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Special Topics : Evolution
  Last Updated: May 24, 2011 - 5:34:14 PM

Special Topics : Evolution
Improved Sense of Smell Produced Smarter Mammals
An improved sense of smell jump-started brain evolution in the ancestral cousins of present-day mammals, according to paleontologists.
May 22, 2011 - 1:28:18 PM

Special Topics : Evolution
'Primodial Soup' theory for origin of life rejected in paper
For 80 years it has been accepted that early life began in a 'primordial soup' of organic molecules before evolving out of the oceans millions of years later. Today the 'soup' theory has been over turned in a pioneering paper in BioEssays which claims it was the Earth's chemical energy, from hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor, which kick-started early life.
Feb 2, 2010 - 2:04:25 PM

Special Topics : Evolution
Human species could have killed Neanderthal man
The wound that killed a Neanderthal man between 50,000 and 75,000 years was most likely caused by a thrown spear, the kind modern humans used but Neanderthals did not, according to the latest research.
Jul 22, 2009 - 3:04:57 PM

Latest Research : Genetics
History, geography also seem to shape our genome
History and geography shape our genome, according to a new study.

Jun 18, 2009 - 6:00:21 PM

Special Topics : Evolution : Reproduction
Artificial human sperm could make men redundant: experts
Hamburg -, April 7 - Artificial human sperm could come to the aid of infertile men, according to a team of German scientists who have used lab-grown sperm to inseminate female mice.

Apr 7, 2008 - 11:35:21 AM

Latest Research : Psychiatry : Psychology : Behavioral Science
New Insights Into the Nature of Pride as a Social Function
Pride has perplexed philosophers and theologians for centuries, and it is an especially paradoxical emotion in American culture. We applaud rugged individualism, self-reliance and personal excellence, but too much pride can easily tip the balance toward vanity, haughtiness and self-love. Scientists have also been perplexed by this complex emotion, because it is so unlike primary emotions like fear and disgust.
Jun 18, 2007 - 4:00:00 PM

Latest Research : Psychiatry : Psychology : Behavioral Science
Girls Select Partners Who Resemble Their Dads - Research
Women who enjoy good childhood relationships with their fathers are more likely to select partners who resemble their dads research suggests. In contrast, the team of psychologists from Durham University and two Polish institutions revealed that women who have negative or less positive relationships were not attracted to men who looked like their male parents.
Jun 14, 2007 - 5:00:00 PM

Latest Research : Metabolism
Study of protein folds offers insight into metabolic evolution
Researchers at the University of Illinois have constructed the first global family tree of metabolic protein architecture. Their approach offers a new window on the evolutionary history of metabolism.
May 20, 2007 - 4:00:00 AM

Special Topics : Evolution : Reproduction
Is Sex Necessary for Evolution?
If you own a birdbath, chances are you are hosting one of evolutionary biology's most puzzling enigmas: bdelloid rotifers. These microscopic invertebrates - widely distributed in mosses, creeks, ponds, and other freshwater repositories -abandoned sex perhaps 100 million years ago, yet have apparently diverged into nearly 400 species. Bdelloids (the "b" is silent) reproduce through parthenogenesis, which generates offspring with essentially the same genome as their mother from unfertilized eggs. Biologists have yet to find males, hermaphrodites, or any trace of meiosis- the process that creates sex cells - challenging the long-held assumption that evolutionary success requires genetic exchange.
Mar 26, 2007 - 7:59:12 AM

Special Topics : Evolution
Indians make one major human race: US study
Washington, Dec 27 - Indians make up one of the major human ancestry groups, with relatively little genetic differentiation among the people from different parts of the country, according to a new US study.
Dec 27, 2006 - 5:01:32 PM

Special Topics : Evolution
Gendered division of labor gave modern humans advantage over Neanderthals
Diversified social roles for men, women, and children may have given Homo sapiens an advantage over Neanderthals, says a new study in the December 2006 issue of Current Anthropology. The study argues that division of economic labor by sex and age emerged relatively recently in human evolutionary history and facilitated the spread of modern humans throughout Eurasia.
Dec 4, 2006 - 11:38:29 AM

Special Topics : Evolution
Genetic variation: We're more different than we thought
New research shows that at least 10 percent of genes in the human population can vary in the number of copies of DNA sequences they contain--a finding that alters current thinking that the DNA of any two humans is 99.9 percent similar in content and identity.
Nov 28, 2006 - 10:40:37 PM

