ID’ing ancient poop, smelling yourself thin, storms a‑comin’, and more

Published April 18, 2020

That’s quite a leap

Neanderthals, it seems, made string. Specifically, a 6.2mm* piece of string found on a stone tool.

String, in case you nev­er gave it much thought, is made by twist­ing short­er fibers togeth­er to cre­ate a longer one — a thread or string or yarn. So, from that one piece of string, researchers made some inter­est­ing leaps:

  • “It implies that Neanderthals under­stood con­cepts like pairs, sets and numbers.”
  • “[It] demon­strat­ed that Neanderthals had a detailed eco­log­i­cal under­stand­ing of trees and how to trans­form them into entire­ly dif­fer­ent func­tion­al substances.”
  • “[It] implied a cog­ni­tive under­stand­ing of numer­a­cy and con­text-sen­si­tive oper­a­tional mem­o­ry […] because it required keep­ing track of mul­ti­ple, sequen­tial oper­a­tions simultaneously.”
* About 1/4‑inch in Freedom Units™

Our number two story

Just like deal­ing with a dorm bath­room, some­times you want to know whose poop that is. If you’re an archae­ol­o­gist it’s even more impor­tant because…

Distinguishing human and dog feces is par­tic­u­lar­ly dif­fi­cult: they are sim­i­lar in size and shape, occur at the same archae­o­log­i­cal sites, and have sim­i­lar compositions.

So now there’s a new tool: CoproID. It looks at ancient poop DNA, then it uses an algo­rithm trained with mod­ern feces (eew) to deter­mine whose it is.

“One unex­pect­ed find­ing of our study is the real­iza­tion that the archae­o­log­i­cal record is full of dog poop,” says Professor Christina Warinner.

I’m just gonna leave this out here

From Reuters: “Russian space agency says Trump paving way to seize oth­er plan­ets”.

You disgust me

If you feel dis­gust­ed — and you haven’t been watch­ing the news — it’s per­fect­ly nor­mal. Blame the coro­n­avirus! Why? “Society’s col­lec­tive ‘behav­ioral immune sys­tem’ works in over­drive dur­ing times of cri­sis, sug­gests new research on disgust.”

In oth­er words, when things get bad, we tend to feel more dis­gust­ed by … well, everything.

* So you’ve discussed me?

The end of pin-prick allergy tests?

Researchers at the Technical University of Munich have found a way to use nasal secre­tions to test for aller­gic reac­tions, rather than the tra­di­tion­al pin-prick skin test. The tech­nol­o­gy of biochips has advanced enough that it can mea­sure anti­bod­ies reli­ably with­out blood being spilt.

It seems to work well: “For the same tests, the blood and nasal smears yield­ed sim­i­lar results,” for every air­borne aller­gens they test­ed it on.

They don’t know what they’re doing

Pot users — sor­ry, “cannabis enthu­si­asts” — tend to have zero clue about the amounts of THC and CBD they’re get­ting, or even what con­sti­tutes a lot or a little.

So found a study out of the University of Buffalo that sur­veyed atten­dees at a mar­i­jua­na advo­ca­cy event.

You can read the sto­ry for the details, but here’s a snippet:

One par­tic­i­pant even said 1 mil­lion mil­ligrams was the effec­tive dose for THC. “That’s a kilo­gram of THC. That’s enough to fill an entire foot­ball sta­di­um full of peo­ple and get them all high,” [lead author Daniel] Kruger said.

Does this smell fat to you?

If you have an over­weight worm (specif­i­cal­ly C. ele­gans), you might be able to change that by chang­ing what it smells. In oth­er words, dif­fer­ent scents can affect the way an organ­ism stores or uses fat. So found Dr. Ayse Sena Mutlu, a at Baylor College of Medicine.

Mutlu and col­leagues showed that some scents […] can stim­u­late fat accu­mu­la­tion and weight gain, not by chang­ing eat­ing habits, but by stim­u­lat­ing spe­cif­ic recep­tors in olfac­to­ry neurons.

There will come hard rains

After last year’s most­ly qui­et hur­ri­cane sea­son, the 2020–21 sea­son is expect­ed to be a bit more active. The Atlantic Ocean’s sur­face is unusu­al­ly warm, and that’s expect­ed to lead to stronger storms with a lot more water, at least accord­ing to sev­er­al weath­er-fore­cast­ing groups.

So now’s the time to pre­pare for “Arthur,” “Bertha,” “Cristobal,” “Dolly,” “Edouard,” and their friends*.

* Yes, those are the names of this year’s storms, and you know that “Hello Dolly” is the headline everyone’s waiting for.

Today’s CoviD-19 tidbits

 When it comes to treatment potential…

UP: Remdesivir (after a tri­al showed good results and sent Gilead shares skyrocketing)

DOWN: Chloroquine (because it’s caus­ing so many heart prob­lems stud­ies are being stopped)

STILL IN THE RUNNING: Lopinavir/ritonavir com­bo, sera trans­fu­sion from recov­ered patients, and immuno­sup­pres­sants (click here for deets).

 And this

Six feet may not be enough: “Exhaled ‘Aerosols’ Spread Coronavirus Up to 13 Feet, Shoes Carry Virus, Too

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