We Are Making Ebola Outbreaks Worse By Cutting Down Forests


Originally posted on HumansinShadow.wordpress.com:

Mother Jones

We Are Making Ebola Outbreaks Worse By Cutting Down Forests

Epidemiologists explain how human activity helps spread the deadly virus in West Africa.

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How Blue Eyes Originated!


Close-up of a blue-eyed koala

Close-up of a blue-eyed koala (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How Blue eyes Originated

 

http://aworldchaos.wordpress.com/2013/05/03/how-blue-eyes-originated/#more-19788

PicMonkey Collage

Everyone with blue eyes alive today – from Angelina Jolie to Wayne Rooney – can trace their ancestry back to one person who probably lived about 10,000 years ago in the Black Sea region, a study has found. Scientists studying the genetics of eye colour have discovered that more than 99.5 per cent of blue-eyed people who volunteered to have their DNA analysed have the same tiny mutation in the gene that determines the colour of the iris.

 

This indicates that the mutation originated in just one person who became the ancestor of all subsequent people in the world with blue eyes, according to a study by Professor Hans Eiberg and colleagues at the University of Copenhagen.

The scientists are not sure when the mutation occurred but other evidence suggested it probably arose about 10,000 years ago when there was a rapid expansion of the human population in Europe as a result of the spread of agriculture from the Middle East.

“The mutations responsible for blue eye colour most likely originate from the north-west part of the Black Sea region, where the great agricultural migration of the northern part of Europe took place in the Neolithic periods about 6,000 to 10,000 years ago,” the researchers report in the journal Human Genetics.

Professor Eiberg said that brown is the “default” colour for human eyes which results from a build-up of the dark skin pigment, melanin. However, in northern Europe a mutation arose in a gene known as OCA2 that disrupted melanin production in the iris and caused the eye colour to become blue.

“Originally, we all had brown eyes,” said Professor Eiberg. “But a genetic mutation affecting the OCA2 gene in our chromosomes resulted in the creation of a ‘switch’ which literally turned off the ability to produce brown eyes.”

Variations in the colour of people’s eyes can be explained by the amount of melanin in the iris, but blue-eyed individuals only have a small degree of variation in the amount of melanin in their eyes, he said.

“From this we can conclude that all blue-eyed individuals are linked to the same ancestor. They have all inherited the same switch at exactly the same spot in their DNA,” said Professor Eiberg.

Men and women with blue eyes have almost exactly the same genetic sequence in the part of the DNA responsible for eye colour. However, brown-eyed people, by contrast, have a considerable amount of individual variation in that area of DNA.

Professor Eiberg said he has analysed the DNA of about 800 people with blue eyes, ranging from fair-skinned, blond-haired Scandinavians to dark-skinned, blue-eyed people living in Turkey and Jordan.

“All of them, apart from possibly one exception, had exactly the same DNA sequence in the region of the OCA2 gene. This to me indicates very strongly that there must have been a single, common ancestor of all these people,” he said.

It is not known why blue eyes spread among the population of northern Europe and southern Russia. Explanations include the suggestions that the blue eye colour either offered some advantage in the long hours of daylight in the summer, or short hours of daylight in winter, or that the trait was deemed attractive and therefore advantageous in terms of sexual selection.

Source The Independent

Mortality Increase From Alzheimer´s Disease in U.S. within last 10 Years


Talesfromthelou’s Blog – copied:

Mortality Increase From Alzheimer’s Disease in the United States within the last 10 Years. Data for 2000 and 2010

Fascinating data from the Center for Disease Control.  A generation ago we could not even spell Alzheimer’s. It now looks like we are facing an avalanche of seniors losing their minds, and their lives, in later years.  You better believe that I will be looking for all preventative methods and cures for this dreaded degeneration of the brain.  I have seen what it does and it has no dignity. Lou

Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States

NCHS Data Briefs Update.

In 2010, Alzheimer’s disease was the underlying cause for a total of 83,494 deaths and was classified as a contributing cause for an additional 26,488 deaths. Mortality from Alzheimer’s disease has steadily increased during the last 30 years. Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and the fifth leading cause for people aged 65 years and over. An estimated 5.4 million persons in the United States have Alzheimer’s disease. The cost of health care for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia was estimated to be 200 billion dollars in 2012, including 140 billion dollars in costs to Medicare and Medicaid and is expected to reach 1.1 trillion dollars in 2050.

