Archives for posts with tag: robots!

I can’t afford to think about that“[W]hy are balls of steel so rare in academia? Do they undergo a procedure?” – from greg cochran.

Species Do Not Exist“[T]he Endangered Species Act has shaky conceptual foundations…. And yet we somehow deal with the fact that the universe is complex when it comes to species, although not with races.” – from steve sailer. see also Should You Fear the Pizzly Bear? h/t werner jensen!

Catastrophes in evolution: Is Cuvier’s world extinct or extant?

Million year hominid dispersal event in Iberia“Archaeological remains dating to between 1 million to 780,000 years were also found on an excavation that has provided evidence of the first known human occupation in the Iberian Peninsula.” – h/t cultevobot!

Early Exit: When Did Modern Humans First Leave Africa?“[A] recent study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the genes of indigenous people in southeast Asia has suggested a much earlier date for the first human explorers. Professor Katerina Harvati-Papatheodorou and lead author Hugo Reyes-Centeno of the University of Tubingen in Germany and their colleagues fed this genetic data into a computer model of migration and found that the best explanation was an African exodus around 130,000 years ago, more than twice as far back as most scientists think. They also suggested that this early wave took a different route, spreading along the south coasts of Arabia and Asia towards Australia.”

Early modern humans were ‘culturally diverse’ before they left Africa“Researchers have carried out the biggest ever comparative study of stone tools dating to between 130,000 and 75,000 years ago found in the region between sub-Saharan Africa and Eurasia. They have discovered there are marked differences in the way stone tools were made, reflecting a diversity of cultural traditions. The study has also identified at least four distinct populations, each relatively isolated from each other with their own different cultural characteristics.”

Indo-Europeans preceded Finno-Ugrians in Finland and Estonia“An archaic (Northwest-)Indo-European language and a subsequently extinct Paleo-European language were likely spoken in what is now called Finland and Estonia, when the linguistic ancestors of the Finns and the Sami arrived in the eastern and northern Baltic Sea region from the Volga-Kama region probably at the beginning of the Bronze Age.” – @dienekes’.

168 South Asian Genomes – @dienekes’.

Claim: Modern human teeth in southern China 70-125 ka BP – h/t razib!

The Most Violent Era In America Was Before Europeans Arrived“[A] new paper finds that the 20th century, with its hundreds of millions dead in wars and, in the case of Germany, China, Russia and other dictatorships, genocide, was not the most violent – on a per-capita basis that honor may belong to the central Mesa Verde of southwest Colorado and the Pueblo Indians. Writing in the journal American Antiquity, Washington State University archaeologist Tim Kohler and colleagues document how nearly 90 percent of human remains from that period had trauma from blows to either their heads or parts of their arms. ‘If we’re identifying that much trauma, many were dying a violent death,’ said Kohler. The study also offers new clues to the mysterious depopulation of the northern Southwest, from a population of about 40,000 people in the mid-1200s to 0 in 30 years.” – h/t hbd bibliography!

The ‘six universal’ facial expressions are not universal, cross-cultural study shows“It’s a con­cept that had become uni­ver­sally under­stood: humans expe­ri­ence six basic emotions — happiness, sad­ness, anger, fear, dis­gust, and surprise — and use the same set of facial move­ments to express them…. The only problem with this con­cept, according to North­eastern Uni­ver­sity Dis­tin­guished Pro­fessor of Psy­chology Lisa Feldman Bar­rett, is that it isn’t true at all…. [W]hat were assumed to be ‘psy­cho­log­ical uni­ver­sals’ may in fact be ‘Western’ — or per­haps even ‘American’ — cultural cat­e­gories.”

The intelligent pursuit of happiness“Intelligence is associated with health and longevity, and more intelligent children on average tend to live longer and healthier lives than less intelligent children, although it is not known why. Health is significantly associated with psychological well-being. So, it is possible that more intelligent individuals are more stable in their happiness over time because they are more likely to remain constantly healthy than less intelligent individuals.” – from dr. james thompson.

Clues emerge to genetic architecture of intelligence in children“‘When we computed the contribution of common variants to these cognitive abilities, we found that some of the contributions were substantial,’ said Hakonarson. For instance, common SNPs accounted for roughly 40 percent of the population differences in nonverbal reasoning, and 30 percent of the differences in language reasoning, with the balance of the differences attributable to rare variants and environmental factors. On the other hand, common gene variants together contributed to only 3 percent of the differences in spatial memory—the ability to navigate in a geographical location. There also were significant overlaps between trait domains. Reading ability, which was 43 percent attributable to common variants, was often inherited together with language reasoning abilities.” – h/t nolasco!

Lead released from African cookware contaminates food“Researchers tested 29 samples of aluminum cookware made in Cameroon and found almost all had considerable lead content. This cookware is common throughout Africa and Asia and is made from recycled scrap metal including auto and computer parts, cans, and other industrial debris. Lead exposure in children is linked to brain damage, mental retardation, lower educational performance, and a range of other health effects.” – h/t science enabled!

