Evolution at work? Babies born without wisdom teeth
More people are being born without wisdom teeth and an extra artery in their arm as a result of rapid evolution, according to scientists in Australia.
Dr Teghan Lucas, of Flinders University in Adelaide, has discovered that people are undergoing a micro-evolution which allows evolutionary changes to be observed over a short period of time.
“A lot of people thought humans have stopped evolving. But our study shows we are still evolving – faster than at any point in the past 250 years.
“A lot of people are just being born without wisdom teeth,” she said.
Her research also found that some people are being born with additional bones in their arms and legs as well as shorter faces, or with abnormal connections of two or more bones in their feet.
Ms Lucas said the study demonstrates that humans are evolving at a faster rate than at any point in the past 250 years.
Huge cat found etched into desert among Nazca Lines in Peru
A 37-metre cat has been discovered amongst the famous Nazca Lines in the dun sands of Southern Peru.
The lines, etched centuries ago, depict a hummingbird, a monkey, an orca and now a cat.
The cat is dated to between 200BC and 100BC and emerged during work to improve access to one of the hills that provides a natural vantage point from which many of the designs can be seen.
“The figure was scarcely visible and was about to disappear because it’s situated on quite a steep slope that’s prone to the effects of natural erosion,” Peru’s culture ministry said in a statement this week.
“Over the past few years, the use of drones has allowed us to take images of hillsides,” said Johny Isla, Peru’s chief archaeologist for the lines.
Isla said between 80 and 100 new figures had emerged over recent years in the Nazca and Palpa valleys, all of which predated the Nazca culture (AD200-700).
Scientists still unsure herd immunity can be reached without a vaccine
Scientists continue to debate the best approach to tackling the virus as questions are raised over the longevity of immunity and how to achieve it.
The Great Barrington Declaration, signed by epidemiologists and public health scientists, was released recently and calls for governments to reach herd immunity without a vaccine by allowing COVID-19 to spread among those at low risk while protecting vulnerable populations.
However, another group published a letter in The Lancet which argues this approach puts the entire population at risk of significant illness and death.
Scientists can’t say how long a person will be protected after they’ve recovered from an infection, the authors say. If immunity wanes quickly, that sets the stage for recurrent outbreaks unless there’s a vaccine.
Meanwhile, a wide ranging study from the University of Glasgow suggests that lockdown had a major impact on the UK’s mental health, including increased rates of suicidal thoughts.
Researchers say public health measures, like lockdowns, are necessary to protect the general population, but warn they may have a “profound and long-lasting” effect on mental health.