A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘denisovans

[URBAN NOTE] Five notes about smart animals: bees, wolves/dogs, cetaceans, Denisovans, Neanderthals

  • The Conversation notes how urban beekeepers can play a key role in saving bees from extinction.
  • Motherboard looks at the comparative intelligence, and generosity, of wolves versus their domesticated dog counterparts.
  • National Geographic looks at how marine mammals, particularly cetaceans, have been used in different militaries.
  • Smithsonian Magazine looks at how recent studies have demonstrated the diversity among Denisovan populations.
  • Smithsonian Magazine looks at the new consensus about the remarkable capabilities of Neanderthals.

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • Centauri Dreams notes a strange corridor of ice beneath the surface of Titan, a possible legacy of an active cryovolcanic past.
  • D-Brief notes one study suggesting that, properly designed, air conditioners could convert carbon dioxide in the air into carbon fuels.
  • Dead Things reports on the discovery of an unusual human skull three hundred thousand years old in China, at Hualongdong in the southeast.
  • Gizmodo notes the identification of a jawbone 160 thousand years old, found in Tibet, with the Denisovans. That neatly explains why the Denisovans were adapted to Tibet-like environments.
  • JSTOR Daily examines Ruth Page, a ballerina who integrated dance with poetry.
  • Language Hat shares a critique of a John McWhorter comment about kidspeak.
  • Victor Mair at Language Log shares a well-researched video on the Mongolian language of Genghis Khan.
  • Paul Campos at Lawyers, Guns and Money notes how Donald Trump, in his defiance of investigative findings, is worse than Richard Nixon.
  • James Butler at the LRB Blog writes about the bombing of London gay bar Admiral Duncan two decades ago, relating it movingly to wider alt-right movements and to his own early coming out.
  • Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen notes a recent review article making the case for open borders, disproving many of the claims made by opponents.
  • Paul Mason at the NYR Daily explains why the critique by Hannah Arendt of totalitarianism and fascism can fall short, not least in explaining our times.
  • Corey S. Powell at Out There explains how, and why, the Moon is starting to get serious attention as a place for long-term settlement, even.
  • Emily Lakdawalla at the Planetary Society Blog explores the fund that she had in helping design a set of scientifically-accurate building blocks inspired by the worlds of our solar system.
  • Drew Rowsome reports on the new restaging of the classic queer drama Lilies at Buddies in Bad Times by Walter Borden, this one with a new racially sensitive casting.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel considers the massive boom of diversity at the time of the Cambrian Explosion.
  • Towleroad features the remarkable front cover of the new issue of Time, featuring Pete Buttigieg together with his husband Chasten.
  • Window on Eurasia considers if the new Russian policy of handing out passports to residents of the Donbas republics is related to a policy of trying to bolster the population of Russia, whether fictively or actually.
  • Arnold Zwicky considers the various flowers of May Day.

[NEWS] Five D-Brief links: whales, bacteria, offshore platforms, Falcon Heavy, Denisovans

