Tag Archives | natural history

Essential Vitamin B3 May Have Arrived From Space On Meteorites

meteorDid life spring from space residue? Via ScienceDaily:

Ancient Earth might have had an extraterrestrial supply of vitamin B3 delivered by carbon-rich meteorites, according to a new analysis by NASA-funded researchers. The result supports a theory that the origin of life may have been assisted by a supply of key molecules created in space and brought to Earth by comet and meteor impacts.

This is not the first time vitamin B3 has been found in meteorites. In 2001 a team led by Sandra Pizzarello of Arizona State University, in Tempe discovered it along with related molecules called pyridine carboxylic acids in the Tagish Lake meteorite.

The team plans to conduct additional interstellar chemistry experiments under more realistic conditions to better understand how vitamin B3 can form on ice grains in space.

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Humans May Shrink Significantly In Size As Planet Warms

heightLuckily our elven descendents will have advanced technology to do all the heavy work for them. Via the International Business Times:

Humans will shrink significantly because of man-made climate change if patterns from previous global warming events are followed, a team of scientists from the University of Michigan has said. Mammals decreased in size “substantially” during two ancient global warming events, known as hyperthermals.

Study leader Philip Gingerich found that dwarfing occurred in mammals including primates during the Paleocene-Eocene “thermal maximum period” 55 million years ago. Mammals also shrank in another climate change 53 million years ago.

Jawbones and tooth fossils from early hoofed mammals and primates showed that horses were about the size of small dogs today. Over the following millennia the animals grew back to their pre-warming sizes.

The reason behind the shrinking was not known, although Gingerich said that lower nutritional value of plants in elevated carbon dioxide levels might be a cause.

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Humans May Have Originated As A Pig-Chimp Hybrid

pig-chimpPerhaps the real reason human beings feel the urge to keep kosher/halal is that in pigs we subconsciously recognize a glimmer of ourselves. Phys.org reports:

Dr. Eugene McCarthy is a Ph.D. geneticist who has made a career out of studying hybridization in animals. He has amassed an impressive body of evidence suggesting that human origins can be best explained by hybridization between pigs and chimpanzees. Extraordinary theories require extraordinary evidence and McCarthy does not disappoint. Rather than relying on genetic sequence comparisons, he instead offers extensive anatomical comparisons, which are startling when taken together.

The list of anatomical specializations we may have gained from porcine philandering is too long to detail here. Similarities in the face, skin and organ microstructure alone are hard to explain away. A short list of differential features would include, multipyramidal kidney structure, presence of dermal melanocytes, melanoma, absence of a primate baculum (penis bone), surface lipid and carbohydrate composition of cell membranes, vocal cord structure, laryngeal sacs, diverticuli of the fetal stomach, intestinal “valves of Kerkring,” heart chamber symmetry, skin and cranial vasculature and method of cooling, and tooth structure.

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Could Humanity Have Descended From Aquatic Apes?

aquatic apesAre we all on team aqua ape? The admittedly far-fetched theory posits that certain key traits hint that humanity’s ape ancestors spent significant time in the water. Complete Genomics writes:

A controversial theory that humans evolved from amphibious apes has won new support. The aquatic ape theory, whose supporters include David Attenborough, suggests that apes emerged from the water, lost their fur, started to walk upright and then developed big brains.

While it has been treated with scorn by some scientists since it first emerged 50 years ago, it is backed by a committed group of academics, including Sir David. The group will hold a major London conference next week.

One of the organizers, Peter Rhys Evans told the Observer that humans are very different from other apes, as we lack fur, walk upright, have big brains and subcutaneous fat and have a descended larynx – which is common among aquatic animals.

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A Gamma Ray Blast Irradiated The Earth In The Eighth Century

Radiation in centuries-old tree rings reveals what occurred. If the event were to repeat itself today, it could wreak havoc on humankind’s technology. Phys.org writes:

A nearby short duration gamma-ray burst may be the cause of an intense blast of high-energy radiation that hit the Earth in the 8th century, according to new research led by astronomers Valeri Hambaryan and Ralph Neuhӓuser, based at the Astrophysics Institute of the University of Jena in Germany.

In 2012 scientist Fusa Miyake announced the detection of high levels of the isotope Carbon-14 and Beryllium-10 in tree rings formed in 775 CE, suggesting that a burst of radiation struck the Earth in the year 774 or 775.

