#13 — Challenging prehistoric gender roles, evidence shows women too were hunters

Evidence suggests that women were also physically capable of hunting and found examples of equality in ancient tools, diet, art, burials, and anatomy.

#13 — Challenging prehistoric gender roles, evidence shows women too were hunters

Anthropology professor Sarah Lacy challenges the long-standing belief that men were hunters and women gatherers in prehistoric times. Lacy's research, co-authored with Cara Ocobock from the University of Notre Dame, reviewed archaeological evidence and literature from the Paleolithic era, around 2.5 million to 12,000 years ago. Their findings suggest little evidence to support the idea of rigid gender-specific roles. They also noted that women were physically capable of hunting and found examples of equality in ancient tools, diet, art, burials, and anatomy. The article highlights the role of estrogen in conferring advantages for activities requiring endurance, such as running, which were essential to hunting in ancient times. Lacy's work challenges the conventional notion of "man the hunter" and promotes a more egalitarian view of prehistoric societies, where both men and women played vital roles in subsistence gathering and hunting.

Read the article on Scientific American.

India successfully tests flight for future manned missions to space

ISRO chairman S. Somanth
Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) Chairman S. Somanath arrives to address the media after the successful landing of spacecraft Chandrayaan-3 on the moon, in Bengaluru, India, Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023. India successfully carried out Saturday, Oct. 21, the first of a series of key test flights after overcoming a technical glitch ahead of its planned mission to take astronauts into space by 2025, Somanath said. Credit: AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi.
  • India's space agency, ISRO, conducted a crucial test flight as part of its mission to send astronauts into space by 2025.
  • The test involved launching a module into space and safely bringing it back to Earth to evaluate the spacecraft's crew escape system.
  • The launch faced delays due to weather conditions and a technical issue with the engine, which was later resolved.
  • This successful test sets the stage for upcoming unmanned missions, including sending a robot into space next year.
  • India's recent achievements in space, such as the successful sun mission and lunar landing, highlight the nation's growing prominence in the global space community.
  • India's Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, announced plans to establish a homegrown space station by 2035 and send an Indian astronaut to the moon by 2040, emphasizing the country's ambitions in space exploration and technology.

The puzzle of regeneration in animals

Planarian flatworms
Planarian species, as pictured here, differ significantly in their ability to regrow body parts. Among other things, this could be related to the species’ reproductive system. If they reproduce asexually by division, they need regenerative abilities; if they reproduce sexually and lay eggs, they do not require these abilities. Image credit and copyright: MPI f. Multidisciplinary Sciences/ Miquel Vila-Farré./hr

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Multidisciplinary Sciences in Göttingen, Germany, have delved into the enigma of regeneration by studying planarian flatworms. These creatures exhibit varying degrees of head regeneration ability, and the research reveals that this capacity is closely tied to the species' method of reproduction. The study, the largest of its kind with 36 planarian species, categorised them into three groups: those with little or no regenerative ability, those with limited capacity, and those with reliable head regeneration. Surprisingly, the evolutionary history of head regeneration was found to be dynamic, with some species gaining or losing this ability over time. The study also identified the molecular mechanisms, particularly the Wnt signaling pathway, that influence regeneration and reproduction. Understanding these connections sheds light on the complex relationship between regenerative capacity and reproductive strategies in planarians, offering insights into why some animals, including humans, lack the ability to regenerate.

Read more at Max Planck Society and the research paper at Nature Ecology & Evolution.

Living materials that glow under pressure


These soft, living materials glow in response to mechanical stress, such as compression, stretching or twisting. Credit: UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering

A team of researchers, led by the University of California San Diego, has created innovative materials that emit light when subjected to mechanical stress, such as compression, stretching, or twisting. These materials get their luminescence from single-celled algae known as dinoflagellates. Inspired by the bioluminescent waves seen during red tide events at San Diego's beaches, this study demonstrates a straightforward way to harness nature's power for light emission without the need for electronics or an external power source. The materials consist of dinoflagellates and an alginate-based seaweed polymer, processed with a 3D printer to form various shapes. When these materials experience mechanical stress, they emit light, and the intensity of the glow correlates with the applied force. Researchers see potential applications in mechanical sensors, soft robotics, and biomedical devices, but further optimization is needed.

Read more at UC San Diego Today and the research paper at Science Advances.

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