MI weekly selection #13

European rabbit | Credit: Wikimedia Commons
European rabbit | Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Bunnies implicated in the demise of Neanderthals in Iberia

Excavations are shedding light on what might have been a significant factor in the demise of the Neanderthal: the inability to hunt small game. The remains of large animals are prevalent in Neanderthal cave excavations, but the bones of smaller animals such as rabbits were prevalent among early humans.

New Scientist

John E. Fa, John R. Stewart, Lluís Lloveras, J. Mario Vargas (2013) Rabbits and hominin survival in Iberia Journal of Human Evolution DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2013.01.002

Common people in ancient Rome ate millet

New research indicates that the vast majority of Romans subsisted on millet, a grain used for livestock feed. A team of researchers studied isotopes found in the bones of skeletons from two Roman cemeteries and determined that many of the poor survived on grains that the wealthy considered fit only for livestock.


Kristina Killgrove & Robert H. Tykot (2013) Food for Rome: A stable isotope investigation of diet in the Imperial period (1st–3rd centuries AD) Journal of Anthropological Archaelogy DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jaa.2012.08.002

Elusive water dimer detected at last

Scientists in Russia have observed water dimers in atmospheric conditions for the first time, following 40 years of research


M. Yu. Tretyakov , E. A. Serov, M. A. Koshelev, V. V. Parshin, and A. F. Krupnov (2013) Water Dimer Rotationally Resolved Millimeter-Wave Spectrum Observation at Room Temperature Physical Review Letters DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.110.093001

Researchers use algae gene to boost oil content in plant leaves

Scientists used a gene from green algae to boost the oil content in the leaves of the Arabidopsis thaliana plant, a breakthrough that could have implications for bioenergy production.

MSU Today

Sanjaya, Miller R, Durrett TP, Kosma DK, Lydic TA, Muthan B, Koo AJ, Bukhman YV, Reid GE, Howe GA, Ohlrogge J, Benning C. (2013) Altered Lipid Composition and Enhanced Nutritional Value of Arabidopsis Leaves following Introduction of an Algal Diacylglycerol Acyltransferase 2. The Plant Cell DOI: ​10.​1105/​tpc.​112.​104752

Could salty food be the cause behind autoimmune diseases?

Diets high in salt may contribute to autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and inflammatory bowel disease, according to a study published in the journal Nature. The findings, based on studies of cultured cells and rodents, suggest salt promotes the development of an immune cell often identified as the culprit behind various autoimmune diseases. Researchers plan to look at whether there is a link between a high-salt diet and human autoimmune diseases.

Science Now

Markus Kleinewietfeld, Arndt Manzel, Jens Titze, Heda Kvakan, Nir Yosef, Ralf A. Linker, Dominik N. Muller & David A. Hafler (2013) Nature Sodium chloride drives autoimmune disease by the induction of pathogenic TH17 cells DOI: 10.1038/nature11868

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