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Genetic ‘Mutational Meltdown’ push the wooly mammoth toward extinction: Research

A genetic “mutational meltdown” helped push the wooly mammoth toward extinction

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FILE - The woolly mammoth - in a display at the Royal BC Museum in Victoria, Canada - went extinct during the last ice age, which ended 4,000 years ago. (Wikipedia commons)

USA, 4Mar, 2017: A genetic “mutational meltdown” helped push the wooly mammoth toward extinction, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, say they compared genetic material from mammoths when they were plentiful and material from when the population was in decline.

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What they found was “genome deterioration” that reflected the smaller population size. The findings are a warning to conservationists that keeping a small pool of endangered animals could result in inbreeding and genomic meltdown.

“There is a long history of theoretical work about how genomes might change in small populations. Here we got a rare chance to look at snapshots of genomes ‘before’ and ‘after’ a population decline in a single species,” said Rebekah Rogers, who led the work as a postdoctoral scholar at Berkeley and is now an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. “The results we found were consistent with this theory that had been discussed for decades.”

According to researchers, woolly mammoths were once very common in North America, Siberia and Beringia, which is the land bridge that used to exist between current day Russia and the U.S. state of Alaska.

About 10,000 years ago, in the face of a warmer climate and increased hunting by humans, the populations of the beasts began to shrink. But the woolly mammoth existed until about 3,700 years ago when they finally went extinct.

Researchers say they compared genetic materials from a 45,000-year-old mammoth to one that lived 4,300 years ago. The latter was from a group of about 300 mammoths that lived on Wrangel Island in the Arctic Ocean.

“We found an excess of what looked like bad mutations in the mammoth from Wrangel Island,” Rogers said.

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Using mathematical models, researchers say they found “multiple harmful mutations” in the sample from Wrangel Island. Some of the mutations caused the mammoths to lose olfactory receptors. This led to problems with mate choice, researchers said. Furthermore, one mutation likely caused the animal to develop an “unusual translucent satin coat.”

“With only two specimens to look at, these mathematical models were important to show that the differences between the two mammoths are too extreme to be explained by other factors,” Rogers said. (VOA)

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Important Tips to Follow if you wish to Expand Business Overseas

Want to spread your business overseas? Here is all you need to do for Spreading your business internationally.

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Tips to expand business overseas
Tips to expand business overseas. Flickr

One of the first things people notice when they branch out into doing business internationally is how big a role social norms play in business dealings. It’s the same in North America, but the contrast is much more jarring when dealing with a new country, new etiquette, and new expectations. Whether you are applying for financing from a lender or opening a new branch of your business overseas, it’s important to understand that how you conduct yourself can have a profound impact on the success (or failure) of your business. Here are a few general guidelines to help you conduct business in a variety of regions around the world.

In Asian boardrooms, meeting participants will typically be arranged by seniority. This is also the order in which they should be greeted, and the order in which you should pass out your business cards. This is a sign of respect. Speaking of business cards, be prepared to hand out many more in Asia than you would in North America. There is a ceremony around exchanging business cards in countries such as Japan. Be sure to invest in a business card case, as it is seen as rude and inappropriate to keep them in your wallet or pocket.

In some Middle Eastern countries, note that it is quite normal for a male client or colleague to grasp another man’s hand while walking together. Although this may seem unusual to North American sensibilities, it’s considered a sign of trust in some parts of the world.

It’s also a good idea to bear in mind that questions that may be perceived in North America as being simple small talk may actually consider quite rude and intrusive in some countries, such as questions about marital status, children, age, etc. In professional situations, it’s always best to err on the side of being too impersonal rather than to risk being considered nosey.

Gift-giving in a business setting is complicated in some cultures. In some cases, for example, it is considered improper to open a gift in front of the giver, so be aware of that if you are presented with a gift.

Manners are a very big point of difference among different cultures. For example, it is perfectly acceptable and actually expected, that diners will eat a sandwich with a knife and fork. Similarly, belching and slurping one’s food is considered rude in some cultures, but quite acceptable in others. It is considered socially unacceptable in countries such as Japan to be seen blowing one’s nose in public.

When it comes to professional attire, you can never go wrong erring on the side of conservative, no matter where you are in the world. Women should take special care to dress more modestly, as it can be a serious culture misstep to dress too revealingly.

When you do business with other countries, it’s important to know the business and legal issues that may arise, but never forget that business is, as the heart of things, a people-first endeavor. The more you can be aware of and respectful of the social expectations, manners, and etiquette in the region in which you are doing business, the more professional you will be perceived. And that can go a long way toward helping you to solidify meaningful business connections around the world. If you aren’t sure how to act or what to do, always educate yourself before you arrive. Not only do you not want to look foolish, you also don’t want to be insulting. There are lots of resources online and in books to help you navigate these challenging waters.

