Tag Archives | Evolution

TB Bacteria May Have Once Helped Break Down Nutrients Needed For Bigger Brains

Sputum sample containing Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Sputum sample containing Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Talk about unforeseen consequences: A group of scientists think that tuberculosis started out as a symbiotic bacteria that extracted food nutrients  needed to grow bigger, more powerful brains. Scientific American has an article on the study, but it’s behind a pay wall. I’ve just pulled the abstract from the study they cited, and can remember just enough from my neurological psychology classes to sort of piece it together. Interesting stuff. (Note: The paragraph breaks are my own. I have trouble absorbing information what I read when it’s presented in a giant block of text.)

Meat eating has been an important trigger for human evolution however the responsible component in meat has not been clearly identified. Here we propose that the limiting factors for expanding brains and increasing longevity were the micronutrient nicotinamide (vitamin B3) and the metabolically related essential amino-acid, tryptophan.

Meat offers significant sourcing challenges and lack causes a deficiency of nicotinamide and tryptophan and consequently the energy carrier nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) that gets consumed in regulatory circuits important for survival, resulting in premature ageing, poor cognition and brain atrophy.

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Human Ancestors Caught Herpes From Chimp Ancestors

Someone did the nasty in the pasty. [Pic: Lillyundreyfa -cc]

Someone did the nasty in the pasty. [Pic: Lillyundreyfa -cc]

Chimps. Herpes. Cherpes. And you thought “catching it from a toilet seat” was bad…

A herpes virus that infects humans originated in chimpanzees before it jumped into our early human ancestors, according to a new study.

Researchers found that herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) infected hominids before their evolutionary split from chimpanzees 6 million years ago, whereas herpes simplex 2 (HSV-2) was transferred from ancient chimpanzees to human ancestors such as Homo erectus about 1.6 million years ago, long before the rise of early modern humans about 200,000 years ago.

via The Evolution of Herpes Revealed.

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Why Did Our Brains Stop Expanding?

Via Reality Sandwich:children of the forest

Tony Wright will be joining host Dennis McKenna for the live, interactive video course, “What Plants Can Teach You: Consciousness and Intelligence in Nature.” A new paradigm is emerging that recasts how we relate to and understand nature, supported by new scientific evidence. Plants instruct us through their behavior, through their interdependence with the environment, and through direct transmissions conveyed by spirit.  Along with Tony and Dennis, the course gathers  some of the leading experts in the emerging field of plant intelligence, including: Chris Kilham, Stephen Harrod Buhner, Dayna Baumeister, and Simon G. Powell. This 5-part Evolver webinar starts on June 17. Click here to learn more.

The following is excerpted from Return to the Brain of Eden: Restoring the Connection between Neurochemistry and Consciousness by Tony Wright and Graham Gynn, recently published by Inner Traditions. 

In the forest the human brain was expanding and expanding at a phenomenal rate.… Read the rest

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Muscle Growth Sacrificed For Increased Brain Power In Human Evolution

Photo: Snowyowls (CC)

Photo: Snowyowls (CC)

A study suggests that human beings evolved toward the development of larger brains instead of muscles.

To gain insights into how the human brain evolved, scientists compared the metabolisms of humans and animals such as chimpanzees, mice and rhesus monkeys. They focused on how much energy each species devoted to the brain and body.

The researchers analyzed more than 10,000 compounds known as metabolites, which are small molecules formed by, or necessary to, metabolism, such as sugars and fats; the building blocks of proteins, DNA and cell membranes; and chemical signals given off by cells. They investigated metabolite levels in the kidney, thigh muscle and three brain regions — the primary visual cortex, which is involved in vision; the cerebellar cortex, which helps coordinate muscular activity; and the prefrontal cortex, which plays a major role in complex mental behavior, decision making and social behavior.

The investigators next compared how much the metabolisms of these animals differed with how far apart these species are evolutionarily.

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On the Origins of Money: Darwin and the Evolution of Cryptocurrency

Source: CoinDesk.com

Source: CoinDesk.com

Who knew Bitcoin and other varieties of so-called cryptocurrency could be so interesting? Writing for CoinDesk, Ryan Walker, an independent consultant and cryptocurrency enthusiast based out of Denver, Colorado, joins the dots between Darwin’s theory of evolution, fiat money and the rise of cryptocurrencies:

Charles Darwin first published his theory of natural selection in his book On the Origin of Species in 1859. The result of over 30 years of research, Darwin delivered to the world a new understanding of how modern species came to be, evolving over generations.

The son of a wealthy English family, Darwin was not a man in need of money. Nonetheless, for On the Origin of Species and his other publications, Darwin received royalties that were most likely paid in British Sterling.

