February 21, 2014

Facts About Life's Origins

  • The first diverging animal on earth was commonly believed to be the simple sponge, until experiments in 2008 suggested that the more complex comb jelly actually came first.

  • While previous research pointed to the domestication of dogs beginning in Asia, new research suggests finds that the first dogs descended European wolves.

  • The primary stress hormone in humans is cortisol, which increases the brain’s use of glucose and puts the body in fight-or-flight mode. Constant stress causes an overexposure to cortisol, potentially disrupting the body’s processes and causing health risks like heart disease, depression and weight gain.

  • The term “artificial selection” was first used by Charles Darwin to illustrate how plants and animals derived special properties from intentionally breeding that favored positive characteristics and excluded negative traits.

  • Corn is derived from a Mexican grass called teosinthe, which was domesticated to create maize over 9,000 years ago. 

  • The shrinkage of the Arctic ice cap due to global warming causes the replacement of the ice with dark water. As a result, the surface of the Arctic Ocean absorbs more heat, melting the land ice of nearby Greenland. 

  • Scientists believe that a 100,000-year-old fossilized jawbone, found on an island in the Arctic Ocean, is the remains of the oldest-known polar bear. 

  • In 2006, a hybrid grizzly/polar bear was found in Northern Canada, providing proof that the two types of bears can interbreed. Additional DNA testing found that Alaskan brown bears were a closer genetic match to polar bears than to other brown bear breeds.

  • Human eyes operate like cameras, using a lens to focus images and light onto the retina, a light-sensitive membrane lining the inside of the eyeball.

  • The largest moon of Saturn, Titan is one of the most earth-like bodies to exist in our solar system, containing bodies of liquid ethane and methane that forms clouds and even rains.

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