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Clines 2016

David J. A. Clines, A Voyage round my Library. unknown (2016), preprint, 1–31.

This is a paper for a conference on the Futures of Biblical Studies at the University of Kent in Cant erbury, 1—2 June, 2016. The conference was planned as a celebration of the donation of (half) my personal library to the University Library this year. For my contribution to the event, I had the idea of choosing some interesting or unusual books from my collection (the other half, that is, which will eventually make their way to Kent; one day, Kent, these will a ll be yours) and talking about them.

Okbay 2016

Aysu Okbay et al., Genome-wide association study identifies 74 loci associated with educational attainment. nature 533 (2016), 539–542.

n533-0539-Supplement1.pdf, n533-0539-Supplement2.xlsx

Educational attainment is strongly influenced by social and other environmental factors, but genetic factors are estimated to account for at least 20 % of the variation across individuals1. Here we report the results of a genome-wide association study (GWAS) for educational attainment that extends our earlier discovery sample1,2 of 101,069 individuals to 293,723 individuals, and a replication study in an independent sample of 111,349 individuals from the UK Biobank. We identify 74 genome-wide significant loci associated with the number of years of schooling completed. Single-nucleotide polymorphisms associated with educational attainment are disproportionately found in genomic regions regulating gene expression in the fetal brain. Candidate genes are preferentially expressed in neural tissue, especially during the prenatal period, and enriched for biological pathways involved in neural development. Our findings demonstrate that, even for a behavioural phenotype that is mostly environmentally determined, a well-powered GWAS identifies replicable associated genetic variants that suggest biologically relevant pathways. Because educational attainment is measured in large numbers of individuals, it will continue to be useful as a proxy phenotype in efforts to characterize the genetic influences of related phenotypes, including cognition and neuropsychiatric diseases.

