Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Subconscious Prediction and Reaction to Future Stimuli




I suspect that we all have short term precognition and that this allows us to prepare.  This is obviously a very useful survival trait and provided it is possible it would be selected for.   Since we are comfortable that such is possible it is plausible that it exists.  


Yet most of the time it will be dormant simply because it can be.  It is like the sleeping cat.  Yet it is also likely hard wired to our automatic response nervous system as well.  After all, a suddenly charging Grizzly needs instant and correct response.  This can include scaling the closest tree long before the fore brain kicks in to notice.


 I also suspect that this can be trained and improved on as we seem to have a range of ability reported.
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Subconscious Prediction and Reaction to Future Stimuli

It is possible that our subconscious mind somehow “sees” events 1 to 10 seconds in the future. Before we are consciously aware of an event, our bodies may react with changes in the cardiopulmonary, skin, and/or nervous systems.


A meta-analysis of more than 20 experiments conducted by seven independent laboratories suggested we are subconsciously capable of “predictive anticipatory activity (PAA).” This analysis, titled “Predictive physiological anticipation preceding seemingly unpredictable stimuli: a meta-analysis,” was led by psychologist Julia A. Mossbridge at Northwestern University and was published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology in October 2012.


In many of the studies analyzed, the subjects were shown randomly selected images designed to be either emotionally evocative or neutral. Before the image was displayed, the subject’s body would already register an appropriate response. The strongest reactions occurred after the image was shown, but a slight reaction already registered seconds beforehand, suggesting a subconscious response to a future stimulus. Read more at We Subconsciously Predict, and React to, Emotional Events in the Future: Study


NOTE: Do we all have intuitive abilities? Could you react to anintuitive awareness? Lon


We Subconsciously Predict, and React to, Emotional Events in the Future: Study


The universe is full of mysteries that challenge our current knowledge. In "Beyond Science" Epoch Times collects stories about these strange phenomena to stimulate the imagination and open up previously undreamed of possibilities. Are they true? You decide.
It is possible that our subconscious mind somehow “sees” events 1 to 10 seconds in the future. Before we are consciously aware of an event, our bodies may react with changes in the cardiopulmonary, skin, and/or nervous systems.
A meta-analysis of more than 20 experiments conducted by seven independent laboratories suggested we are subconsciously capable of “predictive anticipatory activity (PAA).” This analysis, titled “Predictive physiological anticipation preceding seemingly unpredictable stimuli: a meta-analysis,” was led by psychologist Julia A. Mossbridge at Northwestern University and was published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology in October 2012.
Before the image was displayed, the subject’s body would already register an appropriate response.

In many of the studies analyzed, the subjects were shown randomly selected images designed to be either emotionally evocative or neutral. Before the image was displayed, the subject’s body would already register an appropriate response. The strongest reactions occurred after the image was shown, but a slight reaction already registered seconds beforehand, suggesting a subconscious response to a future stimulus.

The study authors used the following analogy to describe the phenomenon. Picture a stick standing up in the middle of a river with the water flowing around it. That stick represents a future event, it’s a perturbation—an emotional, arousing, or otherwise important event. The flow of the river represents the flow of time as your conscious mind perceives it.

(Boyrcr420/iStock; edited by Epoch Times)



The water around the stick is more disturbed downstream from the stick. But, shortly upstream of the stick is a slight disturbance of the water as well. The subconscious mind detects the disturbance slightly before the event.
The study authors note that a uniform standard would have to be used across many experiments to confirm the existence of PAA. This meta-analysis was only able to look at experiments that had employed diverse methods. Yet the authors found what they believe to be a significant indication that PAA does exist. They encouraged future studies to be conducted collaboratively with a fixed standard in place to confirm this hypothesis.
What Might Cause This Phenomenon?

Suggestions as to what may cause PAA include:
1. The conscious mind is wrong about when events occur. The event actually occurred 10 seconds earlier, when the body reacted to it, but the conscious mind didn’t register the event right away.
2. The concept in quantum physics of retrocausation may be in effect. It has been suggested that future and past events may interact.
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Magna Carta: Beginning of the End of Tyranny



 

There is something important here for history buffs.  the power of the Magna Carta arose because even Kings found it expedient to reissue it to remind those powerful enough to usurp the king's power that a rule actually existed to live under.


