Fossils & Ruins 

Cold production of new seafloor

A mountain range with a total length of 65,000 kilometers runs through all the oceans. It marks the boundaries of tectonic plates. Through the gap between the plates material from the Earth’s interior emerges, forming new seafloor, building up the submarine mountains and spreading the plates apart. Very often, these mid-ocean ridges are described as a huge, elongated volcano. But this image is only partly correct, because the material forming the new seafloor is not always magmatic. At some spreading centres material from the Earth’s mantle reaches the surface without being melted. The proportion of seabed formed this has been previously unknown.

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The dark side of our genes — healthy aging in modern times

The transition to modernity — largely driven by the Industrial Revolution — provided us with easier access to food and clean water, with antibiotics, vaccines, and modern medicine. Yet modernity did not just bring fewer infectious diseases and longer life: it also created an environment radically different from the one we evolved in. Genes helpful in our evolutionary past may now predispose us to chronic disease — such as cardiovascular diseases and cancer — in old ages. In a paper published in the journal Nature Reviews Genetics an international team of five scientists collate the evidence for this mismatch between past evolutionary adaptation and our modern lives. They also ask whether natural selection linked to modernization might reduce globally the burden of some chronic diseases.

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