A Special Place for Blog Lovers with a Touch of Science!

Enjoy our special posts in the fields of Earth & Planetary Sciences (EPS Blog) and Social Sciences & Arts (SSA Blog)

A Special Place for Blog Lovers with a Touch of Science!

Editor’s pick: Richard Dawkins

Credit: Getty images

Do you know where does the word meme originate from?

Richard Dawkins is a British evolutionary biologist and author of many scientific books. Probably the most popular one is The Selfish Gene.  One interesting fact is that in that book Dawkins coined the term meme, which is widely used today and known as those funny pictures with the text on them whirling daily around the web. The original meaning of the term though, it's quite different. Meme is a shortening (modeled on gene) of mimeme, which comes from Ancient Greek mīmēma (μίμημα), meaning 'imitated thing', itself from mimeisthai (μιμεῖσθαι, 'to imitate'), from mimos (μῖμος, 'mime'). The term was meant to represent the way culture, ideas, and behavior replicate themselves the same way our genes do. 

Below, you can enjoy excerpts from his book – The Selfish Gene

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New archaeology dives into the mysterious demise of the Neanderthals

Credits: Gettyimages

Char from ancient fires and stalagmites in caves hold clues to the mysterious disappearance of Neanderthals from Europe

For more than 350 000 years, Neanderthals inhabited Europe and Asia until, in a sudden change by evolutionary standards, they disappeared around 40 000 years ago. This was at around the same time the anatomically modern human Homo sapiens emerged from Africa.

With their distinctive sloped forehead, large pelvis and wide noses, Neanderthals leave in their wake one of the great mysteries of human evolution.

They lived during the middle to late Pleistocene Epoch, about 400 000 to 40 000 years ago. Neanderthals lived in Eurasia with traces discovered as far north as present-day Belgium and south to the Mediterranean and southwest Asia.

They were not the only hominid (human-like) species in existence on the planet at the time. Other archaic human groups such as Homo floresiensis and Denisovans, also walked the earth.

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Editor’s pick: Bill Bryson

Credit: Gettyimages

A Short History of Nearly Everything (2003)

"If you imagine the 4,500-billion-odd years of Earth's history compressed into a normal earthly day, then life begins very early, about 4 A.M., with the rise of the first simple, single-celled organisms, but then advances no further for the next sixteen hours. Not until almost 8:30 in the evening, with the day five-sixths over, has Earth anything to show the universe but a restless skin of microbes. Then, finally, the first sea plants appear, followed twenty minutes later by the first jellyfish and the enigmatic Ediacaran fauna first seen by Reginald Sprigg in Australia. At 9:04 P.M. trilobites swim onto the scene, followed more or less immediately by the shapely creatures of the Burgess Shale. Just before 10 P.M., plants begin to pop up on the land. Soon after, with less than two hours left in the day, the first land creatures follow...

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Blind cave creatures light the way with DNA

Researchers studying the European olm, and other cave dwellers, believe these strange creatures can provide important answers about evolution and even human eye diseases. © Javier Ábalos Alvarez from Madrid, España, CC BY-SA 2.0

Underground caves fauna could cast light on longevity, surviving starvation, and eye diseases in humans

In watery underground caverns, there are creatures that live in eternal midnight. Over the course of generations, these animals have adapted to their isolated and unique environments, and scientists believe their pasty skin and blind eyes may hold secrets to evolution –– and to genetic adaptations that could cast light on longevity, surviving starvation, and eye diseases in humans.

'These caves are isolated worlds,' said Professor Peter Trontelj, a zoologist at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia. 'If you go a couple of metres (below the surface), you enter a new world with totally different ecological conditions.'

Certain animals are able to adapt to these dark habitats where no plants grow, and lightless caves, like those found in Slovenia, are natural laboratories of evolutionary biology.

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Four essential terms to understand evolution theory better

20220118-113659eugene-zhyvchik-xJY-7gtC38o-unsplash Credit: Unsplash by Eugene Zhyvchik

Credit: Unsplash by Eugene Zhyvchik  

Phylogenesis, ontogenesis, ethnogenesis, and sociogenesis

1. phylogeny (phylogenesis), the history of the evolution of a species or group, especially in reference to lines of descent and relationships among broad groups of organisms. Fundamental to phylogeny is the proposition, universally accepted in the scientific community, that plants or animals of different species descended from common ancestors.

Source: Britannica.com

2. ontogeny (ontogenesis), all the developmental events that occur during the existence of a living organism. Ontogeny begins with the changes in the egg at the time of fertilization and includes developmental events to the time of birth or hatching and afterward—growth, remolding of body shape, and development of secondary sexual characteristics.

Source: Britannica.com

3. Ethnogenesis (from Greek ethnos ἔθνος, "group of people, nation" and genesis γένεσις, "beginning, coming into being"; plural ethnogeneses) is "the formation and development of an ethnic group". This can originate through a process of group self-identification as well as come about as the result of outside identification.

The term ethnogenesis, a mid-20th century neologism, refers to the observable phenomenon of the emergence of new social groups that are identified as having a cohesive identity, i.e. an "ethnic group" in anthropological terms. Relevant social sciences not only observe this phenomenon but search for explanation of its causes. The term ethnogeny is also used as a variant of ethnogenesis.

Source: Wikipedia

4. Sociogeny (French: sociogénie, from the Latin socius, i.e., "association" or "social," and the Greek γένεσις, denoting "origin, source, beginning, nativity, generation, production, or creation") or sociogenesis is the development of a social phenomenon. That a phenomenon is sociogenetic thus indicates that it is socially produced, as opposed to ontologically given, immutable, or static. The concept was developed by Frantz Fanon in his 1952 book Black Skin, White Masks.

Source: Wikipedia

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Amazon rainforest birds' bodies transform due to climate change

Amazon rainforest birds' bodies are transforming due to climate change. Credit: Philip Stouffer/LSU

Changes reach most pristine parts of the Amazon rainforest

The most pristine parts of the Amazon rainforest, those devoid of direct human contact, are being impacted by human-induced climate change, according to U.S. National Science Foundation-supported research by Louisiana State University scientists.

Analyses of data collected over the past four decades show that not only has the number of resident birds throughout the Amazon rainforest declined, but the body size and wing length have changed for most studied species. These physical changes in the birds track increasingly hot and dry conditions in the dry season from June to November.

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Social Sciences & Arts (SSA)
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