Small items from my morning reading
November 13, 2008
- In the future, antibiotics will be made from muskrat poop. The article has a total non sequitur at the end about how the Catholic church feels about muskrat meat – it’s considered a fish, just like sea turtles and iguanas.
- The first-ever family portrait of a planetary system (that is, not ours) has been taken. The planets are so young that they are still glowing with heat, which makes them easier to see. Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy is giddy like a schoolgirl about it:
How long before we see the Holy Grail, the first image of a terrestrial planet, orbiting a star like the Sun at just the right distance for liquid water to bathe its surface? It may not be for a decade or two, but mark my words: that day will arrive.
- A new anthropological find, a 1.2 million year old fossilized female pelvis, suggests that by that time Homo erectus already had a birth canal large enough for big-headed babies. This changes a lot of assumptions about the prehistoric species, such as the idea that children had to do much of their brain development after birth, needing lots of parental care during that time.The previous assumptions about female Homo erectus pelvis size came from studying a teenage male pelvis, which just goes to show you can’t study the boys and think you know what’s going on with the girls. The researchers haven’t been stripped of their sexism, though, as they speculate that “… early man was better equipped than first thought to produce larger-brained babies.”Unless they mean that in Homo erectus the guys could give birth too. Now, that’s a mutation worth bringing back!