The evolution of life on Earth

The evolution of life on Earth is a captivating narrative that unfolds over billions of years, weaving a tale of adaptation, diversity, and interconnectedness. From the emergence of simple, single-celled organisms in ancient seas to the complex web of life that populates our planet today, the evolutionary journey is marked by extraordinary transformations and pivotal … Read more

Did humans exist 100,000 years ago?

Indeed, 100,000 years ago, anatomically modern humans, Homo sapiens, walked the Earth, marking a pivotal moment in the ongoing saga of human evolution. This period falls within the Late Pleistocene epoch, characterized by climatic fluctuations and the presence of various hominin species. Let’s delve into the rich tapestry of human history during this era. Around … Read more

Ancient DNA reveals the genetic history of sub-Saharan Africa

The inaugural comprehensive study of ancient human DNA from sub-Saharan Africa provides a long-anticipated glimpse into the identities of prehistoric populations in the region, elucidating their movements and replacements over the past 8,000 years. Published on September 21 in Cell, the findings, led by an international research team with Harvard Medical School at the forefront, … Read more

Ancient DNA reveals the complex history of Iberian peoples

In a multidisciplinary study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), an international team of researchers employed a combination of archaeological, genetic, and stable isotope data to unveil 4000 years of biomolecular prehistory in the Iberian Peninsula. The research team conducted a detailed analysis of human remains from 13 individuals spanning … Read more

Novel repeat gene cluster discovered in humans and non-human primates

Investigators from the laboratory of Ali Shilatifard, Ph.D., the Robert Francis Furchgott Professor and chair of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, have discovered a new repeat gene cluster sequence that is exclusively expressed in humans and non-human primates. The discovery, detailed in a study published in Science Advances, is a breakthrough for human genome biology and … Read more

Giant hogweed genome holds promise for new medicines

In a groundbreaking study published in The Plant Journal, scientists have meticulously examined the genome of Sosnowsky’s hogweed, a notorious invasive plant known for its ability to cause skin burns through contact with its toxic sap. The research, conducted by a team from Skoltech and the A. A. Kharkevich Institute for Information Transmission Problems of … Read more

Muskoxen survived ice age extinction due to unique genetic adaptations

At the end of the last Ice Age, many iconic species became extinct—including the steppe bison, the wooly rhinoceros, the Irish elk, and the dire wolf. However, one Ice Age relict, perfectly adapted to the harsh climate of the tundra environment, has survived until the present day. Muskox escaped the destiny of its Ice Age … Read more

Admixture and rare variants in African americans with inflammatory bowel disease

The advent of whole genome sequencing technology has prompted an explosion in research into how genetics are associated with disease risk. But the vast majority of genetics research has been done on people of European ancestry, and genetics researchers have realized that in order to address health disparities, more needs to be done. In a … Read more

Aboriginal food production: Beyond the farmer-forager dichotomy

The controversy surrounding Bruce Pascoe’s book, Dark Emu, has persisted for nearly a decade, sparking heated discussions among academics, Aboriginal communities, and even vocal critics. Pascoe contends that many pre-colonial Aboriginal groups engaged in farming practices, citing examples like eel aquaculture and native millet cultivation. Within our group of archaeologists and First Nations individuals, the … Read more

Genetic study reveals new insights into fatty acid metabolism in diverse populations

Researchers from the University of Virginia School of Medicine have made significant progress in understanding how the genes of African-American and Hispanic-American individuals influence their ability to utilize Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids for improved health. This breakthrough contributes to the concept of “precision nutrition,” tailoring diets to individual needs for enhanced well-being. Omega-3 and … Read more

Early Human Migrations

Early human migrations are a fascinating part of our history. Homo sapiens, our species, originated in Africa around 200,000 years ago. The first major migration out of Africa likely occurred around 60,000 years ago, when our ancestors ventured into other continents. One of the most important migrations was the peopling of Eurasia. This led to … Read more


Denisovans are an ancient hominin group that garnered significant attention in the field of paleoanthropology following the discovery of their remains in the Denisova Cave in the Altai Mountains of Siberia. These enigmatic beings represent a distinct branch in the hominid family tree, alongside Neanderthals and modern humans. While much about Denisovans remains shrouded in … Read more

Study finds whaling decimated whale populations and genetic diversity

New research from Oregon State University reveals that 20th-century commercial whaling not only significantly reduced large whale populations but also left a lasting mark on the genetic diversity of today’s surviving whales. By comparing DNA samples obtained from whale bones found near abandoned whaling stations on South Georgia Island in the South Atlantic Ocean with … Read more

New pangolin species discovered through analysis of confiscated scales

The secretive and critically endangered pangolin has unveiled a hidden secret: instead of eight species, there are nine, a new discovery made through the analysis of confiscated scales. Before this revelation, scientists believed there were four Asian and four African varieties of this elusive, nocturnal mammal, often deemed the world’s most trafficked animal. However, new … Read more

Neanderthals live on within us: How our ancient cousins shape our genes and our health

Neanderthals and Denisovans, our ancient human relatives, coexisted with early Homo sapiens and interbred, leaving a lasting impact on our genetic makeup. Recent advances in ancient DNA analysis are revealing the extent of their influence on our biology. Traits inherited from these ancient cousins persist in us today, shaping various aspects of our lives, from … Read more

Climate change causing lizard extinctions at accelerating rate

Researchers from the University of Arizona has highlighted the alarming impact of climate change on the extinction rates of Yarrow’s spiny lizards in southeastern Arizona. This study, featured in Ecology Letters, examined 18 mountain ranges in the region, focusing on climate-related extinction trends. John J. Wiens, a professor at UArizona, emphasized the gravity of their … Read more

Genomics reveals distinct syphilis transmission networks and drug resistance in England

Scientists, in collaboration with the Wellcome Sanger Institute and the UK Health Security Agency, have harnessed genomics to unveil distinct patterns of syphilis transmission in England. They’ve categorized these networks by geography and sexual preference, shedding light on the disease’s spread. Additionally, their research highlights a concerning prevalence of drug resistance among syphilis cases. By … Read more

Did 1,280 human ancestors save our species 900,000 years ago?

A recent study, using genetic analysis modeling, suggests that the existence of the current eight billion people on Earth may have hinged on the resilience of just 1,280 human ancestors who almost faced extinction approximately 900,000 years ago. This research implies that our ancestors endured a precarious existence for about 120,000 years. However, some scientists … Read more

EDNA can now detect genetic variation within species, opening new possibilities for conservation

Ecologists have made a remarkable discovery regarding environmental DNA (eDNA) and its implications for species conservation and management. They’ve found that the genetic material species release into their surroundings can not only confirm species presence but also unveil crucial information about entire populations. This breakthrough, described in a study published in the Proceedings of the … Read more

Human population may have plummeted to 1300 around 900,000 years ago

An analysis of the genetic variation in modern human genomes, conducted by Haipeng Li and colleagues at the Shanghai Institute of Nutrition and Health, suggests that the population of our ancestors may have experienced a significant reduction in size, possibly as low as 1,300 breeding individuals, around 900,000 years ago. However, it’s important to note … Read more