Alzheimer’s disease mortality varies by age, sex, race, Hispanic origin, and geographic area. This report presents mortality data on Alzheimer’s disease based on data from the National Vital Statistics System from 2000 through 2010, the most recent year for which detailed data are available.

Key findings

Data from the National Vital Statistics System

  • The age-adjusted death rate from Alzheimer’s disease increased by 39 percent from 2000 through 2010 in the United States.
  • Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and is the fifth leading cause among people aged 65 years and over. People aged 85 years and over have a 5.4 times greater risk of dying from Alzheimer’s disease than people aged 75–84 years.
  • The risk of dying from Alzheimer’s disease is 26 percent higher among the non-Hispanic white population than among the non-Hispanic black population, whereas the Hispanic population has a 30 percent lower risk than the non-Hispanic white population.
  • In 2010, among all states and the District of Columbia, 31 states showed death rates from Alzheimer’s disease that were above the national rate (25.1).

Keywords: dementia, National Vital Statistics System, death rate, aging

Alzheimer’s disease mortality increased compared with selected major causes of death.

Figure 1 is a bar chart showing percent change in age-adjusted death rates for the selected causes of death between 2000 and 2010.

Full article:

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db116.htm

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‘Santabomb’ storm may be nightmare before Christmas for Ontario


Originally posted on National Post | News:

It may have an unfortunate Twitter-dubbed name, but ‘Santabomb’ may totally rain or snow on your Christmas plans if you are travelling in the Greater Toronto Area.

While the forecast isn’t quite as dire as 2013’s (unfortunately-named) “Snowmageddon,” Environment Canada says it looks “pretty messy” for southern Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Geoff Coulson, a warning preparedness meteorologist for Environment Canada, says while there is still a “a fair amount of uncertainty,” they are tracking two systems that are expected to interact and affect the area between Chicago and the East Coast in the days before Christmas.

“For Toronto itself, it looks like a rain event, when this thing starts, late on the 23rd and into Christmas Eve,” he said.

“The concern for Toronto is a change into snow by Christmas Day at this point. By Christmas Day, this complex system is going…

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Greenpeace Chooses Marketing Over Ethics in Peru Action


Author Archives: Anne Petermann http://climate-connections.org/author/anne-p/

Greenpeace Chooses Marketing Over Ethics in Peru Action

Greenpeace activists stand next  to massive letters delivering the message "Time for Change: The Future is Renewable" next to the hummingbird geoglyph in Nazca in Peru, Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. The Nazca peoples' ancient geoglyphs are one of the country's cultural landmarks.

“Greenpeace May Have Permanently Damaged An Ancient, Sacred Site. Now What?”. CREDIT: AP PHOTO/RODRIGO ABD

Once again Greenpeace chose marketing over ethics in a deeply offensive and destructive action at a sacred site in Peru last week.  While Greenpeace ED Kumi Naidoo has made a videotaped apology for this idiotic action, I don’t buy it.  I personally witnessed Kumi’s sleazy tactics at the UN Climate talks in Durban where he orchestrated a fake “arrest” with UN security so that the media would run photos of him being led out of the talks in handcuffs–another marketing ploy.  How do I know this was a fake arrest?  Because a colleague and I engaged in civil disobedience at the same action, refusing to comply with UN security, being carried out of the talks and banned permanently from all future talks.  But there were no handcuffs. …

http://climate-connections.org/author/anne-p/

Breaking News: New York Governor Cuomo Announces Ban on Fracking in New York


by | December 17, 2014 · 2:12 PM http://climate-connections.org/author/jay/

Breaking News: New York Governor Cuomo Announces Ban on Fracking in New York

For those of us that have worked on this issue for so long, this is both refreshing and somewhat unexpected news. But wowowo! thank-you to all of you that have advocated for this, pressed the governor, and gone head to head with industry reps and talking heads!

