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Clément Gilbert est chercheur au laboratoire Ecologie et Biologie des interactions (CNRS / université de Poitiers). Avec Cédric Feschotte, professeur à l’université du Texas à Arlington, il a récemment publié un article dans Nature Reviews Genetics consacré aux virus endogènes, ces virus dont le génome est intégré pour tout ou partie dans le génome des espèces-hôtes (dont l'espèce humaine) et qui ouvrent une fascinante fenêtre sur l'évolution du monde viral. Des films comme Contagion ou des alertes médiatiques comme celle entourant la grippe aviaire ou la grippe A (H1N1) donnent au public la même image du virus pathogène et dangereux. « Les humains sont apparentés aux virus »
Prehistoric Archaeology & Human Evolution A new discovery in South Africa suggests that prehistoric human painters also planned ahead, using ochre paint kits as early as 100,000 years ago. But just what they used the paints for is still a matter of debate. Red or yellow ochre, an iron-containing pigment found in some clays, is ubiquitous at early modern human sites in Africa and the Near East. Some researchers think the earliest known art comes from the site of Blombos in South Africa, about 300 kilometers east of Cape Town, where pieces of ochre incised with an abstract design have been dated to 77,000 years old.
Courtesy of Steven Churchill, Duke University. Few things remain as mysterious—or controversial—as our own history as a species. However, a series of papers released in Science may add another piece to the puzzle: Four papers draw back the curtain on Australopithecus sediba, announced earlier this year, detailing morphological features of the hand, foot, pelvis, and skull that may establish this species within the ancestral lineage of modern humans. In a subterranean cave at Malapa, South Africa, approximately 25 miles (40km) from Johannesburg, the remains of numerous hominins identified as Australopithecus sediba have lain between layers of flowstone—a type of rock that forms in caves, similar in composition to stalagmites and stalactites, except as the name implies, this rock forms in a layer that “flows” across the surface. Pieces of the Human Evolutionary Puzzle: Who Was Australopithecus sediba? | Anthropology in Practice
How Humans Became Social Look around and it's impossible to miss the importance of social interactions to human society. They form the basis of our families, our governments, and even our global economy. But how did we become social in the first place? Researchers have long believed that it was a gradual process, evolving from couples to clans to larger communities.
Extinct Genome From Fossil Finger Posted Online Researchers in Germany today posted the first high-resolution version of an extinct human's genome on the Web site for the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. The goal: to allow colleagues to download the most complete sequence data available for free. A year ago, researchers published the first rough draft of the genome of an archaic girl who lived in Denisova Cave, Siberia, at least 30,000 years ago. In January, Max Planck paleogeneticist Svante Pääbo was at a meeting in Sweden when he realized that researchers in other labs were poring over year-old sequence data that was far less complete than what his colleagues had obtained in the lab in the past year using sensitive, new methods to sequence ancient DNA. "I felt bad knowing that we had this very much better version of the same genome and that it would be a few months before it became available," says Pääbo.
Evolution::News::January 25, 2012:: ::Email::Print A new hypothesis holds that the natural selection produced the chimpanzee's nicer cousin in much the same way that humans bred dogs from wolves By Ed Yong Image: whiteshark29, courtesy Flickr Time and again humans have domesticated wild animals, producing tame individuals with softer appearances and more docile temperaments, such as dogs and guinea pigs. But a new study suggests that one of our primate cousins—the African ape known as the bonobo—did something similar without human involvement. Tame Theory: Did Bonobos Domesticate Themselves?
Late Bloomers: "New" Genes May Have Played a Role in Human Brain Evolution Billions of years ago, organic chemicals in the primordial soup somehow organized themselves into the first organisms. A few years ago scientists found that something similar happens every once in awhile in the cells of all living things: bits of once-quiet stretches of DNA sometimes spontaneously assemble themselves into genes. Such "de novo" genes may go on to play significant roles in the evolution of individual organisms—even humans. But how many are there? More than anyone thought, it turns out. The most prolific source of new genes in animals, plants, fungi and other life whose cells have nuclei involves the shuffling or duplication of bits of DNA from existing genes.
Human Ancestors Were Nearly All Vegetarians | Guest Blog Paleolithic diets have become all the rage, but are they getting our ancestral diet all wrong? Right now, one half of all Americans are on a diet. The other half just gave up on their diets and are on a binge. Collectively, we are overweight, sick and struggling.
Alexander Joe/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images Lee Berger with his son, Matthew, and fossils of Australopithecus sediba. Matthew found one of the fossils while chasing his dog. The discoverer of the fossils, Lee Berger of the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, says the new species, known as Australopithecus sediba, is the most plausible known ancestor of archaic and modern humans. Several other paleoanthropologists, while disagreeing with that interpretation, say the fossils are of great importance anyway, because they elucidate the mix-and-match process by which human evolution was shaped. Dr. New Fossils May Redraw Human Ancestry - NYTimes.com
Gains in DNA Are Speeding Research Into Human Origins Another paper, by Mathias Currat and Laurent Excoffier, two Swiss geneticists, suggests that breeding between Neanderthals and modern humans was rare. Otherwise, they say, modern humans would have far more Neanderthal DNA. Were they romantic couplings? More likely they were aggressive acts between competing human groups, Dr.
Earliest Homo Erectus Tools Found in Kenya A new geological study, being reported Thursday in the journal Nature, showed that tools from a site near Lake Turkana in Kenya were made about 1.76 million years ago, the earliest of their ilk found so far. Previous dates were estimates ranging from 1.4 million to 1.6 million years ago. Although no erectus fossils were found with the Turkana tools, a skull of that species was excavated last year in the same sediment level across the lake. This suggests that Homo erectus was responsible for these particular tools, which were made with what scientists refer to as Acheulean technology.
Humans and Neanderthals had sex, but not very often | Not Exactly Rocket Science Tens of thousands of years ago, our ancestors spread across the world, having sex with Neanderthals, Denisovans and other groups of ancient humans as they went. Today, our genes testify to these prehistoric liaisons. Last year, when the Neanderthal genome was finally sequenced, it emerged that everyone outside of African can trace 1 and 4 percent of their DNA from Neanderthals. The discovery was a vindication for some and a surprise to others. For decades, palaeontologists had fought over different visions of the rise of early humans. Some championed the “Out of Africa” model, which says that all of us descend from a small group of ancestors who came out of Africa, swept the world, and replaced every other group of early humans.
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