Canadian scientists discover world’s first moving animal – our ancestor the slug

Fossilized burrows of prehistoric slugs (Photo courtesy University of Alberta)

ANNA MEHLER PAPERNY

July 28, 2012 – Globe and Mail

On the cusp of the 30th Olympiad, as the world gawps at the apex of human movement, a team of Canadian scientists has published breakthrough research on the first creatures to move at all: prehistoric South American slugs.

Researchers from the University of Alberta have unearthed the oldest evidence yet of animals capable of self-propulsion. Earlier life forms, such as sponges, had to stay put.

As well, the 585-million-year-old slugs could be the first bilaterians – creatures with a front, back and sides. And they are the immediate ancestors of all locomoting animals, humans included.

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The Tyrolean Iceman cometh, and shows us heart disease has ancient origins

Photo courtesy of South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology

Wednesday, March 7 – Globe and Mail

ANNA MEHLER PAPERNY

A few ground-up grams of spongy bone, drilled from a 5,300-year-old mummy’s right hip and painstakingly bathed, sequenced and analyzed, have yielded a near-complete genome of Italy’s Iceman. The discovery not only offers a glimpse into an early human ancestor, but also gives a fresh perspective on one of the leading causes of death in the 21st century: The Iceman had a genetic predisposition to heart disease

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