Facial fluctuating asymmetry is not associated with childhood ill-health in a large British cohort study – h/t jelte wicherts! who tweeted: “Contrary to several small N studies, large study finds no relationship between health measures & facial asymmetry.”

Structural Growth Trajectories and Rates of Change in the First 3 Months of Infant Brain Development – h/t simon baron-cohen! who tweeted: “Typical brain growth from birth to 3 months old: the brain grows 1% per day, and male brains grow faster.”

Workaholism: The addiction of this century“Workaholics scored higher on three personality traits: Agreeableness, Neuroticism, Intellect/Imagination.” – h/t claire lehmann!

Twins separated at birth reveal staggering influence of genetics“Segal, who wrote a book about the study called ‘Born Together Reared Apart: The Landmark Minnesota Twins Study’ (Harvard University Press, 2012), is now doing a prospective study of Chinese twins raised apart, often in different countries, by adoptive families.”

The association between grandparenthood and mortality – h/t neuroskeptic! who tweeted: “People who become grandparents at an early age tend to die sooner.” – because they have faster life histories?

Getting the babes but not the babies“Who’s making more babies? ‘Good boys’ or ‘bad boys’? Originally, the good boys were, thanks to parental monitoring of relations between single men and single women. The pendulum then swung toward the bad boys in the 1940s, only to swing back after the 1960s.” – from peter frost.

Population-level variability in the social climates of four chimpanzee societies – h/t erwin schmidt! who tweeted: “Some groups of chimpanzees are more egalitarian than others.”

Is empathy in humans and apes actually different? ‘Yawn contagion’ effect studied“Humans and bonobos are the only two species in which it has been demonstrated that yawn contagion follows an empathic trend, being more frequent between individuals who share a strong emotional bond, such as friends, kin, and mates…. Two features of yawn contagion were compared: how many times the individuals responded to others’ yawns and how quickly. Intriguingly, when the yawner and the responder were not friends or kin, bonobos responded to others’ yawns just as frequently and promptly as humans did. This means that the assumption that emotional contagion is more prominent in humans than in other species is not necessarily the case. However, humans did respond more frequently and more promptly than bonobos when friends and kin were involved, probably because strong relationships between humans are built upon complex and sophisticated emotional foundations linked to cognition, memory, and memories. In this case, the positive feedback linking emotional affinity and the mirroring process seems to spin faster in humans than in bonobos. In humans, such over-activation may explain the potentiated yawning response and also other kinds of unconscious mimicry response, such as happy, pained, or angry facial expressions.”

Self-regulatory failure and the perpetration of adolescent dating violence: Examining an alcohol use by gene explanation“[A]lcohol use was more strongly associated with dating violence among adolescents who had a high rather than a low multilocus genetic profile composed of five genetic markers that influence dopamine signaling. Alcohol use was more strongly related to dating violence among boys with long rather than short 5-HTTLPR alleles, the opposite of the prediction. MAOA-uVNTR did not interact with alcohol, but it had a main effect on dating violence by boys in later grades in the expected direction: boys with more low activity alleles perpetrated more dating violence. Exploratory analyses found variation in findings by race.” – h/t unsilenced science!

Take Two Sugar Pills and Call Me in the Morning“Over the past decade, a number of clinical studies have begun to show that people who improve on placebos are genetically different than those who don’t.” – h/t billare! see also here.

Designer babies: selection vs editing – @steve hsu’s.

Anxiety in invertebrates opens research avenues“[N]euronal mechanisms related to anxiety have been preserved throughout evolution. This analysis of ancestral behavior in a simple animal model opens up new avenues for studying the neuronal bases for this emotion.”

Our Microbiome May Be Looking Out for Itself – sneaky microbiome! h/t mr. robert ford!

New Study To Look At The Genetics Of Inflammatory Bowel Disease – from 23andMe.

Constitutional verbosity and social trust – h/t heartiste! who tweeted: “The more a nation’s people trust each other, the fewer words they need to codify that trust.”

War in the womb“A ferocious biological struggle between mother and baby belies any sentimental ideas we might have about pregnancy” -h/t charles!

Head Count – ‘Malthus,’ by Robert J. Mayhew

New Saudi ban on marriage to foreigners stirs controversy“[A] new law bans Saudi men from marrying women from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Chad and Burma.” (not a big surprise from the najdis.)

Avoid marrying kin, behave ‘softly on first night’“A notice from the Health Ministry [of turkey-h.chick] on ‘Consultancy before Marriage’ has highlighted that one out of every five marriages are among kin. The recently released document also includes sexual advice for couples, especially for the ‘first night.’ ‘Consanguineous marriage is mostly among first-degree relatives, increasing the number of rare genetic diseases,’ it said. ‘This matter is noteworthy. Those who are married to kin and those who carry genetic diseases should consult a health institution before gestation.'” – h/t anatoly karlin!