It was from this repetition that the whole concept of a binding rule of law arose and embedded itself in even the popular mind.  Parliament was not too far behind that idea.


Sometimes it is not the law itself but the historic context that is important.  After all men can gather and establish rules of conduct and men can gather to modify those rules.  It is still what give those laws meaning that matters.  The Magna Carta laid out procedure that all thought that they could ignore but it was ultimately time honored procedure that ruled in the end.

Magna Carta: the beginning of the end of tyranny 


JUN 15, 2015 | BY NICHOLAS VINCENT


http://www.speroforum.com/a/GOPZXXYZDW5/76056-Magna-Carta-the-beginning-of-the-end-of-tyranny


The charter agreed at Runnymede was intended merely as the beginning of a process of reform, not an end in itself. Magna Carta’s first purpose was to establish peace between King and barons. Given the state of England’s roads, summer was the only time of year for military operations. Magna Carta, agreed in mid-June 1215, effectively prevented the outbreak of full-scale warfare.
Within a week of its making, the King had written to each county of England requiring his sheriffs to proclaim a firm peace and to make arrangements for the charter to be enforced. Clause 48 of the charter insisted that 12 knights be elected within every county, within the next 40 days, to investigate abuses by sheriffs, foresters and other royal officials and to ensure that such evil practices were never again permitted. The final ‘security’ clause of the charter (clause 61) established a committee of 25 barons to enforce the settlement, to whom oaths were to be sworn by the entire community. These oaths were to be administered in the county courts.


From peace settlement to civil war


From the very beginning, two problems endangered this process of enforcement. The first was relatively easily resolved. The sheriffs could not be trusted to administer arrangements in which their own misdeeds were the object of attack. Nor could they be trusted to act as custodians of the charter itself. As a result, the bishops seem to have stepped in both to ensure that the charter was properly publicised, and to ensure its preservation in their own cathedral archives. Thirteen original exemplars of Magna Carta were written and released from the King’s writing office during the summer of 1215, corresponding precisely to the number of English bishops in office. Three of the four Runnymede charters that survive today were preserved in cathedral archives, and the fourth very probably also.


Much more seriously, the King had no intention of permitting the charter’s long-term survival. Having re-established peace, and in return for a limited investigation of past misdeeds, John intended to rule as he had ruled in the past. A copy of the charter was dispatched to Rome, clearly in the hope that the Pope would annul it. No sovereign authority, either king or pope, could be expected to endorse a charter that placed a ruler under his subjects’ supervision or the head of state under a committee of barons. On 24 August 1215, Pope Innocent III (1161-1216) duly declared the charter null and void.


In England, ignoring the terms of the charter, the King refused to dismiss his foreign constables and mercenaries. The barons refused to surrender London. Rochester Castle, in theory held by Archbishop Stephen Langton (1150-1228), was surrendered to the rebels. By the end of the second week in September, the King’s clerical supporters had suspended Archbishop Langton from office and excommunicated the leaders of the rebellion. England was once again at war. The peace settlement agreed at Runnymede was a dead letter after barely 10 weeks . There followed two years of civil war and French invasion. Large parts of southern England were placed under the rule of Louis, the future King of France (1187-1226).


Revival of Magna Carta


Two factors ensured the survival of the spirit and at least part of the letter of Magna Carta. In October 1216, King John (r.1199-1216) fell ill with dysentery and died at Newark. He left a nine-year-old son to succeed him as King Henry III (r.1216-1272). The boy king’s advisors were determined to break with the past. To advertise this determination, at Bristol, in November 1216, they reissued Magna Carta. Now stripped of its more obnoxious clauses, and above all without the insistence on a baronial committee of 25, the charter was used to recover the allegiance of those increasingly convinced that King Louis would be little better than King John. When the tide of political fortune swung decisively in the boy king’s favour, following defeats for Louis and his supporters in battle at Lincoln, Henry III once again reissued the charter, in November 1217. On this occasion, it was accompanied by a second charter covering those parts of England set aside as ‘forest’ (in theory reserved for the King’s hunting, beyond the usual rule of law). It was the contrast between the great charter of liberties and the smaller charter governing the forests that gave rise, from 1217 onwards, to the name ‘Magna Carta’ (the 'Big' or 'Great' Charter) applied to the larger of these two documents.


