‘Stop Japanese militarist war flags at Olympics’


This 6 September 2019 video from South Korea says about itself:

The International Olympic Committee has said recently that it does not plan to stop Japanese fans next year at the Games in Tokyo from flying the so-called Rising Sun flag, a symbol highly offensive to people throughout Asia whose countries suffered under Japanese imperialism.

The IOC, so far, has said simply that the Olympics should be free of political statements, and that the flag itself is not inherently political.

Our Kim Bo-kyung takes a closer look at the issue.

To people in China, Korea and other countries in Asia, the Rising Sun flag was the symbol of the Japanese Empire as it took over their countries in whole or part in the early 20th century.

According to Alexis Dudden, a historian in the University of Conneticut, it is both unnecessary and unfortunate to see this flag still used by Japan’s self-defense forces, some sports fans and right-wing political groups.

She compared the use of the Rising Sun to the Confederate flag in the U.S., flown by the South in the American Civil War.

Like the Rising Sun, she said, the Confederate flag is now discredited not only because that side lost the war, but also because it causes deep pain and suffering to descendants of the victimized.

In her opinion, the IOC should reconsider allowing the Rising Sun flag next summer in Tokyo.

“It really is important IOC learns why this hurts so much. I mean, imagine this Los Angeles stadium Olympics full of American confederacy flags. That would be terrible.”

In fact, the design Japan has chosen for next year’s medals at the Paralympics feature elements that strongly resemble the Rising Sun, which Professor Dudden thinks is intentional.

“I find it deeply unfortunate that the Paralympics medals will have the Rising Sun flag on the medals that is displaying right now. I think that is a specific political act and it is up to IOC to recognize that there really is historical distinctions going on here.”

To settle the issue, she said it’s important to have an international conversation to educate people on how much suffering this flag still causes.

Along with that, she said she hopes the South Korean government can navigate the challenges Japan keeps putting in its way, and she urged the South Korean athletes who’ll be competing in Tokyo to rise above any provocations they encounter there.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

South Korea has urged the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to ban the ‘Flag of the Rising Sun’ around next year’s Games in Tokyo. The country expressed great concern about Japan’s plans to allow the flag in the stadiums.

South Korea finds the impact of the flag similar to what Nazi expressions are for Europeans, and calls it a symbol of Japanese aggression during the war in the first part of the last century.

The flag, with a sun in the middle and sixteen rays around it, has been the official war flag of the Japanese armed forces.

“The flag is a direct violation of the Olympic spirit, which promotes world peace and love for humanity,” writes the Asian peninsula country, which was occupied by Japan from 1910 to 1945.

Flag forbidden in football

The same discussion about whether or not to allow the flag took place earlier in football matches, after which FIFA decided to ban the flag in stadiums.

The IOC has only confirmed that the request from South Korea has been received in good order.

Mako shark migration, new research


This 2 August 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Joe Remeiro, Devon Massyn and Keith Poe capture amazing footage of a huge grander Mako shark, off the coast of California.

From the NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region in the USA:

Mako shark tracking off west coast reveals ‘impressive’ memory and navigation

These top predators travel far across the Pacific, returning to the same areas in the Southern California Bight each year

September 11, 2019

The largest effort ever to tag and track shortfin mako sharks off the West Coast has found that they can travel nearly 12,000 miles in a year. The sharks range far offshore, but regularly return to productive waters off Southern California, an important feeding and nursery area for the species.

The findings demonstrate “an impressive show of memory and navigation.” The sharks maneuver through thousands of miles of the Pacific but return to where they have found food in years past, said Heidi Dewar, a research fisheries biologist at NOAA Fisheries’ Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, California.

Researchers tagged 105 mako sharks over 12 years — from 2002 to 2014. The tags record the sharks’ movements, as well as the environments the sharks pass through. Researchers have long recognized that ocean waters from Santa Barbara south to San Diego, known as the Southern California Bight, are an important habitat for mako sharks. Prior to this study, however, they knew little about what the sharks do and where they went beyond those waters.