Avoiding Prince Joffrey: Primates have newly discovered ability that stops inbreeding“[N]ew research in macaques has revealed for the first time that primates are able to recognise their own relatives. The researchers opted for macaques rather than chimps for their study as the former lives in larger groups with more relatives; allowing them to pick distantly related monkeys who haven’t met, they could rule out ‘familiarity’ as a way for figuring out who is related…. The researchers had no clue as to how they were able to do this. Perhaps they did make a ‘template’ based on relatives they were familiar with, or maybe they had figured out what they looked like somehow, so could use that to figure out who were their relatives.”

Download Pew Datasets!

bonus: Researchers create 1,000-robot swarm – PANIC!!1! HEAD FOR THE HILLS!!

bonus bonus: The Domestic Cat Genome Has Been Fully Sequenced, and It’s Fascinating“Cats also have what biologists call “a highly conserved ancestral mammal genome organization,” which means that many stretches of their genome haven’t changed much over evolutionary time. Put simply, domestic cats haven’t changed much since they first evolved.”

bonus bonus bonus: Reconstructions show how some of the earliest animals lived — and died – rangeomorphs. h/t mike anissimov!

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Shortest-known abstract for a serious scientific paper (^_^)

(note: comments do not require an email. happy capybara!)

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making up for a few lost weekends linkfests…

Tracing Ancestry, Researchers Produce a Genetic Atlas of Human Mixing Events“Researchers have found genetic evidence for hundreds of examples of the large-scale mixing of human populations in the past 4,000 years.” – see also: A Genetic Atlas of Human Admixture History“We used this to produce an atlas of worldwide human admixture history, constructed by using genetic data alone and encompassing over 100 events occurring over the past 4000 years. We identified events whose dates and participants suggest they describe genetic impacts of the Mongol empire, Arab slave trade, Bantu expansion, first millennium CE migrations in Eastern Europe, and European colonialism, as well as unrecorded events, revealing admixture to be an almost universal force shaping human populations.” – see also: A genetic atlas of human admixture history. – see also from dienekes: Human admixture common in human history (Hellenthal et al. 2014).

Earliest footprints outside Africa discovered in Norfolk“Scientists have discovered the earliest evidence of human footprints outside of Africa, on the Norfolk Coast in the East of England. The footprints are more than 800,000 years old and were found on the shores of Happisburgh.”aaaand then they got washed away in the storms. (>_<)

Modern human genomes reveal our inner Neanderthal“Cross-breeding boosted Homo sapiens’ ability to cope with cool climates, but the hybrids may have had trouble breeding.” – see also: Neanderthal-human sex bred light skins and infertility. and see also: Adaptive Neanderthal admixture – from greg cochran.

Science discovers new ignorance about the past – good stuff from matt ridley.

Genetic origins of high-altitude adaptations in Tibetans“Genetic adaptations for life at high elevations found in residents of the Tibetan plateau likely originated around 30,000 years ago in peoples related to contemporary Sherpa. These genes were passed on to more recent migrants from lower elevations via population mixing, and then amplified by natural selection in the modern Tibetan gene pool, according to a new study.” – see also: Admixture facilitates genetic adaptations to high altitude in Tibet – see also: A novel mechanism for getting high – from greg cochran. – see also: Tibetan mastiffs equally adapted to high altitudes of Tibet.

Immediate replacement of fishing with dairying by the earliest farmers of the northeast Atlantic archipelagos [i.e. british isles] – “These new findings…unequivocally confirm rejection of marine resources by early farmers coinciding with the adoption of intensive dairy farming. This pattern of Neolithization contrasts markedly to that occurring contemporaneously in the Baltic, suggesting that geographically distinct ecological and cultural influences dictated the evolution of subsistence practices at this critical phase of European prehistory.”

The booms and busts of Neolithic Europe (and their potential impact on our DNA)“most of the interactions between the genetically Near Eastern-like Neolithic farmers and indigenous European hunter-gatherers, including mixing, in all likelihood took place on the peripheries of the farming societies. If so, then perhaps every time there was a bust, it was the relatively more admixed, or even more hunter-gatherer-like, farmer groups from the peripheries that took advantage of the situation and moved in to grab some land in the depopulated regions? In other words, this might have been the process which led to the well-documented reemergence of hunter-gatherer-derived ancestry in the heart of Europe after the early Neolithic.” – @eurogenes.

First Ancient North American Genome Sequenced“Analysis of 12,600-year-old DNA refutes the idea that Native Americans originated in Western Europe.” – see also: The genome of a Late Pleistocene human from a Clovis burial site in western Montana

The Fading of the Most Basal of Basal“[T]he western and eastern Pygmy populations of the Congo rainforest seem to have diverged tens of thousands of years ago, tens of thousands of years after their divergence from the ancestors of their agriculturalist neighbors.” – from razib.

Slow times in the New World – from greg cochran.