Aysu Okbay, Jonathan P. Beauchamp, Mark Alan Fontana, James J. Lee, Tune H. Pers, Cornelius A. Rietveld, Patrick Turley, Guo-Bo Chen, Valur Emilsson, S. Fleur W. Meddens, Sven Oskarsson, Joseph K. Pickrell, Kevin Thom, Pascal Timshel, Ronald de Vlaming, Abdel Abdellaoui, Tarunveer S. Ahluwalia, Jonas Bacelis, Clemens Baumbach, Gyda Bjornsdottir, Johannes H. Brandsma, Maria Pina Concas, Jaime Derringer, Nicholas A. Furlotte, Tessel E. Galesloot, Giorgia Girotto, Richa Gupta, Leanne M. Hall, Sarah E. Harris, Edith Hofer, Momoko Horikoshi, Jennifer E. Huffman, Kadri Kaasik, Ioanna P. Kalafati, Robert Karlsson, Augustine Kong, Jari Lahti, Sven J. van der Lee, Christiaan de Leeuw, Penelope A. Lind, Karl-Oskar Lindgren, Tian Liu, Massimo Mangino, Jonathan Marten, Evelin Mihailov, Michael B. Miller, Peter J. van der Most, Christopher Oldmeadow, Antony Payton, Natalia Pervjakova, Wouter J. Peyrot, Yong Qian, Olli Raitakari, Rico Rueedi, Erika Salvi, Börge Schmidt, Katharina E. Schraut, Jianxin Shi, Albert V. Smith, Raymond A. Poot, Beate St Pourcain, Alexander Teumer, Gudmar Thorleifsson, Niek Verweij, Dragana Vuckovic, Juergen Wellmann, Harm-Jan Westra, Jingyun Yang, Wei Zhao, Zhihong Zhu, Behrooz Z. Alizadeh, Najaf Amin, Andrew Bakshi, Sebastian E. Baumeister, Ginevra Biino, Klaus Bønnelykke, Patricia A. Boyle, Harry Campbell, Francesco P. Cappuccio, Gail Davies, Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, Panos Deloukas, Ilja Demuth, Jun Ding, Peter Eibich, Lewin Eisele, Niina Eklund, David M. Evans, Jessica D. Faul, Mary F. Feitosa, Andreas J. Forstner, Ilaria Gandin, Bjarni Gunnarsson, Bjarni V. Halldórsson, Tamara B. Harris, Andrew C. Heath, Lynne J. Hocking, Elizabeth G. Holliday, Georg Homuth, Michael A. Horan, Jouke-Jan Hottenga, Philip L. de Jager, Peter K. Joshi, Astanand Jugessur, Marika A. Kaakinen, Mika Kähönen, Stavroula Kanoni, Liisa Keltigangas-Järvinen, Lambertus A. L. M. Kiemeney, Ivana Kolcic, Seppo Koskinen, Aldi T. Kraja, Martin Kroh, Zoltan Kutalik, Antti Latvala, Lenore J. Launer, Maël P. Lebreton, Douglas F. Levinson, Paul Lichtenstein, Peter Lichtner, David C. M. Liewald, LifeLines Cohort Study, Anu Loukola, Pamela A. Madden, Reedik Mägi, Tomi Mäki-Opas, Riccardo E. Marioni, Pedro Marques-Vidal, Gerardus A. Meddens, George McMahon, Christa Meisinger, Thomas Meitinger, Yusplitri Milaneschi, Lili Milani, Grant W. Montgomery, Ronny Myhre, Christopher P. Nelson, Dale R. Nyholt, William E. R. Ollier, Aarno Palotie, Lavinia Paternoster, Nancy L. Pedersen, Katja E. Petrovic, David J. Porteous, Katri Räikkönen, Susan M. Ring, Antonietta Robino, Olga Rostapshova, Igor Rudan, Aldo Rustichini, Veikko Salomaa, Alan R. Sanders, Antti-Pekka Sarin, Helena Schmidt, Rodney J. Scott, Blair H. Smith, Jennifer A. Smith, Jan A. Staessen, Elisabeth Steinhagen-Thiessen, Konstantin Strauch, Antonio Terracciano, Martin D. Tobin, Sheila Ulivi, Simona Vaccargiu, Lydia Quaye, Frank J. A. van Rooij, Cristina Venturini, Anna A. E. Vinkhuyzen, Uwe Völker, Henry Völzke, Judith M. Vonk, Diego Vozzi, Johannes Waage, Erin B. Ware, Gonneke Willemsen, John R. Attia, David A. Bennett, Klaus Berger, Lars Bertram, Hans Bisgaard, Dorret I. Boomsma, Ingrid B. Borecki, Ute Bültmann, Christopher F. Chabris, Francesco Cucca, Daniele Cusi, Ian J. Deary, George V. Dedoussis, Cornelia M. van Duijn, Johan G. Eriksson, Barbara Franke, Lude Franke, Paolo Gasparini, Pablo V. Gejman, Christian Gieger, Hans-Jörgen Grabe, Jacob Gratten, Patrick J. F. Groenen, Vilmundur Gudnason, Pim van der Harst, Caroline Hayward, David A. Hinds, Wolfgang Hoffmann, Elina Hyppönen, William G. Iacono, Bo Jacobsson, Marjo-Riitta Järvelin, Karl-Heinz Jöckel, Jaakko Kaprio, Sharon L. R. Kardia, Terho Lehtimäki, Steven F. Lehrer, Patrik K. E. Magnusson, Nicholas G. Martin, Matt McGue, Andres Metspalu, Neil Pendleton, Brenda W. J. H. Penninx, Markus Perola, Nicola Pirastu, Mario Pirastu, Ozren Polasek, Danielle Posthuma, Christine Power, Michael A. Province, Nilesh J. Samani, David Schlessinger, Reinhold Schmidt, Thorkild I. A. Sørensen, Tim D. Spector, Kari Stefansson, Unnur Thorsteinsdottir, A. Roy Thurik, Nicholas J. Timpson, Henning Tiemeier, Joyce Y. Tung, André G. Uitterlinden, Veronique Vitart, Peter Vollenweider, David R. Weir, James F. Wilson, Alan F. Wright, Dalton C. Conley, Robert F. Krueger, George Davey Smith, Albert Hofman, David I. Laibson, Sarah E. Medland, Michelle N. Meyer, Jian Yang, Magnus Johannesson, Peter M. Visscher, Tõnu Esko, Philipp D. Koellinger, David Cesarini & Daniel J. Benjamin

Pennisi 2016

Elizabeth Pennisi, Tracking how humans evolve in real time. science 352 (2016), 876–877.

Analyses of thousands of sequenced genomes show changes in as little as a generation.

Pritchard’s team analyzed 3000 genomes collected as part of the UK10K sequencing project in the United Kingdom. For each allele of interest in each genome, Field calculated a “singleton density score” based on the density of nearby single, unique mutations. The more intense the selection on an allele, the faster it spreads, and the less time there is for singletons to accumulate near it. The approach can reveal selection over the past 100 generations, or about 2000 years.

Schneider 2016

Adam W. Schneider & Selim F. Adali, A rather troubled tale: an examination of Soltysiak’s commentary concerning the roles of drought and overpopulation in the decline of the neo-Assyrian empire. Climatic Change 136 (2016), 395–399.

Our Climatic Change article, “ ‘No harvest was reaped’: demographic and climatic factors in the decline of the Neo-Assyrian Empire” (Schneider and Adal 2014), is now the subject of a commentary by Sotysiak (2016). The chief purpose of our original publication was to put forward a testable hypothesis that we hoped might begin a conversation about the potential roles of explosive population growth and climatic instability as factors in the collapse of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. Thus, although Sotysiak evidently has grave doubts about its premise, we are nevertheless gratified to see that our paper appears to be fulfilling its primary goal. Having said that, we cannot agree with Sotysiak’s overall conclusion regarding our hypothesis, as it is supported by a number of problematic and inaccurate claims, the most significant of which we will examine here.

Soltysiak 2016

Arkadiusz Soltysiak, Drought and the fall of Assyria, Quite another story. Climatic Change 136 (2016), 389–394.

A recent Climatic Change paper suggests a relationship between climatic change in the 7th century BCE and the fall of the Assyrian Empire. However, available archaeological and textual evidence does not support the hypothesis that Assyria was overpopulated during this time and for that reason susceptible to outbreaks of drought. Besides long-term climatic variation, inter-annual variability in crops has always been very high in the dry farming areas of Upper Mesopotamia. To cope with this uncertainty, the local population developed several strategies (e.g. storage of agricultural surpluses in granaries and artificial irrigation in river valleys). Finally, slave prices, known to have declined during times of famine, were relatively stable during the entire century suggesting absence of prolonged periods of food shortage.


Gibbons 2016

Ann Gibbons, Why humans are the high-energy apes. science 352 (2016), 639.

Our metabolism runs faster than that of other apes, likely allowing us to evolve big brains.


Wald 2016

Chelsea Wald, The secret history of ancient toilets. nature 533 (2016), 456–458.

By scouring the remains of early loos and sewers, archaeologists are finding clues to what life was like in the Roman world and in other civilizations.

Although ancient Rome is famous for its sophisticated plumbing systems, modern studies of old excrement suggest that its sanitation technologies were not doing much for the residents’ health. To look at the benefits of ancient sanitation systems, palaeopathologist Piers Mitchell at the University of Cambridge analysed published studies of parasites found at archaeological sites from several eras4. Contrary to his expectations, the prevalence of intestinal parasites such as roundworm and whipworm — which cause dysentery — did not decrease from the Bronze and Iron ages to the Roman period; they gradually rose.

Rowan agrees: toilets have finally gone mainstream. “If somebody finds a latrine now, they know to sample it, to excavate it carefully. They know there’s going to be a lot of value in it, as opposed to being, like, oh, it’s just a toilet.”


Gilboa 2015

Ayelet Gilboa, Ilan Sharon & Elizabeth Bloch-Smith, Capital of Solomon’s Fourth District? Israelite Dor. Levant 47 (2015), 51–74.

1 Kings 4 relates that Dor, the major port-town on Israel’s Carmel coast, constituted part of the Solomonic state. This formed the basis for several historical reconstructions. Here, for the first time, we examine all the relevant archaeological data available after three decades of excavations at Tel Dor. We conclude that indeed, archaeology supports a scenario whereby Dor passed from Phoenician to Israelite hands, but that this happened in the second half of the 9th century BC. This shift involved a significant change in the role of Dor and its harbour, exemplified by changes in urban layout, ceramic production, and in commercial and other interaction spheres.

Keywords: Dor | Kingdom of Israel | Mediterranean Iron Age | Mediterranean interconnections | book of Kings

Moyal 2015

Yigal Moyal & Avraham Faust, Jerusalem’s Hinterland in the Eighth–Seventh Centuries BCE, Towns, villages, farmsteads, and royal estates. Palestine Exploration Quarterly 147 (2015), 283–298.

Although many excavations and extensive surveys were carried out in the vicinity of Jerusalem, very few systematic attempts were made to analyse the Iron Age city’s hinterland in its entirety. The present article summarises some of the general results of a detailed study of the area around Jerusalem, identifies the territories of the city’s ‘daughters’ (satellite towns), and then focuses on two such units, in which settlement distribution was markedly different from other units: Moza and Ramat Rahel. The article concludes that most of the territory around Jerusalem belonged to organically developed towns, the territories of which were densely dotted with villages and (mainly) farmsteads. Moza and Ramat Rahel, however, functioned in the late Iron Age II (7th century BCE) as royal estates (perhaps even as a palatial estate in the latter case), responsible for both the production and storage of surplus.

Keywords: Jerusalem | Iron Age | royal estates | hinterland | Moza | Ramat Rahel

Wong 2016

Gregory T. K. Wong, Song of Deborah as Polemic. unknown (2016), preprint, 1–32.

The author has effectively turned what looks on the surface like a victory song into something far more politically charged: a polemic against non-participation on the part of those who should have participated in military campaigns against foreign enemies but did not. In fact, to the extent that this focus on participation versus non-participation seems to permeate the entire song and can adequately relate to and explain the inclusion of every subsection within the song, whereas one would be hard pressed to explain the lack of prominence given to YHWH and the focus on the non-participants in war if the song was written simply to praise YHWH in a victory celebration, one can argue that the primary rhetorical purpose of the song is actually polemical rather than celebratory. To be sure, the author may have taken advantage of the occasion of a victory celebration and dressed his composition up in celebratory garb, but the content and literary structure that supports it seem to point clearly to a fundamentally polemic purpose.


Blaser 2016

Martin J. Blaser, Antibiotic use and its consequences for the normal microbiome. science 352 (2016), 544–545.

Anti-infectives, including antibiotics, are essentially different from all other drugs; they not only affect the individual to whom they are given but also the entire community, through selection for resistance to their own action. Thus, their use resides at the intersection of personal and public health. Antibiotics can be likened to a four-edged sword against bacteria. The first two edges of the antibiotic sword were identified immediately after their discovery and deployment in that they not only benefit an individual in treating their infection but also benefit the community in preventing the spread of that infectious agent. The third edge was already recognized by Alexander Fleming in 1945 in his Nobel acceptance speech, which warned about the cost to the community of antibiotic resistance that would inevitably evolve and be selected for during clinical practice. We have seen this cost mount up, as resistance curtails or precludes the activities of some of our most effective drugs for clinically important infections. But the fourth edge of the antibiotic sword remained unappreciated until recently, i.e., the cost that an antibiotic exerts on an individual’s own health via the collateral damage of the drug on bacteria that normally live on or in healthy humans: our microbiota. These organisms, their genes, metabolites, and interactions with one another, as well as with their host collectively, represent our microbiome. Our relationship with these symbiotic bacteria is especially important during the early years of life, when the adult microbiome has not yet formed.

Kupferschmidt 2016

Kai Kupferschmidt, Resistance Fighters. science 352 (2016), 758–761.

Evolutionary biologists are challenging old dogmas about the way antibiotics should be used.

A few resistant bacteria may be present from the start, Read says. The key issue is not keeping resistance from developing—it’s stopping its spread.

It’s important to give experiments enough time for evolutionary dynamics to play out—many antibiotic studies last only 24 hours.

This means that the likelihood of resistance emerging is equally low at very low and very high doses; it’s elevated in between. The model suggests that antibiotics should be developed and prescribed in a new way, Read says. Drug manufacturers should identify the highest doses patients can still tolerate and the lowest doses at which the medicine is still effective, and doctors should prescribe at one of the two ends of the spectrum. (In some cases, the high dose will turn out to be better, in others the low dose, Read argues.)

Pamer 2016

Eric G. Pamer, Resurrecting the intestinal microbiota to combat antibiotic-resistant pathogens. science 352 (2016), 535–538.

The intestinal microbiota, which is composed of diverse populations of commensal bacterial species, provides resistance against colonization and invasion by pathogens. Antibiotic treatment can damage the intestinal microbiota and, paradoxically, increase susceptibility to infections. Reestablishing microbiota-mediated colonization resistance after antibiotic treatment could markedly reduce infections, particularly those caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Ongoing studies are identifying commensal bacterial species that can be developed into next-generation probiotics to reestablish or enhance colonization resistance. These live medicines are at various stages of discovery, testing, and production and are being subjected to existing regulatory gauntlets for eventual introduction into clinical practice. The development of next-generation probiotics to reestablish colonization resistance and eliminate potential pathogens from the gut is warranted and will reduce health care–associated infections caused by highly antibiotic-resistant bacteria.


Fraisse 2016

Ottfried Fraisse, From Geiger to Goldziher, Historical Method and its Impact on Shaping Islam. unknown (2016), preprint, 1–18.

But there is one question left to answer. In which way did the preceding analysis of the methodological relationship between Geiger and Goldziher illuminate the latter’s creed of Geiger being “the entelecheia of Zunz”? In other words , this Aristotelian notion claims that Geiger is the active principle (form) which realized the potentialities of Zunz (matter) – or put more politely, Geiger’s work is claimed to be the soul of the material provided in Zunz’ scholarship. Thus, Goldziher assumes that both positions taken by themselves are incomplete, but are, at the same time, in need of each other. He would not subscribe to the harmonious diversity with which the relationship between the two men was sketched by Geiger’s son Ludwig: “The diversity of the religious point of view could not suppress the admiration for the master in the one, the heartfelt recognition for the many great talents of the younger in the other”. Rather, by quoting a passage from a letter written by Geiger on the 19th of March in 1845 to Zunz, Goldziher points to the heart of the conflict – although he does not discuss it openly in his lecture series. Cut out of its context, Goldziher approvingly quotes only the following words of Geiger: “What is dead remains dead, the spirit which formerly was in it continues to only operate in a different way and other forms; but to wake it up again is in vain and would – if successful – have a deadening and amoral effect.” But by quoting exactly this letter of Geiger’s to Zunz, Goldziher definitely refers to the context of this passage too, which is highly critical towards Zunz. Geiger, quite brutally accuses Zunz of turning the dead past into the norm of his spiritual activity: “Can it be that you, with your spiritual vigor, have suddenly deadened yourself to the surging spiritual life, have acknowledged in the past not merely the history of the spirit, but also the norm for our own spiritual activity? This is a phenomenon that has hurt me deeply…“. I claim that this is exactly the question on which Goldziher wanted to give a fresh answer to by connecting Zunz and Geiger like matter and form: in which respect can the history of the spirit indeed be the norm for the present? For Geiger this question is absurd. Only the spirit of history can be the norm for the present, which he himself determined authoritatively out of his individual present. However, by pointing to this letter of Geiger’s and against the background of our analysis of Geiger’s historical method, Goldziher seems to say that soul without matter does not work either.