The researchers are from NOAA Fisheries, Stanford University, Tagging of Pacific Predators, and the Center for Scientific Research and Higher Education in Baja California. They reported their results in the journal Animal Biotelemetry.

“We did not know what their overall range was. Were there patterns that they followed?” asked Nicole Nasby-Lewis, a NOAA Fisheries research scientist at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center and lead author of the new research. “It turns out they have their own unique movement patterns.” Sharks tracked over multiple years returned to the same offshore neighborhoods year after year.

Long-Range Travelers

The tagging data overall revealed that the sharks travel widely along the West Coast. They venture as far north as Washington, as far south as Baja California, and westward across the Pacific as far as Hawaii. The sharks tagged off California remained on the eastern side of the Pacific east of Hawaii. This indicates that they do not mix much with mako sharks in other parts of the Pacific.

Although there are examples of mako sharks crossing the ocean, it is probably the exception rather than the rule, said Dewar, a coauthor of the new research.

The finding provides insight into population dynamics of mako sharks across the Pacific. It also allows scientists to identify which fisheries the tagged mako sharks might encounter. Muscular mako sharks are a popular sport fishing target. They are also caught in U.S. longline and drift gillnet fisheries and are common in the international trade in shark fins. Mako sharks are overfished in the Atlantic Ocean, but not in the Pacific.

The researchers used two types of tags to track the sharks. One type, called pop-up tags, collect data and eventually pop off the animal and float to the surface, where they transmit their data via satellite. The second type transmits data to satellites each time the shark surfaces, determining the animal’s location by measuring tiny shifts in the frequency of the radio transmission.

Remembering Southern California

Mako sharks are among the fastest swimmers in the ocean, hitting top speeds of more than 40 miles per hour. The larger tagged sharks traveled an average of about 20 miles a day and a maximum of about 90 miles per day. They travel long distances in part because they must swim to move water through their gills so they can breathe, Dewar said.

Large numbers of juvenile sharks caught in the Southern California Bight indicate that it is a nursery area for the species. Tagged mako sharks returned there annually, most typically in summer when the waters are most productive. The tracks of the tagged sharks may look at first like random zig-zags across the ocean, Dewar said. They actually illustrate the sharks searching for food and mates based on what they remember from previous years.

“If you have some memory of where food should be, it makes sense to go back there,” Dewar said. “The more we look at the data, the more we find that there is a pattern behind their movements.”

The tagging results also provide a wealth of data that scientists can continue to plumb for details of the sharks’ biology and behavior. About 90 percent of the time the sharks remained in the top 160 feet of ocean, for example, occasionally diving as deep as 2,300 feet. Although the sharks traveled widely, they mainly stayed in areas with sea surface temperatures between about 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

“We can continue to ask new questions of the data to understand these unique movement patterns,” Nasby-Lucas said. “There’s a lot more to learn.”

Hubble telescope’s water discovery on exoplanet


This 11 September 2019 video from NASA in the USA says about itself:

With data from the Hubble Space Telescope, water vapor has been detected in the atmosphere of an exoplanet within the habitable zone of its host star.

K2-18b, which is eight times the mass of Earth, is the only planet orbiting a star outside the solar system (or “exoplanet”) within the habitable zone.

This may be the first known exoplanet with rain and clouds of water droplets. Two teams have detected signs that K2 18b has a damp atmosphere: here.

See also here.

Researchers have described a new, lower size limit for planets to maintain surface liquid water for long periods of time, extending the so-called Habitable or ‘Goldilocks’ Zone for small, low-gravity planets. This research expands the search area for life in the universe and sheds light on the important process of atmospheric evolution on small planets: here.

Why just being in the habitable zone doesn’t make exoplanets livable. Debate over what makes a planet habitable highlights the trickiness in searching for alien life: here.

European Union accused of ‘fascist rhetoric’


This 28 September 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Right-Wing Eastern European States Honor Nazi-Collaborating Fascists as ‘Heroes’ (Pt 1/2)

Far-right governments in Eastern Europe are rehabilitating past Nazi collaborators as national heroes, rewriting the history of the Holocaust to turn the Soviet Union into the villain. Historian Dovid Katz explains to TRNN’s Ben Norton how the fascist-apologist “double genocide” myth is spreading.

This video is the sequel.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

EU accused of adopting ‘fascist rhetoric’ with new Commissioner For Protecting Our European Way of Life to oversee immigration policy

Ursula von der Leyen said new Commission, which is all-white, was ‘as diverse as Europe is’

By Jon Stone in Brussels

10 September 2019

The EU commission has been accused of adopting “grotesque” and “fascist” rhetoric after it created a new “Commissioner for Protecting our European Way of Life” role to oversee immigration policy.

Incoming president Ursula von der Leyen unveiled the new job along with the rest of her cabinet at a press conference in Brussels on Tuesday, explaining that it would cover migration issues.

But critics said the new job’s Orwellian-sounding name suggested that immigrants were a threat to the European way of life.

Ms Von der Leyen said the new Commission cabinet was “as diverse as Europe is” – though critics also pointed out that all of its members are white.

Many of the posts in Ms Von der Leyen’s new cabinet, which will serve for five years, have avoided traditional ministerial titles for more goal-orientated names like Commissioner for “A Stronger Europe in the World” and “An Economy that Works for People”.

But it is the migration commission[er]’s rebrand that has raised the most eyebrows. Labour MEP Claude Moraes said that “calling the European Commission migration portfolio ‘protecting our way of life’ is deeply insulting”, adding that the “weird and odd titles’ of the Commission would create “confusion”.

Molly Scott Cato, a British Green MEP, told The Independent: “This looks like the portfolio to fight back against the rise of the fascists, but only by adopting their divisive rhetoric around ‘strong borders’.

“What Greens value about our European way of life is our role as a beacon of compassion and diversity. We will continue our work to ensure that Europe remains a safe harbour for those fleeing persecution and to champion global human rights.”

Dutch liberal MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld told The Independent: “The very point about the European way of life, is the freedom for individuals to chose their own way of life. We do not need a Commissioner for that, thank you very much.”

“The implication that Europeans need to be protected from external cultures is grotesque and this narrative should be rejected.

“The only threat to “our way of life” is autocrats … like Orbán, [Poland‘s] Kaczinsky or Johnson trampling all over the rule of law, fundamental rights and democracy. Instead of creating fake portfolios, the Commission should show some more guts in upholding the values we have laid down in our treaties, laws and case law.”

NGOs also criticised the mode. Eve Geddie, director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office, said: “Linking migration with security, in the portfolio of the Commissioner for Protecting our European Way of Life, risks sending a worrying message.

People who have migrated have contributed to the way of life in Europe throughout its history. We trust that Commissioner-designate Margaritis Schinas will work hard for an EU in which safe and legal routes allow migrants to continue to contribute to the future of Europe.” …

The role was given to Greece’s EU commissioner, Margaritis Schinas,

Margaritis Schinas is a member of the New Democracy Party (ND). A ‘centre-right’ party which sometimes cooperated with the Greek Golden Dawn nazis when ND was in a previous Greek government. And which recently, when they returned to the Greek goverment, made anti-refugee policies even harsher.

Greece: With helicopters hovering above, hundreds of police in full riot gear raided four buildings in Athen’s Exarcheia neighborhood on August 26. After blocking all entryways, the police detained 143 migrants and refugees, 35 of whom were children and babies. Many lived in a building known as Spirou Trikoupi 17: here.

who previously served as the Commission’s chief spokesperson under Jean-Claude Juncker.

Mr Schinas said in a statement: “I am trilled to be nominated for the position of Vice-President for Protecting Our European Way of Life.

“From better protecting our citizens and borders and modernising our asylum system, to investing in Europeans’ skills and creating brighter future for our youth, I am confident that we can take great strides over the next five years to both protect and empower Europeans.”

How blue and fin whales feed, new research


This 2014 video says about itself:

Sri Lanka provides sanctuary to one of the greatest Blue Whale colonies in the world.

Blue Whales are the largest animal our planet has ever known. Their tongues alone weigh more than an elephant. Their hearts are the size of a car. Despite all that, we really know very little about the magnificent Blue Whale.

From Oregon State University in the USA:

How long does a whale feed? New data gives insight into blue and fin whale behavior

September 11, 2019

Researchers using electronic tags were able to monitor blue and fin whales off the coast of Southern California over multiple weeks, providing new insight into the feeding behaviors of the two largest whale species. The researchers also found evidence of differences in the feeding intensity and habitat use of males and females of both species.

“The information collected with these tags gives us a good description of the scale of whales’ feeding behavior over periods of hours, days and weeks, which is something we’ve not been able to do before,” said Ladd Irvine, a senior faculty research assistant in Oregon State University’s Marine Mammal Institute and the study’s lead author.

The whales fed mostly during the day, usually in short bursts lasting one to two hours, but would also feed continuously throughout the daytime, and in rare circumstances for an entire day.

“We were able to quantify feeding bouts, which are periods of uninterrupted feeding, and found that the duration of feeding bouts correlated with another measure of feeding success — the number of prey capture events, known as feeding lunges,” Irvine said. “That means the whales stayed longer in areas where they fed more. This allowed us to make inferences about the profitability of feeding patches, as whales should stay in an area and feed longer where prey is abundant and move on when prey becomes scarce.”

The findings, which were published this week in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, could have implications for managing populations of blue and fin whales, both of which are listed as endangered in the United States.

In 2014 and 2015, researchers tagged eight blue and five fin whales off the coast of Point Mugu and San Miguel Island in Southern California. Both species frequent the area, feasting on krill.

Prior whale monitoring efforts had relied solely on location tracking, which tells researchers where the whales travel, but not what happens along the way. The tags used in this study, developed at Oregon State in collaboration with Wildlife Computers Inc., included GPS for movement monitoring as well as the ability to record information about the whales’ behavior every second while they were on the move. Accelerometers and other sensors on the tags measured lunge-feeding behavior as well as frequency and depth of dives.

“The hardest thing about studying whales is that you can’t really follow them when they dive below the surface” said Irvine, who is also a doctoral student in the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences’ Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. “The data collected from these tags give us unprecedented detail about what whales are doing over a longer time period than was previously possible.”

Tags remained on the blue whales an average of 22 days and on the fin whales about 14 days. It’s unclear why the tags came off the fin whales more quickly, but it could have to do with their movement and faster speed in the water, Irvine said.

The researchers found that both species of whales had similar feeding bout characteristics. During an average feeding bout, blue whales made 24 dives over a period of about 3.3 hours, while fin whales made 19 dives over 2.7 hours. The similarities are not surprising, the researchers said, as the two species are similar in size and feed in the same way. Slight differences observed may be due to preferences in terms of patch characteristics or prey type.

“This study represents a significant leap forward in our knowledge of whale foraging ecology,” said Daniel Palacios, who holds the Endowed Faculty in Whale Habitats position at the Marine Mammal Institute and is a co-author of the paper.

“By collecting data from individual whales over multiple days and weeks, we were able to obtain large amounts of new information about how feeding intensity evolves and changes in time and space, at scales that are relevant to ecology as well as management,” he said. “We were able to answer questions like how long does a whale feed? What is the size of a feeding patch? How far does a whale need to move before it finds the next patch? Do females and males feed at the same intensity? It may seem surprising, but studying whales is enormously challenging and we lacked much of this information.”

But feeding might not be the only thing on the whales’ minds, as the researchers also found differences in movements between tagged males and females of both species.

“The males made big loops offshore of Southern California, while the females stuck closer to shore. Those routes may be related somehow to breeding behavior, and could have implications in terms of exposure to human activities if whales of one sex are more likely to be encountered in specific parts of busy Southern California waters,” Irvine said.