Protesters in Buffalo November 2014  photo by Jay Burney

Cuomo to Ban Fracking in New York State, Citing Health Risks

Jesse McKinley   New York Times 17    December 2014

ALBANY — The Cuomo administration announced Wednesday that it would ban hydraulic fracturing in New York State, ending years of uncertainty by concluding that the controversial method of extracting gas from deep underground could contaminate the state’s air and water and pose inestimable public-health risks.

“I cannot support high volume hydraulic fracturing in the great state of New York,” said Howard Zucker, the acting commissioner of health.

That conclusion was delivered publicly during a year-end cabinet meeting called by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in Albany. It came amid increased calls by environmentalists to ban fracking, which uses water and chemicals to release natural gas trapped in deeply buried shale deposits.

Read the whole article here

“WHEN GOD WAS A WOMAN”: ‘EARTHLINGS: THE SOUL AND SENTIENCE OF FLORA AND FAUNA’ — a magazine (digital and print), published by The Animals Voice


Originally posted on ChildreninShadow.wordpress.com:

AVAILABLE NOW: ‘EARTHLINGS: THE SOUL AND SENTIENCE OF FLORA AND FAUNA’ — a magazine (digital and print), published by The Animals Voice

“We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature and living by complicated artifice, man surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves, and therein we err and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren. They are not underlings. They are other nations — caught with ourselves…

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Marie Curie gets advice from Albert Einstein in lost letter


Originally posted on HumansinShadow.wordpress.com:

TECH SPACE

Marie Curie gets advice from Albert Einstein in lost letter
by Aileen Graef
Prague, Czech Republic (UPI) Dec 8, 2014


File image: Marie Curie.

“Haters gonna hate.”

That is the message of a 1911 letter from Albert Einstein to Marie Curie where the scientist told his colleague not to listen to her critics.

About 10 years after she won her Nobel Prize for her work in radiation, Curie was still facing a lot of criticism as a woman, an atheist and an alleged Jew — which was looked down upon during a time of antisemitism in France. Einstein said she should not listen to any of them.

“I am convinced that you consistently despise this rabble,” he wrote. “Whether it obsequiously lavishes respect on you or whether it attempts to satiate its lust for sensationalism!”

There was also a lot of criticism over the rumors that Curie was having affair…

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Reshaping the horse through millennia


ABOUT US

Reshaping the horse through millennia
by Staff Writers
Copenhagen, Denmark (SPX) Dec 16, 2014


A man catches a domestic Mongolian horse with a lasso in Khomiin Tal, Mongolia. Image courtesy Ludovic Orlando.

Whole genome sequencing of modern and ancient horses unveils the genes that have been selected by humans in the process of domestication through the latest 5.500 years, but also reveals the cost of this domestication.

A new study led by the Centre for GeoGenetics at the University of Copenhagen, in collaboration with scientists from 11 international universities, reports that a significant part of the genetic variation in modern domesticated horses could be attributed to interbreeding with the descendants of a now extinct population of wild horses.

This population was distinct from the only surviving wild horse population, that of the Przewalski’s horses. The study has been published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The domestication of the horse some 5,500 years ago ultimately revolutionized human civilization and societies. Horses facilitated transportation as well as the circulation of ideas, languages and religions.

Horses also revolutionized warfare with the advent of chariotry and mounted cavalry and beyond the battlefield horses greatly stimulated agriculture. However, the domestication of the horse and the subsequent encroachment of human civilization also resulted in the near extinction of wild horses.

The only surviving wild horse population, the Przewalski’s horses from Mongolia, descends from mere 13 individuals, preserved only through a massive conservation effort. As a consequence of this massive loss of genetic diversity, the effects of horse domestication through times have been difficult to unravel on a molecular level. Says Dr. Ludovic Orlando, Associate Professor at the Centre for GeoGenetics, who led this work

- The classical way to evaluate the evolutionary impact of domestication consists of comparing the genetic information present amongst wild animals and their living domesticates. This approach is ill suited to horses as the only surviving population of wild horses has experienced a massive demographic decline in the 20th century. We therefore decided to sequence the genome of ancient horses that lived prior to domestication to directly assess how pre-domesticated horses looked like genetically.