Jaouen 2016

Klervia Jaouen, Melanie Beasley, Margaret Schoeninger, Jean-Jacques Hublin & Michael P. Richards, Zinc isotope ratios of bones and teeth as new dietary indicators, Results from a modern food web (Koobi Fora, Kenya). Scientific Reports 6 (2016), 26281. <DOI:10.1038/srep26281>.

In order to explore the possibilities of using zinc (Zn) stable isotope ratios as dietary indicators, we report here on the measurements of the ratio of stable isotopes of zinc (66Zn/64Zn, expressed here as d66Zn) in bioapatite (bone and dental enamel) of animals from a modern food web in the Koobi Fora region of the Turkana Basin in Kenya. We demonstrate that d66Zn values in both bone and enamel allow a clear distinction between carnivores and herbivores from this food web. Differences were also observed between browsers and grazers as well as between carnivores that consumed bone (i.e. hyenas) compared to those that largely consume flesh (i.e. lions). We conclude that Zn isotope ratio measurements of bone and teeth are a new and promising dietary indicator.


Miller 2016

Michael T. Miller, The Evolution of the Patriarch Enoch in Jewish Tradition. Distant Worlds Journal 1 (2016), 128–141.

At a single paragraph in the Bible, Enoch presents a somewhat etiolated figure among the other patriarchs; and yet, outside the Bible, his presence is enormous and ever changing. In this article I examine how the reception of Enoch has evolved over the centuries and millennia since his appearance in Genesis. Initially in the form of several small booklets from the 4th–1st centuries BCE, Enoch is understood as inventor of writing and heavenly traveller, visiting God on his throne and comprehending the astronomical mechanics; but by the time of the medieval Kabbalists he has been transformed into the great angel Metatron, the prototype of all mystics who seek heavenly wisdom, and present at the creation of the universe. In these cases, the theme of the learned seer has developed to meet the expectations of the Jewish communities who were drawn to him, and yet there is a surprising continuity of character even over thousands of years and miles.


Zeder 2012

Melinda A. Zeder, The Broad Spectrum Revolution at 40, Resource diversity, intensification, and an alternative to optimal foraging explanations. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 31 (2012), 241–264.

More than 40 years ago Kent Flannery coined the term Broad Spectrum Revolution (BSR) in reference to a broadening of the subsistence base of Late Pleistocene hunter–gatherers in the Near East that preceded and helped pave the way for the domestication and plants and animals and the emergence of agriculture. Set within a demographic density model that projected differential rates of population growth and emigration in different resource zones of the Near East, Flannery’s BSR quickly became a global construct linking resource diversification and intensification to imbalances between population and environmental carrying capacity. In recent years the BSR has proven especially attractive to researchers working within an optimal foraging theory (OFT) framework in which diversification and intensification of subsistence only occurs within the context of resource depression, caused by either demographic pressure or environmental deterioration. This OFT perspective, that situates human societies in a one-way adaptive framework as they are forced to adapt to declining availability of optimal resources, however, is increasingly being called into question. Numerous examples of diversification and intensification are being documented in contexts of resource abundance shaped, in part, by deliberate human efforts at ecosystem engineering intended to promote resource productivity. An alternative approach, framed within a newer paradigm from evolutionary biology, niche construction theory (NCT), provides a more powerful explanatory framework for the BSR wherever it occurred.

Keywords: Broad Spectrum Revolution | Optimal foraging theory | Niche construction theory | Resource diversification | Resource intensification


Schneider 2014

Adam W. Schneider & Selim F. Adal\i, “No harvest was reaped”, Demographic and climatic factors in the decline of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. Climatic Change 127 (2014), 435–446.