“While the results are exciting, our conclusions about the behaviors of whales from this initial set of data from 13 animals should be viewed as preliminary,” he said. “These data are an incredibly rich description of the tagged whales’ behavior, but they ultimately represent a relatively small number of individuals, occupying a portion of their overall range.”

Ideally, similar data would be collected again from different locations or different whales to determine if the observed feeding and other behavior patterns are representative of the broader populations, he said.

“Nevertheless, this information is a huge addition to our understanding of blue and fin whale feeding ecology,” Irvine said. “Does what we saw with these individuals hold up as we continue to study them in other places and seasons? That’s a question still to be determined. We’re still just scratching the surface of our understanding of whale behavior.”

‘Russiagate conspiracy’ campaign based on double agent?


This video says about itself:

The Secrets Of The CIA‘s Iraq Media War

Media War (2003): How the CIA rewrote their intelligence to build support for the Iraq War.

Disturbing evidence suggests the CIA fed faulty intelligence to handpicked journalists to win support for the war against Iraq.

The defection of Iraqi engineer Adnan al Haideri in 2001 was a massive coup for the White House. “He was probably the single most significant defector who came out of Iraq”, states an INC spokesman. Al Haideri claimed to have been hired by Saddam Hussein to build facilities for testing WMD. His story was widely circulated and used to justify the war. Unfortunately, it now appears that his remarkable testimony was a lie. Not one of the hundreds of bunkers detailed by him has been found. “Al Haideri’s evidence is a perfect example of the kind of garbage that was disseminated by Ahmed Chalabi,”

a CIA-Iranian double agent

states former weapons inspector Scott Ritter. New information has also emerged about the way Al Haideri’s story was leaked to the media. “They misled us”, states Ritter “Thousands of innocent Iraqis perished in a war that didn’t need to be fought.”

One of the conspiracy theories used by the United States George W Bush administration to start their war on Iraq was that Iraq supposedly had ‘weapons of mass destruction’.

Another conspiracy theory of the George W Bush administration to start their war on Iraq was supposed Iraqi involvement in the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the USA.

That lying theory was based on torture.

The Bush administration’s other conspiracy theory, on ‘Iraqi weapons of mass destruction‘, was based on a taxi driver’s gossip; and on Iranian-CIA double agent Ahmed Chalabi.

Now, more double agent news, this time about the ‘Russiagate’ conspiracy theory.

By Andre Damon in the USA:

New York Times: Main source for anti-Russia campaign may have been a “double agent”

11 September 2019

In a further exposure of the concocted claims of the New York Times and the Democrats of Russian “subversion” of the US political system, the Times acknowledged Tuesday that the key source used by the intelligence agencies to claim Vladimir Putin’s direct involvement “could be a double agent”.

On October 7, 2016, the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said they were “confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions.”

According to this narrative, amplified by the Democratic Party and the New York Times itself, Putin personally intervened to try to get Donald Trump elected by directing the Russian state to steal incriminating emails from the Clinton campaign and release them to WikiLeaks for publication.

But this sweeping conspiracy theory, alleging a plot spanning continents involving Russia, a sovereign state, the Republican presidential nominee, and WikiLeaks, the world’s most famous dissident news organization, has fallen apart.

In August, a federal court dismissed a Democratic National Committee (DNC) civil suit against Trump, the Russian government and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Now, the main editorial outlet driving the Democrats’ anti-Russia campaign has admitted that serious concerns were raised within the US intelligence establishment about the primary source behind its hyperventilating denunciations of Russian “meddling”. The Times reported that the source, later identified by the Russian press as Oleg Smolenkov, gained an “influential position that came with access to the highest level of the Kremlin.”

Smolenkov “became one of the CIA’s most important—and highly protected—assets”, according to the Times. CNN reported that he was able to photograph documents on Putin’s desk and send them to Washington.