In 1225, at his coming of age, to buy further support and in return for taxation to defend his remaining lands in France, Henry III reissued Magna Carta. It was this charter of 1225 that henceforth became the definitive form, reissued or confirmed on numerous occasions throughout the 13th century. Like the 1216 and 1217 charters, the 1225 Magna Carta cut away nearly half of the text originally agreed at Runnymede. Out went the clauses regulating Jewish debt, taxation, the farms paid by sheriffs for their counties, the insistence that sheriffs and other officers know the laws of England, that the king expel his alien constables, that all hostages be released, and that settlements be devised with both the Welsh and the Scots. Above all, out went all mention of the baronial committee of 25 set above the king to impose justice where the king acted beyond the law.


Taxation and representation: proto parliament


Magna Carta did not put an end to royal tyranny. Henry III and his successors were capable of ruling just as badly as King John. Kings continued to make war for their own glory rather than for the public good. Taxes continued to mount. Several of the clauses of Magna Carta went unenforced. Judicial visitation of the counties, for example, remained a haphazard affair. Justice continued to favour the rich over the poor. The influential remained more powerful than those without influence at court. Even so, within society at large, the repeated and frequent reissue of the charter encouraged the growth of a belief in essential rights and liberties standing above the authority of any particular king. On occasion, when baronial or local discontent boiled over, as it did in 1258, 1264 and again in 1297, there were calls not only for the reissue of Magna Carta but for root and branch reform of royal government on behalf of the ‘community of the realm’. This ‘community’, first referred to in the security clause of the Runnymede charter, came to play an increasingly significant role in politics, as the King’s need for taxation led to the summoning of ‘parliaments’ (literally ‘speakings together’). Here the barons were expected to approve taxation in return for the hearing of petitions and the redress of their own particular grievances.


Magna Carta did not itself create ‘Parliament’. Nonetheless, by requiring that taxation be imposed only after consultation with the ‘common counsel of the realm’, Magna Carta in many ways pointed the way to the emergence of parliamentary government. Above all, by insisting that there were rights and customs that stood above the authority of any particular king, Magna Carta, in its many reissues and confirmations, embedded the sense that England was a land of liberties. Even the most powerful of tyrants, the charter suggested, would now have to answer to the rule of law.


Nicholas Vincent is Professor of Medieval History at the University of East Anglia. This article was originally published by The British Library


Russian Military Presence in Vietnam


 Russian Navy

  The Bear is back because it is a perfectly good place to keep a chunk of its fleet that also puts it all on an active footing.  The USA and Britain has had the luxury of global depots for centuries even while others are now waking up to their usefulness.  China has the problem that while it has a Navy it is actually restricted to Home Ports very like the position of the German fleet in the first half of the twentieth century.


At the same time it allows Russia through its ally to exercise a real presence in the South China Sea much to China's chagrin.  Russia is in a position to provide agressive confrontation when the USA chooses passivity.


Thus China is contained by an effective ring of steel on land and an effective Naval cordon through long lasting USA alliances.  Russia has merely added an additional link to this chain.


Thus perhaps we can understand China's activities in surrounding waters attempting to artificially create fait accompli and push up against this cordon.  Great power status looks pretty empty if you have to ask permission to set sail from home.  The same holds true for Russia.  Maybe it is time to take all this less seriously.


China has failed to make actual allies anywhere simply because of their belief in historical Chinese superiority.  Russia at least has Vietnam.  They all need to stop believing Clausewitz and so do we.