Still in existence, the British Pound has origins dating back as far as 750 A.D. making it the world’s longest-surviving active currency.

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Modern Human Evolution: Is It Working Against Us?

i-8c66c4d51330345ea25f9764619ec10e-human-evolutionIn the vein of discussion recently on disinfo regarding how politically correct (or morally obligative) it is to address a person’s stupidity, Nicholas Wade writes a challenging and frank article for Time.com to promote his book A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes Race and Human History.

…Racism and discrimination are wrong as a matter of principle, not of science. That said, it is hard to see anything in the new understanding of race that gives ammunition to racists. The reverse is the case. Exploration of the genome has shown that all humans, whatever their race, share the same set of genes. Each gene exists in a variety of alternative forms known as alleles, so one might suppose that races have distinguishing alleles, but even this is not the case. A few alleles have highly skewed distributions but these do not suffice to explain the difference between races. The difference between races seems to rest on the subtle matter of relative allele frequencies.

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Should We Listen For Messages From Our Future Selves?

PIC: Robert Fogliardi (CC)

PIC: Robert Fogliardi (CC)

[BEEEEEEP] “Hi! We’re busy devolving into morlock-like vault-dwelling nocturnal predators deep beneath the post-apocalyptic hellscape of future Earth, but if you leave us a message, we’ll grunt and hoot in an inchoate mix of rage, envy and hunger.”

The basic principle behind the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) is that we’re better off hearing from extraterrestrial intelligence than we are not hearing from extraterrestrial intelligence, but—even assuming we don’t catastrophically screw up first contact (and we may)—we have no guarantee that the alien civilization we reach will share any of our history, values, or priorities.
But there’s one alien civilization we can count on to share at least some traits in common with us: the Earth of the future. And having learned of Cambridge physicist Luke Butcher’s discovery this week that Casimir energy may be able to keep a wormhole open long enough to send photons back in time, I have one question: why the heck would we want to do that?

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Beliefs In Ghosts And Gods Might Be Based In Early Evolution Of Brain

Caveman_8

PIC: PD

The Nature Spirits told me to share this with you.

Notions of gods arise in all human societies, from all powerful and all-knowing deities to simple forest spirits. A recent method of examining religious thought and behaviour links their ubiquity and the similarity of our beliefs to the ways in which human mental processes were adapted for survival in prehistoric times. It rests on a couple of observations about human psychology. First, when an event happens, we tend to assume that a living thing caused it. In other words, we assume agency behind that event. If you think of the sorts of events that might have happened in prehistoric times, it’s easy to see why a bias towards agency would be useful. A rustling of a bush or the snapping of a twig could be due to wind. But far better to assume it’s a lion and run away.

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Humans Evolving Faster According to Expert

Sometimes it doesn’t seem that way…071210_evolution_hmed2p.hmedium

Humans are evolving at an increasing rate, thanks to medical advances and a larger population, Pobiner said at the “Future Is Here,” a two-day conference celebrating the future of humans, the planet, life beyond Earth and deep space, hosted by Smithsonian Magazine. But just as humans are continuing to evolve, human parasites are evolving, too.

“I invite you to look into the eyes of our ancient relatives,” Pobiner said. “Why did most human ancestors go extinct, while homo sapiens survived? The answer has a lot to do with human brains.” [Top 10 Mysteries of the First Humans]

The human brain represents only about 2 percent of the body’s weight, but consumes 20 percent of its energy. The biggest evolutionary changes have occurred in the neocortex, the brain’s outer wrapping that processes abstract thinking, long-term planning, empathy and language, Pobiner said.

via Human Evolution ‘Definitely Not’ Over, Expert Says | LiveScience.… Read the rest

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Will Humans Evolve Into Hermaphrodites?

PIC: Webridge (CC)

PIC: Webridge (CC)

Scientists have uncovered evidence of Y chromosome degeneration in plant life. Will we, too, evolve to become a species of hermaphrodites?

TORONTO, ON – In many species, the possession of X and Y chromosomes determines whether an individual develops into a male or female. In humans, for example, individuals who inherit their father’s Y chromosome become male (XY), and individuals who inherit their father’s X chromosome become female (XX).

This system of sex determination has evolved independently multiple times and a striking feature of its evolution is that Y chromosomes have degenerated genetically, losing many genes over time. What is not well understood, however, is what happens to the Y chromosome during the earliest stages of this evolution, or the time scales over which degeneration occurs.

Now, University of Toronto (U of T) researchers have found a way to shed light on the early stages of degeneration, by investigating the process in plants.

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