Special Topics : Evolution
New approach will pinpoint genes linked to evolution of human brain
Six million years ago, chimpanzees and humans diverged from a common ancestor and evolved into unique species. Now UCLA scientists have identified a new way to pinpoint the genes that separate us from our closest living relative – and make us uniquely human.
Nov 14, 2006 - 5:46:00 PM

Special Topics : Evolution
New genetic analysis forces re-draw of insect family tree
The family tree covering almost half the animal species on the planet has been re-drawn following a genetic analysis which has revealed new relationships between four major groups of insects. Scientists have found that flies and moths are most closely related to beetles and more distantly related to bees and wasps, contrary to previous theory.
Oct 29, 2006 - 10:26:00 PM

Special Topics : Evolution
Giant insects might reign if only there was more oxygen in the air
The delicate lady bug in your garden could be frighteningly large if only there was a greater concentration of oxygen in the air, a new study concludes. The study adds support to the theory that some insects were much larger during the late Paleozoic period because they had a much richer oxygen supply, said the study's lead author Alexander Kaiser.
Oct 12, 2006 - 4:52:00 AM

Special Topics : Evolution : Reproduction
Infection Status Drives Interspecies Mating Choices in Fruit Fly Females
Hybridization is a constant possibility for two closely related species. Geographic isolation prevents interbreeding in some cases, but when the range of the two overlap, other mechanisms must come into play if they are to remain genetically distinct. Behavioral isolation is one such mechanism. If members of each group preferentially mate with their own kind, the two species can remain distinct even while residing together. Over time, such isolating behaviors may become more pronounced, and the genes governing them more widespread, a phenomenon termed “reinforcement.”
Oct 11, 2006 - 5:25:00 AM

Special Topics : Evolution
Mother birds give a nutritional leg up to chicks with unattractive fathers
Mother birds deposit variable amounts of antioxidants into egg yolks, and it has long been theorized that females invest more in offspring sired by better quality males. However, a study from the November/December 2006 issue of Physiological and Biochemical Zoology shows that even ugly birds get their day. Providing new insight into the strategic basis behind resource allocation in eggs, the researchers found that female house finches deposit significantly more antioxidants, which protect the embryo during the developmental process, into eggs sired by less attractive fathers.
Sep 26, 2006 - 10:38:00 PM

Special Topics : Evolution
Mammals Evolve Faster on Islands!
The notion of islands as natural testbeds for evolutionary study is nearly as old as the theory of evolution itself. The restricted scale, isolation, and sharp boundaries of islands create unique selective pressures, often to dramatic effect. Following what’s known as the “island rule,” small animals evolve into outsize versions of their continental counterparts while large animals shrink. Once restricted to islands, small animals often lacked predators and the competition between species that constrained the growth of their relatives on the mainland. Large mammals, on the other hand, no longer had access to vast grasslands and other abundant food sources and grew smaller to survive. Giant tortoises and iguanas still inhabit the Galápagos and a few other remote islands today, but only fossils remain of the dwarf hippopotami, elephants, and deer that once lived on islands in Indonesia, the Mediterranean, and the Pacific Ocean.
Sep 13, 2006 - 3:48:00 AM

Special Topics : Evolution
A Bacterial Protein Puts a New Twist on DNA Transcription
For organisms to adapt, develop, and simply live, they must regulate hundreds to thousands of genes, making fine-tuned, precisely timed adjustments to produce the specific complement of proteins required for the occasion. For bacteria, this task falls largely to proteins called sigma factors. These small proteins associate with RNA polymerase, the enzyme that mediates gene transcription, to form a complex called the holoenzyme. The holoenzyme, guided by the sigma factor, recognizes promoter regions, which are specific DNA sequences that precede protein-coding sequences and mark the transcription start site. Sigma factors also contribute to transcription by facilitating DNA strand separation, which must occur before RNA polymerase can begin copying the DNA code. Once transcription begins, the sigma factor disengages from the RNA polymerase, becoming available for new joint ventures with different RNA polymerases.
Aug 16, 2006 - 9:16:00 AM

Special Topics : Evolution : Reproduction
Why Does Sex Exist?
Why does sex exist? A long-popular view holds that sexual reproduction creates new gene combinations that help the next generation resist rapidly co-evolving parasites. Each species constantly changes to achieve the same result—evolutionary advantage—prompting evolutionary biologists to dub this hypothesis the Red Queen (who tells Alice in Through the Looking Glass “it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place”).
Aug 7, 2006 - 1:51:00 PM

