Neanderthals had sex with modern humans much earlier: Study

New York: Before early modern humans migrated 'out of Africa' to spread across the world, they started having sex with the Neanderthals some 100,000 years ago and not 47,000-65,000 years ago as previously thought.

Using several different methods of DNA analysis, an international research team found strong evidence of an interbreeding event between the Neanderthals and modern humans that occurred tens of thousands of years earlier than any other such event previously documented.

More specifically, they provide the first genetic evidence of a scenario in which early modern humans left the African continent and mixed with archaic (now-extinct) members of the human family prior to the migration "out of Africa" of the ancestors of present-day non-Africans, less than 65,000 years ago.

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Indian-origin scientist devises novel materials for solar fuel cells

New York, Feb 17 - An Indian-origin chemist from the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) has developed new high-performing materials for cells that harness sunlight to split carbon dioxide and water into useable fuels like methanol and hydrogen gas.

These “green fuels” can be used to power cars, home appliances or even to store energy in batteries.

“Technologies that simultaneously permit us to remove greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide while harnessing and storing the energy of sunlight as fuel are at the forefront of current research,” said Dr Krishnan Rajeshwar, distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry and co-founder of the university's centre of renewable energy, science and technology.

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NASA's Chandra observatory spots oldest light in the universe

Washington, Feb 17 - Using the data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, astronomers have discovered a jet from a very distant supermassive black hole being illuminated by the oldest light in the universe.

The discovery shows that black holes with powerful jets may be more common than previously thought in the first few billion years after the Big Bang.

The light detected from this jet was emitted when the universe was only 2.7 billion years old, a fifth of its present age.

At this point, the intensity of the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB) left over from the Big Bang was much greater than it is today.

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Here`s why people `catch` smiles, frowns like flu

Washington D. C, Feb 12 : Smiles and frowns are usually contagious - they tend to wind up on everyone's face and now, a new research has revealed why.

Growing evidence shows that an instinct for facial mimicry allows us to empathize with and even experience other people's feelings. If we can't mirror another person's face, it limits our ability to read and properly react to their expressions.

In their paper, University of Wisconsin's Paula Niedenthal and Adrienne Wood and colleagues describe how people in social situations simulate others' facial expressions to create emotional responses in themselves.

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4 relationship patterns that determine if you'll get hitched

Washington D. C, Feb 11 : With a new study finding four distinct patterns of commitment, predicting the fate of a relationship has become easier.

University of Illinois's Brian Ogolsky said that the four types of dating couples that they found included the dramatic couple, the conflict-ridden couple, the socially involved couple and the partner-focused couple.

The researchers developed these categories after studying graphs created by 376 dating couples in their mid-twenties. Over a nine-month period, participants tracked how committed they were to marrying their partner and why. Ogolsky asked participants to explain their reasoning when their commitment level had gone up or down.

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Hidden galaxies discovered in our backyard

Washington D. C, Feb 10 : A galactic hide and seek game has come to an end with a team of astronomers discovering hundreds of hidden galaxies behind our own galaxy, the Milky Way.

Using CSIRO's Parkes radio telescope equipped with an innovative receiver, an international team of scientists were able to see through the stars and dust of the Milky Way, into a previously unexplored region of space, just 250 million light years from Earth.

The discovery may help to explain the Great Attractor region, which appears to be drawing the Milky Way and hundreds of thousands of other galaxies towards it with a gravitational force equivalent to a million billion Suns.

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Worst greenhouse gas-emitters least affected by climate change

Washington D. C, Feb 8 : The case of global climate change seems to resemble that of non-smokers getting cancer from second-hand smoke as a new study suggests that countries emitting the least amount of gasses ironically suffer the most and vice versa.

The University of Queensland and WCS study shows a dramatic global mismatch between nations producing the most greenhouse gases and the ones most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

The study shows that the highest emitting countries are ironically the least vulnerable to climate change effects such as increased frequency of natural disasters, changing habitats, human health impacts, and industry stress.

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Newly-found tarantula is Johnny Cash's spider namesake

Washington D. C, Feb 5 : Meet the fist-sized tarantula with fearsome fangs that has been named in honour of the western music legend Johnny Cash.

Some 14 new tarantula species have been found in the US after a decade-long search, in which scientists looked at 3,000 specimens.

