Daily Archives: March 6, 2008

How Old is the Grand Canyon?

I want to refer you two two items, one older piece by me and another very new, fresh out of the box piece by Carl Zimmer. Not that I’m trying to compare Zimmer and me. But the two posts are somewhat complementary, yet very much on the same page.How to Date the Grand Canyon: Go With the FlowAbducted by Aliens … and dropped off at the Grand CanyonWell, you’ve got to admit they are both pretty attractive titles….

Update On Lazarus Species

As wolves wander into Massachusetts, we now have a report of the elusive Wolverine being spotted on a research camera in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Camera Spots Wolverine in Sierra Nevada from PhysOrg.com
(AP) — A research project aimed at weasels has turned up a bigger prize: a picture of a wolverine, an elusive animal scientists feared may have been driven out of the Sierra Nevada long ago by human activity.[]

Prozac and Placebos

Late last month, I put up a quick post, New-generation antidepressants do not produce clinically significant improvements in depression, that addressed a PLoS published metastudy of interest.I was careful to use the phrasing from the paper as the title of my post, and to provide only the author’s summary, because I knew this was a tricky issue. I could have read the paper carefully and reported my opinion on it along side the information from the paper (a practice known as “blogging on peer reviewed research), but I did not have the time or interest to do so, yet I knew many of you would want to know about this.This is the beauty of PLoS, by the way. Regular people can read the original paper because it is an Open Access journal.Anyway, it turns out that this study was misinterpreted by the press more than most, and this has lead to the production of a commentary by Andrew Hyde on the PLoS site: Continue reading Prozac and Placebos

Las Vegas Clinic was Typhoid Maryesque

A public service announcement for those of you living in or passing through Nevada:

Vegas Clinic May Have Sickened Thousands from PhysOrg.com
(AP) — Nearly 40,000 people learned this week that a trip to the doctor may have made them sick. In a type of scandal more often associated with Third World countries, a Las Vegas clinic was found to be reusing syringes and vials of medication for nearly four years. The shoddy practices may have led to an outbreak of the potentially fatal hepatitis C virus and exposed patients to HIV, too.[]

Major shift in Democratic race

This just in via my Newsmax.com newsletter:

WASHINGTON — Officials in Michigan and Florida are showing renewed interest in holding repeat presidential nominating contests so that their votes will count.The governors of both states are now saying they would consider holding a sort of do-over contest by June. So are top officials in Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign.That’s a change from their previous insistence that the primaries their states held in January should determine how the state’s delegates are allocated.Clinton won both contests, but the results were meaningless since the elections were in violation of party rules. The Democratic National Committee stripped both states of their delegates for holding the primaries too early. The candidates agreed not to campaign in either state.

Very interesting, for Clinton, especially in light of the fresh results from Ohio and Texas …

Why the Hobbits of Flores Were Probably Not Broken People

There is a new paper out suggesting that the Flores hominids, known as Hobbits, were “human endemic cretins.”From the abstract of this paper:

… We hypothesize that these individuals are myxoedematous endemic (ME) cretins, part of an inland population of (mostly unaffected) Homo sapiens. ME cretins are born without a functioning thyroid; their congenital hypothyroidism leads to severe dwarfism and reduced brain size, but less severe mental retardation and motor disability than neurological endemic cretins. We show that the fossils display many signs of congenital hypothyroidism, including enlarged pituitary fossa, and that distinctive primitive features of LB1 such as the double rooted lower premolar and the primitive wrist morphology are consistent with the hypothesis. We find that the null hypothesis (that LB1 is not a cretin) is rejected by the pituitary fossa size of LB1, and by multivariate analyses of cranial measures. We show that critical environmental factors were potentially present on Flores, how remains of cretins but not of unaffected individuals could be preserved in caves, and that extant oral traditions may provide a record of cretinism.

Continue reading Why the Hobbits of Flores Were Probably Not Broken People