These are prehistoric animals compared to their modern relatives and, for scale, a human. A human who’s interested in what they’re like… except when…
Look out! HELL PIG!
There are plenty more of the majestic giants (and some terrifying ones) at NPR’s Skunk Bear tumblog.
The New Horizons Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) snapped this photo of Jupiter’s ring system on February 24, 2007, from a distance of 7.1 million kilometers (4.4 million miles).
This processed image shows a narrow ring, about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) wide, with a fainter sheet of material inside it. The faint glow extending in from the ring is likely caused by fine dust that diffuses in toward Jupiter. This is the outer tip of the “halo,” a cloud of dust …
SOURCE:Based on “NASA Windbots Could Explore Gas Giant Jupiter”, Sky News, 24 July 2015, as used in the post as used in the post “Windbots to explore Jupiter – the bumpier the ride, the better..”
ABSTRACT: The planet Jupiter is 35 light-minutes from Earth (give or take a couple of minutes depending on where in its orbit the planet is).
So a robot floating in the turbulent winds of Jupiter would take that long to send a mes…
Three names for one little fish. And those are just the beginning.
I found this one on the Scientific Illustration tumblog, which quoted Wikipedia on the doree (etc.):
John Dory, St Pierre or Peter’s Fish, refers to fish of the genus Zeus, especially Zeus faber, of widespread distribution. It is an edible benthic coastal marine fish with a laterally compressed olive-yellow body which has a large dark spot, and long spines on the dorsal fin. The dark spot is used to flash an ‘evil ey…
These are ostensibly Cochin chickens, or forerunners of what we’d call Cochins today. They’re a breed with a *lot* of character, and are uniquely suited, temperamentally, for being “pet” chickens moreso than egg factories or walking meat supplies. Despite the name (after a part of India), they’re originally from China.
It’s the most Earth-like planet yet discovered. Kepler 452b sits in the “Goldilocks” zone around its star, not too hot and not too cold, and is about the same size (or is a little larger) and made of something like the same stuff as the planet we’re sitting around on right now. It takes 365 days to orbit around its sun, too. NASA’s calling it ou…
This is a demonstration of an instrument used to measure “cephalic index,” or how big a person’s head was. This was, at this point in the 1800s, deemed important so that we’d know how smart the person was and, generally, what kind of person he or she was. The same pamphlet, translated into English in the 1920s, also describes a device used to map out 3D models of solid objects… so the kind of modeling that, like, made Gollum and Jurassic Park‘s dinosaurs come to life. You can read how they work here, at archive.org.
SONG: “Vulnerable Ape Theory (Going to a Blues Show with the Young Earth Creationists)”. [Download] ARTIST: grant. SOURCE:Based on “Vulnerability made us human: how our early ancestors turned disability into advantage”, PhysOrg, 15 June 2015, as used in the post “The Vulnerable Ape theory of human origins.” ABSTRACT: This is the late song. I had the chorus on time, but no verses. Will these do? They have mutations and selection in them. This is a song about tolerating people who are wrong and different, just because the more we do that, the better off our species is. Let selection happen. Maybe someday I’ll get someone with a sweet, fey voice to record this for me… it so wants to be twee. And I’ll actually play a slide guitar in the bridge, where we’re singing about slide guitars. (Because we’re going to a blues show, remember?) The Young Earth Creationists would actually be a pretty good […]
PhysOrg turns the “brutal caveman” stereotype on its head, with a new look at our earliest ancestors as sensitive folks who got a leg up on the competition because we were vulnerable apes: Small numbers of individuals in the distant past would sometimes be driven to landscapes that allowed them to avoid predators and competitors, or exploit emergency resources. They would have become isolated, creating genetic ‘bottlenecks’ which brought disabling genes to the surface. The researchers argue that these groups would have experienced a new type of selection pressure – not selection in favour of individuals with the ‘best’ genes but selection that favoured those who were able to cope with the challenges that their genes threw at them. They speculate that our need to socialise and ability to experiment and learn new behaviours, as well as our compassion and communication skills, arose as coping strategies that allowed our ancestors to get through these bottlenecks. […]
Thanks to Science Daily, I’ll never think of my beard the same way again. They’ve got new insight into the evolution of humankind’s most uniquely human feature – trying to pin down why we’re the only animals to have developed chins: “In some way, it seems trivial, but a reason why chins are so interesting is we’re the only ones who have them,” says Nathan Holton, who studies craniofacial features and mechanics at the University of Iowa. “It’s unique to us.” New research led by Holton and colleagues at the UI posits that our chins don’t come from mechanical forces such as chewing, but instead results from an evolutionary adaptation involving face size and shape — possibly linked to changes in hormone levels as we became more societally domesticated. The finding, if true, may help settle a debate that’s gone on intermittently for more than a century why modern humans have chins and how they […]
Sci-News.com showcases the gene that gave us (and our Neanderthal and Denisovan cousins) big brains: A gene that is responsible for brain size in modern Homo sapiens and their ancient relatives, Neanderthals and Denisovans, has been identified by a team of scientists from Germany led by Dr Wieland Huttner of the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden. … …[T]hey noticed that one particular gene contributed to the reproduction of basal brain stem cells, triggering a folding of the neocortex. The scientists said: “This gene manages to trigger brain stem cells to form a bigger pool of stem cells. In that way, during brain development more neurons can arise and the cerebrum can expand. The cerebrum is responsible for cognitive functions like speaking and thinking.” According to the team, the gene, called ARHGAP11B, is found in modern-day humans and our ancient relatives, Neanderthals and Denisovans, but not in chimpanzees.