Why the Bear is Back: Russian Military Presence in Vietnam


Russia-Vietnam ties that seemed to be cooling after the end of the Cold War are warming up all over again. More than 20 years after Moscow abandoned its largest foreign base, Russian military aircraft are once again welcome visitors at Cam Ranh Bay.


The renewed Russian presence in Vietnam has predictably set the alarm bells ringing in the Pentagon, with the Commander of the US Army in the Pacific confirming that Russian strategic bombers circling the massive American military base in Guam are being refuelled at Cam Ranh Bay.


On March 11 Washington wrote to Hanoi, requesting that the Vietnamese authorities not assist Russian bomber flights in the Asia-Pacific. The Vietnamese reaction was to remain publicly silent. According to Phuong Nguyen of the Washington-based Center for Strategic & International Studies,
“From the perspective of many Vietnamese officials who fought against the United States during the war, Moscow helped train generations of Vietnamese leaders and supported Hanoi during its decades of international isolation.”
Nguyen adds:
“Few things are more vital to Vietnam than an independent foreign policy. Given Vietnam’s complex history, its leaders do not want their country to be caught between major powers again. Anything that resembles U.S. interference in Vietnam’s dealings with Russia could unnecessarily aggravate this fear.”
Although the Vietnamese consider the US an increasingly important partner in Southeast Asia, it’s Russia that tops the pecking order. A per an agreement inked in November 2014, Russian warships visiting the deep water port of Cam Ranh only have to give prior notice to the Vietnamese authorities before steaming in whereas all other foreign navies are limited to just one annual ship visit to Vietnamese ports.

Why Vietnam matters

Located at the gateway to the Indian and Pacific Oceans, Vietnam is of critical importance to Russia. Permanent basing of air and naval assets in Vietnam helps the Russian Pacific Fleet solve its problem of having to pass through the narrow straits of the Sea of Japan to gain access to the Pacific.
To be sure, the current Russian presence is minimal compared with the firepower of the 1980s, when Moscow’s Pacific fleet consisted of an incredible 826 ships, including 133 submarines, 190 naval bomber jets and 150 anti-submarine aircraft. Even back then, Moscow’s buildup was hardly aggressive. According to Alvin H. Bernstein of the US Naval War College, it was “unlikely to have a specific, aggressive, regional intent since that would be quite out of character for a power” that has revealed itself as “cautious and non-confrontational”.

Three decades on, Moscow under President Vladimir Putin is once again seeking to enhance its role as both an Asian and global power, and as Bernstein noted, the country wants to be “prepared for all contingencies and opportunities”.

It’s also part of Vietnam’s Look East policy. In fact, much before US President Barack Obama announced its pivot to Asia, Russia was already pivoting East, making inroads into once pro-American countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia.

However, it is in Vietnam where Russian diplomacy is in overdrive. But first a quick flashback.

Vietnam is a small country with a military that punches way above its weight. For those with short memories, the Southeast Asia country handed out resounding defeats to France and the U.S. in back to back wars. Stupendous bravery, clever battle tactics and a never-say-die spirit were decisive in winning those wars, but a key factor was that the Vietnamese had powerful friends.

During the Vietnam War, Russia played a critical role in Vietnam’s defence, supplying a massive quantity of weapons. Over the course of the 21-year war Russian assistance was worth $2 million a day. In return, Vietnam offered Russia free use of the Cam Ranh Bay base. As part of this agreement, the Russians stationed MiG-23 fighters, Tu-16 tankers, Tu-95 long range bombers and Tu-142 maritime reconnaissance aircraft at the base.

Cam Ranh became Moscow’s largest naval base for forward deployment outside Europe. Some 20 ships were berthed daily at the base, along with six nuclear attack submarines. The base played a pivotal role in helping Russia in its Cold War faceoff against American-led forces in Asia and the Pacific. For instance, when the U.S. Seventh Fleet sailed up the Bay of Bengal to put pressure on India during the 1971 India Pakistan War, the Russian Pacific Fleet was quickly able to dispatch nuclear-armed submarines and warships to defend India.

