Ecology

Gene Expression

Category archives for Ecology

The Middle-to-Upper Palaeolithic transition in Cova Gran (Catalunya, Spain) and the extinction of Neanderthals in the Iberian Peninsula: The excavations carried out in Cova Gran de Santa Linya (Southeastern PrePyrenees, Catalunya, Spain) have unearthed a new archaeological sequence attributable to the Middle Palaeoloithic/Upper Palaeolithic (MP/UP) transition. This article presents data on the stratigraphy, archaeology, and…

Hobbits small brains not so anomolous

Is the Hobbit’s Brain Unfeasibly Small?: Brain expansion began early in primate evolution and has occurred in all major groups, suggesting a strong selective advantage to increased brainpower in most primate lineages. Despite this overall trend, however, Mundy and his colleagues have identified several branches/lineages within each major group that have shown decreasing brain and…

Time never forgot the land

Modern civilization has extremely deleterious consequences in regards to species richness, primarily through destruction of habitat. Because of these negative aspects of modernity hunter-gatherers have been idealized as a model of humanity at equilibrium with their ecology. 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus lays out the revisionist, and to some extent now mainstream,…

Are Antarctic minke whales unusually abundant because of 20th century whaling?: Severe declines in megafauna worldwide illuminate the role of top predators in ecosystem structure. In the Antarctic, the Krill Surplus Hypothesis posits that the killing of more than 2 million large whales led to competitive release for smaller krill-eating species like the Antarctic minke…

Contagious Tasmanian Devil cancer

Carl Zimmer has a nice write up of the a new paper in Science which characterizes the nature of the cells which are manifest during devil facial tumor disease. The Tasmanian Devil Transcriptome Reveals Schwann Cell Origins of a Clonally Transmissible Cancer: The Tasmanian devil, a marsupial carnivore, is endangered because of the emergence of…

When mammoths roamed (rarely)

Brian Switek, The extended twilight of the mammoths: So, if the team’s analysis is correct, both mammoths and horses lived in the interior of Alaska between about 11,000 and 7,000 years ago. This is significantly more recent than the youngest fossil remains of horses and mammoths, dated between 15,000 and 13,000 years ago. There are…

Cool new report in Current Biology, Defensive tool use in a coconut-carrying octopus: The use of tools has become a benchmark for cognitive sophistication. Originally regarded as a defining feature of our species, tool-use behaviours have subsequently been revealed in other primates and a growing spectrum of mammals and birds…Among invertebrates, however, the acquisition of…

Apocalypse 73,000 B.C.

FuturePundit points me to a new paper on the Toba explosion, Environmental impact of the 73 ka Toba super-eruption in South Asia: The cooling effects of historic volcanic eruptions on world climate are well known but the impacts of even bigger prehistoric eruptions are still shrouded in mystery. The eruption of Toba volcano in northern…

When mammoths roamed

Pleistocene Megafaunal Collapse, Novel Plant Communities, and Enhanced Fire Regimes in North America: Although the North American megafaunal extinctions and the formation of novel plant communities are well-known features of the last deglaciation, the causal relationships between these phenomena are unclear. Using the dung fungus Sporormiella and other paleoecological proxies from Appleman Lake, Indiana, and…

Ancient DNA & the moa

The evolutionary history of the extinct ratite moa and New Zealand Neogene paleogeography: …We synthesize mitochondrial phylogenetic information from 263 subfossil moa specimens from across NZ with morphological, ecological, and new geological data to create the first comprehensive phylogeny, taxonomy, and evolutionary timeframe for all of the species of an extinct order. We also present…