Gene mutation drives compulsion to eat fatty foods

From ABC Science, 5 October 2016: Can’t resist a chicken korma but pass up on a sweet dessert? A study, published today in Nature Communications, looked at the effect on human dietary preferences of a mutation in the gene for the melanocortin-4-receptor (MC4R). The MC4R is found on nerves in the brain, and influences what we Continue reading Gene mutation drives compulsion to eat fatty foods

World’s oldest known fossils found in Greenland push evidence for life back by 220 million years

From ABC News in Science, 1 September 2016: The oldest fossils known to date have been discovered in 3.7 billion-year-old rocks in Greenland by an Australian-led team of researchers. The discovery of the fossilised bacterial communities, known as stromatolites, could be the first clear biological evidence of the earliest known life on Earth, according to Continue reading World’s oldest known fossils found in Greenland push evidence for life back by 220 million years

Ancient rice ‘first evidence’ Madagascan ancestors crossed Indian Ocean from South-East Asia

From ABC News in Science, 31 May 2016: Ancient charred grains of rice and mung beans excavated from Madagascar provide the first archaeological evidence that ancestors of people living on the East African island known as Malagasy came from South-East Asia, scientists say. The findings, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Continue reading Ancient rice ‘first evidence’ Madagascan ancestors crossed Indian Ocean from South-East Asia

Mars at tail-end of ice age that would have seen red planet covered in ice

From ABC News in Science, 27 May 2016: Mars is at the tail-end of an ice age that would have seen large swathes of the dusty red planet covered with ice. Radar data from an instrument on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has given scientists an unprecedented glimpse into Mars’ recent climatic history, etched into Continue reading Mars at tail-end of ice age that would have seen red planet covered in ice

World’s oldest fossil micrometeorites ever found contain hints of oxygen in early Earth’s atmosphere

From ABC Science, 12 May 2016: The oldest fossils of cosmic dust ever discovered provide a glimpse into atmospheric conditions above the Earth more than 2.7 billion years ago and could do the same on other planets. A group of Australian and British researchers uncovered the micrometeorites — which are barely the width of a Continue reading World’s oldest fossil micrometeorites ever found contain hints of oxygen in early Earth’s atmosphere

Ancient bubbles in Pilbara rock show Earth had thin atmosphere 2.7b years ago

From ABC Science, 10 May 2016: Air bubbles trapped in 2.7 billion-year-old lava flows in the Pilbara suggest the Earth’s atmosphere weighed less than half that of today and was far thinner than previously thought. The discovery has forced a rethink of how the Earth managed to stay relatively ice-free during that period, despite the Continue reading Ancient bubbles in Pilbara rock show Earth had thin atmosphere 2.7b years ago

No trace of Neanderthal DNA on Y chromosome of modern men

From ABC News in Science, 8 April 2016: Modern men have no traces of Neanderthal DNA on their Y chromosome, the first-ever analysis of the male Neanderthal sex chromosome has revealed. The Y chromosome is passed exclusively from father to son. Until now, all sequencing of the Neanderthal genome had been done on females because Continue reading No trace of Neanderthal DNA on Y chromosome of modern men

Human embryos cultured in lab for record time a ‘major step forward’ that opens ethical debate

From ABC News in Science, 5 May 2016: For the first time, scientists have kept human embryos alive in the laboratory for six days beyond the point at which it would normally implant into the uterus. Two separate groups of scientists today report in Nature and Nature Cell Biology their successful development of human embryos Continue reading Human embryos cultured in lab for record time a ‘major step forward’ that opens ethical debate

Three planets discovered orbiting nearby cool small star ‘best places to look for life’

From ABC News in Science, 3 May 2016: Astronomers have discovered three planets orbiting the habitable zone of an ultra-cool dwarf star just 40 light-years from Earth. The discovery, reported today in Nature, is the first evidence supporting the hypothesis that these very low-mass and low-temperature stars should have Earth-sized or smaller planets orbiting them. Continue reading Three planets discovered orbiting nearby cool small star ‘best places to look for life’

Southern right whale study quantifies impact of whaling in New Zealand’s waters

From ABC News in Science, 16 March 2016: The population of southern right whales in the waters off New Zealand is just 12 per cent of its size before whaling began, according to a new study. The research, published in Royal Society Open Science, highlighted the slow path to recovery from whaling in this area, Continue reading Southern right whale study quantifies impact of whaling in New Zealand’s waters