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Head Modification Explains the Origin of the First Australians

skull

The Nacurie 1 cranium provides evidence that mothers intentionally modified the shape of their infants’ heads in the Murray River region of south-eastern Australia during the terminal Pleistocene. Photo: Peter Brown

By Peter Brown

Evidence of head shape modification among Pleistocene Australians helps refute claims of an evolutionary connection with Indonesian Homo erectus.

Peter Brown holds the Chair of Palaeoanthropology at the University of New England, Armidale, NSW.

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Lizards Give Birth To Cancer Clues

skink

The same protein found in pre-cancerous skin cells helps blood vessels to grow in the placenta of the three-toed skink (Saiphos equalis). Photo: Nadav Pezaro

By Bridget Murphy

A gene found in a pregnant lizard may provide important information about the origins and treatment of cancer in humans.

Bridget Murphy is completing a PhD in biology at the University of Sydney.

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Fruit Extracts Help Exercise Recovery and Asthma

By Roger Hurst

Natural fruit compounds may balance the impacts that exercise can have on the body and help breathing in some types of asthma.

Dr Roger Hurst leads the Food and Wellness Group at Plant & Food Research in New Zealand.

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The Double-Edged Sword of Technology

By Graham M. Turner

When questions of population growth and sustainability are debated, the silver bullet of technological progress is usually proposed or implied. But historical evidence and simulations of the future demonstrate the danger of relying on technology.

Graham Turner is a senior analyst with the National Futures Group at CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems.

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Lie to Me

cartoon

Image: Simon Kneebone

By Michael Cook

Will brain scans revolutionise our legal system?

Michael Cook is editor of the bioethics newsletter BioEdge.

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Fire, Erosion and the End of the Megafauna

The distribution of dated erosion events in Tasmania

The distribution of dated erosion events in Tasmania over the past 105,000 years in relation to human arrival and the extinction of the megafauna. Note the increase in the number of erosion events after 40,000 years ago and the absence of a peak in erosion events in the cold period around 65,000 years ago. The image of the giant marsupial Zygomaturus trilobus is by Nobu Tamura.

By Peter McIntosh

Tasmania’s erosion history links ancient Aboriginal burning practices with the demise of Tasmania’s megafauna.

Peter McIntosh is Senior Scientist (Earth Sciences) with the Forest Practices Authority in Tasmania.

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A New Reason to Lose Sleep

Could the brain be more vulnerable to apnoea if CPAP therapy is discontinued?

Could the brain be more vulnerable to apnoea if CPAP therapy is discontinued? iStockphoto

By Caroline Rae

Are people with sleep apnoea prone to brain injury from oxygen deprivation?

Caroline Rae is Professor of Brain Sciences at The University of New South Wales and is based at Neuroscience Research Australia. This work was also conducted in collaboration with the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research.

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Desert Fireballs

An Operational Desert Fireball Network camera station

An Operational Desert Fireball Network camera station on the Nullarbor, with satellite link and solar panel power source. Photo courtesy Geoff Deacon

By Alex Bevan, Philip Bland & Pavel Spurný

An intelligent camera system has been set up to track and recover meteorites in the Nullarbor.

Alex Bevan is Head of Earth & Planetary Sciences at the Western Australian Museum. Phil Bland is a Principal Research Fellow in the Department of Earth Science and Engineering at Imperial College London. Pavel Spurný is Head of the Department of Interplanetary Matter at the Astronomical Institute of the Academy of Sciences in the Czech Republic.

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Life On Mars?

By Morris Jones

New NASA claims of Martian life in a meteorite discovered in Antarctica haven’t convinced astrobiologists.

Dr Morris Jones is an Australian space analyst and writer.

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Climate Change or Natural Variability?

Image of barometer

The long-term trend in annual rainfall for Australia from 1900 to 2009 is upwards at a linear rate of 6.33 mm/decade.

By Robert E. White

Meteorological records since the 1950s reveal a decrease in rainfall that is consistent with anthropogenic climate change, but a different picture emerges when looking at records since 1900.

Robert E. White is Professor Emeritus of The University of Melbourne’s School of Land and Environment.

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