Special Topics : Evolution
Pseudogenes Research Reinforces Theory of Evolution
Scientists led by a Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh geneticist have found new evidence that a category of genes known as pseudogenes serve no function, an important finding that bolsters the theory of evolution.
Aug 2, 2006 - 11:54:00 AM

Special Topics : Evolution
Non-human primates may be linchpin in evolution of language
When contemplating the coos and screams of a fellow member of its species, the rhesus monkey, or macaque, makes use of brain regions that correspond to the two principal language centers in the human brain, according to research conducted by scientists at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), two of the National Institutes of Health. The finding, published July 23 in the advance online issue of Nature Neuroscience, bolsters the hypothesis that a shared ancestor to humans and present-day non-human primates may have possessed the key neural mechanisms upon which language was built.
Jul 24, 2006 - 7:33:00 PM

Special Topics : Evolution
Primates developed close-up eyesight to avoid a dangerous predator
The ability to spot venomous snakes may have played a major role in the evolution of monkeys, apes and humans, according to a new hypothesis by Lynne Isbell, professor of anthropology at UC Davis. Primates have good vision, enlarged brains, and grasping hands and feet, and use their vision to guide reaching and grasping. Scientists have thought that these characteristics evolved together as early primates used their hands and eyes to grab insects and other small prey, or to handle and examine fruit and other foods.
Jul 22, 2006 - 7:15:00 PM

Special Topics : Evolution
Parsing the Functional Fields of the Auditory Cortex
No self-respecting concertgoer of a certain era would consider wearing earplugs at a show, but that was long before Pete Townsend and other rock icons spoke out about the risk of deafness. Today, most people recognize that high-intensity noise causes hearing loss—except maybe for those iPod users who routinely blast earsplitting music straight into their brains.
Jun 23, 2006 - 12:43:00 AM

Special Topics : Evolution : Reproduction
Declining Human Fertility is Evolutionary Adaptation
Before society criticises teenage girls for having sex behind the bike sheds and becoming pregnant, or women in their 60s for seeking IVF treatment, it is important to consider fertility not just in terms of the 21st century but in the context of the past 150,000 years.
Jun 21, 2006 - 2:52:00 PM

Special Topics : Evolution
Study shows that threat displays may prevent serious physical harm
In a paper from the July issue of The American Naturalist, Kristopher Lappin (Northern Arizona University), Yoni Brandt (University of Toronto), Jerry Husak (Oklahoma State University), Joe Macedonia (Arizona State University), and Darrell Kemp (James Cook University), demonstrate that a threat display can provide accurate information about the performance of a weapon.
Jun 20, 2006 - 11:17:00 PM

Special Topics : Evolution
How animals learn from each other
In an exciting study that provides new understanding of how animals learn--and learn from each other--researchers have demonstrated that bats that use frog acoustic cues to find quality prey can rapidly learn these cues by observing other bats. While numerous examples are known of instances where predators can use so-called "social learning" to learn new visual and olfactory cues associated with prey, this kind of learning of an acoustic cue had not been previously described.
Jun 20, 2006 - 12:33:00 AM

Special Topics : Evolution
Thermal Adaptation in Bacterial Viruses
Assuming the absence of a massive asteroid strike, gamma ray burst, or other globally devastating event, the survival of a species depends on its ability to adapt to environmental changes. To understand how such adaptations occur in nature, scientists study much simpler systems in the lab. A classic lab evolution experiment uses evolutionary responses to temperature as a model for studying how an environmental variable affects the physical expression (phenotype) of an organism's genes. Biologists have typically focused either on the range of physiological responses to temperature or on the genetic changes underlying variations in temperature.
Jun 10, 2006 - 1:16:00 PM

Special Topics : Evolution : Reproduction
Genetic quality of sperm worsens as men get older
New research indicates that the genetic quality of sperm worsens as men get older, increasing a man's risk of being infertile, fathering unsuccessful pregnancies and passing along dwarfism and possibly other genetic diseases to his children. A study led by scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and the University of California, Berkeley, found a steady increase in sperm DNA fragmentation with increasing age of the study participants, along with increases in a gene mutation that causes achondroplasia, or dwarfism. The first changes were observed in men in their early reproductive years. Earlier research by the same team indicated that male reproductive ability gradually worsens with age, as sperm counts decline and the sperm lose motility and their ability to swim in a straight line. In the current study, the researchers analyzed DNA damage, chromosomal abnormalities and gene mutations in semen samples from the same subjects – 97 healthy, non-smoking LLNL employees and retirees between 22 and 80 years old – and found that sperm motility showed a high correlation with DNA fragmentation, which is associated with increased risk of infertility and a reduced probability of fathering a successful pregnancy.
Jun 8, 2006 - 4:46:00 PM