The Times wrote: “The Moscow informant was instrumental to the CIA’s most explosive conclusion about Russia’s interference campaign: that President Vladimir V. Putin ordered and orchestrated it himself. As the American government’s best insight into the thinking of and orders from Mr. Putin, the source was also key to the CIA’s assessment that he affirmatively favored Donald J. Trump’s election and personally ordered the hacking of the Democratic National Committee.”

There was just one problem. When the United States, concerned that media reports of Russian “meddling” might compromise their asset in the Kremlin, offered to exfiltrate their spy from Russia, where he risked a life sentence or execution if caught, he at first refused, leading to the conclusion that he might be a double agent, feeding false information to the Americans on behalf of elements within the Russian state.

The Times wrote that in 2016 “the source’s rejection of the CIA’s initial offer of exfiltration prompted doubts among some counterintelligence officials. They wondered whether the informant had been turned and had become a double agent, secretly betraying his American handlers. That would almost certainly mean that some of the information the informant provided about the Russian interference campaign or Mr. Putin’s intentions would have been inaccurate.”

The Times continued, “Some operatives had other reasons to suspect the source could be a double agent, according to two former officials, but they declined to explain further.” …

In the name of combating “Russian meddling”, politicians pressured American technology firms to undertake the most onerous program of political censorship in the history of the internet in the US. Accounts with millions of followers were deleted overnight, while Google manipulated search results to bury left-wing viewpoints.

There was a massive effort to poison public opinion against Julian Assange, the courageous publisher and exposer of war crimes. He was slandered by the Democrats and the Times as a Russian agent who colluded with Trump, setting the stage for his imprisonment.

More information will no doubt emerge about the background and possible motivations of Smolenkov. But regardless, the fact that the source behind allegations the newspaper breathlessly proclaimed as fact had serious credibility problems makes clear that the Times made no serious efforts to question, much less validate, its chosen political narrative.

This newspaper functions as a clearinghouse for unquestioned, unexamined dispatches from within the American intelligence apparatus. Its role in promoting the Bush administration’s lies about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was not an aberration, but its modus operandi.

Origins of animals, plants, fungi, new research


This 18 June 2018 video says about itself:

Phylogenomic-wide studies of evolutionarily conserved structures of protein domains suggest Archaea is the first domain of life to diversify from a stem line of descent and co-evolve with ancestors of Bacteria and Eukarya. The proposed co-evolutionary scenario by J. T. Staley and G. Caetano-Anollés challenges popular cell fusion and two-domain of life scenarios derived from sequence analysis.

For more, read the full article here.

From Molecular Biology and Evolution (Oxford University Press):

Scientists identify rare evolutionary intermediates to understand the origin of eukaryotes

September 11, 2019

Summary: A new study provides a key insight into a milestone event in the early evolution of life on Earth — the origin of the cell nucleus and complex cells. Scientists peered deep inside current living cells, known as Archaea – the organisms that are believed to most closely resemble the ancient intermediates between bacteria and the more complex cells that we now know as eukaryotic cells.

A new study by Yale scientists provides a key insight into a milestone event in the early evolution of life on Earth — the origin of the cell nucleus and complex cells called eukaryotes.

While simple prokaryotic bacteria formed within the first billion years of the Earth, the origin of eurkaryotes, the first cells with nuclei, took much longer. Dating back to between 1.7 and 2.7 billion years ago, an ancient prokaryote was first transformed with a compartment, the nucleus, designed to keep their DNA material more protected from the environment (such as harmful UV damage). From this ancient event, relatively simple organisms, such as bacteria were transformed into more sophisticated ones that ultimately gave rise to all modern animals, plants and fungi.

The details of this key event have remained elusive for many years because not a single transitional fossil has been found to date.

Now, in a study led by Dr. Sergey Melnikov, from the Dieter Söll Laboratory in the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale University, has finally found these missing fossils. To do so, they relied not on unearthing clay or rocks but peering deep inside current living cells, known as Archaea — the organisms that are believed to most closely resemble the ancient intermediates between bacteria and the more complex cells that we now know as eukaryotic cells.

