In this week’s news we explore some of the early evolutionary history of mammals, advances in gene therapy to treat diabetes, and the discovery of life in a lake that has been isolated by ice for 100,000 years.
Meet our earliest common mammalian ancestor (New Scientist, February 7th – free access)
While mammals have existed since the time of the dinosaurs, the differentiation between placental mammals and non-placental mammals, which include marsupials and egg laying mammals, most likely didn’t occur until after the extinction of the dinosaurs, as seen in recent discoveries. This article is great for discussions of early mammal evolution.
Link to original article in Science (DOI: 10.1126/science.1229237)
Type 1 Diabetes Cured in Dogs, Study Suggests (Science Daily, February 7th)
If you are looking for articles on how gene-therapy may be used to cure disease: A recent study reports that type 1 diabetes may have been cured in large mammals (canines) using gene therapy. Link to original article in Diabetes (doi: 10.2337/db12-1113)
Life found deep below Antarctic ice (Science News, February 1st)
For some time there has been debate as to whether scientists would discover life from Lake Whillans, a lake located 800 meters below the Microbes below the Antarctic ice sheet since the lake has been isolated from the surface for over 100,000 years. In this article, scientists report that they have discovered microbes, and that they have ruled out surface contamination. Such a discovery poses new hope for life living in extreme conditions on extra-terrestrial moons and planets.