Special Topics : Evolution : Reproduction
Songbirds boost size of eggs when hearing sexy song
When the females started egg-laying they varied the size of their eggs in the nest according to the attractiveness of the male's song. That is, the more attractive the song, the larger the eggs.
Jun 8, 2006 - 6:04:00 AM

Special Topics : Evolution
Why women live longer than men
Despite research efforts to find modern factors that would explain the different life expectancies of men and women, the gap is actually ancient and universal, according to University of Michigan researchers. This skewed mortality isn't even unique to our species; the men come up short in common chimps and many other species, Kruger added. Kruger and co-author Randolph Nesse, a professor of psychology and psychiatry and director of the Evolution and Human Adaptation Program, argue that the difference in life expectancy stems from the biological imperative of attracting mates.
May 10, 2006 - 12:49:00 PM

Special Topics : Evolution
Fruitfly study shows how evolution wings it
In the frantic world of fruitfly courtship, the difference between attracting a mate and going home alone may depend on having the right wing spots. Now, Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers have learned which elements of fly DNA make these spots come and go in different species. Their studies have also uncovered surprising new evidence supporting the idea that evolution is an incessant tinkerer when it comes to complex traits.
Apr 20, 2006 - 3:56:00 PM

Special Topics : Evolution
Tantalizing clue to the evolutionary origins of light-sensing cells
Lizards have given Johns Hopkins researchers a tantalizing clue to the evolutionary origins of light-sensing cells in people and other species. Published in the March 17 issue of Science, their lizard study describes how the “side-blotched” lizard’s so-called third, or parietal, eye, distinguishes two different colors, blue and green, possibly to tell the time of day. Specialized nerve cells in that eye, which looks more like a spot on the lizard’s forehead, use two types of molecular signals to sense light: those found only in simpler animals, like scallops, and those found only in more complex animals like humans.
Apr 15, 2006 - 6:04:00 PM

Special Topics : Evolution
Relationship of brain and skull more than just packaging
People usually think of the skull as packaging for the brain and researchers usually investigate them separately, but a team of researchers now thinks that developmentally and evolutionarily that the two are incontrovertibly linked. The researchers, including biological anthropologists, physicians and a computer scientist, looked at the CT scans and MRIs of infants with particular types of craniosynostosis – a condition where one or more of the sutures -- fibrous bands that connect the bones -- of the baby's skull close too early and deform the skull and brain.
Apr 14, 2006 - 11:17:00 PM

Special Topics : Evolution
What Does Evolution Do with a Spare Set of Genes?
A hundred million years ago, a molecular twist of fate endowed an ancestor of today's baker's yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) with an extra copy of every gene it owned—the equivalent of a factory one day finding double the number of workers reporting for duty. What did the yeast and the forces of evolution do with this treasure trove of potential? Did the extra gene-workers simply double the output? Did the original crew and the duplicates divvy up the ancestral functions? Or did they take on new tasks? That's what Gavin Conant and Kenneth Wolfe sought to find out in their study of the networks of interactions among genes and other cellular components that emerged in the wake of that landmark event.
Apr 5, 2006 - 6:44:00 PM

Special Topics : Evolution
Evolutionary biology research techniques predict cancer
In diverse ecosystems, packed with wildly different species, evolution whizzes along. As different species accumulate mutations, some adapt particularly well to their environment and prosper. It happens in marine sediments, mountain forests – and, as a new study illustrates, in precancerous tumors, too.
Mar 27, 2006 - 1:26:00 AM

Special Topics : Evolution
Something fishy about human brain evolution?
Forget the textbook story about tool use and language sparking the dramatic evolutionary growth of the human brain. Instead, imagine ancient hominid children chasing frogs. Not for fun, but for food. According to Dr. Stephen Cunnane it was a rich and secure shore-based diet that fuelled and provided the essential nutrients to make our brains what they are today. Controversially, according to Dr. Cunnane our initial brain boost didn't happen by adaptation, but by exaptation, or chance.
Feb 19, 2006 - 5:17:00 PM

