Thursday, July 11, 2013

A "Law" of Inheritance? Sympatric Gorillas and Chimpanzees, a Question of Lice and a Clue to the Origin of Homo Sapiens

Sympatric is a "new" word for many. Google define results in:
  1. (of animals or plants, esp. of related species or populations) Occurring within the same geographical area; overlapping in distribution.
  2. (of speciation) Taking place without geographical separation."
So what does "sympatric" have to do with lice and the origin of species?

One of the remarkable things about science is that answers to troublesome questions often are found in the unlikeliest places.

Lice provide a good example of an unexpected clue to homo sapiens (i.e. mankind as a species).

As noted at the University of Florida News in
Human pubic lice acquired from gorillas gives evolutionary clues
discussing the research of "David Reed, assistant curator of mammals at the Florida Museum of Natural History":
"Reed and his co-workers’ research stemmed from their fascination with humans' unique position among primates in being host to two different kinds of lice: one on the head and body (Pediculus), which has become the bane of many schoolchildren, and pubic or crab lice (Pthirus). In contrast, chimps have only head lice and gorillas pubic lice." (emphasis and italics added) 
The question of why chimpanzees have only Pediculus and gorillas have only Pthirus, while humans can be infested with both types of lice, has puzzled the genetic community.

As written by Scott Norris at National Geographic news in
Gorillas Gave Pubic Lice to Humans, DNA Study Reveals:
"The transfer occurred about 3.3 million years ago, said study leader David Reed, of the University of Florida in Gainesville. That's when the gorilla louse and the human pubic louse separated into distinct species, the research revealed.

Modern humans (Homo sapiens) weren't around at the time. So the first to be infested by the new lice species were probably Australopithecus, a group of human ancestors that include the famous "Lucy" fossil."
But what about head and body lice and their infestation of chimpanzees?

Why and how did humans get and keep BOTH lice types, whereas each appears to be a specialized form originally adapted to either gorilla or chimp but not both?

The John Hawks weblog has discussion of possible solutions at
Three million years of unwanted guests. None of them fits exactly.

One solution, not considered there, is found at LexiLine. Take a look.

Gorillas and Chimpanzees are "sympatric" in only one region of Africa, and that is precisely the region in which Australopithecus has been found.

Perhaps a hybridization of gorilla and chimp might be the answer as a "law" of ancient inheritance.

Global Patent Search Network Launched at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)

Lisa Shuchman at the Corporate Counsel blog alerts us to the fact that the United States PTO Launches Global Patent Search Tool, writing:
"Users can search documents including published applications, granted patents and utility modes from 2008 to 2011 in this collection, which will periodically be updated with more current data,” PTO Acting Director Teresa Stanek Rea wrote on her official blog."
Read more here.

Golf in China - Amazing Developments

Brook Larmer at the New York Times has the story of the amazing rise of golf in China at Golf in China Is Younger Than Tiger Woods, but Growing Up Fast .

Hat tip to CaryGEE.

Apple, Inc. Found Guilty of E-Book Price-Fixing in Violation of U.S. Antitrust Law

In United States of America v. Apple, Inc.,
Case 1:12-cv-02826-DLC, Document 326, filed July 10, 2013,
U.S. District Court Judge Denise Cote found
that Apple engaged in e-book price-fixing
with major book publishers in violation of U.S. antitrust law,
concluding as follows
"Based on the trial record, and for the reasons stated herein, this Court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that Apple conspired to restrain trade in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act and relevant state statutes to the extent those laws are congruent with Section 1.  A scheduling order will follow regarding the Plaintiffs’ request for injunctive relief and damages."
At Forbes, Connie Guglielmo has the story in Apple Loses E-book Case After Judge Says It Played A 'Central Role' in Price-Fixing Conspiracy .

There is no real factual doubt that Apple engaged in price-fixing with a group of major book publishers in order to artificially raise e-book prices and avoid price competition -- precisely the thing that antitrust is supposed to prevent. As written in Judge Cote's decision:
"There is, at the end of the day, very little dispute about many of the most material facts in this case. Before Apple even met with the first Publisher Defendant in mid-December 2009, it knew that the “Big Six” of United States publishing…wanted to raise e-book prices, in particular above the $9.99 prevailing price charge by Amazon for many e-book versions of New York times bestselling books and other newly released hardcover books. Apple also knew that Publisher Defendants were already acting collectively to place pressure on Amazon to abandon its pricing strategy."
See the text of the court's decision at
United States of America v. Apple, Inc. et al., Case 1:12-cv-02826-DLC, Document 326, filed July 10, 2013.

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