Current Event Summaries by Ashley A.

5 Responses to Current Event Summaries by Ashley A.

  1. Ashley Adams says:

    Title: Ancient DNA Reveals the First Glimpse of what a Denisovan may have Looked Like
    URL:https://www.sciencenews.org/article/ancient-dna-reveals-first-glimpse-what-denisovan-girl-looked-like
    Author(s): Bruce Bower
    Published by: sciencenews.org
    Date: September 19, 2019

    Article Summary:
    There has been new research that may have identified what a Denisovan looked like. Denisovans are an extinct group of archaic humans. Scientists have developed an image of a young girl, who they believed resembles a Denisovan. So far, only a few actual bones have been discovered. So, evolutionary geneticists have used ancient DNA patterns to create the image. Many other scientists are skeptical of the appearance proposed. They say the image can’t be accurate until more actual bones have been discovered. Some evidence also suggests that Denisovans’ were more closely related to Neanderthals, another extinct group of archaic humans, than to Homo sapiens (present day people). Researchers have also used DNA methylation to study what would affect particular bone shapes. They used Neanderthal and chimp skeletons to study these differences. From this they concluded, Denisovans did share many similarities with Neanderthals. For now, scientists will continue using DNA methylation techniques to better the accuracy of their suggested image.

    Personal Reaction:
    For some reason it hasn’t crossed my mind that ancient humans could have looked completely different from us. I have always learned about evolution in my science classes. Perhaps, even all the way back in elementary school. But, I haven’t given a whole lot of thought to the progression of humans. It’s also kind of extraordinary to me that we look for human fossils, with the same importance as if the scientists are hunting for dinosaur fossils. I’m really hoping more articles on this topic come out soon. I’ve actually become genuinely interested in the topic of human evolution. Hopefully I can continue to research other types of archaic humans.

  2. Ashley says:

    Title: Molecule Links Weight Gain To Gut Bacteria
    URL: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/09/190927135200.htm
    Author(s): Zheng Kuang, Yuhao Wang
    Published by: UT Southwestern Medical Center

    Date: September 27, 2019

    Article Summary:
    Scientists believe they have found the beginning step to help solve the problem of obesity and malnutrition. They discovered the main element that helps “synchronize the absorption of nutrients in the gut with the rhythms of the Earth’s day-night light cycle.” The first step of the study showed that the good bacteria (commensal) in mammal’s guts are in charge of metabolism rhythms. These rhythms dictate the body’s absorption of dietary fat. They are programmed by a microbe that activates a protein called HDAC3. This is composed of gut-lining cells, which help with digestion. The study was conducted on mice. It showed that HDAC3 activated genes that take part in the absorption of fat. The study also stated that HDAC3 works with the body’s biological clock in the gut and regulates the absorption of fat. For humans the “regulation” takes place during the day, while at night for mice. HDAC3 actually helps our metabolism, but when we eat too much, the communication of it with our bodies can lead to obesity. The test went like this. The scientist, Dr. Hooper, raised germ-free mice in an environment with no microbes. The mice were tested with changing levels of histone modifications, which control the genes that make proteins for the cell. The levels seemed to differ with changing sleep to wake rhythms. Mice with bacteria vs the ones without had different histone modifications, one being HDAC3. The germ free mice had a steady level, while the others were circadian, meaning happening naturally on the daily cycle. Two labs then formed a mouse to lack HDAC3 in its gut lining. When it ate normal chow, everything seemed the same. Yet, the mice with no HDAC3 in their intestinal lining didn’t gain weight, even after eating high sugar and fat diets. Both the germ free and regular mice reacted this way. Thus, proving that HDAC3 plays a role in circadian rhythms (changes in a daily cycle).
    Personal Reaction:
    I think this is a very important discovery. It is known that obesity is a large struggle, especially in the United States. This could be our first step to making a change. Maybe we could create the equivalent of HDAC3 free humans as well. All it’s basically doing is making us absorb fat. This was probably an evolution trait needed by our bodies back when food was more scarce. But, with the abundance of food we clearly have, it seems to be doing more harm than good. For now, much more research needs to be done before we try to shift the genetic makeup of our metabolism or absorption of fat.

  3. Ashley Adams says:

    Title: Dog Behaviors Like Aggression and Fearfulness are Linked to Breed Genetics
    URL: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/dog-breed-behavior-genetics
    Author(s): Jonathan Lambert
    Published by: sciencenews.org
    Date: October 1, 2019

    Article Summary:
    Many believe that training your dog has the biggest effect on its behavior. But, new studies have shown that much of a dog’s behavior comes from genetics and instincts. Scientists tested 101 dog breeds to test similar behavioral traits. Factors such as trainability and aggression were studied, the results showed similar breeds had similar results. Even small things, such as aggression towards strangers, varies from different dog breeds. For example, a survey was taken by dog owners. Data from 14,000 dogs was recorded. Researchers gave a score to each of the breeds under 14 behavioral traits. Under the characteristics of aggression, chasing, and trainability, results showed genes contributed to 60-70 percent of difference in results throughout the different breeds. But, the data did show that training did make a difference in fearfulness. The studies and research proved that training isn’t the ONLY factor in play, when it comes to the actions of dogs.

