Bear Bridge to Love * No Discrimination against Disabled Monkeys * Quirks Question Period - Heating with Refrigerators * Zebrafish Hold Key to Regrowing Limbs * Dating the Grand Canyon * Neanderthal Man

Listen

Homo sapiens may be the only species of hominid left on Earth, but we now know much more about the Neanderthals and other extinct human cousins, thanks to those who have decoded their genomes and compared them to us. Today, we'll speak with the scientist who has led that effort. We'll also hear about the social lives of disabled monkeys; we'll find out how zebrafish might teach us to regrow limbs; we'll learn how the Grand Canyon might be older than the river that runs through it; we'll find out how opening the fridge can heat your house; and we'll hear why the bears in Banff National Park safely cross the road.

 


play-icon.jpg Listen to the whole show (pop up player) or use this link to download an mp3.




Bear Bridge to Love

tch_bridge.jpg
Wildlife overpass on the Trans-Canada Highway in Banff National Park. A.T. Ford, Montana State University
Wildlife crossing structures, over and under highways, are found in Europe, the United States and in Banff National Park, here in Canada. They were built to alleviate the fragmentation of populations created by the Trans-Canada Highway, which dissects the Park. Until recently, research has failed to establish whether or not they actually work. But a new study of black bears and grizzly bears by Dr. Michael Sawaya from the Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University has demonstrated that the crossings are effective in providing genetic connectivity on both sides of the highway. DNA samples from hair traps in the general population were matched with samples at 20 crossings, to demonstrate that black bears and grizzly bears were using the crossings and successfully mating on the other side of the road.

Related Links

  • Paper in Proceedings of The Royal Society B
  • Montana State University news
  • CBC News story
  • Calgary Herald story


play-icon.jpgListen to this item (pop up player) or use this link to download an mp3.




No Discrimination against Disabled Monkeys

Awajishima Monkey Center
On the Japanese island of Awaji, Japanese macaques, also known as Snow Monkeys, live a pleasant life. They are fed by tourists, but range freely through the wilderness area on the island. But these monkeys do suffer from a particularly high rate of disability, as many are born with malformed or missing hands or feet. This gave anthropologist Dr. Sarah Turner, a post-doctoral fellow at McGill University, the opportunity to observe how macaque society treats disabled monkeys. What she found was that monkeys seem to be blind to disability, and while they don't provide extra help for disabled adults, they don't treat them badly either. Dr. Turner thinks this might provide clues as to how early hominids might have treated disabled individuals.

Related Links

  • Paper in the Journal of Human Evolution


play-icon.jpgListen to this item (pop up player) or use this link to download an mp3.





Quirks Question Period - Heating with Refrigerators

This is the Quirks & Quarks Question Period. You think of a question, and we'll ask a Canadian scientist to tell us the answer. And today's question comes to us from Greg Robin from Ottawa who asked the following: "Will keeping the refrigerator door open heat up the house?"  To help us answer this question, we contacted Dr. Robert Hill, an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Waterloo.


play-icon.jpgListen to this item (pop up player) or use this link to download an mp3.





Zebrafish Hold Key to Regrowing Limbs

zebrafish.jpg
Zebrafish
The tiny zebrafish - native to the rivers and streams of the Himalayas - is a very popular aquarium fish. It is also a favourite among scientists who want to study its ability to completely regenerate organs. When the zebrafish loses a fin, for example, it can regenerate the bone needed to grow a new one, perfectly and very quickly. Now, new research by Canadian scientist Dr. Kryn Stankunas, an Assistant Professor of Biology at the University of Oregon, has identified the two molecular pathways that make this process work. One pathway resets existing cells to a developmental stage; the other pathway directs the newly formed cells to turn back into functional, organized bone. It is hoped this understanding can one day help scientists learn how to regrow bone in humans.
 

Related Links


Listen to this itemplay-icon.jpg (pop up player) or use this link to download an mp3.





Dating the Grand Canyon

canyonsegments.jpg
The middle segments of the Grand Canyon are older than either end.  Courtesy K Karlstrom
The spectacular Grand Canyon cuts through the Southwestern US, with the mighty Colorado River running through it. But for more than 100 years, there has been a debate about the age of the Grand Canyon, because there's been geological evidence that it is older than the river that runs through it. Dr. Karl Karlstrom, a geologist from the University of New Mexico and his colleagues, have apparently solved the puzzle. They've found that the canyon has segments that are as old as the Colorado River - about 5 million years. But other segments of the canyon probably incorporate canyons carved by other rivers in previous eras, perhaps as much as 70 million years ago. So, in fact, the Grand Canyon is both young and old at the same time.

Related Links

Listen to this itemplay-icon.jpg (pop up player) or use this link to download an mp3.





Neanderthal Man

neanderthal_man.jpg

Over the past several years, our picture of Neanderthals has changed dramatically. The more Neanderthal fossils and sites we find, the more we realise that they were probably a lot more like our own human ancestors than we previously thought. But one puzzle that fossil bones couldn't answer, was the question of our relationship with our distant cousins. Did we out-compete them, kill them off - or simply love them to death?  Well, that question was partially answered a couple of years ago, when a pioneering Swedish scientist and his team published the first draft of the Neanderthal genome. And it turned out that Neanderthals left a legacy of their love in our own genes today. That scientist was Dr. Svante Paabo, and since then, he has gone on to reveal more and more genetic secrets about Neanderthals and other human relatives. Now, he has recounted that search for lost genomes in a new book, called, Neanderthal Man: In Search of Lost Genomes. Dr. Svante Paabo is director of the Department of Genetics at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

Related Links

Listen to this itemplay-icon.jpg (pop up player) or use this link to download an mp3.




Theme music bed copyright Raphaël Gluckstein, Creative Commons License by-nc-nd-2.0