Ricochet Science News
In addition, we have launched a new page dedicated to our Vimeo channel. Here you will find longer length features that are used in our classes. In the next few weeks are are planning on launching a series of mini-lectures. These tutorials are designed to help you understand the science behind the news!
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Decapitated Heads can Still Talk – For a Few Seconds
Can a decapitated head still talk? They do in all of the horror movies, but how about in real life? Scientists tried to answer this question by using the decapitated heads of mice. The studies showed that the brain of a mouse could still operate 4 seconds after decapitation! If this is possible for humans, 4 seconds is plenty of time to blink or turn the head!
Migrating Whales Need Sunscreen
When whales, such as the sperm whale here, migrate to warmer climates, they get suntans just like humans. The increased level of pigmentation in their skin is believed to protect them from the damaging effects of the Sun’s UV rays
The Bite of a Recluse Spider is Unique
There are many poisonous animals, but the brown recluse spider seems to be unique. It seems that the brown recluse has a protein in its venom that is not present in any other poisonous animal, and this may account for the reason why it is potentially dangerous to humans.
Now that the protein has been identified, it may be possible to develop treatments to prevent tissue damage in humans.
Great Example of Convergent Evolution
What do bats and dolphins have in common? While both use echolocation to find prey, they come from very different genetic backgrounds. But researchers have now determined that these species are an excellent example of convergent evolution – the process by which unrelated species evolve similar traits.
The genetic basis of this convergence has been worked out, and scientists have identified about 200 regions associated with hearing that are are similar in the genomes of these species. The sheer number of similar genes in this convergence is what interests evolutionary scientists, and these findings may play an important role in understanding how genomes evolve.
New Twists in the Story of Human Evolution
The “Out of Africa” model has often been used to describe the early migrations of Homo sapiens out of Africa. However, other studies, mostly archeological, have suggested that there was a reverse migration back into Africa.
By analyzing over 1 million points of the genome, researchers were able to isolate, and then track, the movement of non-African chromosomes back into Africa. They discovered two interesting events. First was a migration of non-Africans back onto the continent about 3,000 years ago, followed by a second migration into South Africa.
A great article for any discussions of human evolution!
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