Two scapulae of Homo antecessor, found during the excavation campaigns of 2005, 2006 and 2007, belonged to a boy or girl about three years old (ATD6-116), and a minor of unknown sex, and age equivalent to that of a modern adolescent (ATD6-118). It shows that this species from the European Lower Pleistocene at the Sierra de Atapuerca had already completely lost its ability to climb easily, and suggests that it had the skeleton of a hominin that habitually walked. In the entire hominin fossil record, there are only four complete specimens of this part of the skeleton for the period between six…
On December 11th the European Commission releases its European Green Deal plan, with a vow to reduce pesticide usage by 50 percent. While that is fine for politicians, farmers are asking where the reductions can occur. They are concerned that the Green Deal lists no "credible alternatives" to pesticides and how politicians will create "a complete overhaul" without them. There also remains confusion about the only alternative to pesticides that might help - biotechnology. Though the science community recognizes the value of biotechnology, as does the European Court of Justice, the…
Our new research is tracing the development of the world's vital non-living nature. The health and wellbeing of humans is underpinned by the natural world. Living nature in the form of ecosystems and biodiversity is the world’s life support system. It is crucial, but under threat. Equally important, but less discussed, is non-living nature or “geodiversity”. This includes rocks, soils, water and landforms. Our new research discusses how all of nature – including the non-living – must be explicitly considered in policy if a sustainable world is to be achieved. Nature is complicated and…
Neonicotinoid pesticides, chemically similar to nicotine in the tobacco plant, which many insects do not like, are seed treatments created to protect plants when they are most vulnerable to pests. They were also designed to be better for the environment, including non-pest insects, but a statistical blip in bee numbers set off claims that the new pesticides were to blame, and scientist findings that the problem was changing land use patterns and varroa mites fell on deaf ears. A new study affirms that scientists were right all along; at least some neonicotinoid pesticides even improve…
Hunters say that if someone new wants to begin hunting, they will take them out to get a turkey. While a human might have sympathetic notions about a rabbit or a deer, no one ever cried about killing a turkey. That may explain why 14 eco-terrorists who invaded a farm, cost the lives of over 1,400 turkeys, and were charged with aggravated robbery, obstruction, violation of home or property degradation got away with no jail time at all. The prosecutor had requested from six months to two years jail time for the crime Boucherie abolition clearly committed but the judge instead gave them short…
For decades habitat loss has been the key threat for wildlife in tropical rainforest ecosystems but a new study finds that ground dwelling mammal and bird communities are more impacted by illegal hunting using indiscriminate snares than they are controlled logging. The researchers conducted a large scale camera-trapping study to compare several forest areas with logging concessions in Malaysian Borneo and protected areas in the Annamites ecoregion of Vietnam and Laos known to be subjected to illegal hunting. The results show severe defaunation in snared forests compared to logged forests…
Rice straw and waste from pruning citric fruit trees are typically burned as waste but a new paper says those could feed ruminant animals.  A team of researchers designed new diets for cows, sheep, goats, etc. from these agricultural sub-products which would help decrease burning. Obviously it is not just rice straw and citrus leaves, but they were able to revalue those sub-products by mixing them in with other ingredients that ensure that all the nutritional needs of the animal are met.  “The Low Carbon Feed diets have added rice straw and leaves from orange and lemon trees to the…
Merchants of doubt in the environmental sector endlessly accuse the agricultural world of being among the key ills the world faces, and politicians latch on to such populist rhetoric in municipal elections. Several municipalities have even issued anti-pesticide buffers in agricultural areas citing the precautionary principle.  Now, French farmers are fighting back, noting that agriculture is more friendly to the environment than ever and that concern should instead be directed toward cities and towns that continue to expand and create more pollution, while deflecting blame onto farming…
Nationalist politics continue to gain support across the European continent, from the UK to Italy, France, Hungary and Poland. Meanwhile, the concept of “Europe” has become a rallying cry for those who want to resist what they see as a constraining, inadequate or conservative vision for the future. Whatever else such a political picture may call to mind, it’s also a description of the state of philosophy across Europe in the early 19th century. During the 1830s and 1840s, nationalism and Europeanism stood for two sides in a struggle over the identity of philosophy itself. For the…
In France, The Departmental Department of Population Protection routinely visits markets, restaurants and supermarkets of the Côte d'Azur to conduct "surprise" checks. They also visit organic farmers to check the organic certificates of sellers.  A recent analysis finds something surprising; 30 percent of food sold as organic is fraudulent but without government checking no customers would ever know the difference. Organic farming is booming in the Alpes-Maritimes. They list 234 organic farms and 3,976 hectares of organic land and the requirements should be simple. They can: Use…
