Evolution

Human Brains “Evolve,” Become Less Monkey-Like With Age

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 12, 2010   View Article

Brain regions that grow the most outside the womb are the same areas that expanded the most during evolution from monkeys to humans, a new study says.

As the human brain matures, it expands in a “strikingly nonuniform” fashion, according to researchers who compared MRI scans of 12 infant brains with scans of 12 young adult brains.

Sharks Carrying Drug Resistant Bacterial Monsters

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: June 23, 2010   View Article

Our leftover medicines are spawning drug-resistant “bacterial monsters” that thrive inside sharks, scientists say.

The finding suggests antibiotics such as penicillin may be leaching into the environment and spurring drug-resistant bacteria to evolve and multiply in the oceans.

Tibetans Evolved to Survive Highlife, Study Says

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: May 13, 2010   View Article

Most Tibetans are genetically adapted to life on the “roof of the world,” according to a new study.

The Tibetan Plateau rises more than 13,000 feet (4,000 meters) above sea level. At such heights, most people are susceptible to hypoxia, in which too little oxygen reaches body tissues, potentially leading to fatal lung or brain inflammation.

To survive the high life, many Tibetans carry unique versions of two genes associated with low blood hemoglobin levels, the researchers found.

“Hobbits” Had Million-Year History on Island?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: March 17, 2010   View Article

Newfound stone tools suggest the evolutionary history of the “hobbits” on the Indonesian island of Flores stretches back a million years, a new study says—200,000 years longer than previously thought.

The hobbit mystery was sparked by the 2004 discovery of bones on Flores that belonged to a three-foot-tall (one-meter-tall), 55-pound (25-kilogram) female with a grapefruit-size brain.

The tiny, hobbit-like creature—controversially dubbed a new human species, Homo floresiensis—persisted on the remote island until about 18,000 years ago, even as “modern” humans spread around the world, experts say.

Oldest Land Walker Tracks Found – Pushes Back Evolution

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: January 6, 2010   View Article

The first vertebrates to walk the Earth emerged from the sea almost 20 million years earlier than previously thought, say scientists who have discovered footprints from an 8-foot-long (2.4-meter-long) prehistoric creature.

Dozens of the 395-million-year-old fossil footprints were recently discovered on a former marine tidal flat or lagoon in southeastern Poland.

PHOTOS: New “Green Bomber” Sea Worms Fire Glowing Blobs

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: August 20, 2009   View Article

Researchers announced the discovery of at least five new “green bombers”-deep-sea, swimming worm species armed with “bombs” that glow a brilliant green when dropped.

The glowing bombs are thought to distract predators such as fish, allowing the worms to escape.

Biodiversity’s winners and losers

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: August 17, 2009   View Article

There are winners and losers on the racetrack of speciation – the process of species splitting into new species, according to Michael Alfaro, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California Los Angeles. He and his colleagues analyzed DNA and fossils from 44 major lineages of jawed vertebrates to calculate which ones have exceptionally fast and slow rates of speciation.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach