Archive for November, 2015

This week is a big one for our world

Atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels climbed above the 400 parts per million (ppm) and it’s distinctly possible they won’t be back below that level again in our lifetimes.

“As a human, though, passing both the 400 ppm and (potentially) the 1°C threshold within such a short time period makes it clear we are already living in a different world. We have blown past targets that were being considered as viable when I entered graduate school. We have significantly reduced the options available to us in the future. If we aren’t going to blow past the next set of thresholds — 500 ppm and 2°C — within just a few more decades, we have a lot of work to do in Paris in two weeks and beyond.” Katharine Hayhoe, atmospheric scientist at Texas Tech University.

Scientists Discover a Rare Genome

Scientists have unraveled part of the genetic code of a child who was sacrificed in a ritual ceremony by the Inca civilisation 500 years ago. The Inca boy had been ritually killed some 500 years ago. His body is naturally mummified in the cold, dry environment of the Aconcagua Mountain.

The scientists extracted an uncontaminated sample from the boy’s lung tissue, and found that he belonged to an unknown subgroup of the diverse genetic lineage called C1b, which dates back to the earliest Paleoinidans more than 18,000 years ago. According to a report in Science, the team labeled this unidentified subgroup C1bi, which is thought to have originated in the Andes some 14,000 years ago.

A check of genetic databases revealed four other known individuals in the C1bi group: three samples came from modern-day people living in Peru and Bolivia. The fourth sample came from the ancient Wari Empire, which predated the Inca in Peru. Population geneticist Andrés Moreno-Estrada of Mexico’s National Laboratory of Genomics for Biodiversity suggests that the two ancient samples indicate that the now-rare genetic variation was common before the arrival of Europeans.