Wouldn't you love it if the Neanderthals hadn't gone extinct, but were still living with us today? I'd give my right arm to see that (but then again, I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous). It is still hotly debated how they went extinct, but a paper in PLoS ONE  concludes that Homo neanderthalensis were outcompeted by humans.... Read more »
William E. Banks, Francesco d'Errico, A. Townsend Peterson, Masa Kageyama, Adriana Sima, & Maria-Fernanda Sánchez-Goñi. (2008) Neanderthal Extinction by Competitive Exclusion. PLoS ONE, 3(12). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0003972
R GREEN, A MALASPINAS, J KRAUSE, A BRIGGS, P JOHNSON, C UHLER, M MEYER, J GOOD, T MARICIC, & U STENZEL. (2008) A Complete Neandertal Mitochondrial Genome Sequence Determined by High-Throughput Sequencing. Cell, 134(3), 416-426. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2008.06.021
According to a twenty-year longitudinal study of over 4000 individuals, happiness is indeed contagious. Dr. Nicholas Christakis, professor at Harvard University, compared the spread of happiness to a “ripple effect” that could affect others up to three degrees of separation away; a friend of a friend of a friend, so to speak.
The study did [...]... Read more »
J. H Fowler, & N. A Christakis. (2008) Dynamic spread of happiness in a large social network: longitudinal analysis over 20 years in the Framingham Heart Study. BMJ, 337(dec04 2). DOI: 10.1136/bmj.a2338
Your face is a major component of your self-identity, but when you look into a mirror, how do you know that the person you are seeing is really you? Is it because the person in the reflection looks just like you? Or because the reflection moves when you move? Or perhaps because you see the face in the reflection being touched when you reach up to touch yours.
Recent studies have shown that recognizing our own bodies depends upon integrated information from the senses of vision, touch and propri........ Read more »
Manos Tsakiris. (2008) Looking for Myself: Current Multisensory Input Alters Self-Face Recognition. PLoS ONE, 3(12). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0004040
Since the first living things appeared on the planet, the biggest among them have become increasingly bigger. Over 3.6 billion years of evolution, life's maximum size has shot up by 16 orders of magnitude - about 10 quadrillion times - from single cells to the massive sequoias of today (below right). And no matter what people say, size does matter.
The largest of creatures, from the blue whale to the sauropod dinosaurs, are powerful captors of the imagination, but they are big draws for scienti........ Read more »
J. L. Payne, A. G. Boyer, J. H. Brown, S. Finnegan, M. Kowalewski, R. A. Krause, S. K. Lyons, C. R. McClain, D. W. McShea, P. M. Novack-Gottshall.... (2008) Two-phase increase in the maximum size of life over 3.5 billion years reflects biological innovation and environmental opportunity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0806314106
tags: parrots, Psittaciformes, evolution, molecular phylogeny, ornithology, Neornithes
Red-crowned Amazon parrot, Amazona viridigenalis, at Elizabeth Street Parrotry, Brownsville, Texas.
Image: Joseph Kennedy, 7 April 2008 [larger view].
Nikon D200, Kowa 883 telescope TSN-PZ camera eyepiece 1/750s f/8.0 at 1000.0mm iso400.
One of the most contentious issues among scientists who study the evolution of birds is identifying precisely when the modern birds (Neornithes) first appeared. Thi........ Read more »
T. F. Wright, E. E. Schirtzinger, T. Matsumoto, J. R. Eberhard, G. R. Graves, J. J. Sanchez, S. Capelli, H. Muller, J. Scharpegge, G. K. Chambers.... (2008) A Multilocus Molecular Phylogeny of the Parrots (Psittaciformes): Support for a Gondwanan Origin during the Cretaceous. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 25(10), 2141-2156. DOI: 10.1093/molbev/msn160
As many an astrochemist will tell you without hesitation, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are important molecules to study, because they’re directly relevant to the origins of life. We tend to repeat this like a mantra, and perhaps we don’t always fully appreciate the ramifications of what we’re saying. Contentious, hotly debated and under researched, the origin of life is a difficult and heavily transdisciplinary subject. It’s also a long standing fascination of mine, a........ Read more »
Pascale Ehrenfreund, Steen Rasmussen, James Cleaves, & Liaohai Chen. (2006) Experimentally Tracing the Key Steps in the Origin of Life: The Aromatic World. Astrobiology, 6(3), 490-520. DOI: 10.1089/ast.2006.6.490
Here's a lovely little bit of social psychology. It shows that some of our common metaphors correlate with a genuine association in experience, in this case between social exclusion and physical coldness. If you don't have a subscription, you can currently get a preprint of the paper here. Among other mentions of this research in the media, is this piece in the New York Times.This is the abstract:Metaphors such as icy stare depict social exclusion using cold-related concepts; they are not to be ........ Read more »
Chen-Bo Zhong, & Geoffrey J. Leonardelli. (2008) Cold and Lonely: Does Social Exclusion Literally Feel Cold?. Psychological Science, 19(9), 838-842. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02165.x
Synchiria is a neurological condition in which a stimulus applied to one side of the body is referred to both sides. If, for example, one's left hand is touched, he experiences tactile sensations on both hands. People with intact brains do not experience this, probably because of inhibitory mechanisms which prevent activity in one hemisphere of the brain from crossing over to the other.
