Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Germany


The question of Jewish ancestry has been the subject of controversy for over two centuries and has yet to be resolved. The “Rhineland Hypothesis” depicts Eastern European Jews as a “population isolate” that emerged from a small group of German Jews who migrated eastward and expanded rapidly. Alternatively, the “Khazarian Hypothesis” suggests that Eastern European Jew descended from the Khazars, an amalgam of Turkic clans that settled the Caucasus in the early centuries CE and converted to Judaism in the 8(th) century. Mesopotamian and Greco-Roman Jews continuously reinforced the Judaized Empire until the 13(th) century. Following the collapse of their empire, the Judeo-Khazars fled to Eastern Europe. The rise of European Jewry is therefore explained by the contribution of the Judeo-Khazars. Thus far, however, the Khazar’s contribution has been estimated only empirically, as the absence of genome-wide data from Caucasus populations precluded testing the Khazarian Hypothesis. Recent sequencing of modern Caucasus populations prompted us to revisit the Khazarian Hypothesis and compare it with the Rhineland Hypothesis. We applied a wide range of population genetic analyses to compare these two hypotheses. Our findings support the Khazarian Hypothesis and portray the European Jewish genome as a mosaic of Caucasus, European, and Semitic ancestries, thereby consolidating previous contradictory reports of Jewish ancestry. We further describe major difference among Caucasus populations explained by early presence of Judeans in the Southern and Central Caucasus. Our results have important implications on the demographic forces that shaped the genetic diversity in the Caucasus and medical studies.

Concepts: Germany, Jews, Judaism, Russia, Soviet Union, Jewish ethnic divisions, Hebrew language, Ashkenazi Jews


Rescue excavations recovered a skeleton that resurrect the contemporary dramatic history of Austria in the 17th century as troops besieged Vienna in the second Osmanic-Habsburg war. Unique for Central Europe is the evidence of a completely preserved camel skeleton uncovered in a large refuse pit. The male individual of slender stature indicates a few but characteristic pathological changes revealing not a beast of burden but probably a valuable riding animal. Anatomical and morphometrical analyses suggest a hybrid confirmed by the ancient DNA analyses resulting in the presence of a dromedary in the maternal and a Bactrian camel in the paternal line.

Concepts: Slovakia, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Camelid, Danube, 17th century, Vienna


Women born around 1940 in countries such as the UK and USA were the first generation in which many smoked substantial numbers of cigarettes throughout adult life. Hence, only in the 21st century can we observe directly the full effects of prolonged smoking, and of prolonged cessation, on mortality among women in the UK.

Concepts: Germany, England, Wales, Scotland, 21st century, London, Barbecue, Integers


While magnetoreception in birds has been studied intensively, the literature on magnetoreception in bony fish, and particularly in non-migratory fish, is quite scarce. We examined alignment of common carps (Cyprinus carpio) at traditional Christmas sale in the Czech Republic. The sample comprised measurements of the directional bearings in 14,537 individual fish, distributed among 80 large circular plastic tubs, at 25 localities in the Czech Republic, during 817 sampling sessions, on seven subsequent days in December 2011. We found that carps displayed a statistically highly significant spontaneous preference to align their bodies along the North-South axis. In the absence of any other common orientation cues which could explain this directional preference, we attribute the alignment of the fish to the geomagnetic field lines. It is apparent that the display of magnetic alignment is a simple experimental paradigm of great heuristic potential.

Concepts: Magnetic field, Germany, Czech Republic, Carp, Czechoslovakia, Nazi Germany, Czech language, Prague


The Czech Republic has one of the poorest tobacco control records in Europe. This paper examines transnational tobacco companies' (TTCs') efforts to influence policy there, paying particular attention to excise policies, as high taxes are one of the most effective means of reducing tobacco consumption, and tax structures are an important aspect of TTC competitiveness.

