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  • November 3, 2015
  • 02:26 PM

Lipid helps keep algae and brain fluid moving

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

The same lipid that helps algae swim toward the light also appears to enable one type of brain cell to keep cerebrospinal fluid moving, researchers report. ... Read more »

Kong, J., Hardin, K., Dinkins, M., Wang, G., He, Q., Mujadzic, T., Zhu, G., Bielawski, J., Spassieva, S., & Bieberich, E. (2015) Regulation of Chlamydomonas flagella and ependymal cell motile cilia by ceramide-mediated translocation of GSK3. Molecular Biology of the Cell. DOI: 10.1091/mbc.E15-06-0371  

  • November 1, 2015
  • 03:20 PM

Kids meals, toys, and TV advertising: A triple threat to child health

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Fast food companies advertise children’s meals on TV with ads that feature toy premiums, and it has been suggested that the use of these toy premiums may prompt children to request eating at fast food restaurants. In a new study, researchers found that the more children watched television channels that aired ads for children’s fast food meals, the more frequently their families visited those fast food restaurants.... Read more »

  • October 31, 2015
  • 04:56 AM

Osteology everywhere: Halloween skull comet

by zacharoo in Lawn Chair Anthropology

It’s Halloween, a day when it’s socially acceptable for adults to play dress-up like children. Also, people celebrate things that are spooky-scary. So it’s perfect timing that NASA would announce that our planet will be visited by a dead comet, a celestial ghost hoping to haunt a planet full of the living. As NASA pointed out in […]... Read more »

  • October 30, 2015
  • 01:48 AM

Bioanthro lab activity: What species is it?

by zacharoo in Lawn Chair Anthropology

We’re learning about the divergence between robust Australopithecus and early Homo 2.5-ish million years ago in my Human Evolution class this week. Because of this multiplicity of contemporaneous species, when scientists find new hominin fossils in Early Pleistocene sites, a preliminary question is, “What species is it?” To help my students learn how we know whether […]... Read more »

  • October 29, 2015
  • 01:59 PM

What blocks pro-vaccine beliefs?

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Despite rhetoric that pits “anti-vaxxers” versus “pro-vaxxers,” most new parents probably qualify as vaccine-neutral–that is, they passively accept rather than actively demand vaccination. Unless there is an active threat of polio or whooping cough, they have to remind themselves that injecting their crying infant with disease antigens is a good thing.... Read more »

Miton, & Mercier. (2015) Cognitive Obstacles to Pro-Vaccination Beliefs. Trends in Cognitive Sciences. info:/

  • October 28, 2015
  • 08:20 PM

How common is sexting among married couples?

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Earlier this year, we looked at a study that suggested sexting can be healthy in a relationship, but that study primarily looked at non-married couples and the average age for the behavior was, as you may expect, young adult. Which may lead you to think that married couples don’t sext. In fact, married couples do report sexting, but it is much less common than in young adult relationships and consists more of intimate talk with their partners than sending nude or nearly nude photos via mobile phones, according to a new study.... Read more »

  • October 27, 2015
  • 06:09 PM

“Made in Germany” at risk? Volkswagen and the German trademark

by Rahel Cramer in Language on the Move

The Volkswagen (VW) emissions scandal has received significant media coverage in and outside of Germany. Besides accounts of the developments that led to the discovery of Volkswagen’s unethical behaviour, the immediate impacts on the company’s finances, CEO Martin Winterkorn’s resignation … Continue reading →... Read more »

Piller, I. (2003) Advertising as a site of language contact. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 170-183. DOI: 10.1017/S0267190503000254  

  • October 27, 2015
  • 03:58 PM

Intestinal worms ‘talk’ to gut bacteria to boost immune system

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

When you think parasites you probably don’t think of anything helpful. However, this isn’t the case and certain parasites inadvertently help the host by helping themselves. In fact, researchers have discovered how intestinal worm infections cross-talk with gut bacteria to help the immune system.... Read more »

Zaiss MM,, Rapin A,, Lebon L,, Kumar Dubey L,, Mosconi I,, Sarter L,, Piersigilli A,, Menin L,, Walker AW,, Rougemont J,.... (2015) The intestinal microbiota contributes to the ability of helminths to modulate allergic inflammation. Immunity. info:/

