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Ahira's Hangar • View topic - News from the laboratory....

News from the laboratory....

Science and Technology

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Postby Avatar » Thu Oct 04, 2007 3:55 am

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Postby Duchess of Malfi » Mon Oct 08, 2007 9:58 pm

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Postby Duchess of Malfi » Mon Oct 29, 2007 8:07 pm

Red-haired Neanderthals? Possibly, scientists say
Story Highlights
Some hominids could have had fair skin and red hair

Found: A mutation in hominid DNA that can affect skin and hair pigmentation

Neanderthals lived in Europe and Asia about 400,000 years ago



WASHINGTON (AP) -- The image of Neanderthals may need a revision: scientists say at least some of these extinct hominids could have had fair skin and red hair.


Neanderthals may have had variations in pigmentation that could have produced red hair similar to humans.

Researchers studying the DNA of Neanderthals found a mutation in two individuals that can affect skin and hair pigmentation, they reported in Thursday's online issue of the journal Science.

The mutation reduces the function of a gene known as MC1R.

In modern humans, when a slightly different mutation reduces the function of that gene the result is red hair and fair skin, according to the team led by Holger Roempler of Harvard University and the University of Leipzig, Germany; Carles Lalueza-Fox of the University of Barcelona, Spain and Michael Hofreiter of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig.

Neanderthals lived in Europe and Asia about 400,000 years ago. They were replaced by early modern humans. Researchers have long debated whether the two groups mixed together, though most doubt it. The last evidence for Neanderthals dates from at least 24,000 years ago.

Scientists are working to analyze Neanderthal DNA -- the blueprint of life -- taken from ancient remains. They hope it will help them better understand these ancient people. As part of this process, last year researchers discovered that Neanderthals also had the gene known to influence speech in modern humans.

The two fossils studied in the hair-color research were found in Italy and Spain.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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Postby Duchess of Malfi » Wed Oct 31, 2007 2:20 am

Headless Skeletons Help Solve Mystery
By Rob Taylor,Reuters
Posted: 2007-10-30 17:51:44
Filed Under: Science News
CANBERRA (Oct. 30) - A 3,000-year-old burial site in Vanuatu containing 60 headless skeletons and skulls in pots is helping end the mystery over colonization of the Pacific and the first Polynesians, archaeologists said on Tuesday.

The remains have enabled scientists to reconstruct the lives and habits of the seafaring Lapita people, who settled Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa from Melanesian islands scattered to the west.

"We've got the archaeological record, but until now the actual people have been missing from the story," researcher Stuart Bedford, from the Australian National University, told Reuters.

The remains were found in 2003 at an archaeological dig on Efate Island, in the tiny South Pacific nation of Vanuatu, in a cemetery in use by the Lapita at the time of Egypt's Pharaohs.

The Lapita are believed to be ancestral Polynesians, moving east from Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands over thousands of miles of ocean, taking with them their crops and animals.

The burial site at Teouma, on the southern coast of Efate, was first uncovered by bulldozers clearing land for a shrimp farm, and was excavated by scientists from Britain, New Zealand and Australia.

The skeletons were buried with ornate ceramic pots, some in carefully laid south-facing graves, and in one case three heads were laid on the dead person's chest, the researchers wrote in an October article for the journal American Antiquity.

None of the remains had an attached skull and the heads may have been removed after burial, the researchers said, with the grouping of three skulls possibly due to mystical significance the islanders had for the number.

Bedford said chemical analysis of their teeth revealed vital information about the origins, diets and burial practices of the Lapita.

At least four of the 60 had migrated from distant coastal locations, possibly as far as Southeast Asia.

"Although they traveled long distances by sea, they nonetheless were farmers as much as they were fisher folk," said Alex Bentley, from Durham University, who led the team.


Copyright 2007 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. All active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.
2007-10-30 15:01:03
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Postby Duchess of Malfi » Wed Oct 31, 2007 11:17 pm

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Postby Duchess of Malfi » Wed Oct 31, 2007 11:27 pm

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Postby Avatar » Thu Nov 01, 2007 4:13 am

Wow, that sounds great.

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Postby Duchess of Malfi » Sun Nov 04, 2007 10:37 pm

Exploding Comet Visible to the Naked Eye
Posted: 2007-11-04 11:31:31
Filed Under: Science News
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (Nov. 4) - A comet that has unexpectedly brightened in the past couple of weeks and now is visible to the naked eye is attracting professional and amateur interest.