Genetic ancestry is associated with colorectal adenomas and adenocarcinomas in Latino populations“[I]ncreased African ancestry (or variants linked to it) contributes to the increased susceptibility of colorectal cancer in admixed Latin American population.” – h/t razib!

Black Death Left a Mark on Human Genome“Genetically, the Rroma are still quite similar to the northwestern Indians, even though they have lived side by side with the Romanians for a millennium, the team found. But there were 20 genes in the Rroma and the Romanians that had changes that were not seen in the Indians’ versions of those genes, Netea and his colleagues report online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. These genes ‘were positively selected for in the Romanians and in the gypsies but not in the Indians,’ Netea explains. ‘It’s a very strong signal.'”

HBD is Life and Death – from jayman.

Chemists Seek Possible Precursor to RNA – h/t billare! who tweeted: “Were there self-assembling replicants—proto-RNAs—before RNA world? Researchers find some candidates.”

The Unique Merger That Made You (and Ewe, and Yew)“All sophisticated life on the planet Earth may owe its existence to one freakish event.” – mitochondria, eukaryotes, yada, yada, yada.

Study demonstrates evolutionary ‘fitness’ not the most important determinant of success“By modelling populations over long timescales, the study showed that the ‘fitness’ of their traits was not the most important determinant of success. Instead, the most genetically available mutations dominated the changes in traits. The researchers found that the ‘fittest’ simply did not have time to be found, or to fix in the population over evolutionary timescales. The findings suggest that life on Earth today may not have come about by ‘survival of the fittest’, but rather by the ‘arrival of the frequent’.”

Burakumin, Paekchong, and Cagots“Human evolution is a logarithmic curve where most of the interesting changes have happened since the advent of farming and complex societies. *Homo sapiens* was not a culmination but rather a beginning…of gene-culture co-evolution. There are many ways to study this co-evolution, but one way is to look at the different evolutionary trajectories followed by castes and their host populations.” – from peter frost.

Of Genetic Determinists and Unicorns – from helian.

Geographic variation of human gut microbes tied to obesity“[P]eople living in northern latitudes have a greater proportion of the Firmicutes associated with obesity than do people living farther south, and a smaller proportion of Bacteroidetes. The implications are unclear, though microbes may evolve with people to better extract energy from food in colder climates.” – h/t claire lehmann! – also: I had the bacteria in my gut analysed. And this may be the future of medicine.

A Dog Can’t Teach a Dog New Tricks (But It Can Teach a Wolf) – *cough*domestication*cough* – h/t neuroskeptic!

Revolutionary new view on heritability in plants: Complex heritable traits not only determined by changes in DNA sequence“Complex heritable traits are not only determined by changes in the DNA sequence. Scientists have now shown that epigenetic marks can affect traits such as flowering time and architecture in plants. Furthermore, these marks are passed on for many generations in a stable manner.” – in PLANTS! (are you a plant?)

Single nucleotide polymorphism in the neuroplastin locus associates with cortical thickness and intellectual ability in adolescents – h/t stuart ritchie! – also: Scientists identify gene linking brain structure to intelligence.

The many-headed Hydra of alternate intelligences – from dr. james thompson.

Quick Post: L&V’s National IQs predict GMAT scores across 173 nations“We have shown that measures of national cognitive ability predict both GMAT scores and English proficiency scores independent of rates of English usage. GMAT and English proficiency scores seem to be indexes of National (g) by way of National IQ and National ACH.” – @human varieties.

Meritocracy doesn’t work. It’s in the Left’s interest to recognise this.“The Son Also Rises, a study of social mobility by Gregory Clark, will surprise and also alarm some people. He notes, by using surname patterns, that mobility is minimal in all societies where the data is available. Even, for example, in the Nordic paradise of Sweden. He says: ‘In all societies, what seems to matter is just who your parents are. At the extreme, we see in modern Sweden an extensive system of public education and social support. Yet underlying mobility rates are no higher in modern Sweden than in pre-industrial Sweden or medieval England.’ He also notes that even in revolutionary societies, such as in Communist China, people with aristocratic surnames also turn up at the top, showing that once again Darwin trumps Marx.” – from ed west. – see also: Everyone likes the idea of equal opportunity. This economist thinks it’s a fantasy.

The Ideological-Conflict Hypothesis: Intolerance Among Both Liberals and Conservatives“[L]iberals and conservatives express similar levels of intolerance toward ideologically dissimilar and threatening groups.”

Sadism: A New Addition to the Dark Triad? – from staffan.

You Are Not A Special Snowflake – from sisyphean the mad contrarian.

Males and females differ in specific brain structures“Reviewing over 20 years of neuroscience research into sex differences in brain structure, researchers have conducted the first meta-analysis of the evidence. The team performed a quantitative review of the brain imaging literature testing overall sex differences in total and regional brain volumes. They found that males on average have larger total brain volumes than women (by 8 to 13 percent). Looking more closely, the researchers found differences in volume between the sexes were located in several regions. These included parts of the limbic system, and the language system.”

