Here’s a riddle: If an alien life form is, well, alien, how will we know what it is? DNA and RNA are the building blocks of life on Earth, but the molecules of life might differ substantially on another planet. So if scientists combing, say, the potentially habitable waters of Jupiter’s moon Europa were to stumble across a new life form, how could they know what they had discovered? Continue reading How Scientists Could Use DNA Sequencing to Identify Alien Life
In his essay, Why Africana History?, the great scholar and historian Dr. John Henrik Clarke wrote: “The Europeans not only colonialized most of the world, they began to colonialize information about the world and its people. In order to do this, they had to forget, or pretend to forget, all they had previously known about the Africans.” Dr. Clarke’s words are still very relevant today, evident by the fact that textbooks in Texas recently began referring to enslaved Africans as “workers” rather than a group of people who were forcibly taken from their homes in bondage. In addition, the ancient Egyptian Queen Nefertiti was recently portrayed as a white woman by a scientist claiming to have created a scientifically accurate facial reconstruction based on her skull. Continue reading Neanderthals Vs. Africans: Who Was the First to Create Art?
In 1903, the remains of a 10,000-year-old man were discovered in the Cheddar Gorge of Somerset, England. Dubbed the “Cheddar Man,” it remains the oldest almost complete skeleton ever found in Britain. Over the years, research has shown that he stood around five-foot-five, he was well-fed and he likely died in his early 20s. Now, as Paul Rincon of the BBC reports, genome analysis has revealed that Cheddar Man had dark brown skin and blue eyes—a discovery that adds to a growing body of research indicating that the evolution of human skin color was far more complex than previously believed.
For decades, scientists have speculated about when exactly the bipedal apes known as Homo sapiens left Africa and moved out to conquer the world. That moment, after all, was a crucial step on the way to today’s human-dominated world. For many years, the consensus view among archaeologists placed the exodus at 60,000 years ago—some 150,000 years after the hominins first appeared.
When we see a large cat capturing its prey on the African savannah, we’re literally watching millions of years of evolution in action. But these attacks don’t always end in a meal, as “survival of the fittest” sometimes means the target gets to make a daring escape. New research uncovers the athleticism involved in these predator-prey encounters, and the best strategies for capturing prey—or avoiding being eaten.
If you’ve seen BBC’s Planet Earth, you may recall of one of its sillier scenes: the superb bird-of-paradise mating dance. A female hops up to a male, who unveils a mane of feathers and puts on a performance like a drunk rendition of “Bohemian Rhapsody” at a karaoke bar. But when the male bird faces the camera, things go black—way black. Skip to 2:34 in the video below. This bird’s feathers are so black that you can’t see any of its facial features, just radiant blues on a sea of natural Vantablack.
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI—Most of us think of Europe as the ancestral home of white people. But a new study shows that pale skin, as well as other traits such as tallness and the ability to digest milk as adults, arrived in most of the continent relatively recently. The work, presented here last week at the 84th annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, offers dramatic evidence of recent evolution in Europe and shows that most modern Europeans don’t look much like those of 8000 years ago.