  • October 25, 2015
  • 01:28 PM

Gracile & robust Australopithecus

by zacharoo in Lawn Chair Anthropology

Last week, I introduced my Human Evolution students to the “robust” australopithecines. It was a very delicate time, when we had to have a grown up, mature conversation about adult things. I reminded the students that they’re only human, but they must resist urges that seem only natural. No matter how much they want to, even if their friends are doing it, […]... Read more »

Asfaw B, White T, Lovejoy O, Latimer B, Simpson S, & Suwa G. (1999) Australopithecus garhi: a new species of early hominid from Ethiopia. Science (New York, N.Y.), 284(5414), 629-35. PMID: 10213683  

Domínguez-Rodrigo, M., Pickering, T., Baquedano, E., Mabulla, A., Mark, D., Musiba, C., Bunn, H., Uribelarrea, D., Smith, V., Diez-Martin, F.... (2013) First Partial Skeleton of a 1.34-Million-Year-Old Paranthropus boisei from Bed II, Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. PLoS ONE, 8(12). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0080347  

Haile-Selassie Y, Gibert L, Melillo SM, Ryan TM, Alene M, Deino A, Levin NE, Scott G, & Saylor BZ. (2015) New species from Ethiopia further expands Middle Pliocene hominin diversity. Nature, 521(7553), 483-8. PMID: 26017448  

Walker, A., Leakey, R., Harris, J., & Brown, F. (1986) 2.5-Myr Australopithecus boisei from west of Lake Turkana, Kenya. Nature, 322(6079), 517-522. DOI: 10.1038/322517a0  

  • October 23, 2015
  • 10:25 AM

The Witches In The Rye

by Bill Sullivan in The 'Scope

Can the Salem Witches of 1692 be explained by a fungus?... Read more »

Caporael LR. (1976) Ergotism: the satan loosed in Salem?. Science (New York, N.Y.), 192(4234), 21-6. PMID: 769159  

  • October 22, 2015
  • 12:35 PM

Genetics uncovers the earliest cases of plague

by Cath Jex in Tak Fur The Kaffe

DNA from Bronze Age skeletons shows that the plague is truly an ancient disease, and was endemic across Eurasia at least 3,000 years earlier than previously thought.... Read more »

Simon Rasmussen, Morten Erik Allentoft, Kasper Nielsen, Ludovic Orlando, Martin Sikora, Karl-Göran Sjögren, Anders Gorm Pedersen, Mikkel Schubert, Alex Van Dam, Christian Moliin Outzen Kapel.... (2015) Early Divergent Strains of Yersinia pestis in Eurasia 5,000 Years Ago. Cell, 163(3). info:/

  • October 21, 2015
  • 06:42 PM

Bacteria communicate like neurons in the brain

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Biologists discovered that bacteria–often viewed as lowly, solitary creatures–are actually quite sophisticated in their social interactions and communicate with one another through similar electrical signaling mechanisms as neurons in the human brain. In the study, scientists detail the manner by which bacteria living in communities communicate with one another electrically through proteins called “ion channels.”... Read more »

  • October 21, 2015
  • 09:49 AM

Scurvy- Not Just For Pirates Anymore!

by Katy Meyers Emery in Bones Don't Lie

Regardless of how many articles I read on scurvy, or how many skeletons I’ve seen showing evidence of the deficiency of vitamin C, or how many times I’m reminding that […]... Read more »

  • October 21, 2015
  • 06:00 AM

Prehistoric Utah Rock Art Does Not Depict a Pterosaur, Study Confirms

by Blake de Pastino in Western Digs

Dealing what they say is a “mortal blow” to the interpretation of some creationists, a team of archaeologists has concluded that a panel of rock art in Utah portrays all manner of fantastic figures, but it does not, in fact, depict a pterosaur.
... Read more »

Le Quellec, J., Bahn, P., & Rowe, M. (2015) The death of a pterodactyl. Antiquity, 89(346), 872-884. DOI: 10.15184/aqy.2015.54  

  • October 20, 2015
  • 10:30 AM


by JB in Bone Broke

In essence, isotopes are different varieties of the same kind of element. Their atoms have the same number of protons but variable numbers of neutrons, meaning that they differ from each other in terms of their atomic weight.

