Science Round-Up: DNA yields new insights on early Caribbean migration

Meanwhile, other research concludes that cuckoo chicks have innate GPS and that an education in music is no longer accessible to every child in Denmark

Using old DNA samples, research involving the University of Copenhagen has found evidence of at least three waves of early migration to the Caribbean from different parts of the American mainland.

The first two waves in the western Caribbean appear to be linked to populations from North America, while the third, more recent wave came from South America.

Water no barrier
The researchers said the findings challenge the view that large bodies of water were barriers to humans and also demonstrate that the early settlers in the Caribbean were biologically and culturally diverse.

The Caribbean was one of the last regions of the Americas to be settled by humans.

Cuckoo chicks have innate GPS
Cuckoo chicks have an innate, internal GPS as they instinctively know where to fly to without having been there before. Researchers from the University of Copenhagen equipped young cuckoos with tiny transmitters and tracked their migration via satellites. The findings show that without anyone teaching it, a young cuckoo can find its way to a special wintering site in Africa even if it is moved 1,800 km away from its original route. The study lays the foundation for a broader knowledge of bird migration, which is deemed important to understanding the spread of diseases and climate change.

Some rights suspended during Coronavirus Crisis
Some constitutional rights were suspended during the Coronavirus Crisis, such as those related to property and religion, according to a law professor at the University of Southern Denmark. Frederik Waage said the restrictions that the government imposed under the epidemic law suspended liberties such as the right to attend church or a restaurateur’s right to stay open. However, he said that such infringements may be considered legal if they are carried out with an eye to balance the interests of society with individual rights. He added that the health minister, Magnus Heunicke, is officially the most powerful minister in Danish history in peacetime as he has enjoyed the authority to decide whether thousands of companies should be opened or closed.

Music education weakens in Denmark
There has been a noticeable decline in music education in Denmark, breaking the tradition that it must be accessible to everyone. A study by the Danish School of Education of Aarhus University found that there are varying levels of quality and access to music education in different places in Denmark partly because music is not a priority in many schools and municipalities. There are also not enough music teachers at the public schools, while new ones do not have the necessary skills. To address the divide in music education, researchers said political leaders must find a renewed appreciation for the subject’s importance.

Beware the rare tick virus
It is not only the coronavirus that people fond of the great outdoors should be wary of. A rare tick virus is becoming more prevalent in Denmark compared to ten years ago, according to epidemiologists at the University of Copenhagen. Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) is an illness caused by a virus spread through bites from forest ticks, usually infecting people who regularly go on nature trails. Symptoms include a flu-like illness and, in some cases, brain inflammation. It used to be seen only in Bornholm but is now also spreading in other areas. It is unclear what has caused the prevalence, but the State Serum Institute (SSI) contends it may be due to climate change. Both children and adults can be vaccinated in consultation with their doctor.

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