Friday, March 14, 2008

Science news roundup – more ‘little people,’ Alpha Centauri, moths

More “little people” found in Melanesia

A new set of small-stature human skeletons, similar to the “Flores people,” have been found in Palau. Researchers say they have a variety of cranial and facial features, some similar to Homo sapiens and others to Homo floresiensis, which is sure to stir the debate pot as to just what has been discovered both on Indonesia’s Flores Islands and at Palau. Biggest difference is that “Palau man” doesn’t have the small brain of the Flores folk, which could add credence to the idea that those people suffered from severe iodine deficiency.

Is extra-solar life that close

Some astronomers think it is – as close as Alpha Centauri B. Statistical calculations say planets should have formed around the star. Now, I don’t know how being part of a triple-star system would affect the development of life there, if there is a planet that is habitable. That said, I’ll stick by my extremely conservative estimate on the Drake number for our galaxy.

Moths remember caterpillar life?

Simple Pavlovian avoidant conditioning says yes.

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