  • D-Brief notes the discovery of a fossil of a four-limbed whale in Peru, dating 42.5 million years.
  • D-Brief looks at how the bacterium Enterococcus faecalis morphed from normal gut bacteria to potentially fatal hospital-borne infection.
  • D-Brief notes a proposal to build offshore platforms as habitat for fish and for birds.
  • D-Brief notes how the Falcon Heavy is proving itself a vanguard of progress in spaceflight.
  • D-Brief notes new evidence of there having been multiple regional populations of Denisovans, drawing from work in Indonesia.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • Charlie Stross at Antipope has an open thread regarding Brexit.
  • Centauri Dreams considers the dust lanes of the solar system.
  • D-Brief reports on the discovery of the first confirmed skull piece of a Denisovan.
  • Dangerous Minds considers the filmic history of Baron Munchausen.
  • JSTOR Daily considers the past of the Monroe Doctrine, as a marker of American power over the Western Hemisphere.
  • Language Log notes that “frequency illusion”, a 2005 coinage of Arnold Zwicky on that blog, has made it to the Oxford English Dictionary. Congratulations!
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the talents of Pete Buttigieg, someone who (among other things) is fluent in the Norwegian language. Could he be a serious challenger?
  • Oliver Miles at the LRB Blog notes the threat of new locust swarms across the Sahara and into the Middle East.
  • Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution highlights a new paper aiming to predict the future, one that argues that the greatest economic gains will eventually accrue to the densest populations.
  • The NYR Daily reports from the scene in a fragmented Libya.
  • The Planetary Society Blog reports that the OSIRIS-REx probe has detected asteroid Bennu ejecting material into space.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel explains the import of having a supermoon occur on the Equinox this year.
  • Strange Maps’ Frank Jacobs reports a new finding that Mercury actually tends to be the closest planet in the Solar System to Earth.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that fewer Russians than before think highly of the annexation of Crimea.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • Architectuul looks at the divided cities of the divided island of Cyprus.
  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait shares an image of a galaxy that actually has a tail.
  • Maria Farrell at Crooked Timber talks about her pain as an immigrant in the United Kingdom in the era of Brexit, her pain being but one of many different types created by this move.
  • The Crux talks about the rejected American proposal to detonate a nuclear bomb on the Moon, and the several times the United States did arrange for lesser noteworthy events there (collisions, for the record).
  • D-Brief notes how the innovative use of Curiosity instruments has explained more about the watery past of Gale Crater.
  • Bruce Dorminey notes one astronomer’s theory that Venus tipped early into a greenhouse effect because of a surfeit of carbon relative to Earth.
  • Far Outliers looks at missionaries in China, and their Yangtze explorations, in the late 19th century.
  • Gizmodo notes evidence that Neanderthals and Denisovans cohabited in a cave for millennia.
  • At In Media Res, Russell Arben Fox writes about his exploration of the solo music of Paul McCartney.
  • io9 looks at what is happening with Namor in the Marvel universe, with interesting echoes of recent Aquaman storylines.
  • JSTOR Daily looks at the Beothuk of Newfoundland and their sad fate.
  • Language Hat explores Patagonian Afrikaans.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money reports on how mindboggling it is to want to be a billionaire. What would you do with that wealth?
  • The Map Room Blog shares a visualization of the polar vortex.
  • Marginal Revolution reports on the career of a writer who writes stories intended to help people fall asleep.
  • The New APPS Blog reports on the power of biometric data and the threat of its misuse.
  • Neuroskeptic takes a look at neurogenesis in human beings.
  • Out There notes the import, in understanding our solar system, of the New Horizons photos of Ultima Thule.
  • Jason Davis at the Planetary Society Blog notes that OSIRIS-REx is in orbit of Bennu and preparing to take samples.
  • Roads and Kingdoms shares a list of 21 things that visitors to Kolkata should know.
  • Mark Simpson takes a critical look at the idea of toxic masculinity. Who benefits?
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel explains why global warming is responsible for the descent of the polar vortex.
  • Window on Eurasia notes how the pro-Russian Gagauz of Moldova are moving towards a break if the country at large becomes pro-Western.
  • Arnold Zwicky looks at the art of Finnish painter Hugo Simberg.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • At Anthropology.net, Kamzib Kamrani looks at the Yamnaya horse culture of far eastern Europe and their connection to the spread of the Indo-Europeans.
  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait looks at the predicted collision of China’s Tiangong-1 space station. Where will it fall?
  • James Bow notes a Kickstarter funding effort to revive classic Canadian science fiction magazine Amazing Stories.
  • Centauri Dreams notes the impending retirement of the pioneering Kepler telescope, and what’s being done in the time before this retirement.
  • D-Brief notes how nanowires made of gold and titanium were used to restore the sight of blind mice.
  • Russell Darnley takes a look at the indigenous people of Riau province, the Siak, who have been marginalized by (among other things) the Indonesian policy of transmigration.
  • Dead Things reports on more evidence of Denisovan ancestry in East Asian populations, with the suggestion that the trace of Denisovan ancestry in East Asia came from a different Denisovan population than the stronger traces in Melanesia.
  • Hornet Stories paints a compelling portrait of the West Texas oasis-like community of Marfa.
  • JSTOR Daily notes how indigenous mythology about illness was used to solve a hantavirus outbreak in New Mexico in the 1990s.
  • Language Log praises the technical style of a Google Translate translation of a text from German to English.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that, under the Shah, Iran was interested in building nuclear plants. Iranian nuclear aspirations go back a long way.
  • The LRB Blog looks at the unsettling elements of the literary, and other, popularity of Jordan Peterson.
  • Marginal Revolution notes the continuing existence of a glass ceiling even in relatively egalitarian Iceland.
  • The NYR Daily looks at the unsettling elements behind the rise of Xi Jinping to unchecked power. Transitions from an oligarchy to one-man rule are never good for a country, never mind one as big as China.
  • Drew Rowsome writes about Love, Cecil, a new film biography of photographer Cecil Beaton.
  • Peter Rukavina celebrates the 25th anniversary of his move to Prince Edward Island. That province, my native one, is much the better for his having moved there. Congratulations!
  • Window on Eurasia looks at a strange story of Russian speculation about Kazakh pan-Turkic irredentism for Orenburg that can be traced back to one of its own posts.
  • At Worthwhile Canadian Initiative, Frances Woolley takes the time to determine that Canadian university professors tend to be more left-wing than the general Canadian population, and to ask why this is the case.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • Anthropology.net notes on how a fossil tooth led eventually to the identification of the fourth Denisovan individual known.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly writes about reasons for people to travel solo.
  • The Dragon’s Tales’ Will Baird notes that the INF Treaty is on the verge of collapse.
  • Mathew Ingram uses a recent GIF of Trump with the Polish president’s wife to show how these lie and mislead.
  • Joe. My. God. notes a sharp collapse in London’s LGBT venues–more than half in the past decade!
  • Marginal Revolution reports on British actors who take up tutoring as a second job to support their careers.
  • The NYR Daily takes a look at the latest concerns of South Koreans regarding their northern neighbour.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw takes issue with proposed Australian government surveillance of the local Internet.
  • Progressive Download’s John Farrell dissects the origins of the false claim that Copernicus was a Catholic priest.
  • Unicorn Booty has a fantastic interview with a scholar, Jamie Bernthal, who makes a case for queer content in Agatha Christie.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that methane bubble explosions in Siberia could wreck Russian pipelines.

