Human brain size gene triggers bigger brain in monkeys

Microscopy image of a section through one brain hemisphere of a 101 day- old ARHGAP11B-transgenic marmoset fetus. Cell nuclei are visualized by DAPI (white). Arrows indicate a sulcus and a gyrus. Credit: Heide et al. / MPI-CBG The expansion of the human brain during evolution, specifically of the neocortex, is linked to cognitive abilities suchContinue reading “Human brain size gene triggers bigger brain in monkeys”

Ape Fossils Shed New Light on Evolution of Bipedalism

The 12-million-year-old bones of a previously unknown species named Danuvius guggenmosi challenge the prevailing view about when and where our ancestors first started walking upright. by CATHERINE OFFORD Researchers in Germany have discovered the fossilized bones of a previously unknown species of ape that appeared to walk upright, according to a study published yesterday (NovemberContinue reading “Ape Fossils Shed New Light on Evolution of Bipedalism”

Early life on Earth may have existed as miniature droplets of jelly

By Michael Marshall Blobs of simple carbon-based compounds could have been the precursors to the first living cells. A new study suggests that such droplets could have formed quickly and easily on the young Earth. “We were able to find these interesting microdroplet structures that could be synthesised from prebiotically available resources,” says Tony JiaContinue reading “Early life on Earth may have existed as miniature droplets of jelly”

Unknown human relative discovered in Philippine cave, Homo luzonensis, that lived more than 50,000 years ago.

Remains from Callao Cave in the Philippines, including a foot bone, belong to a new hominin species, Homo luzonensis.Credit: Rob Rownd, UP-ASP Film Inst. The human family tree has grown another branch, after researchers unearthed remains of a previously unknown hominin species from a cave in the Philippines. They have named the new species, whichContinue reading “Unknown human relative discovered in Philippine cave, Homo luzonensis, that lived more than 50,000 years ago.”

Humans couldn’t pronounce ‘f’ and ‘v’ sounds before farming developed

By Alison George Human speech contains more than 2000 different sounds, from the ubiquitous “m” and “a” to the rare clicks of some southern African languages. But why are certain sounds more common than others? A ground-breaking, five-year investigation shows that diet-related changes in human bite led to new speech sounds that are now foundContinue reading “Humans couldn’t pronounce ‘f’ and ‘v’ sounds before farming developed”

Scientists Have Witnessed a Single-Celled Algae Evolve Into a Multicellular Organism

by Fiona MacDonald Most of us know that at some point in our evolutionary history around 600 million years ago, single-celled organisms evolved into more complex multicellular life. But knowing that happened and actually seeing it happen in real-time in front of you is an entirely different matter altogether. And that’s exactly what researchers fromContinue reading “Scientists Have Witnessed a Single-Celled Algae Evolve Into a Multicellular Organism”

For The First Time, Scientists Have Made Synthetic DNA With 4 Additional Letters

by Mike McRae Earth might have a dizzying array of life forms, but our biology ultimately remains a solitary data point – we simply don’t have a reference for life based on DNA different from our own. Now, scientists have taken matters into their hands to push the boundaries on what life could be like.Continue reading “For The First Time, Scientists Have Made Synthetic DNA With 4 Additional Letters”

Researchers have discovered a gene that has evolved through natural selection to impact both psychiatric disorders and personality, and may help to maintain human diversity.

How and why human-unique characteristics such as highly social behavior, languages and complex culture have evolved is a long-standing question. A research team led by Tohoku University in Japan has revealed the evolution of a gene related to such human-unique psychiatric traits. PhD candidate Daiki Sato and Professor Masakado Kawata have discovered SLC18A1 (VMAT1), whichContinue reading “Researchers have discovered a gene that has evolved through natural selection to impact both psychiatric disorders and personality, and may help to maintain human diversity.”

Scientists have found that our big toe was one of the last parts of the foot to evolve

As our early ancestors began to walk on two legs, they would also have hung about in trees, using their feet to grasp branches. They walked differently on the ground, but were still able to move around quite efficiently. The rigid big toe that eventually evolved gives efficient push-off power during walking and running. TheContinue reading “Scientists have found that our big toe was one of the last parts of the foot to evolve”

Genetic Adaptation to Cold Brought Migraines With It

Frequency of the adaptive allele in several human populations (from the 1000 Genomes dataset). Colors and letters represent different populations in the dataset, and the pie charts reflect the proportion of individuals in those populations who have the variant TRPM8 allele. By Viviane Callier A human genetic variant in a gene involved in sensing coldContinue reading “Genetic Adaptation to Cold Brought Migraines With It”