2014 year in review – Evolution, Australiana and the passing of a great physiologist

evolution_australiana_saltinHere we highlight some 2014 messages from the Motor Impairment team.  This is the final one of our summaries for 2014.

We have posted earlier messages on the blog about:

2014 year in review – Diseases, Disorders and Disabilities

2014 year in review – Ageing

2014 year in review – Statistics, science and why we should not sit down!

2014 year in review – New physiology: the winning nose, human exercise and more


Hominin Evolution: some developments
Primate evolution: insights from the genome and the complex history of gibbons.

Three main genetic lineages reported in Nature to underpin the evolution of Europeans.

The overlap of humans and Neanderthals for several thousand years.  There is growing genetic information about this aspect of our evolution.

What are the consequences of the linkage of Human and Neanderthal DNA?  Study reveals that some genes for skin pigmentation are Neanderthal in origin.

What’s the explanation behind the richness of evolution?

What algorithm could possibly evolve the full scope of life in just three and a half billion years?  This article shows how a computer science theorem can explain the breadth of evolution through sexual recombination and weak selection pressures.

Life on the globe amazingly predicted by the Madingly compter model.  It’s known as the general ecosystem model and it is something helpful done by Microsoft research!  It can explain small and large scale evolutionary events.

Evolution and some behaviours

Laughing, smiling and crying: This is a great essay on how and perhaps why these three behaviours evolved together.  It’s written by Michael Graziano.

Walking randomly:  What is the pattern of locomotion that human hunter gatherers really use to find food.

Evolution and its links to physiology

There was an excellent summary of the modern view of genetics and physiology published in 2014 in the Journal of Physiology: here is the link to the table of contents for this June 1 volume: Two messages noted in the reviews below.
Your genome is ‘read-write’ and not ‘read-only’.  This has profound implications for explaining how cells, tissues, organs and organisms work.
‘Plasticity’ of the genome: what it tells you about how you function.  An introduction to the main reviews in the Journal of Physiology special issue.


Current status of Australia’s continuing cuts to science.

Australia lags on curbing dietary salt intake.

Lower rates of smoking in Australia: is this an effect of plain packaging?   Probably!  Other countries should follow with plain packaging, but they are lagging.

Australia has record obesity levels, but hopefully a new food labelling system will help address this.

Cricket can kill you… almost… a cardiac arrest!  Case report of ventricular fibrillation.  But cricket did kill Phil Hughes, an Australian test opening batter. He had a vertebral artery dissection when hit by a fast ball at the edge of his helmet.

The passing of a great physiologist

Bengt Saltin died in September 2014.  He made many key contributions to exercise and cardiovascular physiology.  Here is one of the many tributes to him.  This special editorial in the Journal of Applied Physiology focuses on his scientific discoveries.

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