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Archive for the ‘Evolution’ Category

“Now, it should be noted that the researchers aren’t trying to emulate a complete honey bee brain, but rather two specific and complex functions within it, namely vision and sense of smell.”

“By isolating and modeling these particular functions, the researchers hope to provide their flying robot with the cognitive power required to perform basic tasks — and without a set of pre-programmed instructions. It is hoped, for example, that the robotic bee will be able to detect particular odors or gasses in the same way that real bee can identify certain flowers.”

via New project aims to upload a honey bee’s brain into a flying insectobot by 2015.

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Scientists have taken a step forward in helping to solve one of life’s greatest mysteries – what makes us human?
via New brain gene gives us edge over apes, study suggests.

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Human animals have always had a hefty egoic sense of exceptionalism which has proven harmful, and often lethal, to all other animals. We tell ourselves we are the only animals who can feel pain, then discover most other creatures have fully

 functioning nervous systems. We tell ourselves we are the only animals with emotional capacities, so we call evidence of emotions in other animals “merely instinct”. We tell ourselves we are the only animals with a sense of morality, until we experience it in animals with whom we have become familiar.

Human Beings may seem exceptional to themselves, but in the whole scope of things, we are just one member of a very large tribe of living creatures, all of whom are in various stages of evolutionary adaptation.

via Mark Rowlands – Animal morality.

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Scientists found a region in the brain responsible for “eye contact”.

Making direct eye contact with someone gives you that feeling of a special connection because it excites newly discovered “eye cells” in the amygdala, the part of the brain that processes emotions and social interactions.

via Eye-contact detector found in the brain – life – 16 October 2012 – New Scientist.

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Perhaps our brains are not equipped to get the Big Picture. Maybe they evolved to deal with only a narrow spectrum of reality, focused on day to day reality just enough to keep us going. Maybe at this point our brains are not capable of comprehending the incomprehensible.

Perhaps the question of our origin and of ultimate reality doesn’t need to be answered to find wellbeing. What if freedom lies instead in the capacity to live with not knowing? What would it feel like to be utterly at home, in the midst of the mystery?

 

via Being Human A-Z | Being Human.

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P
eople aren’t really stupid.

These people are not stupid. These people were well educated and intellectually groomed. Stupid isn’t the right word for these people.

These people were susceptible. Their individual and collective egos were reaching up towards an ideal which held them as superior beings.

I proffer that this type of egoic reaction is somewhat involuntary. Many are able to resist the enticement of superiority, or worship, of self-aggrandizement, but eventually all but the rarest of creatures gives way and wallows within the hope of it.

I think it is a security vulnerability in the software of the human brain. Just as we rush to prepare patches to shore up the vulnerabilities on our technological counterparts, so, too, could we rush to prepare a patch for this paradigm shifting vulnerability which has been repeatedly exploited throughout history by those who have a clear understanding of how it works.

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This telecomunications Japanese company made a 300 year plan. They predict and anticipate that we will develop telepathy and that computers will surpass the computational capabilities of the human brain by 2018.

Just think:In the very near futu

re, planning 300 years in advance will be standard operating procedure for any respectable company. The long-tail will be 500-1000 out. It is gratifying to see a company break the “20-year” or “30-year” planning barrier and begin talking matter-of-factly about a more realistic model which will be made possible by the same technological wizardry they plan to develop.

via The hottest tech of 2015 and beyond – Softbank’s 300-year plan (7) – CNNMoney.

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The co-founder of the theory of evolution, Alfred Russell Wallace, now has his own completely digitized on-line library. 

It is the first complete edition of the writings of naturalist and co-founder of the theory of evolution Alfred Russel Wallace. Including a comprehensive compilation of his specimens – much of it never before seen.

via Wallace Online.

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Just days after a poacher’s snare had killed one of their own, two young mountain gorillas worked together Tuesday to find and destroy traps in their Rwandan forest home, according to conservationists on the scene.

“This is absolutely the first time that we’ve seen juveniles doing that … I don’t know of any other reports in the world of juveniles destroying snares,” said Veronica Vecellio, gorilla program coordinator at the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund’s Karisoke Research Center, located in the reserve where the event took place.

“We are the largest database and observer of wild gorillas … so I would be very surprised if somebody else has seen that,” Vecellio added.

via Gorilla Youngsters Seen Dismantling Poachers’ Traps—A First.

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“The beginning of a beautiful friendship? In some interspecies relationships, ants “tend” to a single caterpillar, preventing it from being attacked by predators. In return for such protection services, they are rewarded with the larva’s sugary secretions. New research has now shown that the rate of evolution in a mutualistic relationship does not depend only on the type of interactions, but also on the number of individuals involved.