Despite Cam Ranh Bay’s importance to Moscow geopolitically and its value as an intelligence gathering post, the Russian presence practically evaporated after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Military bases of the scale of Cam Ranh Bay cost an insane amount of money to operate and Russia no longer had cash to burn. In 2001, even the listening station was abandoned.

China gets Klubbed

Although the Russian military presence declined, strong ties continued to bind Russia and Vietnam. In the backdrop of Vietnam’s high-decibel spat with China for control of the oil-rich Spratly Islands, Hanoi went on a high-octane hardware hunt. Vietnam’s legendary air force acquired 24 Su-30 combat jets from Russia, and by the end of 2015, it will operate 36 Sukhois, becoming the third largest operator of this advanced super-maneuverable aircraft.

However, it is the Vietnam People’s Army Navy (VPAN) that is really beefing up. In 2009, Vietnam signed a $3.2 billion deal with Russia that includes six Kilo class submarines and construction of a submarine facility at Cam Ranh Bay.

Another big-ticket acquisition is that of 50 Klub supersonic cruise missiles for its Kilos, making Vietnam the first Southeast Asian nation to arm its submarine fleet with a land attack missile.

Weighing two tons, the Klub has a 200 kg warhead. The anti-ship version has a range of 300 km, but speeds up to 3,000 km an hour during its last minute or so of flight. According to Strategy Page, the land attack version does away with the high speed final approach feature and that makes possible a larger 400 kg warhead.

What makes the Klub particularly dangerous when attacking ships is that during its final approach, which begins when the missile is about 15 km from its target, the missile speeds up,” reports Strategy Page. “Up to that point, the missile travels at an altitude of about a hundred feet. This makes the missile more difficult to detect. That plus the high speed final approach means that it covers that last 15 km in less than 20 seconds. This makes it more difficult for current anti-missile weapons to take it down.

Russian built submarines armed with the potent Klubs are expected to play a critical role in any conflict in the South China Sea. According to one analyst, the land-attack cruise missiles mark a “massive shift” advancing Vietnam’s naval capabilities. “They’ve given themselves a much more powerful deterrent that complicates China’s strategic calculations.”

It is believed Chinese warships have no effective defense against missile like Klub, which why they have gone ballistic about Russia selling them to Vietnam.

While the Kilos are being built, Russia and India are currently in charge of training Vietnamese officers who will work in the submarines.

Further Russian firepower

Plus, in 2011 the VPAN acquired two Gepard-class guided missile stealth frigates from Russia at a cost of $300 million, with the Gepard fleet set to increase to six by 2017. These versatile ships are equipped for surface attacks, anti-submarine warfare and air defense.

The VPAN’s other acquisitions include four Svetlyak-class fast patrol boats with anti-ship missiles; 12 frigates and corvettes of Russian origin; and two Molniya-class missile fast attack ships built with Russian assistance, with four more expected by 2016.

Vietnam has also acquired advanced radars; 40 Yakhont and 400 Kh-35 Uran anti-ship missiles; Kh-59MK anti-ship cruise missiles; R-73 (AA-11 Archer) short-range air-to-air missiles; 200 SA-19 Grison surface-to-air missiles; two batteries of the legendary S-300 surface-to-air systems; VERA passive radio locators; and two batteries of the K-300P Bastion coastal defense missiles.

Economic angle

According to a research paper by Portugal-based academics Phuc Thi Tran, Alena Vysotskaya G. Vieira and Laura C. Ferreira-Pereira,
“The acquisition of military capabilities is critical, not only purely for the sake of defense and strategic calculations, but also for the important function it plays in the safeguarding of both economic interests and the security of oil field explorations in the South China Sea. This latter aspect is particularly critical given the role that Russia has been playing herein. Indeed, the lion’s share of these exploitation projects has being undertaken by Vietnam jointly with Russia.”
While defense gets more traction in the media, it is energy that’s the single biggest area of cooperation between Moscow and Hanoi. The Russia-Vietnam joint venture Vietsovpetro has generated big dividends for both countries. The company has produced more than 185 million tons of crude oil and more than 21 billion cubic meters of gas from oilfields in the South China Sea. Nearly 80 per cent of Vietnamese oil and gas comes from Vietsovpetro, and the income corresponds to around 25 per cent of GDP.

