A new ancient DNA study shows that 14th century plague outbreaks might have resulted from repeated introductions of Yersinia pestis to Europe. Commercial trade routes, including the fur trade routes, would have contributed to the rapid spread of plague in whole Europe during the Middle Ages.
House sparrows are closely associated with humans and are found in most parts of the world. By investigating the DNA of several species of sparrows, researchers at CEES have shown that the house sparrow diverged from a sparrow in the Middle East – and started to digest starch-rich foods – when humans developed agriculture some 11 000 years ago.
How can we use aerial photos of glaciers from the 1930s to obtain new and exact information about the Earth's changing climate? That is one of the main questions Luc Girod looked into in his doctoral thesis.
Researchers at The Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES) at the University of Oslo have delivered impressive results during their ten years of operation. They have published more than 1450 scientific papers, of which 14 in Nature and Science, about themes as diverse as the European plague and the strange cod genome. These articles have again been cited over 30 000 times.
Most birds and mammals, including humans, have developed parental care. Can this explain why we have bigger brains, and as a consequence are allegedly more intelligent, than other animal species?
When the explorer Erik the Red reached the southwest coast of Greenland in the 980s, he established a colony of Norwegian and Icelandic settlers that lasted for almost 500 years. A team of British and Norwegian researchers have now proved, by analysing ancient DNA, that the export of valuable ivory from walrus tusks helped the Norse settlements to survive for centuries.
It began when she found a dinosaur toy in the playground. Now Maayke Koevoets has mapped the life of plesiosaurs, ichtyosaurs that inhabited Svalbard 100 million years ago.
Researchers at the University of Oslo and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health have earlier found a link between pregnant women's long-term use of paracetamol, which is one of the world's most commonly used medications, and an increased incidence of ADHD among their children. But when pregnant women use only a little paracetamol, the incidence of ADHD among their children is reduced.
The famous cognitive psychologist and best-selling popular science author Steven Pinker has described the period after World War II as "The Long Peace". But statiticians Nils Lid Hjort and Céline Cunen at the University of Oslo crunched all the numbers about interstate wars and found that "The Long Peace" in fact started later – during the Vietnam War. When Pinker read about their research, he was impressed.
The world's smallest fish lives like a larvae throughout its whole life. It thrives in peat swamp forest waters that are as acidic as Coke, with the same colour as tea. But the really strange discovery is that the "baby carp" has a genome lacking a lot of important bits.