This phenomenon is therefore very rare, and has only been reported in a small number of brain-damaged patient........ Read more »
J MEDINA, & B RAPP. (2008) Phantom Tactile Sensations Modulated by Body Position. Current Biology, 18(24), 1937-1942. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2008.10.068
Term is over and it's time for a round-up. I have read what feels like an unbelievable number of articles and book chapters since September, and of course I found some more interesting than others. In fact, as soon as I thought of doing a 'best of fall term' post, two articles came to mind. I couldn't think of a third article that impressed me as much as these two, so here is my 'top two' of fall term 2008:Darden, Keith, Grzydala-Busse, Anna (2006). The Great Divide: Literacy, Nationalism, and C........ Read more »
Darden, Keith, & Grzydala-Busse, Anna. (2006) The Great Divide: Literacy, Nationalism, and Communist Collapse. World Politics, 59(1), 83-115.
Kuran, Timur. (1991) Now Out of Never: The Element of Surprise in the Eastern European Revolutions of 1989. World Politics, 44(1), 7-48.
Eye contact is commonly considered a sign of self-confidence and a means for emotional connection. In contrast, a person who averts their gaze is often considered shy, fearful, embarrassed or lying. Many a self-help manual has touted the power of eye contact, with direct eye contact suggested to help one quickly gain an individual’s attention, [...]... Read more »
MARK R. DADDS, YASMEEN EL MASRY, SUBODHA WIMALAWEERA, & ADAM J. GUASTELLA. (2008) Reduced Eye Gaze Explains "Fear Blindness" in Childhood Psychopathic Traits. Journal of the American Academy of Child , 47(4), 455-463. DOI: 10.1097/CHI.0b013e31816407f1
Kim M Dalton, Brendon M Nacewicz, Tom Johnstone, Hillary S Schaefer, Morton Ann Gernsbacher, H H Goldsmith, Andrew L Alexander, & Richard J Davidson. (2005) Gaze fixation and the neural circuitry of face processing in autism. Nature Neuroscience. DOI: 10.1038/nn1421
The Broken Windows theory of crime reduction, made famous by Malcolm Gladwell's bestselling book The Tipping Point, has received new robust empirical support from a series of studies by Dutch researchers.According to the theory, more serious crimes can be averted by reducing low level crime such as littering and graffiti. Gladwell attributed the dramatic fall in crime in New York in the 90s to the zero tolerance approach of the police at that time, which effectively put into practice the advice ........ Read more »
One of the coolest adaptions insects use to survive is when they try to look like something else in order to fool predators into not eating them. Normally, they look like something which tastes bad or a group of harmful species mimic each other to spread that blanket of protection. Occasionally, though, some take a [...]... Read more »
Jadranka Rota, & David L. Wagner. (2006) Predator Mimicry: Metalmark Moths Mimic Their Jumping Spider Predators. PLoS ONE, 1(1). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0000045
Are you from Birmingham? Or, more importantly, have you got a Brummie accent? If so, research suggests that you should stay quiet, as the accent is perceived as not intelligent. A recent study by Smith & Workman (2008), which was presented in this year's Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society (BPS) confirmed this finding. Participants looked at different photos of women whilst listening to female voices speaking in different accents. They were then asked to rate each photo in........ Read more »
Are you from Birmingham? Or, more importantly, have you got a Brummie accent? If so, research suggests that you should stay quiet, as the accent is perceived as not intelligent. A recent study by Smith & Workman (2008), which was presented in this year’s Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society (BPS) confirmed this finding. ... Read more »
We are in the midst of massive upheaval in the world’s ecosystems, driven by species invasions and the sixth mass extinction in Earth’s history. How will these changes in biodiversity affect the functions of ecological communities? Will the functions of ecological systems that humans rely on for survival, such as production of oxygen, be impacted by all this upheaval?Answering these questions requires that biologists have a good metric for biodiversity. New research by Marc Cadotte, Brad ........ Read more »