Russia has also made considerable investments in Vietnam’s heavy and light industries, transportation, post, aquatic culture and fishing. These projects have led to other spinoffs – impressed by the profits generated by Russian corporations, a slew of other companies such as Mobil, BP and TOTAL have ramped up investments in Vietnam.

Vietnam’s strategic hedging towards Russia is closely connected to its economic cooperation in oil exploration, which brings significant economic benefits to both sides. Strong defense ties between the two countries has enabled Vietnam to acquire modern military equipment, providing the country with the ability to advance joint explorations of oil and gas despite growing Chinese opposition towards these projects.

At the same time, Russia is returning to reclaim its great power legacy. It offers Moscow a myriad of opportunities to secure political and economic influence with the various emerging powers in the heart of the most dynamic region on the planet.

But, don’t blame Vietnam since this country is not an exception but a confirmation to the prevailing Asian rule. As professor Anis Bajrektarevic well states in his luminary work ‘No Asian Century’:

“What becomes apparent, nearly at the first glance, is the absence of any pan-Asian security/multilateral structure. Prevailing security structures are bilateral and mostly asymmetric. They range from the clearly defined and enduring non-aggression security treaties, through less formal arrangements, up to the Ad hoc cooperation accords on specific issues. The presence of the multilateral regional settings is limited to a very few spots in the largest continent, and even then, they are rarely mandated with (politico-military) security issues in their declared scope of work. Another striking feature is that most of the existing bilateral structures have an Asian state on one side, and either peripheral or external protégé country on the other side which makes them nearly per definition asymmetric.”
Rakesh Krishnan Simha is a New Zealand-based journalist and foreign affairs analyst. According to him, he writes on stuff the media distorts, misses or ignores. Rakesh started his career in 1995 with New Delhi-based Business World magazine, and later worked in a string of positions at other leading media houses such as India Today, Hindustan Times, Business Standard and the Financial Express, where he was the news editor.

Cat Ownership Linked to Schizophrenia


 



The mere fact that half of all folks that develop schizophrenia or more generally by extension its syndrome did have cats as childhood pets is sufficent to make the following conjecture:

Conjecture:    A cat based vector is the cause of ALL Schizophrenia Syndrome disease.

I am been very strong about this because a fifty percent incidence strongly suggests a high infection rate is normal and that means casual contact is good enough as well.  Once identified we really do not need to go looking anywhere else.

Fortunately we do have such a vector that fits the bill.

I had suspected as much from casual observation in the past and i have even posted on it.   However, the stats are now clearly pointing to the cause and it needs to be addressed.  This points as clearly to protocols that resolve the disease itself.  All good news.



Scientists find link between cat ownership and schizophrenia 

A parasite found in cats may be to blame




Friday 12 June 2015

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/scientists-find-link-between-cat-ownership-and-schizophrenia-10316366.html


Scientists have discovered a link between people who own cats and the development of mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, and believe a parasite may be to blame.



In a study published in the journal 'Schizophrenia Research', experts wrote that cat ownership is “significantly more common” in families where a child is later diagnosed with "schizophrenia or another serious mental illness”, the Huffington Post reported.


By analysing a previously unused questionnaire of from 1982 filled in by 2,125 families that belonged to the National Institute of Mental Illness, scientists discovered that 50.6 per cent of people who developed schizophrenia owned a cat in childhood. These results were similar to two other studies in the 1990s, experts said.


Around 1 in 100 people will experience schizophrenia in their lifetime, but it is most commonly diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 35, according to the NHS.

Schizophrenia is a long-term mental illness that can cause symptoms including hallucinations, delusions, and changes in behaviour.


And while the overall instance of schizophrenia from the study is low, scientists will now attempt to understand why this link exists. However, researchers believe that Toxoplasma gondii, a single-cell parasite present in some cats, may be the cause.


