May 22, 2013 Drought makes Borneo’s trees flower at the same time
A drought period causes the trees in Borneo’s tropical forests to flower at the same time. Evolutionary biologists from the University of Zurich have identified two genes that indicate when the plants are about to flower. By monitoring these genes specifically, scientists are better able to predict when mass flowering will occur. This means that plant seeds can be collected in a targeted manner and used for reforestation.
14 species of crocodile lived in South America around 5 million years ago, at least seven of which populated the coastal areas of the Urumaco River in Venezuela at the same time. Paleontologists from the University of Zurich have found evidence of an abundance of closely related crocodiles that remains unparalleled to this day. As they were highly specialized, the crocodiles occupied different eco-niches. When the watercourses changed due to the Andean uplift, however, all the crocodile species became extinct.
About 99% of the world’s land ice is stored in the huge ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland, while only 1% is contained in glaciers. However, the meltwater of glaciers contributed almost as much to the rise in sea level in the period 2003 to 2009 as the two ice sheets: about one third. This is one of the results of an international study with the involvement of geographers from the University of Zurich.
In the last thirty years, vegetation has changed significantly the world over. Until recently, the extent to which the climate or humankind was responsible remained unclear. However, geographers from the University of Zurich and colleagues from the Netherlands now reveal that over half of these changes are climatological, humans or as yet unknown human-climate interactions cause over a third and around ten percent cannot be explained fully by either the climate or human activity.
Researchers at Wits University in South Africa, including Peter Schmid from the University of Zurich, have described the anatomy of a single early hominin in six new studies. Australo-pithecus sediba was discovered near Johannesburg in 2008. The studies in Science demon-strate how our two million year old ancestor walked, chewed and moved.
Apr 9, 2013 Iceman Ötzi had bad teeth
For the first time, researchers from the Centre for Evolutionary Medicine at the University of Zurich together with colleagues abroad have been able to provide evidence of periodontitis, tooth decay and accident-related dental damage in the ice mummy ‘Ötzi’. The latest scientific findings provide interesting information on the dietary patterns of the Neolithic Iceman and on the evolution of medically significant oral pathologies.
Like humans, mice can become infected with Borrelia. However, not all mice that come into contact with these bacteria contract the dreaded Lyme disease: Animals with a particular gene variant are immune to the bacteria, as scientists from the universities of Zurich and Lund demonstrate. Wild mice are the primary hosts for Borrelia, which are transmitted by ticks.