ClimChange127-435-Comment1.pdf, ClimChange127-435-Reply1.pdf

In the 9th century BC, Assyrians based in northern Iraq started a relentless process of expansion that within two centuries would see them controlling most of the ancient Near East. Traditional explanations for the decline of the Neo-Assyrian Empire in the 7th century BC have emphasized the role of military conflict, and especially the destruction of the Assyrian capital, Nineveh, by a coalition of Babylonian and Median forces in 612 BC. However, it remains unclear how the Assyrian state, the most powerful military machine of its age and the largest empire the OldWorld had ever seen up to that time, declined so quickly. In this paper, we highlight two potential factors which may have had some influence upon the Assyrian decline that have not been previously explored. The first is a major increase in the population of the Assyrian heartland area at the dawn of the 7th century BC, which substantially reduced the drought resilience of the region. The second factor is an episode of severe drought affecting large portions of the Near East during the mid-7th century BC. We propose a series of testable hypotheses which detail how the combination of these two factors may have contributed to the development of considerable economic and political instability within the Assyrian Empire, and argue that these demographic and climatic factors played a significant role in its demise.

Winckler 2016

Gisela Winckler, Robert F. Anderson, Samuel L. Jaccard & Franco Marcantonio, Ocean dynamics, not dust, have controlled equatorial Pacific productivity over the past 500,000 years. PNAS 113 (2016), 6119–6124.

Biological productivity in the equatorial Pacific is relatively high compared with other low-latitude regimes, especially east of the dateline, where divergence driven by the trade winds brings nutrientrich waters of the Equatorial Undercurrent to the surface. The equatorial Pacific is one of the three principal high-nutrient low-chlorophyll ocean regimes where biological utilization of nitrate and phosphate is limited, in part, by the availability of iron. Throughout most of the equatorial Pacific, upwelling of water from the Equatorial Undercurrent supplies far more dissolved iron than is delivered by dust, by as much as two orders of magnitude. Nevertheless, recent studies have inferred that the greater supply of dust during ice ages stimulated greater utilization of nutrients within the region of upwelling on the equator, thereby contributing to the sequestration of carbon in the ocean interior. Here we present proxy records for dust and for biological productivity over the past 500 ky at three sites spanning the breadth of the equatorial Pacific Ocean to test the dust fertilization hypothesis. Dust supply peaked under glacial conditions, consistent with previous studies, whereas proxies of export production exhibit maxima during ice age terminations. Temporal decoupling between dust supply and biological productivity indicates that other factors, likely involving ocean dynamics, played a greater role than dust in regulating equatorial Pacific productivity.

Keywords: climate change | export production | iron fertilization | carbon | eolian dust

Significance: The equatorial Pacific is a key oceanographic region in Earth’s climate system. Biological production in this region is limited, in part, by the lack of the micronutrient iron. Atmospheric dust is a source of iron, as is upwelling of ocean waters from below. A longstanding question has been whether biological productivity has responded to variable dust supply over ice age cycles. We use geochemical proxies in three sediment cores spanning the breadth of the equatorial Pacific to show that biological productivity did not respond to dustier ice age conditions. Rather than atmospheric iron supply, we infer that ocean dynamics, linking the equatorial Pacific to nutrient supply from the Southern Ocean, played a crucial role in regulating equatorial Pacific productivity.


Baker 2016

Monya Baker, Is there a reproducibility crisis? nature 533 (2016), 452–454.

A Nature survey lifts the lid on how researchers view the ‘crisis’ rocking science and what they think will help.

More than 70 % of researchers have tried and failed to reproduce another scientist’s experiments, and more than half have failed to reproduce their own experiments. Those are some of the telling figures that emerged from Nature’s survey of 1,576 researchers who took a brief online questionnaire on reproducibility in research. Less than 31 % think that failure to reproduce published results means that the result is probably wrong, and most say that they still trust the published literature.


