Researchers from the University of Geneva have conducted a study to analyze the distribution of Neanderthal DNA in the genomes of modern humans over the past 40,000 years. This genetic analysis revealed that the presence of Neanderthal DNA varies slightly between European and Asian populations, with a slightly higher proportion in the genomes of ancient European populations. The study also suggests that the arrival of Anatolian farmers in Europe led to a decrease in the proportion of Neanderthal DNA in the genomes of European populations during the transition to the Neolithic period. This research provides valuable insights into the complex history of human-Neanderthal interactions.
A dark river
ETH Zurich researchers have unveiled the mysteries of the Ruki River, a tributary of the Congo River, which is so dark that it surpasses even the renowned Rio Negro in the Amazon. This darkness results from an abundance of dissolved organic material washed into the river by rains, giving it the appearance of "jungle tea." The study analysed water samples from the Ruki and revealed it to be one of the most dissolved organic carbon-rich river systems globally, with its carbon primarily originating from forest vegetation, not peat. These findings are vital for understanding the river's unique ecology and conservation amid changing land use.
Read more at ETH Zurich.
Study sheds light on how early terrestrial vertebrates may have fed during their transition from water to land
A team led by scientists from the State Museum of Natural History in Stuttgart, Germany, has shed light on how early terrestrial vertebrates may have fed during their transition from water to land. By studying the feeding behavior of modern salamanders, which share similarities with early tetrapods, they found that these ancient creatures likely used a combination of biting, prey shaking, and inertial transport to feed on land. Intriguingly, these early vertebrates might have exhibited complex chewing habits even before developing mobile tongues, offering insights into their feeding strategies during the water-to-land transition. The research opens new avenues for understanding the evolution of terrestrial feeding in vertebrates.
Superlensing in microscopy!
Researchers at the University of Sydney have devised a novel method to achieve superlensing, surpassing the diffraction limit by nearly four times. Instead of relying on super lenses, which have been hindered by visual losses, this breakthrough involves moving the light probe farther away from the object and post-processing the data to filter out low-resolution information. This approach promises to advance super-resolution microscopy, benefiting various fields like medical imaging, archaeology, and forensics. The technique, demonstrated at the terahertz frequency, opens new possibilities for obtaining high-resolution images while maintaining a safe distance from the object of study.
The dark side of the American lawn
A study conducted in the Baltimore area sheds light on the environmental impact of fertilizers used on American lawns. Researchers found that nitrogen export from lawns varies greatly, with "hotspots" of excessive nitrogen runoff mainly occurring on fertilized lawns. Many residents are unaware of the consequences of nitrogen pollution on waterways, but there's broad support for policies limiting fertilizer use. Converting just a small portion of suburban lawns to alternative landscaping could significantly reduce watershed-wide nitrogen export, benefiting the environment and public health.
Read more at PNAS Nexus.
Unveiling Puerto Rico's ancient art through carbon dating of cave paintings
In Puerto Rican caves, ancient art adorns the walls, offering insights into the island's history. Researchers have now used carbon dating to reveal the true age of these cave paintings. The findings show that the island's precolonial population dates back thousands of years, challenging previous European-influenced historical narratives. These pictographs, some possibly created by slaves during Spanish colonization, provide a direct link to Puerto Rico's rich history, far older than previously believed.
Read more at The Geological Society of America.
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