The relationship between species determines how rapidly they evolve. Parasites and their hosts coevolve more rapidly, and partners in a mutualistic relationship can evolve more slowly. But this view is obviously too simplistic. The rate of evolution in a mutualistic relationship does not depend only on the type of interactions, but also on the number of individuals involved, according to a model developed by researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön, Germany. Therefore, while partners can benefit from slow evolution if only two individuals interact, a higher rate of evolution may be favoured if several individuals are involved.”

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-09-relationships-based-mutuality-individuals-involved.html#jCp

via In relationships based on mutuality, number of individuals involved can determine rate at which species evolve.

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Changing/Choosing the Type of Ant Is Easy
(by manipulating simple chemicals during egg growth)

A facebook page entitled simply “Evolution” explains it thus: 
Is the reality of Captain America still far off? Putting it simply, yes. However, manipulating genes can unleash the ‘Super Soldier’ inside Ants

.

Ants are famous for their teamwork, living in vast colonies in nests of fantastic sizes, with one colony in Australia even measuring 100km wide. The level of cooperation and organisation within colonies is incredibly complex with it often being likened to human organisation and as such is often studied as a base model to increase efficiency of human systems. 

This organisation relies on a number of key types or “castes” of ant as they are often called. Workers and soldiers continuously work to protect and feed their Queen, but some species also rely on a caste of ant known as ‘supersoldiers’. These ants protect the Queen by blocking the entrance to the colonies nest with their abnormally large heads.

Usually the caste of an ant is decided by the environment the egg grows in. Tiny changes to factors, such as temperature and nutrition, affect the individuals purpose within the colony. Dr. Abouheif and his team, from McGill University in Montreal, have discovered that the caste of an ant can be changed by altering the concentration of juvenile hormone in the egg.

This was tested in a number of species and even found that many species that didn’t naturally have the ‘supersoldier’ caste could produce this type of ant with the right amount of juvenile hormone added to an egg, at the right stage of development. The fact that species without the caste can naturally have it induced in them shows that organisms with common ancestors can be commonly affected to produce evolutionary significant changes, all through the interplay of relatively simple chemicals. 

This could mean that if similar relationships are found within other organisms, we could easily manipulate them to produce fantastic benefits for human kind such as fast growing and breeding crops in harsh conditions, which would help to end world hunger or if we could learn to reverse these relationships we may be able to reverse the rapid growth of cancerous cells potentially, curing one of the most deadly diseases known to man. JB

Abouheif, E. et al., 2012. Ancestral Developmental Potential Facilitates Parallel Evolution in Ants. Science, 335 (6064) pp. 79-82.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3561352.stm
http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/16424096

via BBC Nature – Ants turned into ‘supersoldiers’.

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“As children assimilate cultural concepts into their intuitive belief systems—from God to atoms to evolution—they engage in coexistence thinking,” said Cristine Legare, assistant professor of psychology and lead author of the study.

“When they merge supernatural and scientific explanations, they integrate them in a variety of predictable and universal ways.”

via People merge supernatural and scientific beliefs when reasoning with the unknown, study shows.

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Last March a team of scientists used a new and powerful scanner to peer into the cerebral cortex and other underlying structures with an unprecedented level of resolution. What they found surprised them: rather than an incomprehensible bundle of twists and turns, the basic structure of the brain is a simple, three-dimensional grid. 

via Scan Reveals Brain’s Structure To Be Much Simpler Than We Thought | Singularity Hub.

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Scientists have identified a type of stem cell that appears to be responsible for the neurons involved in higher brain function. The discovery may pave the way for new treatments for autism and schizophrenia.

via Stem cells responsible for higher brain function found – health – 09 August 2012 – New Scientist.

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Abstract

Ornament displays seen in animals convey information about genetic quality, developmental history and current disease state to both prospective sexual partners and potential rivals. In this context, showing of teeth through smiles etc is a characteristic feature of human social interaction. Tooth development is influenced by genetic and environmental factors. Adult teeth record environmental and traumatic events, as well as the effects of disease and ageing. Teeth are therefore a rich source of information about individuals and their histories. This study examined the effects of digital manipulations of tooth colour and spacing. Results showed that deviation away from normal spacing and/or the presence of yellowed colouration had negative effects on ratings of attractiveness and that these effects were markedly stronger in female models. Whitening had no effect beyond that produced by natural colouration. This indicates that these colour induced alterations in ratings of attractiveness are mediated by increased/decreased yellowing rather than whitening per se. Teeth become yellower and darker with age. Therefore it is suggested that whilst the teeth of both sexes act as human ornament displays, the female display is more complex because it additionally signals residual reproductive value.

via PLoS ONE: Evidence to Suggest That Teeth Act as Human Ornament Displays Signalling Mate Quality.

via Evidence to Suggest That Teeth Act as Human Ornament Displays Signalling Mate Quality.

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