light years from the Earth. Then move through space towards the Earth in successive orders of magnitude until you reach a tall oak tree just outside the buildings of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Tallahassee, Florida. After that, begin to move from the actual size of a leaf into a microscopic world that reveals leaf cell walls, the cell nucleus, chromatin, DNA and finally, into the subatomic universe of electrons and protons.
posted by semmi
on Sep 20, 2004 -
The Starving Ocean
: A large collection of articles by Debbie MacKenzie on the death of the ocean. The idea is that removing most of the fish from the sea might be sort of bad for the marine ecosystem as a whole. Her writing style is a bit kooky, but she has been right on some points (ie. the Grey Seal thing). Oh, and fishing is also responsible for the rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide
posted by sfenders
on Sep 14, 2004 -