SciCombinator

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

718

584

To examine the dose-response associations between accelerometer assessed total physical activity, different intensities of physical activity, and sedentary time and all cause mortality.

506

We compared students' self-reported perception of learning with their actual learning under controlled conditions in large-enrollment introductory college physics courses taught using 1) active instruction (following best practices in the discipline) and 2) passive instruction (lectures by experienced and highly rated instructors). Both groups received identical class content and handouts, students were randomly assigned, and the instructor made no effort to persuade students of the benefit of either method. Students in active classrooms learned more (as would be expected based on prior research), but their perception of learning, while positive, was lower than that of their peers in passive environments. This suggests that attempts to evaluate instruction based on students' perceptions of learning could inadvertently promote inferior (passive) pedagogical methods. For instance, a superstar lecturer could create such a positive feeling of learning that students would choose those lectures over active learning. Most importantly, these results suggest that when students experience the increased cognitive effort associated with active learning, they initially take that effort to signify poorer learning. That disconnect may have a detrimental effect on students' motivation, engagement, and ability to self-regulate their own learning. Although students can, on their own, discover the increased value of being actively engaged during a semester-long course, their learning may be impaired during the initial part of the course. We discuss strategies that instructors can use, early in the semester, to improve students' response to being actively engaged in the classroom.

390

Situated at over 5,000 meters above sea level in the Himalayan Mountains, Roopkund Lake is home to the scattered skeletal remains of several hundred individuals of unknown origin. We report genome-wide ancient DNA for 38 skeletons from Roopkund Lake, and find that they cluster into three distinct groups. A group of 23 individuals have ancestry that falls within the range of variation of present-day South Asians. A further 14 have ancestry typical of the eastern Mediterranean. We also identify one individual with Southeast Asian-related ancestry. Radiocarbon dating indicates that these remains were not deposited simultaneously. Instead, all of the individuals with South Asian-related ancestry date to ~800 CE (but with evidence of being deposited in more than one event), while all other individuals date to ~1800 CE. These differences are also reflected in stable isotope measurements, which reveal a distinct dietary profile for the two main groups.

337

The cave bear (Ursus spelaeus) is one of the Late Pleistocene megafauna species that faced extinction at the end of the last ice age. Although it is represented by one of the largest fossil records in Europe and has been subject to several interdisciplinary studies including palaeogenetic research, its fate remains highly controversial. Here, we used a combination of hybridisation capture and next generation sequencing to reconstruct 59 new complete cave bear mitochondrial genomes (mtDNA) from 14 sites in Western, Central and Eastern Europe. In a Bayesian phylogenetic analysis, we compared them to 64 published cave bear mtDNA sequences to reconstruct the population dynamics and phylogeography during the Late Pleistocene. We found five major mitochondrial DNA lineages resulting in a noticeably more complex biogeography of the European lineages during the last 50,000 years than previously assumed. Furthermore, our calculated effective female population sizes suggest a drastic cave bear population decline starting around 40,000 years ago at the onset of the Aurignacian, coinciding with the spread of anatomically modern humans in Europe. Thus, our study supports a potential significant human role in the general extinction and local extirpation of the European cave bear and illuminates the fate of this megafauna species.

335

Twin and family studies have shown that same-sex sexual behavior is partly genetically influenced, but previous searches for specific genes involved have been underpowered. We performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) on 477,522 individuals, revealing five loci significantly associated with same-sex sexual behavior. In aggregate, all tested genetic variants accounted for 8 to 25% of variation in same-sex sexual behavior, only partially overlapped between males and females, and do not allow meaningful prediction of an individual’s sexual behavior. Comparing these GWAS results with those for the proportion of same-sex to total number of sexual partners among nonheterosexuals suggests that there is no single continuum from opposite-sex to same-sex sexual behavior. Overall, our findings provide insights into the genetics underlying same-sex sexual behavior and underscore the complexity of sexuality.

306

A nearly complete skeleton of a new hadrosaurid, Kamuysaurus japonicus gen. et sp. nov., was discovered from the outer shelf deposits of the Upper Cretaceous Hakobuchi Formation of the Yezo Group in Hobetsu area of Mukawa town in Hokkaido, Japan. Kamuysaurus belongs to the sub-clade of Hadrosaurinae, Edmontosaurini, and forms a monophyly with Laiyangosaurus and Kerberosaurus from the northern Far East. Kamuysaurus has a long anterior platform for the nasofrontal sutural surface, which may indicate the presence of a small supracranial crest, similar to a sub-adult form of Brachylophosaurus based on the extension of the nasofrontal sutural surface. The Dispersal Extinction Cladogenesis analysis with the 50% Majority Rule consensus tree suggests that the clade of Kamuysaurus, Laiyangosaurus, and Kerberosaurus may have dispersed into Asia prior to the late Campanian and the potential endemism of this clade during the late Campanian and early Maastrichtian in the northern Far East. The results of both Dispersal Extinction Cladogenesis and Ancestral State Reconstruction analyses imply that the marine-influenced environment in North America during the Campanian may have played an important role for the hadrosaurid diversification in its early evolutionary history.

296

Two types of Berardius are recognised by local whalers in Hokkaido, Japan. The first is the ordinary Baird’s beaked whale, B. bairdii, whereas the other is much smaller and entirely black. Previous molecular phylogenetic analyses revealed that the black type is one recognisable taxonomic unit within the Berardius clade but is distinct from the two known Berardius species. To determine the characteristics of the black type, we summarised external morphology and skull osteometric data obtained from four individuals, which included three individuals from Hokkaido and one additional individual from the United States National Museum of Natural History collection. The whales differed from all of their congeners by having the following unique characters: a substantially smaller body size of physically mature individuals, proportionately shorter beak, and darker body colour. Thus, we conclude that the whales are a third Berardius species.

287

Predicting longer-term mortality risk requires collection of clinical data, which is often cumbersome. Therefore, we use a well-standardized metabolomics platform to identify metabolic predictors of long-term mortality in the circulation of 44,168 individuals (age at baseline 18-109), of whom 5512 died during follow-up. We apply a stepwise (forward-backward) procedure based on meta-analysis results and identify 14 circulating biomarkers independently associating with all-cause mortality. Overall, these associations are similar in men and women and across different age strata. We subsequently show that the prediction accuracy of 5- and 10-year mortality based on a model containing the identified biomarkers and sex (C-statistic = 0.837 and 0.830, respectively) is better than that of a model containing conventional risk factors for mortality (C-statistic = 0.772 and 0.790, respectively). The use of the identified metabolic profile as a predictor of mortality or surrogate endpoint in clinical studies needs further investigation.

274

Epigenetic “clocks” can now surpass chronological age in accuracy for estimating biological age. Here, we use four such age estimators to show that epigenetic aging can be reversed in humans. Using a protocol intended to regenerate the thymus, we observed protective immunological changes, improved risk indices for many age-related diseases, and a mean epigenetic age approximately 1.5 years less than baseline after 1 year of treatment (-2.5-year change compared to no treatment at the end of the study). The rate of epigenetic aging reversal relative to chronological age accelerated from -1.6 year/year from 0-9 month to -6.5 year/year from 9-12 month. The GrimAge predictor of human morbidity and mortality showed a 2-year decrease in epigenetic vs. chronological age that persisted six months after discontinuing treatment. This is to our knowledge the first report of an increase, based on an epigenetic age estimator, in predicted human lifespan by means of a currently accessible aging intervention.