Puppy Dog Eyes – Mickey Mouse And Neoteny

That puppy dog eyes have developed to control us human beings is true. But how lovely it is to find an article about evolution that actually gets the mechanism right:

In a project that has all the makings of a Roald Dahl classic, scientists have hit on an answer to the mystery of how man’s best friend got its puppy dog eyes. The sad, imploring expression held such power over humans during 33,000 years of canine domestication that the preference for dogs that could pull off the look steered the evolution of their facial muscles, researchers have said.

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Maybe Life On Europa – No, The Moon, We Know Juncker’s Pickled

One of those oddities, an interesting and informative article at The Conversation. If there’s salt on Europa then what sort of salt is it?

Life on Jupiter’s moon Europa? Discovery of table salt on the surface boosts hopes

Europa, a frozen moon around Jupiter, is believed to be one of the most habitable worlds in the solar system. It was first imaged in detail by the Voyager 1 probe in 1979, revealing a surface almost devoid of large craters.…

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Of Course Pregnancy Is At The Limit Of Human Endurance – That’s How Evolution Works

An interesting finding about the link between endurance athletes and pregnancy. Which is that we can work out about how good endurance athletes can get by looking at the extreme to which the human body can be subjected and still – long term – survive. The finding being presented as a bit of a surprise, that this is about the limit to which pregnancy subjects the body.

Well, yes, obviously, that’s how evolution works:

The Tour de France is one of the world’s most gruelling events.

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Sir Paul Nurse Seems Ignorant Of Basic Science

Sure, fighting words aimed at a Nobel Laureate from someone who’s not going to get close to finishing the first chapter of a chemistry book. But then that’s rather the point here, Feynman’s one. That outside their own area of expertise even the finest scientists are just as dumb as the rest of us. So it is with Sir Paul Nurse and his whining about EU science funds. This is economics, a subject Sir Paul is clearly clueless about.…

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So Many Gray Whales They’re Starving – We Should Hunt Them Again

The normal end of life event for any apex animal is starvation. Sure, things like cancer, heart attacks, strokes, they all happen too. But age catches up, they can’t hunt or feed effectively, they die of starvation. Lions lose their teeth, orcas their speed and whales? Well, whales just starve.

So, when the population is at or beyond the limits the environment can support we should be hunting them, right?

U.S. biologists probe deaths of 70 emaciated gray whales

The corpses of these whales are washing up in the US West Coast.…

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Seriously Silly Mars Colonisation Speculation – No Sex With Earthlings!

There is an entirely reasonable concern here, that any colonisation of Mars is going to lead to a population vulnerability. but the idea that humans on Mars would evolve away from having an immune system is silly to the point of insanity. That really just isn’t the way that the subject works out:

One change that could occur relatively fast? Non-Earth dwelling humans may quickly lose their immune system. In a sterile environment with no microorganisms present, the residents may have no need for a body capable of fighting germs.

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The Reality Of That Parkinson’s Disease Connection With Appendix Removal

We don’t really know. Partly because that latest research seems to contradict what we thought we already knew, partly because no one has as yet seen the details of that new research – nor peer reviewed it. So, you know, we don’t know. Whichever way around it does turn out to be from even the initial results the risks are small anyway:

Appendix removal: does it really increase your risk of getting Parkinson’s disease?

Recent scary press reports suggest that having your appendix out could triple your risk of getting Parkinson’s disease.…

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So, Err, Why Do Raindrops Make Ripples In Puddles?

Every so often an academic at The Conversation lays off telling us how we must live our lives and tells us the results of their own research. For example, this rather cute piece on why ripples in puddles and not in lakes:

What happens when a raindrop hits a puddle?

Have you ever taken a walk through the rain on a warm spring day and seen that perfect puddle? You know, the one where the raindrops seem to touch down at just the right pace, causing a dance of vanishing circles?…

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No, The Same Flightless Bird Species Didn’t Evolve Again – But the Niche Was Filled Again

Yes, sure, allowances for having to fit a complex scientific idea into a short newspaper article for those who are not – let us say – among the intellectual giants of our civilisation. But you here can have it straight, right?

BACK FROM THE DEAD ‘Extinct’ bird species reappeared on Indian Ocean island after 30,000-year gap, Brit researchers discover
The flightless white-throated rail seemed to go extinct then bizarrely reappeared

No, that’s not what happened.…

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33 Years After The Irradiation Chernobyl Might Be The Best Populated Wilderness In Europe

Quite how robust nature and the ecosystem is can be seen in this report from the exclusion zone around Chernobyl. For while the radiation from the accident did no one any good at that time the exclusion – in large part – of all humans from the area has meant that the wildlife has come back. We’re actually closest to seeing what a truly wild environment is like in fact. It’s actually rather remarkable how much there is:

Chernobyl has become a refuge for wildlife 33 years after the nuclear accident

Reactor number four of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant suffered an explosion during a technical test on April 26, 1986.…

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