While these charismatic spiders have captured the attention of people around the world, and have been made famous by Hollywood, little was actually known about them. The new descriptions nearly double the number of species known from the region. Biologists at Auburn University and Millsaps College have described these hairy, large-bodied spiders.

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Intense work helped Michelangelo stave off arthritis' effects

Washington D. C, Feb 4 : Michelangelo Buonarroti, sculptor, painter and one of the greatest artists of all time, suffered from arthritis as he aged but intense work may have helped him extend the use of his hands, according to a new study.

In the research, three portraits of the artist were analysed. All three paintings are of Michelangelo between the ages of 60 and 65 and show that the small joints of his left hand were affected by non-inflammatory degenerative changes that can be interpreted as osteoarthritis. In earlier portraits of the artist his hands appear with no signs of deformity.

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Women in online news are less heard, more seen

Washington D. C, Feb 4 : Women are allegedly under-represented and marginalised in relation to men in the world's news media and now, a new study suggest that when it comes to online media outlets, women are seen more than heard.

The research, using artificial intelligence (AI), has analysed over two million articles to find out how gender is represented in online news and found that men's views and voices are represented more in online news than women's.

The study also showed that while being overall under-represented, women appear proportionally more in images than men, while men are mentioned more in text than women.

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Practice does make perfect

Washington D. C, Jan 30 : A new brain study has suggested that there is a degree of truth in the age old theory "practice makes perfect."

In this study, Faculty of Health researchers were looking at fMRI brain scans of professional ballet dancers to measure the long-term effects of learning.

"We wanted to study how the brain gets activated with long-term rehearsal of complex dance motor sequences," says Joseph DeSouza, who studies and supports people with Parkinson's disease. "The study outcome will help with understanding motor learning and developing effective treatments to rehabilitate the damaged or diseased brain."

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Best defense against climate change is.

Washington D. C, Jan 29 : Intact nature offers the best defense against the climate change, according to a recent study.

The study conducted by CSIRO, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the University of Queensland found that worldwide responses to climate change could leave people worse off in the future.

The paper discusses how certain adaptation strategies may have a negative impact on nature which in turn will impact people in the long-term.

In response to climate change, many local communities around the world are rapidly adjusting their livelihood practices to cope with climate change, sometimes with catastrophic implications for nature, according to principal researcher Dr. Tara Martin.

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Head-on collision with forming planet tugged the Moon out of Earth

Washington D. C, Jan 29 : When a "planetary embryo" called Theia collided with the early Earth approximately 100 million years after the Earth was formed, the moon span off into the orbit around the nascent planet, according to a new study.

Scientists had already known about this high-speed crash, which occurred almost 4.5 billion years ago, but many thought the Earth collided with Theia (pronounced THAY-eh) at an angle of 45 degrees or more, a powerful side-swipe (simulated in this 2012 YouTube video).

The UCLA geochemists and colleagues analyzed seven rocks brought to the Earth from the moon by the Apollo 12, 15 and 17 missions, as well as six volcanic rocks from the Earth's mantle, five from Hawaii and one from Arizona.

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'Andaman bush toad' small enough for its own genus

Washington D. C., Jan. 26 : A new species of has been found on herb bush with 24mm average length, measured from its snout tip to its cloaca.

After identifying its unique morphological and skeletal characters and conducting a molecular phylogenetic analysis, not only did the researchers introduced a new species, but also added a new genus.

The proposed common name of this species is 'Andaman bush toad'.

With its significantly smaller size when compared to its relatives, the new toad species seems to have had its name predetermined by nature.

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Now, womb lining test to predict IVF treatment success

Washington D. C, Jan 24 : Newly discovered "genetic fingerprint" is a big breakthrough that can help doctors predict the chances of success of IVF treatment.

Fertility experts in Southampton and the Netherlands have identified a specific genetic pattern in the womb that could predict whether or not IVF treatment is likely to be successful.

Study co-lead Nick Macklon said that the discovery would help clinicians understand why IVF fails repeatedly in some women, adding it could also lead to the development of a new test to help patients understand how likely they are to achieve a pregnancy before they embark on the treatment process and to guide others on whether or not they should continue even after a number of unsuccessful cycles.

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