Saturday, October 28, 2006
After the bee genome was sequenced, researchers working in Burma uncovered a 100 million year-old bee - the oldest yet discovered - preserved in amber. The new specimen fits nicely with the theoretical evolutionary framework of modern bees and wasps (that pollen-eating bees evolved from carnivorous wasps), and adds more data to our growing evolutionary tree. Cool!
A human gene of interest - in this case, interleukin-23 - is one that seems to protect its carriers from various types of inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn's. Discoveries like this can often lead to not only better, targeted treatments for specific diseases, but also to a better understanding of how all of our bits fit together in the first place, and work so well.
Back to behavior, and along with working together, it seems that competition with humans is causing the destruction of elephant culture, leading elephants to seek violent, crafty revenge on humans who come nearly. This is really scary stuff, but in a small way, you gotta kinda cheer for the pachyderms here - it's so rare that endangered animals can fight back at all, let alone so effectively!