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Capuchin monkey poop sheds light on human evolution for Calgary-led global research team – CTV Toronto

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CALGARY —
An international effort to study the similarities behind human evolution and that of an especial primate was bolstered by intestinal skin cells collected from stool samples of capuchin monkeys through a revolutionary method.

The University of Calgary-led project, which took place over several years, had researchers from Canada, the United States, Costa Rica, the United Kingdom, Spain and Japan, identifying capuchin monkey genes responsible for its large brain size and the longevity of the species.

“We wanted to look at capuchins in a comparative context across other primates and mammals to see if we could find signatures of selection on traits that make capuchins unique amongst monkeys, and that are also trademarks of human evolution,” explained senior author Dr. Amanda Melin, associate professor in the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology and Canada Research Chair at the University of Calgary.

The capuchins, which are native to Central America and South America, are able to adapt to significantly different habitats even during times of drought or famine, have the largest brain to body size ratio of all monkeys and have a lifespan capable of exceeding 50 years.

Cells were collected from capuchin feces samples using fecalFACS (Fluorescent Activated Cells Sorting), a new non-invasive research method developed specifically for the project. 

Researchers were able to sequence high-quality, whole genomes from fecal-sourced cells to compare the genomes of capuchin populations from varying habitats and identify variances in genes involved in metabolism, kidney function and water balance.

“By putting the monkey feces through a flow cytometer, we were able to pull out epithelial cells that had passed through the gut and use them for genome sequencing,” said lead author Dr. Joseph Orkin, who, at the time of the study, was a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology and Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute at the University of Calgary.

“This technique made it much more like working with high-quality tissue samples but from a safe, non-invasive origin. Using fecalFACS is a new way to study the population and conservation genomics of wild animals that before was prohibitively expensive and difficult to do.”

Orkin now serves as a La Caixa postdoctoral junior leader at Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain.

The results of the research into capuchin monkey genes, The genomics of ecological flexibility, large brains, and long live in capuchin monkeys reveal with FecalFACS, have been published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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A Surprisingly Large Number Of “Stars” You See In The Sky Are Actually Spacecraft – Wonderful Engineering

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Thousands of communication satellites are being designed and launched at a rapid pace. These satellites will have a negative impact on observational astronomy research and are likely to significantly disrupt recreational or traditional cultural stargazing.

If you look up in the sky, you might notice a sequence of bright star-like objects moving in a straight line. Those aren’t stars. They’re Starlink satellites, and they’ll soon be even more noticeable in the dark sky.

Samantha Lawler, assistant professor of astronomy at the University of Regina, recently wrote a piece in The Conversation warning that “one out of every 15 points” of light in the sky could someday be a satellite rather than a star. Moreover, she said he also thinks that satellite companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX’s Starlink will immensely impact space research.

“This will be devastating to research astronomy and will completely change the night sky worldwide,” she wrote.

Lawler’s forthcoming study will be published in The Astronomical Journal, which will show evidence for the adverse stargazing effects of satellite megaconstellations like SpaceX’s.

Given that firms like SpaceX offer internet to locations around the world that might otherwise be without it, Lawler believes that regulatory agencies should limit the number of visible satellites in orbit.

“Our perspective of the stars will soon be changed forever,” she added if that doesn’t happen.

“We can’t accept the global loss of access to the night sky, which we’ve been able to see and connect with for as long as we’ve been human,” she wrote.

Our orbit is clogged with space debris. Starlink’s satellites have to avoid space junk as well. Will legislators intervene to put a stop to it? If prior responses to existential concerns like climate change are any indication, it will be considered later rather than sooner.

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Dinosaur tail found in Chile stuns scientists – Phys.Org

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Miniature models of the Stegouros elengassen, a species of dinosaur discovred in Patagonia in 2018, is seen on display December 1, 2021 in Santiago.

Chilean paleontologists on Wednesday presented their findings on a dinosaur discovered three years ago in Patagonia which they said had a highly unusual tail that has stumped researchers

The remains of the Stegouros elengassen were discovered during excavations in 2018 at Cerro Guido, a site known to harbor numerous fossils, by a team who believed they were dealing with an already known species of dinosaur until they examined its .

“That was the main surprise,” said Alexander Vargas, one of the paleontologists. “This structure is absolutely amazing.”

“The tail was covered with seven pairs of osteoderms … producing a weapon absolutely different from anything we know in any dinosaur,” added the researcher during a presentation of the discovery at the University of Chile.

The osteoderms—structures of bony plaques located in the dermal layers of the skin – were aligned on either side of the tail, making it resemble a large fern.

Paleontologists have discovered 80 percent of the dinosaur’s skeleton and estimate that the animal lived in the area 71 to 74.9 million years ago. It was about two meters (almost seven feet) long, weighed 150 kilograms (330 pounds) and was a herbivore.

According to the scientists, who published their research in the journal Nature, the animal could represent a hitherto unknown lineage of armored dinosaur never seen in the but already identified in the northern part of the continent.

The remains of a Stegouros elengassen, a new species of dinosaur discovered in Patagonia, is seen on display in Santiago Decembe
The remains of a Stegouros elengassen, a new species of dinosaur discovered in Patagonia, is seen on display in Santiago December 1, 20121.

“We don’t know why (the tail) evolved. We do know that within armored dinosaur groups there seems to be a tendency to independently develop different osteoderm-based defense mechanisms,” said Sergio Soto, another member of the team.

The Cerro Guido area, in the Las Chinas valley 3,000 km (1,800 miles) south of Santiago, stretches for 15 kilometers. Various rock outcrops contain numerous fossils.

The finds there allowed the scientists to surmise that present-day America and Antarctica were close to each other millions of years ago.

“There is strong evidence that there is a biogeographic link with other parts of the planet, in this case Antarctica and Australia, because we have two armored there closely related” to the Stegouros, said Soto.


Explore further

New dinosaur species from Chile had a unique slashing tail


More information:
Alexander Vargas, Bizarre tail weaponry in a transitional ankylosaur from subantarctic Chile, Nature (2021). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-04147-1. www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-04147-1

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Dinosaur tail found in Chile stuns scientists (2021, December 4)
retrieved 4 December 2021
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Total solar eclipse brings darkness to Antarctic summer – CBC.ca

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Video released by NASA shows a total solar eclipse as seen from Western Antarctica on Saturday.

The Earth’s southernmost continent experiences continual daylight from mid-October until early April, but the eclipse brought a few minutes of total darkness.

NASA said the period of totality began at 2:44 a.m. ET. 

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon moves between the sun and Earth, casting a shadow on Earth, fully or partially blocking the sun’s light in some areas.

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For a total eclipse to take place the sun, moon, and Earth must be in a direct line. The only place that this total eclipse could be seen was Antarctica.

The eclipse was also expected to be visible partially from South Africa, Chile, New Zealand and Australia on Saturday.

North America gets its next glimpse of a full solar eclipse on April 8, 2024.

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