Tag Archives | Evolution

Mystery of Darwin’s Strange South American Mammals Solved

“We have resolved one of the last unresolved major problems in mammalian evolution,” claims Ian Barnes of London’s Natural History Museum, as reported by the Guardian:

To 19th century British naturalist Charles Darwin, they were the strangest animals yet discovered, one looking like a hybrid of a hippo, rhino and rodent and another resembling a humpless camel with an elephant’s trunk.

Toxodon platensis.jpg

“Toxodon platensis” by Robert Bruce Horsfall

 

Ever since Darwin first collected their fossils about 180 years ago, scientists had been baffled about where these odd South American beasts that went extinct just 10,000 years ago fit on the mammal family tree. The mystery has now been solved.

Researchers have revealed that a sophisticated biochemical analysis of bone collagen extracted from fossils of the two mammals, Toxodon and Macrauchenia, demonstrated that they were related to the group that includes horses, tapirs and rhinos.

Some scientists previously thought the two herbivorous mammals, the last of a successful group called South American ungulates, were related to mammals of African origin like elephants and aardvarks or other South American mammals like armadillos and sloths.

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Ending Aging with Dr. Aubrey de Grey | Midwest Real

aubrey de grey

Via Midwest Real

Dr. Aubrey de Grey is Co-Founder and Chief Science Officer at the SENS Research Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to ending aging. 

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The march of time spares none, neither rich, famous nor powerful. The deep, existential angst that comes part and parcel with that knowledge has, no doubt, haunted mankind from the very first moment we became self-aware. It’s also the one obstacle we’ve encountered as a species we just take for granted as the unassailable natural order of things.

It’s incredible really- we’ve walked the moon, we fly across the world and we transmit words through the air as if it’s trivial. Yet, for some reason when it comes to aging, we yield. Even the most brilliant men among us don’t consider the possibility that we might be able to circumvent becoming old and dying.

Actually, some brilliant men do.

Ending aging has become the life’s work of our guest, Dr.Read the rest

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Monkeys, Money, and The Primate Origins of Human Irrationality with Laurie Santos

Via You Are Not So Smart:

Our guest in this episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast is psychologist Laurie Santos who heads the Comparative Cognition Laboratory at Yale University. In that lab, she and her colleagues are exploring the fact that when two species share a relative on the evolutionary family tree, not only do they share similar physical features, but they also share similar behaviors. Psychologists and other scientists have used animals to study humans for a very long time, but Santos and her colleagues have taken it a step further by choosing to focus on a closer relation, the capuchin monkey; that way they could investigate subtler, more complex aspects of human decision making – like cognitive biases.

One of her most fascinating lines of research has come from training monkeys how to use money. That by itself is worthy of a jaw drop or two.

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The Matrix is Crashing

Still from The Matrix

Still from The Matrix.

Via Zen Gardner at Waking Times:

It is. It’s outdated programming and the engineers of deceit can’t keep up. The vibrational changes are exceeding their capabilities. You know how your phone or computer’s software goes out of date, and new programs can’t operate? It’s the same thing. The imitators of creation can’t maintain a current operating system any longer in the face of this Universal shift.

And it’s driving them nuts.

Just look at the desperation we’re witnessing. Crude military and police state maneuvers are only one aspect. The biggest clue is seeing the previously incremental and now hyperbolic use of monstrous lies that are becoming so transparent and unbelievable to just about anyone. Agreed, there are the entranced apathetics who swallow anything, but we’re witnessing a meltdown before our eyes.

If you can’t see it, look again.

You Want Proof?

First of all you’re in the wrong mindset if you’re looking only for data or left brained evidence, although it’s out there for those who can see.

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After Evolution [Debate]

 

Everything from criminality to love of gossip is in our genes according to some biologists. Yet behaviour varies dramatically between cultures. Does this cultural variation mean that evolutionary psychology is flawed? Can it be rescued with a new theory or is culture beyond genetics?

The Panel — Julian Baggini explores the limits of evolution with philosopher Janet Radcliffe Richards, anthropologist Daniel Everett and Oxford evolutionary psychologist Oliver Scott Curry.

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Consciousness In The Age Of Digital Dystopia

Vijay Kalakoti (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Vijay Kalakoti (CC BY-ND 2.0)

This was originally published on Jan Wellmann’s website. You can follow him on Twitter: @janwe

It’s Monday morning and you’re preparing your first cup of coffee when the tanks roll into your neighborhood. Phone lines are cut, curfew is activated, and doors are broken down.

