Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Slashdot Deals: Deal of the Day - 6 month subscription of Pandora One at 46% off. ×

Study Detects Recent Instance of Human Evolution 503

The New York Times is running a Sunday article regarding new evidence about 'recent' human evolution. A research team at the University of Maryland has done some work looking at the rise of lactose tolerance in the human populations of Africa. From the article: "The principal mutation, found among Nilo-Saharan-speaking ethnic groups of Kenya and Tanzania, arose 2,700 to 6,800 years ago, according to genetic estimates, Dr. Tishkoff's group is to report in the journal Nature Genetics on Monday. This fits well with archaeological evidence suggesting that pastoral peoples from the north reached northern Kenya about 4,500 years ago and southern Kenya and Tanzania 3,300 years ago ... Genetic evidence shows that the mutations conferred an enormous selective advantage on their owners, enabling them to leave almost 10 times as many descendants as people without them. The mutations have created 'one of the strongest genetic signatures of natural selection yet reported in humans,' the researchers write. "

Did Humans Get Their Big Brains From Neanderthals? 579

MCTFB writes, "According to CNN, human beings may have acquired a gene for developing bigger brains from Neanderthal man. Apparently, 70% of the world's population has a variant of a gene regulating brain size, with this variant being most common in people of European descent (where Neanderthal man lived alongside ancient humans), and least common in people of African descent (where Neanderthal man was non-existent). While modern day eugenicists might all too eagerly read into these findings to draw their own politically biased conclusions, people such as myself, who happen to be of northern European ancestry, may find it fascinating that somewhere in our lineage ancient humans and Neanderthals decided to make love and not war on the ancient plains of Eurasia."

Fear of Snakes May Have Driven Pre-Human Evolution 553

Krishna Dagli writes "An evolutionary arms race between early snakes and mammals triggered the development of improved vision and large brains in primates, a radical new theory suggests. The idea, proposed by Lynne Isbell, an anthropologist at the University of California, Davis, suggests that snakes and primates share a long and intimate history, one that forced both groups to evolve new strategies as each attempted to gain the upper hand. Early primates developed a better eye for color, detail and movement and the ability to see in three dimensions — traits that are important for detecting threats at close range. Humans are descended from those same primates. "

Ancient Reptile Had Wings Like a Fighter Jet 157

anthemaniac writes "A reptile that lived 225 million years ago had triangular-shaped wings like the delta-wings of some jets. At least that's what a new computer model suggests. Researcher have generated several possible shapes for the wings of Sharovipteryx mirabili before, so this is just the latest guess (based on one fossil). Last fall NatGeo reported that the first biplane configuration was on a dinosaur. Maybe airplane designers should delve into the fossil record a little more."

"You can't get very far in this world without your dossier being there first." -- Arthur Miller