[LINK] “Skulls found in China were part modern human, part Neanderthal — and could be a new species”

The National Post carries Ben Guarino’s Washington Post article reporting on the exciting finds of mysterious hominid skulls in China. Could these actually be, as some speculate, remnants of the Denisovans, or of another still more obscure human population?

Modern humans outlasted the Neanderthals by about 40,000 years and counting. But don’t pat yourself on the back too firmly for outliving those troglodytes. Neanderthals crafted tools and tamed fire. They cared for their dead. Animal horns and blackened fire pits encircling the remains of a Neanderthal toddler suggest a 42,000-year-old funeral rite. If a Neanderthal indeed wore a talon necklace, as a collection of polished eagle claws indicate, they beat us to jewelry, too. Perhaps one of your ancient ancestors found the claw necklaces sexy: Some scientists theorize humans gave Neanderthals genital herpes and tapeworm parasites.

Their proportions, however, remained distinctly Neanderthal. Neanderthal bodies were shorter and stockier, more Gimli son of Gloin than Gigi Hadid. Their skulls were built differently, too, with a few features – like heavy brow ridges – particularly unlike ours.

Which makes a pair of newly-described skulls something of a wonder. The partial skulls have features up to this time unseen in the hominid fossil record, sharing both human and Neanderthal characteristics.

“It is a very exciting discovery,” as Katerina Harvati, an expert in Neanderthal evolution at the University of Tübingen in Germany who was not involved with the research, told The Washington Post. “Especially because the human fossil record from East Asia has been not only fragmentary but also difficult to date.”