    Personal Reaction:
    I think this research is very important for several things. On a large scale, I think this study was a large advancement in behavioral studies. For a smaller impact, this research should be considered when it comes to picking out your dog breed before you buy it. Many people get dogs, but they end up being a lot more aggressive than originally anticipated. This ends up with so many dogs in the pound. I have a feeling that we could slash numbers in dogs in the pound, if people understood what they were getting themselves into. Dog owners need to understand that even with training, some dogs aren’t bred for the lifestyle some people want.

  4. Ashley Adams says:

    Title: Brave new world: Simple changes in intensity of weather events ‘could be lethal’
    URL: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/09/190930131549.htm
    Author(s): Talia Ogliore
    Published by: Washington University in St. Louis
    Date: September 30, 2019

    Article Summary:
    Hurricane Dorian is one of the most recent examples of extreme weather. But, based off of how often weather instances like this seem to happen, we know it won’t be the last. Even worse, these weather events are causing climate change. New research has shown how this is affecting different species. Many animals and plants are having a hard time keeping up. A new model has been built that may demonstrate what kind of species will be driven to extinction. It also shows that animal and plant life that has been exposed to other types of climate challenges, are more likely to survive and evolve from this. The model works to illustrate how past populations have been affected by things such as hurricanes or tsunamis. Then, it shows the evolution of the species, post weather extreme. They were able to pinpoint points of vulnerability. For example, species that only breed a single time in their lifetime tend to evolve frequently. Meaning they are more prepared for changes in their surroundings. Whereas others are less prepared. They breed as if environmental extremes will never occur. So, species that have been past exposed to weather change are likely to evolve, or at the very least, survive. But, this could be fatal for creatures that do not plan for the evolvement of their own kind because they have no previous trauma with environmental extremes.

    Personal Reaction:
    This article scares me to be completely honest. This could lead to the end of many creatures. It’s a good thing that some will grow and evolve, but that shouldn’t be an issue. It seems that we need to figure out the key reason for the growing rate in climate tragedies. I know many scientists say that the rising rate in earth’s temperature are the reason for this. Further, it’s said the cause for this is growing rates in pollution. So, it seems to me, the human population needs to be more aware of what we are doing to the environment. If we can do this, then we can prevent more tragedies, such as the extinction of many species.

  5. Ashley Adams says:

    Title: US and Canada have lost more than 1 in 4 birds in the past 50 years
    URL: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/09/190919142331.htm
    Author(s): Kenneth V. Rosenberg
    Published by: Cornell University
    Date: September 19, 2019

    Article Summary:
    The journal, Science, has revealed the results to their most recent study. Since 1970, there has been a 29% decrease in birds in the US and Canada. That’s the equivalent to 3 billion birds. Song birds, such as meadowlarks, to swallows and sparrows, have been some of the birds with plummeting numbers. Researchers say they expect to see continuing patterns of decreasing populations. This shows that the environment is having trouble sustaining its wildlife. This is due to tremendous amounts of environmental harm, done by the human population. Of the birds lost, 90% of them play large roles in food webs, seed dispersal, and pest control. Scientists have also noted the decline in amphibians and insects. This shows the “domino effect.” Meaning one environmental struggle leads to another, and so on. Pretty soon, there will be large decays in ecosystems. Which, impacts all life. Some root causes for the decline in birds are, loss of habitat, collisions with buildings and structures, and use of pesticides on insects (consumed by birds). It’s not too late to save them. We can minimize the use of harmful pesticides, create sanctuaries, keeping house cats indoors, and protecting the already existing wildlife habitats. These steps are crucial if we want to reverse the damage we’ve done.

    Personal Reaction:
    This makes me realize how little attention humans really pay to what we’re doing to our earth. We are basically killing our own creatures, and we are surely not doing enough to try to change. Articles like this are meant to increase our awareness of the reality of what’s actually going on around us. If we continue to let birds or other species die on our behalf, then we will also have to change our own way of life. This is because our environment will continue to decline without its native species. It almost makes me feel foolish for being blinded by the pretty buildings, or city skylines. Behind closed doors, there’s actually a struggling environment trying to survive off of what we’ve left them with, which isn’t much. I will try to keep my cats indoors so they aren’t hunting my neighborhood birds for sport. I think if we all make small steps of improvement, it will lead to a great result.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *