TheOnion.com Reports Ancient Race of Skeleton People: In a landmark find, the satire website, TheOnion.com reports that an Archaeological Dig Uncovers Ancient Race of Skeleton People. Apparently a team of British and Egyptian archaeologists found "'skeleton people'—skinless, organless humans who populated the Nile delta region an estimated 6,000 years ago." One speculated that these "skeletons may, in fact, be ancestors of us all" however another scientist countered that, "[t]he evidence of an evolutionary link between humans and skeletons is sparse at best." See http://www.theonion.com/onion3545/ancient_race.html to read the entire funny spoof.
Human and Chimp Brains: Perhaps somewhat unsurpringly a study entitled Elevated gene expression levels distinguish human from non-human primate brains (PNAS, October 28, 2003, vol. 100, no. 22, 13030-13035) shows that human brains differ significantly from other primate brains. The study found that, "most differences between the brains of humans and non-human primates involved up-regulation, with 90% of the genes being more highly expressed in humans." Given the external simalirities of other parts of humans and chimps, the study also found another unsurprisingly conclusion that a, "comparison of human and chimpanzee heart and liver ... up- and down-regulated genes were nearly identical."
Humans n Chimps II: The debate over the similarity of humans and chimps is complex because it requires comparing DNA, and different methods of comparison can yield different results. However, a recent study in PNAS (100:7708-7713, June 24, 2003, summarized in Driving man and chimp apart), found that differences between the human chimp genomes are much larger when one considers insertions and deletions ("indels") in the two genomes. The article concludes quoting the authors saying, "our perceived sequence divergence of only 1% between these two species appears to be erroneous, because this work […] puts both species much further apart." (6/30/03)
Chimps n Humans: Genetic study finds greater difference from chimps. We've all heard that chimps and humans have DNA which is 98% similar? Well, take a few points off that number says Roy Britten, biologist at CalTech, as the actual level of similarity is probably only about 95%. The original 98% statistic was determined back in the mid-1980's at the very beginning of the biomolecular DNA-sequencing revolution when DNA hybridization techniques were still being perfected. Despite the error bars and improvements in methods, the 98% statistic became public dogma, and today perhaps the percentage of similarity will change. (5/03)
Obituary: Famed paleontologist, writer and personality in the creation - evolution debate, Stephen Jay Gould, 60, dies. (5/20/03)
--Though Stephen Jay Gould was often on the "other side" of the debate, and would probably disagree with much of what we say here, he was a gifted scientist, writer, and speaker who tried to bring class and decency into his work. We at the IDEA Center are truly saddened to hear of his death.
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