Post List

  • June 23, 2010
  • 07:11 PM

Kadanuumuu: All about the torso!

by zinjanthropus in A Primate of Modern Aspect

A new fossil discovered by Yohannes Haile-Selassie has been announced this week in the PNAS. The partial skeleton, nick-named Kadanuumuu, or “Big Man,” is taxonomically consistent with other postcranial fossils belonging to Australopithecus afarensis. But, there are a few interesting and notable bones represented in this fossil which amend our understanding of how early Australopithecus [...]... Read more »

Haile-Selassie, Y., Latimer, B., Alene, M., Deino, A., Gibert, L., Melillo, S., Saylor, B., Scott, G., & Lovejoy, C. (2010) An early Australopithecus afarensis postcranium from Woranso-Mille, Ethiopia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1004527107  

  • June 23, 2010
  • 06:43 PM

Fortress of Solitude

by Journal Watch Online in Journal Watch Online

A population of endangered marmots on Vancouver Island has turned from social to solitary, according to a study in the Journal of Animal Ecology.
The Vancouver Island marmot (Marmota vancouverensis) has undergone a drastic decline in the last few decades. To find out how the animals’ behavior might have changed, a team observed the population […] Read More »... Read more »

  • June 23, 2010
  • 06:04 PM

The cost of uncertainty

by Carl in The motor chauvinist

Back from my girlfriend-induced hiatus and onto a really interesting paper published ahead of print in the Journal of Neurophysiology. This work asks some questions, and postulates some answers, very similar to the line of thinking I’ve been going down recently – which is, of course, the main reason I find it interesting! (The other reason is that they used parabolic flights. Very cool.)One theory of how the brain performs complex movements in a dynamical environment – like, say, lifting o........ Read more »

Crevecoeur, F., McIntyre, J., Thonnard, J., & Lefevre, P. (2010) Movement Stability under Uncertain Internal Models of Dynamics. Journal of Neurophysiology. DOI: 10.1152/jn.00315.2010  

  • June 23, 2010
  • 05:37 PM

Ancient "Big Man" Confirms That Humans Stood Tall Early

by Laelaps in Laelaps

The skeletons of Lucy (left) and Kadanuumuu (right). Both belong to the early human species Australopithecus afarensis. (Images not to scale.)

I never fully appreciated how small Lucy was until I saw her bones for myself. Photographs and restorations of her and her kin within the species Australopithecus afarensis had never really given me a proper sense of scale, and when I looked over her incomplete skeleton - formally known as specimen A.L. 288-1 - I was struck by her diminutive proportio........ Read more »

Haile-Selassie, Y., Latimer, B., Alene, M., Deino, A., Gibert, L., Melillo, S., Saylor, B., Scott, G., & Lovejoy, C. (2010) An early Australopithecus afarensis postcranium from Woranso-Mille, Ethiopia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1004527107  

  • June 23, 2010
  • 05:22 PM

Field of Dreams

by Journal Watch Online in Journal Watch Online

A study of aphid-fighting pesticides has revealed that organic products can sometimes be more environmentally harmful than synthetic products.
Many people take it for granted that organic pesticides are more eco-friendly. There’s also a “fundamental misconception that organic farms do not use pesticides,” researchers write in PLoS ONE. Organic farming practices do allow the application […] Read More »... Read more »

  • June 23, 2010
  • 04:10 PM

Sustainability of Organic vs Synthetic Pesticides

by Michael Long in Phased

Rebecca Hallett (University of Guelph, Canada) and coworkers show that organic pesticides can be less toxic to soybean aphid insect pests, more toxic to beneficial insects, and more environmentally harmful than synthetic pesticides. This news feature was written on June 23, 2010.... Read more »

  • June 23, 2010
  • 03:31 PM

Football fandom--psychological diff between Scottish and British

by Casey Rentz in The Lay Scientist

Cheering for your home team evidently solidifies your national identity if you're Scottish, while English tend to see their fan-dom as an individual preference, finds scientist Jackie Abell at Lancaster University.
This sounds like a study my 12 year old nephew would come up with. From the paper..
Support for the England football team is
not necessarily an expression of collective social identity and pride.