E. Fuller Torrey, a researcher from the Stanley Medical Research Institute who took part in the study, told the Huffington Post: “T. gondii gets into the brain and forms microscopic cysts. We think it then becomes activated in late adolescence and causes disease, probably by affecting the neurotransmitters.”


A previous study showed T. gondii can get inside the human brain by using a type of white blood cell in the immune system as a Trojan horse to enter the central nervous system.


Toxoplasma gondii can live in many different species but it can only complete its life cycle in cats, as the animals secrete the parasite in their faeces.


Studies have also revealed that Toxoplasma is beneficial to cats, in that it changes the behaviour of mice and makes them more likely to be eaten, thereby completing parasite’s complex life-cycle.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Yukon Fossil Find Redraws Camel's Family Tree


 















 Sometimes you get the unexpected.  The camel became cold country adapted and did migrate into North America a long time ago.  Let us remember that the musk ox and all deer did the same and the camel was as well prepared.

The massive extinction that took place 12,900 BP likely took them out as well.  It is unlikely any re adapted to southern lands.  After all the Mastodon did not leave us southern adapted Elephants in North America or lions for that matter.  Thus the pattern is the same.


That leaves us with more questions regarding the South American menagerie and more hesitant to draw early conclusions based on old world comparisons.

.
Scientists make no bones about Yukon fossil find, redraw camel's family tree

By The Canadian Press | The Canadian Press – 

Wed, 10 Jun, 2015
Print


The Canadian Press - An artist reconstruction of Camelops hesternus the western camel is shown in this handout image. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Government of Yukon-Artist George ‚“Rinaldino” Teichmann (1997)

WHITEHORSE - Miners working the Klondike have uncovered an evolutionary treasure that one paleontologist says is as precious as gold.


Three fossils recovered from a gold mine outside of Dawson City, Yukon, in 2008, are the first Western Camel bones found in the territory and Alaska in decades. They are forcing scientists to redraw the family tree of the now-extinct, ice-age animal, says Grant Zazula, a paleontologist with the territory's Department of Tourism and Culture.


For decades, scientists believed the Western Camels that once lived in North America were related to llamas and alpacas common to South America, but they now have the genetic proof they're actually more closely tied to the camels inhabiting Asia and Arabia, said Zazula.


"You know gold miners ... spend their whole summer digging through that frozen ground looking for gold and we couldn't care less about the gold," he said.


"For us the gold is the fossils, because it's this incredible resource for understanding extinct and ancient animals of the ice age. It's really our gold mine for sure."


Zazula said scientists can now begin to understand why the camels went extinct 13,000 years ago, at the end of the ice age.


For the past century, paleontologists have studied camels and, based on comparative anatomy, divide bones and fossils into two main branches that led to the animals found in Arabia, Africa and Asia and llamas and alpacas found in South America, said Zazula.


He said paleontologists believed Western Camels were like "giant llamas" or "llamas on steroids."


That theory began to change in 2008, when miners uncovered bones preserved in the permafrost while hydraulically stripping the earth near Dawson City, he said. The bones were protected so well they still contained DNA, unlike other mineralized fossils.


Zazula said a colleague from the American Museum of History picked out the specimens.


"When that was found, we really couldn't believe it because, like I said, there hasn't been a camel bone found in over 30 years, and we knew they were so rare and it was so well preserved."


Zazula said he sent small pieces of the bone to geneticists at the University of California Santa Cruz, who were assisted by a statistician and a geologist.


The results have been published in the journal of Molecular Biology and Evolution.


A news release says the DNA indicates the Western Camels split off from the branch that includes modern-day camels about 10 million years ago.


It notes most lived in southern areas of North America, but some made their way north during a relatively warm period of the last ice age about 100,000 years ago. The animals remained in North America until the end of the ice age, when they went extinct.


Zazula said the findings are going to make scientists re-examine other species, too.


"There's something pretty spectacular about holding on to a bone that's 100,000 years old that can tell us so much about the history of the past and the history of the land you live in," he said. "I think that's pretty spectacular."


— Written by Keven Drews in Vancouver

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