You sigh. It’s another “cleanout day” in the not too distant future.

The War On Terror has infiltrated every layer of society. Internet sites track the spread of extremism like the CDC tracks a lethal virus. The threat is pandemic and online news sources agree: In order to keep you safe, weekly cleanout campaigns must ramp up all across the nation – yet again.

Today you just happen to be in the red zone.

The main annoyance about being in a red zone is usually the loss of your phone signal. But today is different.

A close friend has gone missing – along with his past.… Read the rest

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Amphibious Ichthyosaur Fossil Found in China Fills Evolutionary “Missing Link”

Ichthyosaur-fossil

via Inhabitat:

A team in China led by researchers from the University of California, Davis have discovered the first fossil of an amphibious ichthyosaur. Ichthyosaurs were dolphin-like marine reptiles that thrived for around 150 million years during the Age of the Dinosaurs. The discovery dates to the Lower Triassic period and marks the creature’s transition from land back to the sea. As the first evidence linking the marine ichthyosaur to its terrestrial ancestors it fills a significant gap in the fossil record.

The discovery of the fossil, named Cartorhynchus lenticarpus, is described in a paper recently published in the journal Nature. The fossil is about 248 million years old and measures roughly 16 inches (40 cm) long. UC Davis professor Ryosuke Motani and his colleagues discovered the specimen in China’s central-eastern Anhui Province. Unlike the later ichthyosaurs that were fully adapted to living in the sea, the fossil has unusually large flippers with flexible wrists, which could have allowed it to move around on land like a seal.

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Politics can interact with evolution to shape human destiny

Image from page 47 of "The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex" (1871)

Image from page 47 of “The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex” (1871)

Press Release via Eureka Alert:

Politics can have unintentional evolutionary consequences that may cause hastily issued policies to cascade into global, multigenerational problems, according to political scientists.

“Most western democracies look at policies as if they are bandages, we fix what we can and then move on,” said Pete Hatemi, associate professor of political science, Penn State. “But we need to consider generational policies so that we can fix what we can now, but also be prepared for what comes next.”

The researchers said that there is an interaction between political and cultural forces and evolutionary results. Genes can shape culture and political institutions, which in turn can shape biology and physiology, passing on certain traits to future generations. The environment’s influence on adaptation and how it changes biology is better known and often easier to observe, said Hatemi, but the way culture can affect gene expressions in future generations is often harder to show and may take longer to reveal itself.

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New Tor Drug Kingpin In Town

Silk_Road_Marketplace_Item_Screen

Via Wired:

In the digital drug trade as in the physical one, taking out one kingpin only makes room for another ready to satisfy the market’s endless demand. In the case of the FBI’s takedown of the Silk Road, the latest of the up-and-coming drug kingpins is far more evolved than its predecessor—and far less principled.

Since it launched early this year, the anonymous black market bazaar Evolution has grown dramatically, nearly tripling its sales listings in just the last five months. It now offers more than 15,000 mostly illegal products ranging from weapons to weed, cocaine, and heroin. That’s thousands more than the Silk Road ever hosted. And Evolution’s popularity has been driven not only by a more secure and professional operation than its competitors, but also by a more amoral approach to the cryptomarket than the strict libertarian ethos the Silk Road preached. Case in point: About 10 percent of Evolution’s products are stolen credit card numbers and credentials for hacked online accounts.

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Dennis McKenna – Plants Fueled Neural Evolution

Via The Nexian:

‘Plants have an incredibly symbiotic relationship with insects to complete their life cycle….There was a very specific symbiosis with us, and whatever other animals that ate these fruits. We did them a favor by disseminating the seeds. They did us a favor by providing us with this neurochemical rich environment that contributed to the complexification of the human neural structure.’ – DM

Here Dennis McKenna outlines some elements of consciousness researcher Tony Wright’s theory of symbiotic neural evolution (and degeneration), as outlined in his book Left in the Dark (recently republished as Return to the Brain of Eden).

Symbiosis and cooperation within nature is arguably a feature more prevalent than even competition…something Darwin himself seemed to understand. In recent times our perception of nature’s true interwoven depth has become distorted, retreating to the mere surfaces of things, whereas this symbiotic environment often operates within the invisible landscape of molecular communication.… Read the rest

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