M. W. Cadotte, B. J. Cardinale, & T. H. Oakley. (2008) Evolutionary history and the effect of biodiversity on plant productivity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105(44), 17012-17017. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0805962105
Brain activity changes when people undergo spiritual or religious experiences. This isn't surprising, of course, since it's the brain that generates these mental states. Studying just how brain activity changes as people think religious thoughts or experience spiritual or transcendental experiences gives a window into how they are generated in the brain and how they link to other kinds of experiences.The religious tend to take a dualist approach to these kinds of results, arguing that these chan........ Read more »
Brick Johnstone, & Bret A Glass. (2008) Support for a neuropsychological model of spirituality in persons with traumatic brain injury. Zygon, 43(4), 861-874. DOI: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/121528292/abstract
Ah, the humble proton. Simple, stable, and able to drastically affect the chemistry of other molecules — and nowhere more so than in the Interstellar Medium (ISM). H2 molecules, for instance are readily protonated in dense interstellar clouds, forming H3 , and playing a key role in the formation of hydrides like ammonia and methane. CO forms HCO , N2 forms HN2 and so on. So what about those polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) molecules I keep talking about…?... Read more »
A. Pathak, & P. J. Sarre. (2008) Protonated PAHs as carriers of diffuse interstellar bands. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters. DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-3933.2008.00544.x
A recent study by Bryson et al. has found that moderate to severe alcohol misuse increases the likelihood that patients won’t take their medication properly.
Many patients do not take their medications as often as they should - i.e. on at least 80% of the days they are supposed to. In fact, a recent study found [...]... Read more »
Bryson CL et al. (2008) Alcohol Screening Scores and Medication Nonadherence. Ann Intern Med, 149(11), 795-803. DOI: http://www.annals.org/cgi/content/full/149/11/795
Spatial navigation is the process on which we rely to orient ourselves within the environment and to negotiate our way through it. Our ability to do so depends upon cognitive maps, mental representations of the surrounding spaces, which are constructed by the brain and are used by it to calculate one's present location, based on landmarks in the environment and on our movements within it, and to plan future movements.
The term "cognitive map" was first used in a landmark 1948 paper, in wh........ Read more »
T. Solstad, C. N. Boccara, E. Kropff, M.-B. Moser, & E. I. Moser. (2008) Representation of Geometric Borders in the Entorhinal Cortex. Science, 322(5909), 1865-1868. DOI: 10.1126/science.1166466
Rebekah Wukits discusses recent findings about ratite evolution for Bio 135.Ratite evolution has been debated for centuries. Some of the earliest evolutionary biologists questioned whether or not ratites had a linear evolution or if the major groups had had independent origins. Richard Owen proposed that living ratites had much more in common with other flight capable groups while being united by the “arrested development of wings unfitting them for flight”. In 1951, two ornithologists, Mayr........ Read more »
J. Harshman, E. L. Braun, M. J. Braun, C. J. Huddleston, R. C. K. Bowie, J. L. Chojnowski, S. J. Hackett, K.-L. Han, R. T. Kimball, B. D. Marks.... (2008) Phylogenomic evidence for multiple losses of flight in ratite birds. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105(36), 13462-13467. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0803242105
Do you write about peer-reviewed research in your blog? Use ResearchBlogging.org to make it easy for your readers — and others from around the world — to find your serious posts about academic research.
If you don't have a blog, you can still use our site to learn about fascinating developments in cutting-edge research from around the world.
Research Blogging is powered by SMG Technology.
To learn more, visit seedmediagroup.com.