We both likely evolved as endurance runners

Except now we think they had feathers. Image credit: DariuszSankowski on Pixabay

Not many people when face-to-face with a T-rex skeleton have thought, “Wow, that’s just like me!”

Humanoid is not the first adjective to come to mind for a skull whose bite force is best measured against the weight of cars.

Yet a new study suggests that humans and Tyrannosaurus rex may actually have evolved to fill similar niches. In a sense, that’s not all that surprising: we’re both apex predators, we’re both bipeds, and we have basically the same size arms.

What this new study adds is that we also both may have evolved as endurance hunters/scavengers.

The Persistence Hunting Hypothesis

To make sense…

Did the year really deserve such a bad rap?

Odes to 2020 are roughly as easy to come by as Covid vaccines (here’s hoping that line becomes dated quicker than Baby Shark). The year staggered to a close with no shortage of good-riddances. But could it have been worse? For just a moment, let’s consider the top 10 perfectly possible catastrophes that did not befall us in 2020.

10: A Worse Pandemic

The Plague of Florence. Social distancing much? Source.

Global pandemics are not rare. (Ok ok, global pandemics have only been possible for 528 years, but continental isn’t bad.) As far as such pandemics go, Covid-19 has been middling at best.

In all fairness to SARS-CoV-2, it’s putting in an…

Yes humans are still evolving, but this ain’t it

This might happen, but it’s gonna take a while. Source

I s humanity evolving into something new? According to a recent study, evidence of our present-day evolution is hiding right inside our forearms. However, while the authors may well have found a real physiological change, unfortunately for X-Men fans, this is not what evolution really looks like.

The story begins just up from the palm of your hand, where if the Australian scientists are correct, you may carry a leftover artery from your prenatal days. Human fetuses grow an artery in the center of their forearms, which in most people disappears before birth.

However, in some people, this artery forgets…

Spoiler: liberty prevailed

Paul Revere, via Wikimedia

The small, quirky city had seen long-running protests against abuse of authority. There was scattered violence and some property damage, but for most residents, daily life carried on as usual. Then, the outside law enforcement arrived.

The people of the city did not want them there. City leaders did not want them there. But the central government sent them anyway, armed with a charge to suppress protests and enforce law and order. From the moment they arrived, skirmishes with the city’s residents flared. Stories of abusive policing spread, inflaming resentment and quickly turning the city against the troops. …

That you must, and did, and always will read for all of eternity.

Credit: Netflix

Netflix’s TV series Dark has largely been hailed as a science fiction masterpiece, with reviewers lauding the show for its complex plot that does what no other series has done. This is all certainly true — the show is fresh and mind-bending, with good acting, directing, casting, and soundtrack, and a decent enough English dub over the original German.

Time travel! Past and present and future, eternally interconnected in a triquetra of angst and missing persons…

Yet in boldly doing what no others have done, the plot steals that same freedom from its characters, which leaves the whole thing without…

Surprise Finding: Majority of Population Exposed to Facts

Y-shaped antibodies bind to the spike epitope of facts, preventing them from piercing the protective filter bubble enveloping the worldview.

In a surprise to public health officials, new antibody tests have revealed an unexpectedly widespread immune response to facts.

Scientists and medical professionals have been working around the clock to ramp up antibody testing, broadly thought to be one key to safely easing stringent stay-at-home orders around the country. The tests detect an immune response that indicates whether a person has been exposed to the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, even after they have already recovered.

Many such tests have entered the market in the past few weeks, although they have varying degrees of accuracy.

“We were very concerned about the…

One of the healthcare nightmares of COVID-19 is that hospitals could be so overwhelmed by coronavirus patients that they will run out of beds and resources to treat them. In the worst case, already playing out in Italy, this could lead to wartime-style triaging, with patients less likely to survive simply denied treatment, or even removed from their beds, to focus limited resources where they would save the most lives.

To help hospitals prepare for the deluge, the New York Times recently partnered with Harvard Global Health on an analysis of where and how badly hospitals are likely to run…

Half measures will cost lives and do more damage than fighting all-out

You may have noticed that we are in the early stages of the most significant pandemic in 100 years. You may also have noticed that the fight against COVID-19 has been escalating rather significantly. But how hard do we really need to fight this coronavirus? Do we really have to shut everything down?

Unfortunately, epidemic models suggest yes. Half measures will be nowhere near enough, and it’s possible they could make the economic fallout even worse.

Flattening the curve

Fighting this virus all comes down to reducing how well it spreads. In epidemic parlance, that’s the viral reproduction rate, or R0. Models suggest…

Robert Cooper

Generally curious. Scientist (bacteria, antibiotic resistance, synthetic biology, PhD from Princeton), science policy & advocacy, runner.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store