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Teeth took 400m years to evolve
Examining the 400 million years of evolution that took us to take a bite of that sinful apple, an University of Arkansas anthropologist has actually written a book on why mammals developed teeth in the first place.

Peter Ungar’s book ‘Mammal Teeth: Origin, Evolution, and Diversity’ examines the tension between the feeder and food, which also evolved ways to minimise the chances of being consumed. Developing teeth meant being able to fracture food into easily digestible pieces and allowed mammals to survive in cold climates and become active at night. “Teeth give you more options in terms of diet.

Teeth can slice and dice, and also crack and crunch, allowing mammals to expand into the diversity of diets they have today.

The second section of the book discusses how teeth have evolved through the ages to today. The first tooth-like structures date back almost half a billion years. Ancient fish developed mineralised formations in their mouths, perhaps evolved from skin denticles like those seen in sharks today.

Ungar looks at the evolution of jaws, teeth, chewing muscles and the bony palate that separates chewing and breathing.

Too much thinking may not be as good as you believed
While introspection is a good thing, too much “thinking about your thinking” might not be as beneficial as you thought.

A new study found that in people who are good at turning their thoughts inward and reflecting upon their decisions, the size of a specific region of the brain is larger than those who do not.

This act of introspection — or “thinking about your thinking” — is a key aspect of human consciousness, though scientists have noted plenty of variation in peoples’ abilities to introspect.

The researchers, led by Prof Geraint Rees, University College London, suggests that the volume of gray matter in the anterior prefrontal cortex of the brain, which lies right behind our eyes, is a strong indicator of a person’s introspective ability.

However, the researchers found that some people think too much about life. These people have poorer memories, and they may also be depressed.

In addition, they say the structure of white matter connected to this area is also linked to this process of introspection. It remains unclear, however, how this relationship between introspection and the two different types of brain matter really works.

The findings establish a correlation between the structure of gray and white matter in the prefrontal cortex and the various levels of introspection that individuals may experience.

Test to predict susceptibility to heart disease, diabetes
Scientists have developed a simple two-pound blood test that has the potential to test a person’s chances of developing heart disease and diabetes.

The test would be made available in five years and anyone found to be prone could then take potentially life-saving steps to improve their health.

“This may give us a new way of assessing the health of blood vessels of patients with diabetes and also in the general population,” said researcher Manual Mayr.

The test measures levels of a small strand of genetic material called MiR-126, which plays a crucial role in keeping our arteries healthy.

As our blood vessels become damaged, levels of MiR-126 fall.

Scientists from the King’s College London have shown that men and women with very low levels are twice as likely to develop heart problems in the following decade as others.

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