Astronomers speculate that Comet 17P/Holmes has suddenly brightened because a collapse caused by sinkholes on its surface has sent a bubble of sunlight-reflecting dust and ice into space.


The comet is exploding and its coma, a cloud of gas and dust illuminated by the sun, has grown to be bigger than the planet Jupiter. The comet lacks the tail usually associated with such celestial bodies but can be seen in the northern sky, in the constellation Perseus, as a fuzzy spot of light about as bright as the stars in the Big Dipper.


"This is truly a celestial surprise," Lewis said. "Absolutely amazing."

Until Oct. 23, the comet had been visible to modern astronomers only with a telescope, but that night it suddenly erupted and expanded.

A similar burst in 1892 led to the comet's discovery by Edwin Holmes.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime event to witness, along the lines of when Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 smashed into Jupiter back in 1994," Lewis said.

Scientists speculate the comet has exploded because there are sinkholes in its nucleus, giving it a honeycomb-like structure. The collapse exposed comet ice to the sun, which transformed the ice into gas.

"What comets do when they are near the sun is very unpredictable," Lewis said. "We expect to see a coma cloud and a tail, but this is more like an explosion, and we are seeing the bubble of gas and dust as it expands away from the center of the blast."

Experts aren't sure how long the comet's show will last, but estimate it could be weeks - if not months. Using a telescope or binoculars help bring the comet's details into view, they said.
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Postby Duchess of Malfi » Mon Dec 03, 2007 11:39 pm

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Postby Duchess of Malfi » Mon Jan 07, 2008 5:34 am

Mammoth May Explain Fate of Species
HIROKO TABUCHI,AP
Posted: 2008-01-06 18:54:03
Filed Under: Science News
(Jan. 5) - Frozen in much the state it died some 37,500 years ago, a Siberian baby mammoth undergoing tests in Japan could finally explain why the beasts were driven to extinction — and shed light on climate change, scientists said Friday.

The 6-month-old calf, unearthed in May by a reindeer herder in northern Siberia's remote Yamal-Nenets autonomous region, is virtually intact and even has some fur, though the tail and ear of the animal dubbed "Lyuba" were apparently bitten off.


"Lyuba's discovery is an historic event," said Bernard Buigues, vice president of the Geneva-based International Mammoth Committee. "It could tell us why this species didn't survive ... and shed light on the fate of human beings."

The last of the ancient beasts are thought to have roamed the earth from about 4.8 million years ago to 4,000 years ago, and researchers have debated whether their demise was due to climate change or over-hunting by humans.

"This is what we've all been waiting for — the chance to explain everything about the mammoth," said Naoki Suzuki of the Jikei University School of Medicine, who is leading the first phase of an international study of the carcass's structure.

"Our findings will be a big step toward resolving the mystery of their extinction," Suzuki told a press conference in Tokyo.

The 4-foot gray-and-brown mammoth underwent a computed tomography scan that produced 3-D pictures with an almost surgical view, Suzuki said.

Lyuba, which appeared to have died with no external wounds and was discovered still frozen, is the best preserved mammoth yet unearthed, according to Sergey Grishin, director of the Shemanovsky Yamal-Nenets Museum.

Scientists hope to analyze the 3-D data to get a better picture of the mammoth's internal organs and structure, as well as for clues on the baby's diet and why it died, Grishin said. They will also analyze tiny air samples left in Lyuba's lungs for clues to the earth's atmosphere during the last Ice Age.

Meanwhile, at a display in central Tokyo, children peered into a freezer displaying Lyuba's shriveled body. The mammoth is on display until late February.

"It looked amazing, almost like it was alive," said 10-year-old Chikara Shimizu.

"Maybe they found Lyuba because the ice in Siberia is melting from global warming," said Chikara's father, Misao Shimizu. "I find that very worrying."

Akito Arima, head of the Science Museum in Tokyo where Lyuba is on display, said global warming may be a reason the mammoth was discovered now, but he gave no details.

Permafrost — earth that remains frozen year-round — lies under much of Siberia but scientists fear that global warming will cause it to melt and could accelerate climate change by releasing large amounts of warming carbon dioxide gases into the atmosphere.


Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. All active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.
2008-01-06 14:51:39
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Postby Duchess of Malfi » Sat Feb 23, 2008 6:16 am

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Postby Duchess of Malfi » Sat Feb 23, 2008 10:11 pm

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Postby Duchess of Malfi » Thu Apr 03, 2008 12:56 am

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Postby Moonwatcher » Thu Apr 03, 2008 8:17 am

I just saw that octopus story on the Discovery channel. Kinky, those octopuses! :P
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