Archive for December, 2013
An international team of geneticists headed by Matthias Meyer of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany reported earlier in the December journal Nature on the DNA isolated from 28 hominins estimated to be 400,000 years of age. These fossils had been excavated in the 1970’s from the ninety-foot cold and damp underground Sima de los Huesos, Pit of Bones, cave located in the Atapuerca Mountains of northern Spain.
While the shape and size of the fossil bones look-like the Neanderthals, genetically they were more closely related to yet another ancient human species, the Denisovans. In an interview with TIME science writer Per Liljas, Meyer complained, “The fact that they show a mitochondrial genome sequence similar to that of Denisovans is irritating. Our results suggest that the evolutionary history of Neanderthals and Denisovans may be very complicated.”
Leading origin of life researchers will assemble next month in Galveston, Texas for the “Understanding the Origin and Evolution of Life on Earth and the Galaxy” conference hosted by Gordon Research Conferences (GRC), a non-profit organization started in 1931.
GRC provides a forum for scientists to discuss “frontier research in the biological, chemical, and physical sciences, and their related technologies.” However, in an affront to transparency, access to the conference is restricted. Only those sent an invitation can register for this event−not even the press. The conference rules are defined by non-citability. Whatever is said at the conference must stay at the conference with attendees agreeing not to quote what anyone said−the shrouding of origin of life research.
Eryn Brown, writing for the Los Angeles Times, published an article last week entitled “Richard Dawkins discusses evolution, religion and his fans” based on an interview over coffee at the chic Mondrian Hotel on the Sunset Boulevard in West Los Angeles.
To the question “what scientific work are you particularly interested in today,” Dawkins replied, “I’m fascinated by the idea that genetics is digital. A gene is a long sequence of coded letters, like computer information. Modern biology is becoming very much a branch of information technology.”
“Can having all that data change the study of molecular biology and evolution” Brown then asked. “It’s hugely more data to work from,” Dawkins said. “You really can compare letter by letter. The complete tree of life should be gettable, if only we could sequence everything, and that’s limited only by money and time”−a purely deceptive distortion of the facts.