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Do You Only Experience Happiness, Sadness, Anger, Surprise, Fear and Disgust? Not Anymore! Researchers Discover 27 Different States of Human Emotions

The study has revealed that there are smooth gradients of emotion between, say, awe and peacefulness, horror and sadness, and amusement and adoration

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Emotional reponses
According to the study, there are not just 6 but 27 different human emotions. They have also found gradients between these 27 different emotions. Pixabay

Berkeley, September 11, 2017 : A new study challenges a long-held assumption in psychology that most human emotions fall within the universal categories of happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, fear and disgust.

Using statistical models to analyse the responses of 853 men and women, who are demographically diverse, to 2,185 emotionally evocative video clips, University of California, Berkeley, researchers have identified 27 distinct categories of emotion and created a multidimensional map to show how they are connected.

According to the study published in journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, there are smooth gradients of emotion between, for instance, awe and peacefulness, horror and sadness, and amusement and adoration.

“We don’t get finite clusters of emotions in the map because everything is interconnected,” Xinhua quoted lead author Alan Cowen as saying.

The results showed that study participants generally shared the same or similar emotional responses to the videos shown to them, providing a wealth of data that allowed the researchers to identify 27 distinct categories of emotion.

Through statistical modelling and visualisation techniques, the researchers organised the emotional responses to each video into a semantic atlas of human emotions.

“We found that 27 distinct dimensions, not six, were necessary to account for the way hundreds of people reliably reported feeling in response to each video,” said study senior author Dacher Keltner. (IANS)

 

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Scientists report Groundwater replenishment in West and South India

An international team of researchers, including experts from IIT-Kharagpur and  NASA, has observed groundwater storage replenishment in certain Indian regions

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Scientists noted Groundwater replenished
Scientists noted Groundwater replenished. Pixabay
  • The implementation of ingenious groundwater management strategies in both Indian public and private sectors
  • Long-term ground-based measurements and decadal-scale  satellite-based groundwater storage measurements
  • The Indian groundwater withdrawal and management policies for sustainable water utilization

August 12, 2017: An international team of researchers, including experts from IIT-Kharagpur and NASA, has reported discernible groundwater storage replenishment in certain Indian regions, in a new study, attributing it to changes in strategy in the public and private sectors.

Published in the Nature Scientific Reports in August, the study says this groundwater storage (GWS) rejuvenation may possibly be attributed “to the implementation of ingenious groundwater management strategies in both Indian public sector and private sector”.

A research team from IIT-Kharagpur in collaboration with NASA American scientists has observed regional-scale water replenishment through long-term (1996-2014, using more than 19,000 observation locations) ground-based measurements and decadal-scale (2003-2014) satellite-based groundwater storage measurements, in large parts of India.

While the northern and eastern parts of India are still undergoing acute usable groundwater depletion and stress, encouraging, replenishing such scenarios are detected in western India and southern India under proper water resource management practices, the study notes.

“Our study shows that the recent paradigm shift in the Indian groundwater withdrawal and management policies for sustainable water utilization, probably have started replenishing the aquifers by increasing storage in western and southern parts of India,” said research leader Abhijit Mukherjee from IIT-Kharagpur on Friday.

The team used numerical analyses and simulation results of management and policy change effect on groundwater storage changes in western and southern India for this study.Mukherjee drew attention to the recent changes in Indian central/state government policies on its withdrawal and stress on management strategies.

Strategies such as restriction of subsidized electricity for irrigation, separate electricity distribution for agricultural purposes (e.g. Jyotigram Yojana), construction of large-scale, regional enhanced recharge systems in water-stressed crystalline aquifers (Tapti river mega recharge project), Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana, enhanced recharge by interlinking of river catchments (e.g. Narmada-Sabarmati interlinking), will probably start replenishing the aquifers by increasing groundwater storage in near future.

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Chief of Hydrological Sciences Laboratory Matthew Rodell at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, helped in interpreting the NASA satellite (GRACE) data (2003-2014) of the above-mentioned water source storage changes in India for this study.

The co-authors are — Yoshihide Wada affiliated to International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Austria; Siddhartha Chattopadhyay of Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur; Isabella Velicogna and Kishore Pangaluru from the University of California, the USA; James S. Famiglietti of Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, the US.

“We conclude that in India, where huge groundwater consumption is widely known to be leading to severe dwindling of groundwater resource in recent times, previously unreported, discernible GWS replenishment can also be observed in certain Indian regions,” said lead author Soumendra Bhanja affiliated to Hydroscience and Policy Advisory Group, Department of Geology and Geophysics at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, as well as to Hydrological Sciences Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. (IANS)