For example, carbon-12, carbon-13 and carbon-14 are all isotopes of carbon. The numeric modifier reflects the differing weights of each isotope. Every atom of these isotopes contains 6 protons and then 6 (12C), 7 (13C), or 8 (14C) neutrons respectively.... Read more »

Tykot, R. (2006) Isotope Analyses and the Histories of Maize. Histories of maize: multidisciplinary approaches to the prehistory, linguistics, biogeography, domestication, and evolution of maize, 131-142. DOI: 10.1016/B978-012369364-8/50262-X  

  • October 19, 2015
  • 06:42 PM

Finding the brain circuitry for gratitude with help from Holocaust survivors’ memories

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Neuroscientists have mapped how the human brain experiences gratitude with help from an unexpected resource: Holocaust survivors’ testimonies. “In the midst of this awful tragedy, there were many acts of bravery and life-saving aid,” said lead author Glenn Fox, a post-doctoral researcher at the Brain and Creativity Institute at USC who led the study. “With […]... Read more »

Fox, G., Kaplan, J., Damasio, H., & Damasio, A. (2015) Neural correlates of gratitude. Frontiers in Psychology. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01491  

  • October 15, 2015
  • 01:46 PM

‘Paleo’ style sleep? Think again…

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

It's tempting to believe that people these days aren't getting enough sleep, living as we do in our well-lit houses with TVs blaring, cell phones buzzing, and a well-used coffee maker in every kitchen. But new evidence reported in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on October 15 shows that three ancient groups of hunter-gatherers--living in different parts of the world without any of those trappings of modern life--don't get any more sleep than we do.... Read more »

Yetish et al. (2015) Natural Sleep and Its Seasonal Variations in Three Pre-industrial Societies. Current Biology. info:/

  • October 15, 2015
  • 09:20 AM

Fire & Bone: Using Burnt Bone to Interpret Neolithic Burials in France

by Katy Meyers Emery in Bones Don't Lie

The big news today was that a man in California set fire to an aisle of Halloween costumes in a Walmart. Honestly, this shouldn’t be the biggest news story of […]... Read more »

  • October 14, 2015
  • 11:57 PM

What metabolism could reveal about aging and mortality

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Why some people live much longer than others is an enduring mystery. Now, based on a study of a worm, scientists are getting one step closer to understanding longevity. They report that the metabolic profiles of the worms could accurately predict how long they would live and that middle age could be a key turning point.... Read more »

Sarah K. Davies, Jacob G. Bundy, & Armand M. Leroi. (2015) Metabolic Youth in Middle Age: Predicting Aging in Caenorhabditis elegans Using Metabolomics. Journal of proteome research. info:/10.1021/acs.jproteome.5b00442

  • October 14, 2015
  • 09:53 AM

Feel Our Pain: Empathy and Moral Behavior

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

"It's empathy that makes us help other people. It's empathy that makes us moral." The economist Paul Zak casually makes this comment in his widely watched TED talk about the hormone oxytocin, which he dubs the "moral molecule". Zak quotes a number of behavioral studies to support his claim that oxytocin increases empathy and trust, which in turn increases moral behavior. If all humans regularly inhaled a few puffs of oxytocin through a nasal spray, we could become more compassionate and caring. It sounds too good to be true. And recent research now suggests that this overly simplistic view of oxytocin, empathy and morality is indeed too good to be true.... Read more »

De Dreu, C., Greer, L., Van Kleef, G., Shalvi, S., & Handgraaf, M. (2011) Oxytocin promotes human ethnocentrism. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(4), 1262-1266. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1015316108  

Shalvi S, & De Dreu CK. (2014) Oxytocin promotes group-serving dishonesty. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 111(15), 5503-7. PMID: 24706799  

Xu X, Zuo X, Wang X, & Han S. (2009) Do you feel my pain? Racial group membership modulates empathic neural responses. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 29(26), 8525-9. PMID: 19571143  

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