March 15th, 2012
04:55 PM ET

'Red Deer Cave' people, possibly a new human species?

Newly identified partial skeletons of "mysterious humans" excavated at two caves in southwest China display an unique mix of primitive and modern anatomical features, scientists say.

"Their skulls are anatomically unique. They look very different to all modern humans, whether alive today or in Africa 150,000 years ago," said evolutionary biologist Darren Curnoe, the lead author of the study, from the University of New South Wales in Australia.

The fossils found at excavation sites in Longlin Cave, in Guangxi Province, and the Maludong Cave, in Yunnan Province, indicate that the stone-aged people had short, flat faces and lacked a modern chin. They had thick skull bones, a rounded brain case, prominent brow ridges and a moderate-size brain.


A fruit fly walks into a bar ...
A male fly courts a virgin female fly.
March 15th, 2012
02:59 PM ET

A fruit fly walks into a bar ...

It sounds like the premise of a "Far Side" comic: A fruit fly with an insatiable sexual appetite is no good with women and looks for respite at the bottom of a bottle.

But revelations about those puny nuisances that have been annoying your oranges all week didn’t come from Gary Larson, but from a group of researchers at the Heberlein lab at the University of California, San Francisco.

Galit Shohat-Ophir, the team’s lead researcher, and her colleagues discovered that the more a male fruit fly’s sexual advances are rejected, the more likely the fly will turn to alcohol as a consolation.

The findings, which they published in the journal Science, were the culmination of years of research on the “reward” pathway in the brain, which is linked to addiction.

“A reward is a kind of stimulus that reinforces behavior, in that it increases the chance that the behavior will occur again,” Shohat-Ophir told CNN Light Years. “Usually, it’s pleasure-related effects.”

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Filed under: Discoveries • On Earth


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