We trekked through the Bolivian Amazon, drenched in sweat. Draped head to toe in bug repellent gear, we stayed just ahead of the clouds of mosquitoes as we sidestepped roots, vines and giant ants. My local research assistant Dino Nate, my partner Kelly Rosinger and I were following Julio, one of my Tsimane’ friends and our guide on this day. Tsimane’ are a group of forager-horticulturalists who live in this hot, humid region. Just behind us, Julio’s three-year-old son floated happily through the jungle, unfazed by the heat and insects despite his lack of protective clothing, putting my perspiration-soaked efforts to shame.
At first, an embryo has no front or back, head or tail. It’s a simple sphere of cells. But soon enough, the smooth clump begins to change. Fluid pools in the middle of the sphere. Cells flow like honey to take up their positions in the future body. Sheets of cells fold origami-style, building a heart, a gut, a brain.Read More »
Illustration of an antibody-producing B cell. New research suggests our immune system can remember how to produce antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 at least eight months after infection, and probably even longer.Shutterstock
Early in the pandemic, many researchers feared people who contracted COVID could be reinfected very quickly. This was because several earlystudies showed antibodies seemed to wane after the first few months post-infection.
It was also partly because normal human coronaviruses, which are one cause of common colds and are cousins of SARS-CoV-2, do not generate long-lasting immunity, so we can get reinfected with them after 12 months.
Microbes cling to life in some of Earth’s most extreme environments, from toxic hot springs to high-altitude deserts. These ‘extremophiles’ include organisms that can survive near-boiling heat or near-freezing cold, high pressure or high salt, as well as environments steeped in acids, alkalis, metals or radioactivity.Read More »
The revolutionary animal lived and died in the muck. In its final hours, it inched across the sea floor, leaving a track like a tyre print, and finally went still. Then geology set to work. Over the next half a billion years, sediment turned to stone, preserving the deathbed scene. The fossilized creature looks like a piece of frayed rope measuring just a few centimetres wide. But it was a trailblazer among living things.
This was the earliest-known animal to show unequivocal evidence of two momentous innovations packaged together: the ability to roam the ocean floor, and a body built from segments. It was also among the oldest known to have clear front and back ends, and a left side that mirrored its right. Those same features are found today in animals from flies to flying foxes, from lobsters to lions.Read More »
Human history is for the dogs. The largest-ever study of ancient genomes from the animals suggests that where people went, so did their four-legged friends — to a point. The research also identified major regional shifts in human ancestry that left little mark on dog populations, as well as times when dogs changed, but their masters didn’t.
The analysis of more than two dozen Eurasian dogs also suggests the animals were domesticated and became widespread around the world well before 11,000 years ago. But it does not make any claims as to when or where domestication from wolves happened, an issue that has vexed researchers and sparked sometimes heated debate.Read More »
THE development of new knowledge is a fascinating exercise. Since humans evolved, they have been driven by curiosity to learn more and more about nature. Over time the knowledge accumulated came to be systematised and this is what we call science. The hunger for knowledge deepened and expanded our collective understanding of nature. This knowledge is utilised to create tools and other artifacts that humans use to improve conditions of living. Science has always been a collective activity, though under capitalism today there are attempts by corporations to claim ownerships over knowledge through the exercise of intellectual property rights – in the form of patents, copyrights, etc.Read More »