Maybe. Haven’t read the whole thing yet, but it’s supposedly a very well written article. Will read and get back. But enjoy.
Die, selfish gene, die: The selfish gene is one of the most successful science metaphors ever invented. Unfortunately, it’s wrong
This raises a question: if merely reading a genome differently can change organisms so wildly, why bother rewriting the genome to evolve? How vital, really, are actual changes in the genetic code? Do we even need DNA changes to adapt to new environments? Is the importance of the gene as the driver of evolution being overplayed?
. . .
Twenty years ago, phase changes such as those that turn grasshopper to locust were relatively unknown, and, outside of botany anyway, rarely viewed as changes in gene expression. Now, notes Mary Jane West-Eberhard, a wasp researcher at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Costa Rica, sharp phenotype changes due to gene expression are ‘everywhere’. They show up in gene-expression studies of plants, microbes, fish, wasps, bees, birds, and even people. The genome is continually surprising biologists with how fast and fluidly it can change gene expression — and thus phenotype.
I was never a fan of the whole selfish gene thing myself.
UPDATE: A response here.
House built 10,000 years ago dating back to the beginning of civilisation is unearthed by archaeologists working near Jerusalem
A 10,000-year-old house has been unearthed in Israel, offering what archaeologists say is a fascinating glimpse into human development.
The structure, which dates back to the beginning of civilisation, was discovered close to Jerusalem in a region known as the Judean Shephelah.
It is the oldest structure yet found in the region and dates back to the period in human history when communities first began to domesticate plants and animals.
Could these 1,400-year-old figurines be evidence of an Iron Age cult? Hoard of 30 models hints that Swedish town was once a religious centre
Nestled beneath a stretch of earth in a quiet Swedish village, archaeologists have uncovered a treasure trove of hand-carved figurines.
No less than 29 of these so-called guldgubbars, which means ‘Gold Old Men’, were unearthed in the southern region of Blekinge and each are thought to have been made using 6th Century Roman coins.
The figurines are most commonly found at sites of ritual and worship as devotions to the gods, and because they were discovered alongside the ruins of houses and a forge, archaeologists now believe the area may have been home to an Iron Age cult.
Very nice photos of the pieces.
Archaeologists Map Neolithic Monument Complex at Damerham, near Stonehenge
A team of archaeologists from London’s Kingston University has mapped a prehistoric temple complex at a Neolithic site near the village of Damerham – located about 15 miles from the iconic Stonehenge – and discovered a sink hole of material that may hold information about plants that thrived there 6,000 years ago.
“The site at Damerham is on chalk land, so we don’t often find materials like this that capture and preserve the plant remains – pollen or phytoliths – from a specific time period,” said Dr Helen Wickstead, head of the archaeological team. “It was evident that prehistoric people living in the area had also come across the sink hole and excavated the material during their own construction work. A pile of matching waste material was also seen at one of the other mounds.”
Eight years ago yesterday. That’s him and my sister sometime in the early 1960s
Kinda literally: Bulgarian Archaeologists Unveil Tomb of Thracian Priestess
Located in north-eastern Bulgaria, Razgrad region, the Sveshtari site, also known as Sboryanovo, hosts a great many remains of the Getae, a Thracian tribe whose major city of Helis is also thought to have been located nearby.
The newly uncovered tomb is from the period of the 4-3th centuries BC.
“The tomb is coated in massive wood beams. It boasts an altar painted in black and red. What is more, it was bound to another facility shaped as a cut pyramid, which is a one of a kind finding,” said Prof. Gergova.
I don’t really know much about the significance of this, so it’s something I know absolutely nothing about. . . .which is why I thought I’d link it. The tomb itself (there’s a photo) looks pretty neat and there seem to be not only a number of grave goods but secondary cremation burials as well. So, neat.
Very Well Aged: Archaeologists Say Ancient Wine Cellar Found
Archaeologists say they have discovered a 3,700-year-old wine cellar in Israel, a finding that offers insights into the early roots of winemaking.
The large wine cellar was unearthed in the ruined palace of a Canaanite city in northern Israel, called Tel Kabri, not far from the country’s modern wineries. The excavations revealed 40 one-meter-tall (about 3 feet) jars kept in what appeared to be a storage room.
No liquid contents could have survived the millennia. But an analysis of organic residue trapped in the pores of the jars suggested that they had contained wine made from grapes. The ancient tipple was likely sweet, strong and medicinal—certainly not your average Beaujolais.
The article notes that it hasn’t been published yet, so take it as it is.
See this story on human sacrifice.
That goes to the Nat Geo site which is now requiring a (free, I think) login to access the content. I’m not sure I’ll keep linking there if everyone has to make an account just to see it. In the meantime, I’ll be just making a link without any excerpts.
Archaeologists Unearth 600 Seals and Amulets at Storm God’s Sacred Site
Archaeologists have made a new and surprising discovery in an ancient sanctuary in Turkey. They’ve found more than 600 stamp seals and cylinder seals at the sacred site of the storm and weather god, Jupiter Dolichenus. The findings tell the researchers a little bit more about the ancient history of the place, revealing further insights into the worshippers that made pilgrimages there.
The seals, while sharing the fact that they were consecrated to the same god, still differ widely. Different themes can be found on the seals and amulets, ranging from geometric ornaments and astral symbols to elaborate depictions of animals and people. This includes praying men in front of divine symbols or royal men fighting animals and hybrid creatures.
I admit that I’m still trying to understand the Big Significance of all this. What were the seals used for? What were they sealing? Government documents? Goods? I can dig the amulets (I really like the trapezoidal one in the center of the photo) as religious objects, but those are more or less decorative (despite their religious function).