When it erupted about 74,000 years ago, Indonesia’s Toba supervolcano may have triggered a 1,000-year episode of ice sheet advance, and a short-lived “volcanic winter” that drastically reduced the human population at the time.
“Why did we humans evolve such big brains, making us the unrivalled rulers of the world?” asks this article in New Scientist.
The assumption that oil and other “fossil fuels” come from dead dinosaurs and other dead matter has been an article of faith for centuries, says Financial Post writer Lawrence Solomon.
But many Russians and Ukrainians insist that oil is formed far beneath the surface of the earth, says Solomon.
“Remember Ida, the fossil discovery announced last May with its own book and TV documentary?”
This interpretation is contrary to other research suggesting significant animal extinctions and genetic bottlenecks.
25 Mar 10 – Scientists have identified a previously unknown type of ancient human – distinct from Neanderthals and modern humans – through DNA analysis from a finger bone unearthed in a Siberian cave.
11 Nov 09 – “Two minute changes in a gene that is otherwise identical in humans and chimps could explain why we have full-fledged power of speech while other primates can only grunt or screech,” says this article on Yahoo. “Human speech is thought to have emerged 100,000 to 200,000 years ago.”
A decade ago, investigators found that a small number of patients with speech-related diseases all shared the same defect in a gene called FOXP2.
Different researchers studying FOXP2 in chimpanzees noticed that only two among the hundreds of amino acids in the protein coded by the gene differed across the two species.
Daniel Geshwind, a professor at UCLA, designed the first-ever experiments comparing the FOXP2 in chimps with humans.
“FOXP2 drives these genes to behave differently in the two species,” said Geschwind.
In humans, the gene triggers changes in the parts of the cerebral cortex that control high cognitive functions and language. It also affects the striatum, which is involved with motor coordination.
But even if one could transplant a human brain into a chimpanzee, the ape would probably be unable to speak because it lacks the right “articulatory apparatus,” said Geschwind.
The study is published in the British science journal Nature.
See entire article, entitled “Tiny evolutionary mutation led to ‘language gene'”:
Thanks to David Bass in Australia for this link
The first skeletal remains of “hobbits” – tiny hominids that stood only one meter (3.25 feet) tall and weighed 65 pounds – were discovered in 2003 on the Indonesian island of Flores.
15 Sep 10 — A layer of trillions of nanosize diamonds discovered in the Greenland ice sheet “adds credence to the hypothesis that fragments of a comet struck across North America and Europe about 12,900 years ago,”
I was wondering if these electrical explosions could be somehow related to the phenomenon called “Ball Lightning.” I know that the end result of ball lightning is a pop or small explosion.