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

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


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.

Continue reading

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


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

Continue reading