Genetic evidence of modern human DNA in a Neanderthal — Huh? Wha?

Using several different methods of DNA analysis, an international research team has found what they consider to be strong evidence of an interbreeding event between Neanderthals and modern humans that occurred tens of thousands of years earlier than any other such event previously documented.

…In NATURE the team publishes evidence of interbreeding that occurred an estimated 100,000 years ago. More specifically the scientists provide the first genetic evidence of a scenario in which early modern humans left the African continent and mixed with archaic (now-extinct) members of the human family prior to the migration “out of Africa” of the ancestors of present-day non-Africans, less than 65,000 years ago.

❝ “It’s been known for several years, following the first sequencing of the Neanderthal genome in 2010, that Neanderthals and humans must have interbred,” says Professor Adam Siepel, a co-team leader and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) quantitative biologist. “But the data so far refers to an event dating to around 47,000-65,000 years ago, around the time that human populations emigrated from Africa. The event we found appears considerably older than that event…”

❝ “One very interesting thing about our finding is that it shows a signal of breeding in the ‘opposite’ direction from that already known,” Siepel notes. “That is, we show human DNA in a Neanderthal genome, rather than Neanderthal DNA in human genomes.”

This finding, the result of several kinds of advanced computer modeling algorithms comparing complete genomes of hundreds of contemporary humans with complete and partial genomes of four archaic humans, has implications for our knowledge of human migration patterns.

The article proceeds from this point to examination of several intertwining themes of interbreeding between different strands of the evolutionary vines that tie us all to our species. A worthwhile read.

It also validates a theme long held as strong among my Highland antecedents – whether critical or not – that our species [and any near relative] is ready to have sex with anyone willing to stand still long enough to enjoy it.

Ready to enlist in the Amazon Air Corps?

Amazon.com is stepping up plans to build its own air delivery network, saying it will lease 20 Boeing Co. 767 freighters from Air Transport Services Group…

The agreement shows Amazon’s commitment to expanding its own logistics network to make deliveries faster and more efficient. The Seattle-based company wants to lessen its dependence on United Parcel Service Inc. and FedEx Corp., which have sometimes run into delays during the busy holiday season.

“This is the first formal confirmation from Amazon that they are in fact pursing an air transportation network and more logistics services,” said Colin Sebastian, an analyst at Robert W Baird & Co….“We can dispense with all the speculation and actually look at something that’s real and happening…”

Amazon has been quietly building out its strategy for years. A 2013 report to Amazon’s senior management team proposed an aggressive global expansion of the company’s Fulfillment By Amazon service, which provides storage, packing and shipping for independent merchants selling products on the company’s website. The project, called Dragon Boat, envisioned a global delivery network that controls the flow of goods from factories in China and India to customer doorsteps in Atlanta, New York and London…

❝ “In 20 years, Amazon will have its own delivery fleet,” said Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities…“This is a baby step toward that goal.”

Trump voters who are heavily invested in UPS and FedEx needn’t worry, though. The Republican horn-blower has promised to squash Amazon if he’s elected president. I’m not certain what Jeff Bezos did to piss him off; but, anything that angers our own 21st Century Goebbels can’t be all bad.

Cartainly, one more delivery choice in the mix – increasing competition – won’t harm consumers.

Action asthma plans tested on teens — there’s an app for that

Adolescents were able to keep track of their cell phone-based asthma action plans with greater ease compared with paper diary plans, according to a small trial…

And among the 15 patients with asthma control test scores of 19 or below (categorized as uncontrolled asthma) who were in the mobile-based group, most showed substantial improvement, while patients in the paper diary group had little to no change from baseline…

Benefits from the mobile technology were mostly concentrated in the participants with poorly controlled asthma at baseline…

“We asked them to mail a paper diary into us at the end of each month for 6 months, and hardly anyone returned them — and only one participant mailed the diary all 6 months,” Dr. Tamara Perry said. “We go months between seeing patients. If they don’t bring a paper diary to the appointment, patients only remember the last 2 weeks of symptoms.”

The mobile app had a web portal with clinician access to the logs, peak flows, symptoms, medication use, etc., Perry added.

❝ “The good thing about this is in the adolescents who really needed more timely interventions, there was demonstration that they improved with the use of the mobile app,” Mark Dykewicz, MD…said in an interview with MedPage Today.

“When it comes down to the final common denominator, the kids who needed it the most, did improve,” Dykewicz said…

Only 65% of the adolescent patients had their own phone. Others used a smartphone belonging to a family member. A good reason to come up with a burner or a loaner for similar studies.

None of this should be a surprise. Relying on what are improved communications modes makes all the sense in the world. Making communications possible makes it possible for an expanded range of contexts.

Designing better apps ain’t the toughest problem in the world, either.