Major sex differences in brain gene expression – from mr. mangan, esq. – also: How Can This Be? – from malcolm pollack.

How much do sex differences matter in sports?“Thanks in large part to testosterone, men are generally heavier and taller than women. They have longer limbs relative to their height, bigger hearts and lungs, less fat, denser bones, more oxygen-carrying red blood cells, heavier skeletons that support more muscle — 80 percent more in the upper body, on average, which is about the difference between male and female gorillas — and narrower hips that make for more efficient running and decrease the chance of injury. But since these differences generally don’t appear until puberty, boys’ and girls’ records in track tend to be identical before age 10. There’s scant biological reason to separate young boys and girls in competitions.” – from david epstein.

How the gender divide reaches into our nightmares“A study has found women are more likely to dream of interpersonal disputes, while men tend to face war, calamities and insect swarms alone.”

Be My Valentines: Is Monogamy Natural to Us?“It turns out that we aren’t monogamous or polygamous by nature. As everyone from poets to divorce attorneys can attest, we are by nature a profoundly confused species—somewhere in between.” – h/t robert ford!

Male infanticide leads to social monogamy in primates“The origin of social monogamy in primates is best explained by long lactation periods caused by altriciality, making primate infants particularly vulnerable to infanticidal males. We show that biparental care shortens relative lactation length, thereby reducing infanticide risk and increasing reproductive rates. These phylogenetic analyses support a key role for infanticide in the social evolution of primates, and potentially, humans.” – h/t heartiste!

23andMe Couples Correlated“For Valentine’s Day, we analyzed data from 15,298 real-world couples who had children together and found that people paired with others who were more like themselves than they were different.”

How Women Gang Up On Each Other To Get What They Want – from claire lehmann.

Morality and evolution – from mr. mangan, esq.

Cultural Marxism, gay-style – hints of left-wing authoritarism? i think so. from the awesome epigone.

Panthropology reveals 4,300 year old chimp site

Ethnic diversity’s ‘inconvenient truths’“[W]hen the Vancouver Foundation recently conducted a massive survey of Metro Vancouver residents, researchers discovered most people in this West Coast city feel unusually high levels of loneliness and lack of friends…. The Vancouver Foundation survey of 3,800 diverse Metro residents confirmed Putnam’s results. It found one in four Metro residents feels alone more often than they would like, one-third consider Vancouver a difficult place to make friends, most don’t socialize with their neighbours, half don’t volunteer and most feel that, while diversity is generally a good thing, they prefer to be with members of their own ethnic group.” – h/t mike anissimov!

Rainforests in Far East shaped by humans for the last 11,000 years“New research shows that the tropical forests of South East Asia have been shaped by humans for the last 11,000 years. The rain forests of Borneo, Sumatra, Java, Thailand and Vietnam were previously thought to have been largely unaffected by humans, but the latest research suggests otherwise.”

The Case of Moulay Ismael – Fact or Fancy?“The results indicate that Moulay Ismael could have achieved this high [888 children!] reproductive success.” – btw, that’s moulay ismael the bloodthirsty to you!

How HBD Will Make you a Better Person“[F]orbidden knowledge does not result in genocide. The problem with this view is that genocide has been the norm throughout human history — that is, until very recently. On a historical timeline, our recent scientific knowledge of racial differences actually negatively correlates with the historic trend of genocide.” – @occam’s razor.

Robots and HBD denialism“The coming robot revolution will make the labor of people below a certain IQ totally worthless. This is an event never before experienced by humanity.” – from the lion of the blogosphere.

The outgrowth of Muller’s eugenics program“[T]he eugenics program described by Muller, as such, has become a reality.” – h/t jayman and billare!

Being lazy could be genetic say scientists – study done on (lazy, good for nuthin’!) mice.

Male sexual orientation influenced by genes, study showsGenes examined in study are not sufficient or necessary to make men gay but do play some role in sexuality, say US researchers.”

Church Making Strides Preserving African Family Histories“Genealogy experts are experiencing a race against time in Sub-Saharan Africa; an area that spans 36 countries. There is an urgency to collect oral interviews of African genealogy because family historians are aging and some are dying before those histories can be recorded.” – h/t t.greer!

Plagiarism attitudes common across cultures – in children – h/t naturalismo!

Richard III DNA mapping: historic first lets experts look into eyes of Plantagenet king“Scientists will be able to check whether portraits of a dark-haired brooding monarch are accurate.”

