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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