Excavators dug up the skull cap fragments in 2007 and 2014, in Lingjing, located within China’s Henan province. The diggers discovered two partial skulls in a site thought to be inhabited 105,000 to 125,000 years ago, during an epoch called the Pleistocene. The owners of the skulls were good hunters, capable of fashioning stone blades from quartz. Ancient bones of horses and cattle, as well as extinct woolly rhinoceros and giant deer, were found strewn nearby the skull remains.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 5, 2017 at 9:15 pm

[LINK] “DNA from Neandertal relative may shake up human family tree”

I came across very recently Ann Gibbons’ September 2015 Sciencemag article noting yet another remarkable turn in the history of the hominid family.

In a remarkable technical feat, researchers have sequenced DNA from fossils in Spain that are about 300,000 to 400,000 years old and have found an ancestor—or close relative—of Neandertals. The nuclear DNA, which is the oldest ever sequenced from a member of the human family, may push back the date for the origins of the distinct ancestors of Neandertals and modern humans, according to a presentation here yesterday at the fifth annual meeting of the European Society for the study of human evolution.

Ever since researchers first discovered thousands of bones and teeth from 28 individuals in the mid-1990s from Sima de los Huesos (“pit of bones”), a cave in the Atapuerca Mountains of Spain, they had noted that the fossils looked a lot like primitive Neandertals. The Sima people, who lived before Neandertals, were thought to have emerged in Europe. Yet their teeth, jaws, and large nasal cavities were among the traits that closely resembled those of Neandertals, according to a team led by paleontologist Juan-Luis Arsuaga of the Complutense University of Madrid. As a result, his team classified the fossils as members of Homo heidelbergensis, a species that lived about 600,000 to 250,000 years ago in Europe, Africa, and Asia. Many researchers have thought H. heidelbergensis gave rise to Neandertals and perhaps also to our species, H. sapiens, in the past 400,000 years or so.

But in 2013, the Sima fossils’ identity suddenly became complicated when a study of the maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from one of the bones revealed that it did not resemble that of a Neandertal. Instead, it more closely matched the mtDNA of a Denisovan, an elusive type of extinct human discovered when its DNA was sequenced from a finger bone from Denisova Cave in Siberia. That finding was puzzling, prompting researchers to speculate that perhaps the Sima fossils had interbred with very early Denisovans or that the “Denisovan” mtDNA was the signature of an even more ancient hominin lineage, such as H. erectus. At the time, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, who had obtained the mtDNA announced that they would try to sequence the nuclear DNA of the fossils to solve the mystery.

After 2 years of intense effort, paleogeneticist Matthias Meyer of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology has finally sequenced enough nuclear DNA from fossils of a tooth and a leg bone from the pit to solve the mystery. The task was especially challenging because the ancient DNA was degraded to short fragments, made up of as few as 25 to 40 single nucleotides. (Nucleotides—also known as base pairs—are the building blocks of DNA.) Although he and his colleagues did not sequence the entire genomes of the fossils, Meyer reported at the meeting that they did get 1 million to 2 million base pairs of ancient nuclear DNA.

They scanned this DNA for unique markers found only in Neandertals or Denisovans or modern humans, and found that the two Sima fossils shared far more alleles—different nucleotides at the same address in the genome—with Neandertals than Denisovans or modern humans. “Indeed, the Sima de los Huesos specimens are early Neandertals or related to early Neandertals,” suggesting that the split of Denisovans and Neandertals should be moved back in time, Meyer reported at the meeting.

Researchers at the meeting were impressed by this new breakthrough in ancient DNA research. “This has been the next frontier with ancient DNA,” says evolutionary biologist Greger Larson of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 8, 2016 at 8:04 pm

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper suggesting that stars commonly ingest hot Jupiters.
  • The Dragon’s Tales reports on the spread of robots.
  • Far Outliers shares terms for making shoyu.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that Ashley Madison nearly bought Grindr.
  • Language Log notes the changing usage of “hemp” as a political term.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the plan to save New Orleans by abandoning the Mississippi delta.
  • The Russian Demographics blog notes the genetic distinctiveness of the Denisovans.
  • Towleroad notes the pulling-down of a Warsaw rainbow monument.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes the American debate over birthright citizenship.