Norse Rune code cracked“A scholar of the University of Oslo has cracked one of the rune codes used by the Vikings, revealing they were sending each other messages such as ‘Kiss me’.” -?!-

Midiclorianos: determinismo biológico en Star wars – REALLY important stuff from eduardo zugasti. (^_^)

After 400 years, mathematicians find a new class of solid shapes“Nearly 400 years after the last class was described, researchers claim that they may have now invented a new, fourth class, which they call Goldberg polyhedra.” – h/t jason moore!

bonus: Nigeria: Restaurant Served Roasted Human Heads – yup.

bonus bonus: Huge chimpanzee population thriving in remote Congo forest“Scientists believe the group is one of the last chimp ‘mega-cultures’, sharing a unique set of customs and behaviour.”

bonus bonus bonus: Camels Had No Business in Genesis“Radiocarbon dating was used to pinpoint the earliest known domesticated camels in Israel to the 10th century B.C.— decades after the kingdom of David, according to the Bible.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Cat parasite found in Arctic Beluga“The cat parasite *Toxoplasma gondii*, which can cause blindness in people, has been identified in Beluga in the western Arctic.” – h/t carl zimmer!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: The Rise of the Crazy Ants“Ants equipped with venom antidote invade southeastern U.S.” – h/t hbd bibliography!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: This Tiny Animal Can Live an Estimated 1,400 Years

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Conservative Acquaintance Annoyingly Not Racist – h/t niall gooch!

(note: comments do not require an email. bili apes!)

precision grip!:


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previously: flying jellyfish robot!

Life on Earth may have developed below rather than above ground, reveal scientists“Scientists have now discovered microbes living and reproducing as deep as 5km (3.1 miles) below ground and studies have shown that they are likely to have survived in complete isolation from the surface biosphere for millions and perhaps even billions of years. One of the latest studies into the deep biosphere has found that these microbes form a distinct subsurface community of genetically similar individuals despite living on opposite sides of the world. This global similarity of such an isolated life-form suggests that they may have evolved directly from a common ancestor that lived as long ago at the period when life on earth originated, some 3.5 billion years ago.”

First ever animals were made of jelly, not sponge

Scientists discover double meaning in genetic code“[G]enomes use the genetic code to write two separate languages. One describes how proteins are made, and the other instructs the cell on how genes are controlled. One language is written on top of the other, which is why the second language remained hidden for so long.”duons. – see also Exonic Transcription Factor Binding Directs Codon Choice and Affects Protein Evolution.

Environment drives genetic changes in Evolution Canyon“[R]esearchers with the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech studying fruit flies that live on opposite slopes of a unique natural environment known as ‘Evolution Canyon’ show that even with migration, cross-breeding, and sometimes the obliteration of the populations, the driving force in the gene pool is largely the environment.” – see also Genome differentiation of Drosophila melanogaster from a microclimate contrast in Evolution Canyon, Israel.

Big brains are all in the genes“Scientists have moved a step closer to understanding genetic changes that permitted humans and other mammals to develop such big brains…. Dr Humberto Gutierrez, from the School of Life Sciences, University of Lincoln, UK, led research which examined the genomes of 39 species of mammals with the aim of better understanding how brains became larger and more complex in mammals…. The researchers found a clear link between increased brain size and the expansion of gene families related to certain biological functions.”

Not all species deteriorate with age“Researchers claim that some buck trend in mortality and fertility, challenging evolutionary theory.” – see also Diversity of ageing across the tree of life – h/t anatoly! – see also Aging from greg cochran.

there was a kerfluffle over the selfish gene concept this past week or two: Die, selfish gene, die by david dobbs. – see also Adversarial Journalism and The Selfish Gene by richard dawkins – see also David Dobbs mucks up evolution, part I and David Dobbs mucks up evolution, part II by jerry coyne – see also There is no revolution in genetics and Evolutionary orthodoxy may be boring, but it is probably true by razib – see also Science vs. Ideology in Genetics, in which Richard Dawkins and Professor Ceiling Cat Admonish David Dobbs by helian.

Western scrub-jays allocate longer observation time to more valuable information“When humans mentally reconstruct past events and imagine future scenarios, their subjective experience of mentally time travelling is accompanied by the awareness of doing so. Despite recent popularity of studying episodic memory in animals, such phenomenological consciousness has been extremely difficult to demonstrate…. Thus, the jays can collect information to solve a future problem. Moreover, they can differentiate sources of information according to their potential value and modify behaviour to efficiently collect important, usable information. This is the first evidence of metacognition in a species that passes the behavioural criteria for both retrospective and prospective mental time travel.”

Like humans, dogs have general intelligence – @dr. james thompson’s blog.

H. Heidelbergensis Preferred Island Life“[B]etween 500,000 and 200,000 years ago, Homo heidelbergensis preferred to live on islands in the flood plains of major rivers, where they would have had access to big herbivores that grazed on the rich grasses, water birds and plants with edible roots, and leafy vegetables. The island itself offered protection from other hungry predators, and raw materials such as wood and stone for fashioning tools would have been abundant.”

No evidence for selection since admixture in sample of 29,141 African Americans – @dienekes’.

