evolution, Miscellaneous, Science and society

Humans: born to…migrate?

Following on from that Nature feature on human migration I blogged about  a couple of weeks ago, is another interesting piece in Science provocatively titled: “Busting myths of origin.” It is, however, exactly as the title says: analysis of DNA and isotopes in bones and teeth is showing that most of the people of the world are the products of multiple migrations: there are no “pure” peoples of any kind, with the exception of a very few groups, notably the indigenous Australian Aborigines, who, largely through accidents of geography and circumstance, remained isolated from many other human groups for a relatively long time. Migration and mingling, it turns out, is the norm for our species.

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biology, evolution, Science

The eyes have it

There’s been a lot of study into how vertebrates colonised the land, conjuring up lovely visions of our fishy ancestors hauling themselves out onto the mud on stumpy proto-limbs, helped by exciting fossil finds like Tiktaalik. What hasn’t been studied so much is why. It seems obvious – whole new ecological niches to expand into, and a rich abundance of invertebrate life to eat…but how did the animals know this before they got there? Well it may have been because they had evolved eyes sophisticated enough to take a good look at the view… Continue reading


Perception versus reality: the refugee crisis

There’s been an awful lot of talk thrown around lately about fake news, people living in “Facebook bubbles” where they only get news that agrees with opinions they already have, etc. There is also a lot of ongoing serious analysis about how people’s perceptions differ from reality, and how easy this is to influence in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. These things affect how people vote, and the policies of their governments – but these too, can be based on false perception. So I thought I’d just link to a piece in Nature [free to read] about the refugee situation worldwide; it has a lovely clear infographic you can download and good interactive figures. This is based on as good a data as is available, and it made me realise a lot of my own perceptions were flawed. I knew already, for example, that the of numbers of refugees entering Europe from Syria was much higher than it actually was, and that most of these refugees were being absorbed by neighbouring countries like Lebanon and Turkey. I did not know this:

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