Saturday Round up-Rafts, helicopters and more Scotch

Things that made us genuinely intrigued in this week’s news and feeds

Humans weren’t the first sailors– How on earth did all the different animal species end up in such curious spots? Especially ones like mammals, who evolved as the continents were splitting up? Incredibly, a new study suggests they may have survived on natural rafts, making their landfalls in new areas and evolving rapidly into new forms. . We say the jury’s out,but an intriguing and imaginative piece of work nevertheless Here’s The Conversation:

https://theconversation.com/one-incredible-ocean-crossing-may-have-made-human-evolution-possible-157479?utm

Phages surprise again– We at LSS are big fans of bacteriophages, hoping against hope that they might help kill antibiotic resistant bacteria. Now they show an intriguing new angle. Their DNA is subtly but significantly different from the standard DNA that most organisms possess. Is this a hint of earlier types of DNA back at the origins of life? Has DNA itself evolved? Thanks to Nature:

Some viruses that infect bacteria have ‘Z-DNA’, which uses a genetic alphabet different from the As, Ts, Cs and Gs in the DNA of nearly all other organisms. Dozens of these bacteriophages (or ‘phages’) write their genomes using a chemical base called 2-aminoadenine, Z for short, instead of adenine. Now, two teams have spelled out how the system works. These phages use specialized enzymes to make genes with an alternative nucleobase. “It represents the first discovery of a ‘shadow biosphere’ since [Carl] Woese identified the Archaea a half century ago,” says synthetic biologist Steven Benner.Nature | 6 min read

First flight on Mars-We wanted our blog to record the amazing achievement of powered flight on Mars, just so we can look back in five years and say we were there. Sort of. One thought has always puzzled us-why not use hydrogen ballons so fly on thin atmosphere planets? Can some clever reader tell us about this? Thanks to Nature and BBC.

Ingenuity, the helicopter that has made the first powered flight on another world, has shared its own perspective of Mars. It snapped a photograph of the Perseverance rover, which carried the tucked-up drone on its belly on the journey from Earth.BBC | 3 min read

Expensive Tastes– Yesterday we pointed out that Whisky conoisseurs will pay out large sums to enjoy their favourite tipple. The prices on the Master of Malts site will make the average shopper at Lidl and Aldi blanche. We were once shown the difference between £20 Scotch and £65 scotch, andwe accept it. But, please, what is the difference between £65 Scotch and £1000 Scotch? Have a good weekend finding out!

#whisky #NASA #bacteriophages #animaldistribution

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