Older Dads: Possible Links to Autism, Schizophrenia in Offspring – inherited epigenetic effects? – “Maria Milekic, PhD, reported today, at the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology annual meeting in Hollywood, Florida, that old mice have an epigenetic change ‒ a loss of DNA methylation at the locations where the genetic code starts being transcribed. DNA methylation is a biochemical process that plays an important regulatory role in development and disease. The work was done by a research team in the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University. Offspring of old fathers showed the same deficit in DNA methylation, and they differed in their behavior from the offspring of the young fathers.”

Inherited memories – greg cochran on inherited epigenetics (note: re. a different mouse epigenetics study from the one above).

Genetics accounts for more than half of variation in exam results @the guardian – “[T]he authors point out that genetics emerges as such a strong influence on exam scores because the schooling system aims to give all children the same education. The more school and other factors are made equal, the more genetic differences come to the fore in children’s performance. The same situation would happen if everyone had a healthy diet: differences in bodyweight would be more down to genetic variation, instead of being dominated by lifestyle.” – see also Nature more than nurture determines exam success @newscientist – “Overall, across the three core subjects of English, mathematics and science, achievement was 58 per cent determined by genetics. Individually, achievement was 52 per cent down to genetics for English, 55 per cent for maths and 58 per cent for science. The figure for humanities was lower at 42 per cent. This was a surprise to Plomin because, traditionally, excellence in humanities subjects such as art or music is considered to be ‘handed down’ from parents, whereas science is considered a product of the teaching environment.” – see also The genetics route could spell a new direction for education @the independent – “[I]t may be that the innate differences in children’s abilities because of their genes could argue the case for a more tailor-made individual curriculum to offset the disadvantages of birth.” – no sh*t! – see also New twin study by Plomin, Shakeshaft et al from steve sailer – see also Strong Genetic Influence on a UK Nationwide Test of Educational Achievement at the End of Compulsory Education at Age 16.

Genetic influence on family socioeconomic status and children’s intelligence“[U]sing a new technique applied to DNA from 3000 unrelated children, we show significant genetic influence on family SES, and on its association with children’s IQ at ages 7 and 12. In addition to demonstrating the ability to investigate genetic influence on between-family environmental measures, our results emphasize the need to consider genetics in research and policy on family SES and its association with children’s IQ.” – can somebody just give plomin a nobel already? or at least a hearty pat on the back? (^_^)

Climatic Variability, Group Selection and Dysgenics: Testing a Multi-Level Selection Model – from woodley, fernandes, and figueredo. @dr. james thompson’s blog.

ISIR – What do intelligence researchers really think about intelligence?“Asked: ‘Is there sufficient evidence to arrive at a reasonable estimate of the heritability of intelligence in populations of developed countries?’ 73% said Yes.” – from dr. james thompson. also ISIR – Genetics.

‘Poverty impedes cognitive function’ shown to be BS – from mr. mangan, esq.

Survey of psychometricians finds iSteve one of 3 best journalistic outlets in the world for intelligence coverage – and anatoly karlin! (^_^)

Human brain hard-wired for rural tranquillity“Humans may be hard-wired to feel at peace in the countryside and confused in cities – even if they were born and raised in an urban area…. Dr Ian Frampton, an Exeter University psychologist, stressed the researchers still had more work to do, but said they may have hit upon something significant…. Professor Michael Depledge of Exeter University, a former Environment Agency chief scientist, said urban dwellers could be suffering in the same way as animals kept in captivity. He said the move to the cities had been accompanied by an ‘incredible rise in depression and behavioural abnormalities’.” – h/t ed west!

Diet rapidly and reproducibly alters the human gut microbiome“[S]hort-term consumption of diets composed entirely of animal or plant products alters microbial community structure and overwhelms inter-individual differences in microbial gene expression. The animal-based diet increased the abundance of bile-tolerant microorganisms (Alistipes, Bilophila and Bacteroides) and decreased the levels of Firmicutes that metabolize dietary plant polysaccharides (Roseburia, Eubacterium rectale and Ruminococcus bromii). Microbial activity mirrored differences between herbivorous and carnivorous mammals, reflecting trade-offs between carbohydrate and protein fermentation. Foodborne microbes from both diets transiently colonized the gut, including bacteria, fungi and even viruses. Finally, increases in the abundance and activity of Bilophila wadsworthia on the animal-based diet support a link between dietary fat, bile acids and the outgrowth of microorganisms capable of triggering inflammatory bowel disease. In concert, these results demonstrate that the gut microbiome can rapidly respond to altered diet, potentially facilitating the diversity of human dietary lifestyles.”

Wheat Threatens All Humans, New Research Shows“New research reveals that proteins in wheat may be detrimental to all humans.” – h/t ray sawhill!

The origins of Northwest European guilt culture and Origins of Northwest European guilt culture. Part II – from peter frost. and my response to part i (in case you missed it – shame on you if you did! you should feel soooo guilty. (~_^) ).