read more... Read more »

Jackie Abell. (2010) ‘They seem to think “We're better than you”’: Framing football support as a matter of ‘national identity’ in Scotland and England. British Journal of Social Psychology. info:/

  • June 23, 2010
  • 03:00 PM

It hurts to be blue

by Lorimer Moseley in BodyInMind

Here is another case-study highlighting the immense complexity of the brain, pain, and above all what it means to be what we are. In short, a 36-year-old French woman sustained a stroke that caused her to experience neuropathic pain and decreased sensation. Neither of these is unusual following damage to certain parts of the brain. [...]... Read more »

Thomas-Anterion, C., Creac’h, C., Dionet, E., Borg, C., Extier, C., Faillenot, I., & Peyron, R. (2010) De novo artistic activity following insular–SII ischemia. Pain. DOI: 10.1016/j.pain.2010.04.010  

  • June 23, 2010
  • 02:00 PM

Recycling Plastic into Fabric: Re-Wear Your Bottles

by agoldstein in WiSci

Literally wearing a plastic bottle sounds ludicrous, but turning that bottle into soft, comfortable fabric is the newest recycling fad. This year’s Brazil and USA World Cup soccer teams are wearing 100% recycled polyester jerseys, manufactured by Nike, while Reebok plans to collect bottles at NFL and NHL games, which the company will then turn into shirts to sell back to fans.... Read more »

Hopewell, J., Dvorak, R., & Kosior, E. (2009) Plastics recycling: challenges and opportunities. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 364(1526), 2115-2126. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2008.0311  

  • June 23, 2010
  • 12:20 PM

Are High Glycemic Index Carbs Worse Than Saturated Fat?

by Travis Saunders, MSc in Obesity Panacea

Most people know that consuming too much fat, and especially saturated fat, is bad for your health. That's why there has been a concerted push for several decades to get people to reduce the amount of saturated fat that they consume, and to replace it with complex carbohydrates. Now unfortunately people often misinterpret that to mean that fat is evil, but carbs are ok. This is problematic since consuming too many simple carbs is also likely to increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, and ........ Read more »

  • June 23, 2010
  • 11:06 AM

Less Like Poison, More Like Peanut Butter: The Case for Violent Video Games

by David Berreby in Mind Matters

Should the government protect society from the bad effects of violent videogames? Game-makers invoke freedom of speech to stave off such laws—including California's 2005 attempt to ban violent-game sales to minors, which the U.S. Supreme Court will take up this fall. But maybe there's a better defense: According to this paper (pdf), published this month in the Review of General Psychology, there's nothing to protect against, because violent games have no bad effects.
Studies to ........ Read more »

  • June 23, 2010
  • 11:00 AM

Let's bet the Chinese at their own game: Civilization.

by Greg Laden in Greg Laden's Blog

How can a nation call itself civilized if it executes its own citizens? Read the rest of this post... | Read the comments on this post...... Read more »

Liebman, James S. (2007) Slow dancing with death: The supreme court nd capital punishment, 1963-2006. Columbia Law Review, 107(1), 1-130. info:other/

  • June 23, 2010
  • 10:53 AM

Rapid canyon formation and uniformitarianism

by Brian Romans in Clastic Detritus

In 2002, flood waters from Canyon Lake dam reservoir in central Texas were diverted into an emergency spillway at nearly 200 times the normal flow rate. The resulting flood event, which lasted for six weeks, removed trees and sediment and excavated a 7 m deep and >1 km long canyon into the limestone bedrock. A [...]... Read more »

  • June 23, 2010
  • 10:42 AM

Hunger After Gastric Bypass

by Maureen McCormick in GourMind

I just attended another fabulous conference, The 24th Annual International Conference on Practical Approaches to the Treatment of Obesity. I learned a lot about new surgical techniques and heard an intriguing new way to understand the honeymoon period after gastric bypass. I'll write about that when I have an article to discuss.Today we turn to the experience of hunger. During the first 12-24 months after gastric bypass, most patients report a drastic change in their experiences of hunger and ta........ Read more »

