MI weekly selection #21

Forensic facial reconstruction based on human remains excavated in James Fort, Jamestown, Va. | Credits: Artist: StudioEIS; Photo: Don Hurlbert, Smithsonian
Forensic facial reconstruction based on human remains excavated in James Fort, Jamestown, Va. | Credits: Artist: StudioEIS; Photo: Don Hurlbert, Smithsonian

Jamestown settlers turned to cannibalism to survive, bones show

The scarred skull of a 14-year-old girl reveals that English settlers in Jamestown, Va., may have engaged in cannibalism to survive. A brutal winter in 1609 brought a food shortage, killing off 80% of the population. Marks on the girl’s skull and tibia are the first evidence that settlers turned to eating each other to survive.

Smithsonian Magazine

 

A tetrahedral protein

A protein has been created in the lab that folds itself into a tetrahedron and could lend itself to other shapes. The authors say that attaching antibodies to the four vertices of this protein tetrahedron could enable it to target particular cells.

Nature News

Gradišar, H. et al. Nature Chemical Biology (2013) Design of a single-chain polypeptide tetrahedron assembled from coiled-coil segments DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nchembio.1248

 

Fish use gestures to help hunting partners find prey

Coral trout and grouper fish, which hunt with other animals, often use gestures, or sign language, to help each other uncover prey. Researchers found that the fish would use their heads to point out hiding prey to their hunting partners.

Not exactly rocket science

Vail et al Nature Communications (2013) Referential gestures in fish collaborative hunting DOI: 10.1038/ncomms2781

 

Predecessors of dinosaurs found in Africa

Scientists say the creatures that preceded dinosaurs probably developed in what is modern-day Zambia and Tanzania. One fossil found in the area, Nyasasaurus parringtoni, a dog-sized animal with a 5-foot-long tail, may be the oldest closest relative to the dinosaur. But true dinosaurs first show up about 230 million years ago from what is now Argentina.

Discovery news

Sidor et al PNAS (2013) Provincialization of terrestrial faunas following the end-Permian mass extinction DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1302323110

 

Activity in the hypothalamus affects cognitive and physical decline.

An immune system pathway in the hypothalamus seems to help control aging in mice. Activating a complex protein in the hypothalamus speed up aging in mice. Blocking that protein prolonged the mice’s lives.

Nature news

Zhang et al Nature (2013) Hypothalamic programming of systemic ageing involving IKK-β, NF-κB and GnRH DOI: 10.1038/nature12143

 

 

 

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