Concepts: Tobacco, Germany, Czech Republic, German language, Czechoslovakia, Tobacco advertising, Tobacco industry, Prague


The slaughter of pregnant cattle and the fate of the foetuses are relatively new subjects in the field of animal welfare. The Scientific Committee on Veterinary Measures relating to Public Health (SCVPH), however, does not believe this topic to be a critical issue because of the hitherto supposed rare occurrence of this practice. Some previous studies though, contradict this assessment, emphasising its relevance to animal welfare. With regard to the heterogeneous study design of previous investigations, the objective of this study is to evaluate the current situation concerning the slaughter of pregnant cattle in different German abattoirs. Additionally, the prevalence was assessed semi-quantitatively on the basis of a cross-sectional, voluntary and anonymous survey that was conducted amongst senior veterinary students of the University of Leipzig from 2010 until 2013.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Embryo, Germany, Livestock, Animal rights, Leipzig, University of Leipzig, Cattle in religion


Recent studies found major conflicts between traditional taxonomy and genetic differentiation of grass snakes and identified previously unknown secondary contact zones. Until now, little is known about gene flow across these contact zones. Using two mitochondrial markers and 13 microsatellite loci, we examined two contact zones. One, largely corresponding to the Rhine region, involves the western subspecies Natrix natrix helvetica and the eastern subspecies N. n. natrix, whereas in the other, more easterly, contact zone two lineages meet that are currently identified with N. n. natrix and N. n. persa. This second contact zone runs across Central Europe to the southern Balkans. Our analyses reveal that the western contact zone is narrow, with parapatrically distributed mitochondrial lineages and limited, largely unidirectional nuclear gene flow. In contrast, the eastern contact zone is very wide, with massive nuclear admixture and broadly overlapping mitochondrial lineages. In combination with additional lines of evidence (morphology, phylogeny, divergence times), we conclude that these differences reflect different stages in the speciation process and that Natrix helvetica should be regarded as a distinct species. We suggest a nomenclatural framework for presently recognized grass snake taxa and highlight the need for reconciling the conflicts between genetics and taxonomy.

Concepts: DNA, Genetics, Species, Germany, Eastern Europe, Central Europe, Snake, International Code of Zoological Nomenclature


Women’s participation in medicine and the need for gender equality in healthcare are increasingly recognised, yet little attention is paid to leadership and management positions in large publicly funded academic health centres. This study illustrates such a need, taking the case of four large European centres: Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin (Germany), Karolinska Institutet (Sweden), Medizinische Universität Wien (Austria), and Oxford Academic Health Science Centre (United Kingdom).

Concepts: European Union, United Kingdom, Europe, Germany, English language, German language, Austria, Hungary


The transition from hunting and gathering to farming involved profound cultural and technological changes. In Western and Central Europe, these changes occurred rapidly and synchronously after the arrival of early farmers of Anatolian origin [1-3], who largely replaced the local Mesolithic hunter-gatherers [1, 4-6]. Further east, in the Baltic region, the transition was gradual, with little or no genetic input from incoming farmers [7]. Here we use ancient DNA to investigate the relationship between hunter-gatherers and farmers in the Lower Danube basin, a geographically intermediate area that is characterized by a rapid Neolithic transition but also by the presence of archaeological evidence that points to cultural exchange, and thus possible admixture, between hunter-gatherers and farmers. We recovered four human paleogenomes (1.1× to 4.1× coverage) from Romania spanning a time transect between 8.8 thousand years ago (kya) and 5.4 kya and supplemented them with two Mesolithic genomes (1.7× and 5.3×) from Spain to provide further context on the genetic background of Mesolithic Europe. Our results show major Western hunter-gatherer (WHG) ancestry in a Romanian Eneolithic sample with a minor, but sizeable, contribution from Anatolian farmers, suggesting multiple admixture events between hunter-gatherers and farmers. Dietary stable-isotope analysis of this sample suggests a mixed terrestrial/aquatic diet. Our results provide support for complex interactions among hunter-gatherers and farmers in the Danube basin, demonstrating that in some regions, demic and cultural diffusion were not mutually exclusive, but merely the ends of a continuum for the process of Neolithization.

Concepts: Germany, Serbia, Neolithic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Danube, Moldova


There are a lack of reliable data on the epidemiology and associated burden and costs of asthma. We sought to provide the first UK-wide estimates of the epidemiology, healthcare utilisation and costs of asthma.

Concepts: United Kingdom, Germany, Ethnic group, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Member of Parliament, Anarchy in the U.K., Parliament of the United Kingdom, Nationality