A recent analysis of U.K. demographics compiled by the Higher Education Statistics Agency finds that Science, Technology, Engineering, And Math fields are commonly dominated by women. But when it comes to fields that are more about basic research rather than helping people, things go the other way. Medicine, veterinary fields, agricultural science, and life sciences are all dominated by women, with only dentistry showing near parity at 58 percent, while in more reclusive fields such as physical sciences women are only 43 percent. At the bottom of that list, computer science is a haven…
Vandals who go by the name Faucheurs Volontaires (Volunteer Reapers) destroyed a field trial of high-oleic sunflowers claiming they were herbicide tolerant therefore GMOs under last year's European Court of Justice decision that all biotechnology except chemical and radiation baths to create new strains - mutagenesis - are to be considered GMOs. But such crops are actually still legal under the ruling and the sunflowers were not even herbicide resistant. Volunteer Reapers have been given a lot of positive publicity by French media and have refused to urge the French government to…
Playing to their western environmental allies, Russian groups are claiming bee deaths that occurred recently are due to neonicotinoid pesticides sprayed on oil rapeseed crops. An article in Russia’s Meteovesti goes on to restate discredited populist claims that the number of domestic bees in the United States has halved in 2015 alone.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) statement that chlorpyrifos should not be renewed in the EU won't stop farmers from wanting to use it. It will still be legal in Poland and farmers who want the best product could just buy it there, online, or from the black market. Some countries are getting even more extreme. Danish Minister for Food Mogens Jensen has requested the National Food Administration to consider a total ban on foods treated with the chemical. 
Eight students have started an EU Citizens' Initiative to reform the 2001 GMO Directive to make it research-friendly related to new plant breeding techniques (NPBTs.) They specifically want more legal clarity and further definitions. Their objective is to facilitate the authorization procedure for those products obtained through NPBTs, which carry only natural existing traits. The aim is to improve scientific progress in the European Union while protecting human and animal health and the environment. If you are an EU citizen, you can read the details here and if you like it,…
With the European Court of Justice decision that categorized new plant breeding techniques (NBTs) as genetic modification now one year old, European research institutes launched an open letter calling for a modernized approach that would enable the region's efforts to transition to more sustainable, less chemical-dependent agricultural systems. Opposed to the 100 scientific research institutions plus are environmental NGOs, with the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM-EU) joining anti-biotechnology groups Global 2000, Slow Food International, IG Saatgut and …
Could Lyme disease in the U.S. be the result of an accidental release from a secret bioweapons experiment? Could the military have specifically engineered the Lyme disease bacterium to be more insidious and destructive – and then let it somehow escape the lab and spread in nature? Is this why 300,000 Americans are diagnosed annually with this potentially debilitating disease? It’s an old conspiracy theory currently enjoying a resurgence with lots of sensational headlines and tweets. Even Congress has ordered that the Pentagon must reveal whether it weaponized ticks. And it’s not…
Turkish coffee is thick, delicious, and if you are lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, will contain your future in the grounds left at the bottom. There is no secret, many Turks will happily make it for you (depending on where you are, you might actually get a fair price from a vendor) even in their homes, but there is no secret in a Rembrandt either. That doesn't mean you can do it. There is truly nothing complex about it. A pan (cezve) is filled with water and ground coffee and heated. Percolators made this more civilized a long time ago but for the real…
The "Grow scientific progress" movement is being given a chance in Europe. The European Commission is allowing a new citizen initiative calling for revisions to deregulate gene-editing techniques. The petition would need to receive over 1 million statements of support from residents of seven member states in order to trigger European Commission analysis and response. The organisers of the initiative state that Directive 2001/18/EC on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) is ‘outdated' and ask for a revision of its rules concerning new plant breeding techniques (NPBT), with the objective of…
An artificial nose helps neurosurgeons to identify cancerous tissue during surgery and enables the more precise excision of tumours. Electrosurgical resection using devices such as an electric knife or diathermy blade is currently a widely used technique in neurosurgery. When tissue is burned, tissue molecules are dispersed in the form of surgical smoke. In the method developed by researchers at Tampere University, the surgical smoke is fed into a new type of measuring system that can identify malignant tissue and distinguish it from healthy tissue. An article on using surgical smoke to…