We Are Making Ebola Outbreaks Worse By Cutting Down Forests

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!

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



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

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:


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How You Can Help the Animal Victims of the Nepal Earthquake

How You Can Help the Animal Victims of the Nepal Earthquake

On Saturday April, 25th, a devastating earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale hit the Kathmandu valley in Nepal. At the time of writing, over 5,000 people have been confirmed dead and the country’s Prime Minister has warned that the death toll may rise to 10,000 in the coming days. Charity, UNICEF, has said that more than one million children have been affected by the earthquake. Thousands of people are staying in temporary camps as homes have been destroyed and built-up areas are feared unsafe. Humanitarian aid workers, doctors, nurses and members of the public are now doing what they can to support the survivors of this tragedy in the aftermath of the largest earthquake to hit the region in over 80 years.

In addition to vital work being carried out to help the human victims of the earthquake, animal organizations have been working hard to offer support, veterinary care, shelter, food and water to animals in desperate need. Frightened and injured animals are receiving life-saving treatment at the hands of emergency vets and lost and abandoned companion animals are being cared for by rescuers. Like people, animals have been left without food, water and shelter and are at high risk of disease.

Below is information about four organizations that are working hard for animals in the midst of the devastation and how you can help them.

1. Animal Nepal

How You Can Help the Animal Victims of the Nepal Earthquake

Animal Nepal is a Nepalese NGO which works to deliver spay, neuter, and vaccination programs for stray animals as well as striving to improve the welfare of working donkeys and elephants.

An update on the organization’s Facebook Page confirmed that in the wake of the earthquake, they were in desperate need of donations to buy supplies, rebuild quarantine units for donkeys and dogs and conduct outreach in the worst affected villages of Lalitpur District. In addition, the team confirmed that five of the NGO’s team members’ homes were destroyed in the quake.

If you would like to support the group’s appeal for help, please donate via Animal Nepal’s website.

2. The KAT Center

The KAT center delivers an important spay, neuter, and vaccination program to some of Kathmandu’s 22,500 street dogs. Three days after the earthquake hit, the KAT Center reported: “due to the frequent tremors we had, some parts of the wall premises collapsed. We are doing our best to cover up the walls with everything we can to prevent the dogs from escaping. Also, we are currently facing huge problems with food and water.”

Despite the immense challenges being faced by the organization, staff from the KAT Center hit the streets of the city on Wednesday to deliver emergency care for animals who need them.

If you can support KAT’s emergency fund to help street animals in Kathmandu at this important time, please donate via their website.

3. Humane Society International


Humane Society International’s vet team is flying out to Nepal armed with veterinary medicines, vaccinations, surgical equipment, and other supplies. The organization confirmed that its team will support local animal welfare groups on the ground to reach animals in need.

A Humane Society International spokesperson explained in a press release, “When a disaster of this magnitude strikes, people, and animals living in the same community all fall victim to the devastating consequences. Many thousands of animals will likely be badly affected by the earthquake, alongside their human companions and owners.”

To donate to Humane Society International’s International Disaster Relief Fund, please visit their website.

4. World Animal Protection

International NGO, World Animal Protection, has an experienced disaster response team and vets and personnel from the expert organization flew out to Nepal on Tuesday evening. A spokesperson for World Animal Protection said:

“The scale of this disaster is catastrophic for both people and animals. Our team of disaster specialist vets are on their way to Kathmandu to give desperately needed help.”

To support World Animal Protection’s dedicated Disaster Response Fund, please visit their website to donate.

Help Us to Spread the Word!

We know that donating isn’t always possible for everyone but, don’t worry, you can still support the heroic work of those on the ground right now in Nepal by simply spreading the word! Please share this article far and wide in support of the animal victims of this tragedy, and the wonderful people working hard to save them.

Lead image source: World Animal Protection

See something, Say something. Bookmark, share and help further build our directory of Animal Rescue Hotlines and let’s be prepared to help animals today!

250 snakes released into the wild

250 snakes released into the wild

Originally posted on Global News:

REGINA – Nearly 250 snakes captured from a farmhouse near Regina in November were released back into the wild Saturday afternoon.

Over the winter, three students from Saskatchewan Polytechnic cared for 99 of the hibernating snakes. They checked in on them daily, monitoring their weight as well as the temperature and the humidity of their artificial hibernation chambers.

The remaining 150 snakes were cared for at Salthaven West, a wildlife rehabilitation centre. Instead of hibernating, the snakes were fed and kept awake.

The reptiles were rescued in November after they wriggled into an old farm house through cracks in its foundation.

The snakes were released Saturday at the Condie Nature Refuge, northwest of Regina.


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Here’s What Not to Do If Pope Francis Calls You Up

Here’s What Not to Do If Pope Francis Calls You Up

Originally posted on TIME:

(VATICAN CITY) — Hang up on Pope Francis and you might get a hug.

Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano says earlier this week, Francis dialed an ailing Italian man to comfort him. Francis has a habit of calling people who he has heard are suffering and telling them “Hello, I’m Pope Francis” when they answer their phone.

The newspaper said the man, Franco Rabuffi, hung up twice, thinking it was a prankster.

On the third call, he realized it truly was Francis and was speechless. The paper says Francis told Rabuffi he was amused. Rabuffi and his wife were invited to the pope’s public audience Wednesday in St. Peter’s Square, where Francis hugged them and assured them he really did dial the man’s phone.

The paper didn’t specify the man’s illness or age.

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