University of Cambridge researchers have gotten to the root of the chord. (See, that’s a music theory joke.) No, really, they’ve found was seems to be the oldest written music with more than one note playing at the same time: The inscription is believed to date back to the start of the 10th century and is the setting of a short chant dedicated to Boniface, patron Saint of Germany. It is the earliest practical example of a piece of polyphonic music – the term given to music that combines more than one independent melody – ever discovered. Written using an early form of notation that predates the invention of the stave, it was inked into the space at the end of a manuscript of the Life of Bishop Maternianus of Reims. … The piece was discovered by Giovanni Varelli, a PhD student from St John’s College, University of Cambridge, while he was working on an […]
BBC has more on one unfortunate modern human inheritance from our ancestors interbreeding with Neanderthals: The gene variant was detected in a large genome-wide association study (GWAS) of more than 8,000 Mexicans and other Latin Americans. The GWAS approach looks at many genes in different individuals, to see whether they are linked with a particular trait. People who carry the higher risk version of the gene are 25% more likely to have diabetes than those who do not, and people who inherited copies from both parents are 50% more likely to have diabetes. The higher risk form of the gene – named SLC16A11 – has been found in up to half of people with recent Native American ancestry, including Latin Americans. … They discovered that the SLC16A11 sequence associated with risk of type 2 diabetes is found in a newly sequenced Neanderthal genome from Denisova Cave in Siberia. Analyses indicate that the higher risk version […]
The medievalists at Medievalists.net are all excited over a new technology that “unerases” writings that were erased by scribes to make more room on precious parchment: Using cutting-edge technology, European scientists have uncovered new fragments by Euripides and an unknown ancient commentary on Aristotle. These writings were on parchments that were washed off and overwritten in medieval times. Using advanced multispectral imaging methods, the Palamedes project, based out of the Universities of Göttingen and Bologna were able to see the original writings in the manuscripts, one of which is located at the library of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem, while the other can be found at the National Library of France in Paris. More about Palamedes (short for PALimpsestorum Aetatis Mediae EDitiones Et Studia) and their palimpsest discoveries over here.
Not the moving parts kind, but the wedge/screw/lever kind. Want to move giant blocks of stone a few miles, but the locomotive and crane haven’t been invented yet? Nature‘s answer… by waiting until winter and freezing the streets: Some of the largest stones used to construct Beijing’s Forbidden City beginning in 1406 were hauled from distant quarries on wooden sledges along ice roads, ancient Chinese documents have revealed. Calculations now reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences show that, on uneven, winding roads, this method is safer, more reliable and much easier than using wooden rollers or dragging the sledges over bare ground. … Many of the largest stones in the complex came from a quarry located about 70 kilometres from Beijing, says Howard Stone, a fluid mechanicist at Princeton University in New Jersey, and a member of the team that performed the study. “You go to the Forbidden City and see these […]
Those questions were raised in, of all publications, Astrobiology Magazine. Why are astrobiologists so concerned about human culture? Because if civilizations can really die out, that affects how many alien civilizations are likely to be out there somewhere: The longevity of our civilization was the topic of a symposium recently held in Washington DC. The symposium was organized and led by the holder of the NASA/ Library of Congress Astrobiology chair David Grinspoon, in an ornate room that would not have been out of place in ancient Pompeii — before that city was destroyed by an enormous volcanic eruption. The complexity of answering the question of our longevity was evidenced by the far-ranging discussion that ensued among the panelists and the audience. Beyond science and technology, they discussed the current state of economics and politics, the fate of the environment, and even McDonald’s plastic cups, which were designed to be used for 20 minutes but […]
Alternet (of course) spreads the news that researchers studying our earliest ancestors have collected some intriguing proof that cave painters were tripping: Their thesis intriguingly explores the “biologically embodied mind,” which they contend gave rise to similarities in Paleolithic art across the continents dating back 40,000 years, and can also be seen in the body painting patterns dating back even further, according to recent archelogical discoveries. At its core, this theory challenges the long-held notion that the earliest art and atrists were merely trying to draw the external world. Instead, it sees cave art as a deliberate mix of rituals inducing altered states for participants, coupled with brain chemistry that elicits certain visual patterns for humanity’s early chroniclers. … “The prevalence of certain geometric patterns in the symbolic material culture of many prehistoric cultures, starting shortly after the emergence of our biological species and continuing in some indigenous cultures until today, is explained in terms […]
These are probably the world’s largest petroglyphs. They’re ancient rock carvings that we can see from space. You can’t make out the funky checkerboards, or the hummingbirds or monkeys… but you can see that there’s something there. Welcome to Nazca, ancient gods. Approach on runway number three. [via NPR]
SONG: “Mesopotamia” (penitential cover) [Download] (To download: double right-click & “Save As”) ARTIST: grant. SOURCE: This is a cover (a late one) making up for a late song in November. There’s no original research here, and some pretty sketchy anthropology. But still. It’s the B52s. It’s hard for me to say which version is really the original – there’s a story connected to the recording. But either the David Byrne mix or the No, David You’re Doing It All Wrong mix will do. ABSTRACT: I always liked this song. It had this immediate aura of what-the-heck-are-we-dancing-to to it, which I loved. So much eeriness. So ancient. So new. Why a song about Mesopotamia? They had a lot of ruins! Of course. So this is a slower, slinkier version of that. With way too much of whatever I liked. (Except, of course, those voices.) Happy new year.