We all know the iconic evolutionary tale of fish emerging from the sea and developing legs to become land-based animals. Scientists have discovered that long before fish developed limbs some 385 million years ago, their eyes tripled in size and shifted from the sides of their heads to the tops of their heads. Larger eyes enhanced their ability to see farther and more in depth above the water line (through air) rather than through water. This change likely spurred these crocodile-like animals to shift toward land in order to hunt prey. In essence, seeing resulted in a new way of being.
Read more in the abstract, Massive increase In visual range preceded the origin of terrestrial species.
The Chromosome Y Connection to Infectious Disease
Researchers from the Dept. of Medicine at the University of Vermont have noted that the male species ranging from humans to insects are more vulnerable than females to parasitic, fungal, bacterial and viral infections. One theory posits that testosterone may play a role in suppressing immunity allowing for greater susceptibility. However, these researchers also found susceptibility to Influenza A virus, was due to a genetic variation in the Y Chromosome. For more, read the abstract, Genetic variation in chromosome Y regulates susceptibility to influenza A virus infection.
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
Which animal species is the most self-aware of them all? Research scientists found that Rhesus monkeys among other species—such as elephants, magpies, gorillas, and chimps, etc.– are able to pass the mark test which involves seeing one’s reflection in a mirror and touching a dyed mark on the forehead. The mirror test is considered a litmus test for self-awareness but in some cases can indicate more than just simple recognition. Some researchers believe this can be taught; others don’t. The environment may play a larger role by influencing behaviors displayed in front of a mirror unrelated to self-awareness. So next time your pets are staring into the mirror, their thoughts may be deeper than you think.
To read more, visit the PNAS Journal article, Can self-awareness be taught? Monkeys pass the mirror test—again