The EU is corrupt because southern Europe is corrupt“Nigeria is riddled with corruption and theft because enough people are corrupt (and it doesn’t have to be that many) that it makes no sense to be an honest person. For societies to avert this situation free-riders need to be punished (shamed, ostracised, prosecuted) by other individuals acting with the support of the rest of society, and almost as importantly, for those punishers not to be punished in turn, as happens in clannish societies where people care more about their family than the well-being of the wider society. Destroying the power of the clans can take a very, very long time; around the North Sea it began a good millennium ago.” – from ed west.

Why a Good Story Must Be Archetypal and Why Modern Storytellers Must Lie About It – from staffan.

White flight from the white robe? – from the awesome epigone. – h/t jayman!

‘Boy/ girl differences are genetically programmed’“Twinwag: As research shows the brains of men and women are wired differently, mother of two Anna White says she saw it in her own twins, Agatha and Benjamin, from as young as 14 months old.” – h/t holtz!

Holding a guitar case increases the odds women will give a man their phone number – (~_^)

Your Genes Tell You How to Vote – in mother jones! – see also The Difference Between Republican and Democratic Brains – h/t avi tuschman! – see also Study on twins suggests our political beliefs may be hard-wired @pew.

Did Brain Scans Just Save a Convicted Murderer From the Death Penalty? – see also How Brain Scans Can Lighten Sentences In Murder Cases“An increasing trend of defendants using neuroscience to argue for lesser sentences.” – h/t neuroskeptic!

We Really Have no Idea Why Political Attitudes Change (or Not). A Guest Blog by Bernard Winograd – *cough*herding*cough* – @peter turchin’s social evolution forum. h/t t.greer!

How much do we really know about sleep?“We spend a third of our lives doing it, and yet we still don’t fully understand the reasons why we sleep.”

Eastern and Western Europe divided over gay marriage, homosexuality“92% of Dutch & 25% of Russians say gay people should be free to live lives as they wish (via European Social Survey).” – from pew.

Late Stone Age settlement unearthed on Cyprus“Excavations at Ayia Varvara-Asprokremnos (AVA) by archaeologists from the University of Toronto, Cornell University and the University of Cyprus have uncovered, among other objects, the earliest complete human figurine on the island. The site has been carbon-dated to between 8800-8600 BC, near the beginning of the Neolithic Period – also known as the Late Stone Age – when the transition from hunting to farming economies was occurring throughout the Middle East.”

What Happened On Easter Island — A New (Even Scarier) Scenario – h/t razib!

Terracotta Warriors Inspired by Ancient Greek Art“Nickel’s evidence includes newly translated ancient records that tell a fantastic tale of giant statues that ‘appeared’ in the far west, inspiring the first emperor of China to duplicate them in front of his palace. This story offers evidence of early contact between China and the West, contacts that Nickel says inspired the First Emperor (which is what Qin Shi Huangdi called himself) to not only duplicate the 12 giant statues but to build the massive Terracotta Army along with other life-size sculptures.” – see also The First Emperor and sculpture in China.

Phallic objects an ancient PNG status symbol?“The cache of elaborately crafted tools was discovered at a construction site on New Britain Island, north-eastern PNG, in late 2010. Between 6000 and 3000 years old, the tools are made of a type of volcanic glass called obsidian and, remarkably, several of them are shaped as phalluses.”

Nobel winner declares boycott of top science journals“Randy Schekman says his lab will no longer send papers to Nature, Cell and Science as they distort scientific process.” – h/t hbd bibliography!

Can you guess which states swear the most, least?

bonus: There’s a Reason They Call Them ‘Crazy Ants’ << read this!

bonus bonus: How widespread is Islamic fundamentalism in Western Europe? – h/t michael story!

bonus bonus bonus: Google Adds to Its Menagerie of Robots – google buys boston dynamics. google really IS going to take over the world! =/

bonus bonus bonus bonus: You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet“I don’t think most people yet realize just how fast the arc of technological innovation is bending skyward right now, and what that’s really going to mean. I hang around with the people who are making this stuff happen, and *they* don’t know what it’s going to mean. *Nobody* does.” – from malcolm pollack. (google really IS going to take over the world! =/ )

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Freakishly realistic telemarketing robots are denying they’re robots – the future (i.e tomorrow) is either going to be terrifying or really, really irritating. – h/t mike anissimov (wearer of track suits (~_^) )!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: First water plume seen firing from Jupiter moon Europa

(note: comments do not require an email. penguin selfie!)


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see also: Four-winged robot flies like a jellyfish (if jellyfish actually flew that is…i suppose….)

previously: kirobo

first humanoid robot in space!: “Kirobo off from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan to be a companion for Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata aboard the ISS. ‘Mr. Wakata? Did you leave already, I can not wait to see you!'” (open the pod bay doors, kirobo…. (~_^) )


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previously: robo ping pong!

from china, of course! (^_^) make sure to watch the last third of the video where the robot plays against a human. (i could totally beat that robo-guy on the far end of the table in a pick-up one-on-one game of table tennis! anytime, anywhere….)


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previously: [terrifying!] small cubes that self-assemble