Bocquet-Appel 2009

Jean-Pierre Bocquet-Appel & Alain Tuffreau, Technological Responses of Neanderthals to Macroclimatic Variations (240,000–40,000 BP). Human Biology 81 (2009), 287–307.

Using a database of 499 archaeological assemblages from 332 sites in Europe, we statistically test a model of the economic reactivity of the hunter-gatherer production system to climatic variations. This model predicts an increase in the diversity of lithic tools during harsh cold periods, in order to maintain carrying capacity, and a reduction during favorable climatic periods. Diversity was measured from the variations in fl int tool distributions in traditional Bordes typological categories, using Shannon’s derived diversity index (D). Reactivity was measured in 190 archaeological assemblages from 103 sites of the Middle Paleolithic in Europe (mainly France). The Neanderthals show technological inertia in the development and use of lithic tools for 200,000 years, despite the four cool to cold macroclimatic periods they experienced.

Keywords: Neanderthals | lithic industry | Paleolithic | climate change | carrying capacity.

Zaatari 2016

Sireen El Zaatari, Frederick E. Grine, Peter S. Ungar & Jean-Jacques Hublin, Neandertal versus Modern Human Dietary Responses to Climatic Fluctuations. PLoS ONE 11 (2016), e153277. <DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0153277>.

The Neandertal lineage developed successfully throughout western Eurasia and effectively survived the harsh and severely changing environments of the alternating glacial/interglacial cycles from the middle of the Pleistocene until Marine Isotope Stage 3. Yet, towards the end of this stage, at the time of deteriorating climatic conditions that eventually led to the Last Glacial Maximum, and soon after modern humans entered western Eurasia, the Neandertals disappeared. Western Eurasia was by then exclusively occupied by modern humans. We use occlusal molar microwear texture analysis to examine aspects of diet in western Eurasian Paleolithic hominins in relation to fluctuations in food supplies that resulted from the oscillating climatic conditions of the Pleistocene. There is demonstrable evidence for differences in behavior that distinguish Upper Paleolithic humans from members of the Neandertal lineage. Specifically, whereas the Neandertals altered their diets in response to changing paleoecological conditions, the diets of Upper Paleolithic humans seem to have been less affected by slight changes in vegetation/climatic conditions but were linked to changes in their technological complexes. The results of this study also indicate differences in resource exploitation strategies between these two hominin groups. We argue that these differences in subsistence strategies, if they had already been established at the time of the first contact between these two hominin taxa, may have given modern humans an advantage over the Neandertals, and may have contributed to the persistence of our species despite habitat-related changes in food availabilities associated with climate fluctuations.


Miletto 2016

Gianfranco Miletto, Die Ideologie der fundamentalistischen Gruppierungen in Israel. unknown (2016), preprint, 1–12.

Trotz der vergleichsweise geringen Vertretung in der Knesset (insgesamt 21 Sitze über 120 bei der letzten Wahlen vom 201525) sind ultraorthodoxe Gruppierungen und Parteien, sowohl zionistische wie nicht-zionistische, seit der Staatsgründung eine bedeutende politische Macht, da ohne ihre Unterstützung oft keine Regierungsmehrheiten zustande kommen. Parallel dazu übt das Oberrabbinat ebenfalls einen großen Einfluß auf die israelische Gesellschaft aus, da es für das Personenstandsrecht zuständig ist und darüber entscheidet, wer als Jude oder legitimer Proselyt gelten kann.

Story or Book

Meloni 2016

Maurizio Meloni, Rethinking Lysenko’s legacy. science 352 (2016), 421.

Advances in epigenetics spur modern support for a long-discredited theory of inheritance.

Lysenko’s Ghost. Epigenetics and Russia. Loren Graham. Harvard University Press, 2016. 219 pp.

Today, some Russian ideologues are attempting to use epigenetics to revive Lysenko’s legacy. At the same time, the “ghost” of Lysenko is being used in the West as a polemical weapon against epigenetics. Graham’s book is a timely and important antidote to the idea that everything that is not mainstream heredity is Lysenkoism.

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