These transitional forms are nothing like the traditional fossils we think of, such as dinosaur bones deposited in the ground or insects trapped in amber. Known as ribosomal proteins, these particular transitional forms are about 100-million times smaller than our bodies. Melnikov and his colleagues discovered that ribosomal proteins can be used as living “molecular fossils”, whose ancient origin and structure may hold the key to understanding the origin of the cell nucleus.

“Simple lifeforms, such as bacteria, are analogous to a studio apartment: they have a single interior space which is not subdivided into separate rooms or compartments. By contrast, more complex organisms, such as fungi, animals, and plants, are made up of cells that are separated into multiple compartments,” explained Melnikov. “These microscopic compartments are connected to one another via ‘doors’ and ‘gates’. To pass through these doors and gates, the molecules that inhabit living cells must carry special ID badges, some of which are called nuclear localization signals, or NLSs.”

Seeking to better understand when NLS-motifs might have emerged in ribosomal proteins, the Yale team assessed their conservation among ribosomal proteins from the three domains of life.

To date, NLS-motifs have been characterized in ten ribosomal proteins from several eukaryotic species. They compared all of the NLS-motifs found in eukaryotic ribosomal proteins (from 482 species) and tried to find a match in bacteria (2,951 species) and Archaea (402 species).

Suprisingly, they found four proteins — uL3, uL15, uL18, and uS12 — to have NLS-type motifs not only in the Eukarya but also in the Archaea. “Contrary to our expectations, we found that NLS-type motifs are conserved across all the archaeal branches, including the most ancient superphylum, called DPANN,” said Melnikov.

But since Archaea don’t have nuclei, the logical question which then arose was, why do they have these IDs? And what was the original biological function of these IDs in non-compartmentalized cells?”

“If you think about an equivalent to our discovery in the macroscopic world, it is similar to discoveries made during the last century of bird-like dinosaurs such as Caudipteryx zoui,” said Melnikov. “These ancient flightless birds have illustrated that it took multiple millions of years for dinosaurs to develop wings. Yet, strikingly, for the first few million years their wings were not good enough to support flight.”

Similarly, the study by Melnikov and colleagues suggests that, even though NLSs may not initially have emerged to allow cellular molecules to pass through microscopic doors and gates between cellular compartments, they could have emerged to fulfill a similar biological function — to help molecules get to their proper biological partners.

As Melnikov explains: “Our analysis shows that in complex cells the very same IDs that allow proteins to pass through the microscopic gates are also used to recognize biological partners of these proteins. In other words, in complex cells, the IDs fulfill two conceptually similar biological functions. In the Archaea, however, these IDs play just one of these functions — these IDs, or NLSs, help proteins to recognize their biological partners and distinguish them from the thousands of other molecules that float in a cell.”

But what led to the evolution of these IDs among cellular proteins in the first place?

As Melnikov explains, “When life first emerged on the face of our planet, the earliest life forms were likely made of a very limited number of molecules. Therefore, it was relatively easy for these molecules to find one specific partner among all the other molecules in a living cell. However, as cells grew in size and complexity, it is possible, even probable, that the old rules of specific interactions between cellular molecules had to be redefined, and this is how the IDs were introduced into the structure of cellular proteins — to help these proteins identify their molecular partners more easily in the complex environment of a complex cell. Coming back to the analogy with bird-like dinosaurs, our study illustrates the remarkable similarity between how evolution happens in the macroscopic world and how evolution happens in the world that Darwin never saw — the microscopic world of invisible molecules that inhabit living cells.”

There are over 500,000 plant species in the world today. They all evolved from a common ancestor. How this leap in biodiversity happened is still unclear. In the upcoming issue of Nature, an international team of researchers, including scientists from Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, presents the results of a unique project on the evolution of plants. Using genetic data from 1,147 species the team created the most comprehensive evolutionary tree for green plants to date: here.