Recent advances in ancient DNA research have opened the door for reconstructing the genomes of ancient individuals. In 2013, Ludovic Orlando and his team succeeded in decoding the genome of a ~700,000 year-old horse, which represents the oldest genome sequenced to date.

This time, the researchers focused on much more recent horse specimens, dating from ~16,000 and ~43,000 years ago. These were carefully selected to unambiguously predate the beginning of domestication, some 5,500 years ago. The bone fossils were excavated in the Taymyr Peninsula, Russia, where arctic conditions favor the preservation of DNA.

The human reshaping of the horse
While the horse contributed to reshaping human civilization, humans in turn reshaped the horse to fit their diverse needs and the diverse environments they lived in.

This transformation left specific signatures in the genomes of modern horses, which the ancient genomes helped reveal. The scientists were able to detect a set of 125 candidate genes involved in a wide range of physical and behavioral traits, by comparing the genomes of the two ancient horses with those of the Przewalski’s horse and five breeds of domesticated horses.

Says Dr. Dan Chang, post-doctoral researcher at the UCSC Paleogenomics Lab and co-leading author of the study: Our selection scans identified genes that were already known to evolve under strong selection in horses. This provided a nice validation of our approach.

Dr. Beth Shapiro, head of the UCSC Paleogenomics Lab continues: We provide the most extensive list of gene candidates that have been favored by humans following the domestication of horses. This list is fascinating as it includes a number of genes involved in the development of muscle and bones. This probably reveals the genes that helped utilizing horses for transportation.

And Dr. Ludovic Orlando from the Centre for GeoGenetics at the University of Copenhagen concludes: Perhaps even more exciting as it represents the hallmark of animal domestication, we identify genes controlling animal behavior and the response to fear. These genes could have been the key for turning wild animals into more docile domesticated forms.

The ‘cost of domestication’ in horses
However, the reshaping of the horse genome during their domestication also had significant negative impacts. This was apparent in the increasing levels of inbreeding found amongst domesticates, but also through an enhanced accumulation of deleterious mutations in their genomes relative to the ancient wild horses. This finding supports an earlier theory coined ‘the cost of domestication’, which predicted increasing genetic loads in domesticates compared to their wild ancestors. Says Professor Laurent Excoffier, University of Bern and group leader at the Swiss Institute for Bioinformatics: Domestication is generally associated with repeated demographic crashes. Yet, mutations that negatively impact genes are not eliminated by selection and can even increase in frequency when populations are small. Domestication thus generally comes at a cost, as deleterious mutations can accumulate in the genome. This had already been shown for rice and dogs. Horses now provide another example of this phenomenon.

This is something that was only detectable in the horse in comparison to the ancient genomes, as Przewalski’s horses were found to show a proportion of deleterious mutations similar to domesticated horses. Says Hakon Jonsson, PhD-student at the Centre for GeoGenetics, co-leading author of the study:

- The recent near extinction of the Przewalski’s horse population resulted in the persistence of deleterious mutations in the population, following the same mechanism that once led to the accumulation of deleterious mutations in the genomes of domesticated horses. What is striking is that a similar order of magnitude was reached even though this occurred in a much shorter time scale than domestication.”

An ancient contribution to the present
In addition, comparison of the ancient and modern genomes revealed that the ancient individuals contributed a significant amount of genetic variation to the modern population of domesticated horses, but not to the Przewalski’s horses.

This suggests that restocking from a wild population descendant from the ancient horses occurred during the domestication processes that ultimately led to the modern domesticated horses. Mikkel Schubert, PhD- student at the Centre for GeoGenetics, co-leading author of the study concludes: – This confirms previous findings that wild horses were used to restock the population of domesticated horses during the domestication process. However, as we sequenced whole genomes, we can estimate how much of the modern horse genome has been contributed through this process.

Our estimate suggests that at least 13%, and potentially up to as much as 60%, of the modern horse genome has been acquired by restocking from the extinct wild population. That we identified the population that contributed to this process demonstrates that it is possible to identify the ancestral genetic sources that ultimately gave rise to our domesticated horses.