Farming, cheese, chewing changed human skull shape

The advent of farming, especially dairy products, had a small but significant effect on the shape of human skulls, according to Science daily.

Humans who live by hunting and foraging wild foods have to put more effort into chewing than people living from farming, who eat a softer diet. Although previous studies have linked skull shape to agriculture and softer foods, it has proved difficult to determine the extent and consistency of these changes at a global scale.

Graduate student David Katz, with Professor Tim Weaver and statistician Mark Grote, used a worldwide collection of 559 crania and 534 lower jaws (skull bones) to model the influence of diet on the shape, form, and size of the human skull during the transition to agriculture.

They found modest changes in skull morphology for groups that consumed cereals, dairy, or both cereals and dairy.

"The main differences between forager and farmer skulls are where we would expect to find them, and change in ways we might expect them to, if chewing demands decreased in farming groups," said Katz, who is now a postdoctoral researcher.

Analysis of a 'rusty' lunar rock suggests the moon's interior is dry

The moon is likely very dry in its interior according to a new study.

The question of the moon's moistness matters because the amount of water and other volatile (easily evaporated) elements and compounds provide clues to the moon's history and how it was formed, according to Science daily.

"It's been a big question whether the moon is wet or dry. It might seem like a trivial thing, but this is actually quite important," said James Day, a geochemist and the leading author of the study. "If the moon is dry  it would be consistent with the formation of the moon in some sort of cataclysmic impact event that formed it," Day said.

The results in this paper suggest that when the moon formed it was "very, very, hot," Day said. "Essentially an ocean of magma."

Day and his coauthors believe it would have been so hot that any water, or other compounds and elements that are volatile under conditions on the moon, such as zinc, would have evaporated very early in the moon's history.

They arrived at this conclusion after analyzing fragments of the "Rusty Rock," a rock collected from the moon's surface during the Apollo 16 mission in 1972.

Chimpanzees and humans spontaneously copy others to pass on new skills to the next generation

The human practice of copying the behavior of others make us effective learners and allows skills, knowledge and inventions to be passed on from one generation to the next according to Daily mail. 

Although decades of research has shown that apes are poor imitators compared to children, a new study has found that both humans and chimpanzees imitate to a similar extent. 

About 10 per cent of the actions produced by either humans or chimpanzee at a zoo was an imitation of the other species' interactions, and there was also overlap in the types of actions imitated by both species, including hand clapping and kissing.

400 million-year-old fish linked to human evolution

A 400-million-year-old fish fossil has been found with a jaw structure that is believed to be part of the evolutionary lineage to humans.

The ancient fossil was unearthed during a study of limestones around Lake Burrinjuck, some 50 km northwest of Canberra, Australia, according to RT.

The region is known for its rare skulls of extinct armoured fish called placoderms, however experts say this example is the best preserved skull and braincase of a placoderm ever found.

Mystery of how first animals appeared on Earth solved

Research has solved the mystery of how the first animals appeared on Earth, a pivotal moment for the planet without which humans would not exist according to Science daily.

Lead researcher Associate Professor Jochen Brocks said the team found the answer in ancient sedimentary rocks.

"We crushed these rocks to powder and extracted molecules of ancient organisms from them," said Dr Brocks.

"These molecules tell us that it really became interesting 650 million years ago. It was a revolution of ecosystems, it was the rise of algae."

Dr Brocks said the rise of algae triggered one of the most profound ecological revolutions in Earth's history, without which humans and other animals would not exist.