On Science – Origins of Man’s Best Friend

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 10,278
    11-15-13: On this episode of On Science, domesticated dogs evolved from European wolves, you can watch the Leonid meteor shower on Ustream, and what’s fueling Jupiter’s Great Red Spot?

    Where did dogs come from?

    Where’s the best view in the house for the Leonids?

    The science behind a never-ending storm….

    And turning up the heat… today On Science!

    Hello and welcome to On Science.  I’m Emerald Robinson.

    So it turns out dogs didn’t originate in the Middle East.  New evidence suggests that the modern domestic dog evolved from an ancient group of wolves in Europe.  After studying the mitochondrial DNA of ancient “wolf-like” animals and eight “dog-like” animals and comparing them with modern genomes, they found that domestic dogs were genetically grouped with ancient wolves.  So they concluded that dogs derived from these ancient wolves and probably were domesticated by early human hunter-gatherers.  Wolves probably took advantage of the carcasses left behind by humans and chose to give up the territorial roots and follow migratory human groups—leaving the pack and branching off.  It’s hard to imagine that some of these cute little dogs came from a wolf.

    I’m always complaining that city lights often keep me from seeing celestial shows.  Well thanks to NASA I will get to see this weekend’s meteor shower.  The 2013 Leonid Meteor shower will be shown live on Ustream by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.  The show peaks this Saturday night and continues into the early morning hours.  The full moon won’t make for the best viewing but hey guess you can’t have it all.  And if you get a great pic NASA says to add it to the Leonid Meteor Shower Flickr and maybe your photo will become a star!

    How can a storm rage on for hundreds of years?  That’s what scientists at the University of California Berkeley are trying to explain.  Jupiter’s mysterious giant Red Spot is a storm that should have only last for a few decades but has survived for centuries.  Using a different kind of model from others, researchers found that vertical factors are behind the spot’s longevity.  As the vortex loses energy, a vertical stream sends hot gases from above and cold gases from below to the center of the vortex, restoring some of its lost energy.  They also found that high-speed jet streams bring in additional energy as they are drawn into the vortex.  Researchers admit these finds don’t completely explain the longevity, and that the assimilation of smaller vortices might also add to its lifespan.

    And genetically engineered tomatoes might add to your lifespan.  Well, they might lower your cholesterol anyway.  Doctors at UCLA tested how a novel, genetically engineered tomato could lower the negative impact of a specific type of lipid found in the small intestine.  Research has shown that these lipids, or LPAs, play a great role in generating high cholesterol levels.  The new tomato mimics HDL or good cholesterol.  Researchers tested these tomatoes on mice and found that adding just 2.2.% of the genetically engineered fruit prevented the rise in the level of LPAs in the small intestine, stopped the increase of bad cholesterol and the decrease in good cholesterol.  Researchers said that “recognizing the importance of these minor lipids in the small intestine may lead to ways to reduce their levels and prevent abnormalities in blood levels of 'good' and 'bad' cholesterol that contribute to heart attack and stroke.

    Does anybody else think it’s hot in here?  Well it’s been hotter everywhere all year.  According to a new report from the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization, this year has been one of the warmest since modern records began in 1850.  Currently, 2013 is on track to be tied with 2003 as the 7th warmest year on record.  They added that with concentrations of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases reaching new heights in 2012 we can expect this warming to be a trend.  Where does all that heat go?  Well about 90% of it is absorbed into the ocean, which scientists say will continue to warm and expand for hundreds of years.  Researchers warn that this trend raises the risk for intense storms like the recent devastating Typhoon Haiyan.  So here’s to you 2013, you’re hot!

    And that’s all for today On Science. Stay cool…well if you can with global warming.