Drs. Hambaryan and Neuhӓuser suggest that two compact stellar remnants, i.e. black holes, neutron stars or white dwarfs, collided and merged together. When this happens, some energy is released in the form of gamma rays. If they are right, then this would explain why no records exist of a supernova or auroral display.

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More Evidence Of Existence Of Ancient Hobbit People

Via Popular Science, the newest research suggests that the three-foot-tall beings who lived in prehistoric Indonesia were not merely short or deformed humans, but a distinct species:

In 2003, researchers uncovered 18,000-year-old bones of a woman with a skull a third of the size of a human’s on the island of Flores, Indonesia. They subsequently found more remains belonging to up to nine similarly pint-sized prehistoric creatures. Nicknamed after the the J.R.R. Tolkien characters, they stood some 3 and a half feet tall.

A study published in Journal of Human Evolution last week shows hobbit wrists were markedly different from humans’, lending credence to the theory that they were a separate species from Homo sapiens. After studying the differences between the carpal bones of the Homo floresiensis remains discovered in 2004 and modern human and Neanderthal wrists, scientists says that hobbits weren’t just abnormally small humans.

Hobbits reached Indonesia by 1 million years ago, and went extinct 17,000 years ago.

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Louisiana Middle School Textbooks On Dinosaurs, Earth, Creation

Buzzfeed has a selection of jaw-dropping excerpts from a 5th grade science textbook currently in use in state-sponsored schools in Louisiana. Included are the birth of the world thousands of years ago, dinosaurs on Noah’s Ark, the sham of carbon dating, and, as an added bonus, the constant and exclusive use of only male pronouns in reference to human reasoning, judgement, and knowledge:

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Mysterious 450-Million-Year-Old Sea Monster Fossil Baffles Scientists

monsterKing of the jellyfish? Or a giant, living, underwater doormat? Whatever your worst nightmare is, this ancient sea-bound entity could be it. LiveScience reports:
A mysterious fossil that has evoked images of a sea monster roaming the shallow waters of prehistoric Ohio [has] scientists stumped as to what kind of creature it was. One thing is sure: The enigmatic "blob" — discovered in elliptical pieces that, when fitted together, extended about 7 feet long, was once alive. The team, along with the fossil hunter who discovered the 450-million-year-old specimen, suggest a range of possibilities: a type of huge algae or microbial mat, or even a member of the cnidarian family, which includes jellyfish (though scientists concede the jellyfish idea is highly unlikely).
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Human Arrival Blamed For Extinction Of Australia’s Giant Creatures

P1030968Imagine if our ancestors hadn’t stumbled upon Australia, and the continent were still populated with its magically large fauna of thousands of years ago. UPI writes:

Human hunting caused the extinction of ancient giant animals, or “megafauna,” in Australia about 40,000 years ago, scientists say. A study has put the blame for the extinction of 600-pound kangaroos and birds twice the size of modern emus on humans rather than on climate change as was once thought.

“The debate really should be over now,” John Alroy, from Macquarie University in Sydney, said. “Hunting did it, end of story.” The researchers studied fungi found in the dung of large herbivores in cores of sediment from a fossilized swamp in Queensland dating back 130,000 years.

The study shows numbers of megafauna species were stable until 40,000 years ago despite two periods of climate change, the researchers said, suggesting newly arrived humans hunted the animals to extinction.

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NASA: Building Blocks Of DNA Come From Space

delightfulsWill Mormonism’s creation theory of the seed of humanity arriving on Earth from a distant planet turn out to be proved totally true? Geekosystem writes:

NASA researchers studying meteorites have found that they contain several of the components needed to make DNA on Earth. The discovery provides support for the idea that the building blocks for DNA were likely created in space, and carried to Earth on objects, like meteorites, that crashed into the planet’s surface. According to the theory, the ready-made DNA parts could have then assembled under Earth’s early conditions to create the first DNA.

The researchers, from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, found adenine and guanine — two of the nucleobases needed to make DNA (the other two are thymine and cytosine, which were not found) — on meteorite samples. Additionally, the samples showed the presence of three molecules that are similar to nucleobases, but do not have a biological role on Earth: Purine, 2.6-diaminopurine, and 6.8-diaminopurine.

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