Lowe MR, Butryn ML, Didie ER, Annunziato RA, Thomas JG, Crerand CE, Ochner CN, Coletta MC, Bellace D, Wallaert M.... (2009) The Power of Food Scale. A new measure of the psychological influence of the food environment. Appetite, 53(1), 114-8. PMID: 19500623  

  • June 23, 2010
  • 10:30 AM

The Family That Eats Together…

by Rob Mitchum in ScienceLife

Attaining a healthy weight is often billed as an individual pursuit, with television commercials eagerly encouraging customers to take hold of their habits. But for all the calorie-counting and exercise schedules you can give a person, their struggle with weight doesn’t occur in isolation. Family members and friends can negatively influence your diet, whether it’s [...]... Read more »

  • June 23, 2010
  • 10:05 AM

With conspecifics like these, who needs predators?

by Jeremy Yoder in Denim and Tweed

There's something special about islands. After moving to islands, plants adapted to rocky outcrops evolve to grow in rainforests and alpine meadows, and finches evolve to behave like woodpeckers. But why? Islands contain new food sources and habitats, they often lack predators, and they can provide more geographic barriers to generate reproductive isolation—to name just a few possibilities. A newly published ecological experiment now provides evidence that one group of island lizards diversfi........ Read more »

Givnish, T., Millam, K., Mast, A., Paterson, T., Theim, T., Hipp, A., Henss, J., Smith, J., Wood, K., & Sytsma, K. (2009) Origin, adaptive radiation and diversification of the Hawaiian lobeliads (Asterales: Campanulaceae). Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 276(1656), 407-16. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2008.1204  

MacArthur, R., Diamond, J., & Karr, J. (1972) Density compensation in island faunas. Ecology, 53(2), 330. DOI: 10.2307/1934090  

  • June 23, 2010
  • 10:01 AM

Spinning Wheels Go Round and Round: Classic Experiments on the Cell Cycle

by Promega Corporation in Promega Connections

While  working on a cell cycle lecture for the Education Resources web at, I reread some classic papers describing classic cell-cycle experiments. Two of these papers describe the experiments by Murray and Kirschner showing that cyclin B synthesis and degradation are required for cycling in Xenopus oocyte extracts. When I took my first graduate-level [...]... Read more »

  • June 23, 2010
  • 09:00 AM

Don't get sick in July? (Revisited)

by Orac in Respectful Insolence

June is almost over. If you work in an academic medical center, as I do, that can mean only one thing.

The new interns are coming, and existing residents will soon be advancing to the next level. The joy! The excitement! The trepidation! And it's not all just the senior residents and the faculty feeling these emotions. It's the patients too. At least, it's the patients feeling the trepidation. The reason is the longstanding belief in academic medical centers, a belief that has diffused out of t........ Read more »

  • June 23, 2010
  • 07:10 AM

Interdisciplinary Approach Creates New Tools for Protein Scientists

by avi_wener in American Biotechnologist

One of my favorite pastimes is reading about situations where experts from different (and seemingly divergent) disciplines get together to discuss interdisciplinary cooperation and mutual progress. All too often scientists segregate themselves according to their area of expertise and only make use of the techniques that they are familiar with or have access to in [...]... Read more »

Finney, L., Chishti, Y., Khare, T., Giometti, C., Levina, A., Lay, P., & Vogt, S. (2010) Imaging Metals in Proteins by Combining Electrophoresis with Rapid X-ray Fluorescence Mapping. ACS Chemical Biology, 5(6), 577-587. DOI: 10.1021/cb1000263  

  • June 23, 2010
  • 05:28 AM

Memory performance boosted while walking

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Psychologists usually think of attention as a limited resource. The more of it you use on one task, they say, the less you have left over for others. Supporting this, countless studies have shown that performance deteriorates under dual-task versus single-task conditions. But what if, rather than having one pool of attention to share around, we have multiple pools for fueling different types of activity. By this account, if two tasks are different enough from each other, there should be no perfo........ Read more »

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