Special Topics : Evolution : Reproduction
Fish have menopause, study determines
A UC Riverside-led research team has found that as some populations of an organism evolve a longer lifespan, they do so by increasing only that segment of the lifespan that contributes to "fitness" – the relative ability of an individual to contribute offspring to the next generation. Focusing on guppies, small fresh-water fish biologists have studied for long, the researchers found that guppies living in environments with a large number of predators have adapted to reproduce earlier in life than guppies from low-predation localities. Moreover, when reproduction ceases, guppies from high-predation localities are far older, on average, than guppies from low-predation localities, indicating that high-predation guppies enjoy a long "reproductive period" – the time between first and last reproduction.
Dec 29, 2005 - 4:19:00 PM

Special Topics : Evolution
Modeling the Origin and Spread of Early Agriculture
After the last major ice age some 10,000 years ago, things began to look up for early humans. Forbidding climes yielded to more hospitable weather patterns, and people began to settle down and domesticate plants and animals. Archeologist Gordon Childe, who in 1942 called the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture the Neolithic Revolution, proposed that unchecked population growth triggered economic and social problems among Near Eastern populations and forced farmers and shepherds to search for new lands. In this demic diffusion model, dispersing populations introduced Europeans to the Neolithic lifestyle. Alternately, Europeans may have learned to farm by imitating Neolithic practitioners they encountered through trade or other interactions (the cultural diffusion model).
Dec 29, 2005 - 4:02:00 PM

Special Topics : Evolution : Reproduction
Dancing ability determines mate quality
Dance has long been recognized as a signal of courtship in many animal species, including humans. Better dancers presumably attract more mates, or a more desirable mate. What's seemingly obvious in everyday life, however, has not always been rigorously verified by science. Now, a study by scientists at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, for the first time links dancing ability to established measures of mate quality in humans. Reporting in Thursday's edition of the British science journal Nature, Rutgers anthropologists collaborating with University of Washington computer scientists describe how they created computer-animated figures that duplicated the movements of 183 Jamaican teenagers dancing to popular music. The researchers then asked peers of the dancers to evaluate the dancing ability of these animated figures. The figures were gender-neutral, faceless and the same size – all to keep evaluators from boosting or dropping dancers' scores based on considerations other than dance moves.
Dec 22, 2005 - 5:11:00 AM

Special Topics : Evolution : Reproduction
How sense of smell affects mating and aggression
New research by scientists at UCSF sheds light on how the odor detecting system in mice sends signals that affect their social behavior.
Dec 22, 2005 - 3:42:00 AM

Special Topics : Evolution
Dog Genome Sheds Light on Human Evolution
An international research team led by scientists at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard announced today the completion of a high-quality genome sequence of the domestic dog, together with a catalogue of 2.5 million specific genetic differences across several dog breeds. Published in the December 8 issue of Nature, the dog research sheds light on both the genetic similarities between dogs and humans and the genetic differences between dog breeds. Comparison of the dog and human DNA reveals key secrets about the regulation of the master genes that control embryonic development. Comparison among dogs also reveals the structure of genetic variation among breeds, which can now be used to unlock the basis of physical and behavioural differences, as well the genetic underpinnings of diseases common to domestic dogs and their human companions.
Dec 8, 2005 - 6:38:00 PM

Special Topics : Evolution
Gene regulation changes had major impacts on human evolution
With humans and chimpanzees differing by just 1.2% at the DNA level, it's clear that our differences do not arise from gene variation alone. Thirty years ago, Mary-Claire King and Alan Wilson pointed to our extensive protein similarities as evidence that those investigating the genetic basis of human origins should focus on the regulators of gene expression rather than on the genes themselves.
Nov 15, 2005 - 7:50:00 PM

Special Topics : Evolution
Brain is broadly wired for reproduction
Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers have discovered a vast network of neurons in the brain of mice that governs reproduction and controls the effects of reproductive status on other brain functions. In their studies, the researchers found neural circuits that coordinate a complex interplay between neurons that control reproduction and brain areas that carry the neural signals triggered by odorant molecules and those triggered by pheromones, chemical signals produced by animals. The researchers characterize their findings as an initial step in understanding the far-reaching influence that odors and pheromones may have on reproduction and other behaviors.
Nov 12, 2005 - 8:49:00 PM

Special Topics : Evolution
Oestrogen Levels Translate Into Facial Attractiveness
Scientists have found that a woman’s hormones relate to how attractive she is. The researchers at the University of St Andrews, found that women with higher levels of the female sex hormone, oestrogen, have more attractive looking faces.
Nov 2, 2005 - 10:22:00 PM

Special Topics : Evolution
Lightning-fast Evolution Driven By Picky Female Frogs
Picky female frogs in a tiny rainforest outpost of Australia have driven the evolution of a new species in 8,000 years or less, according to scientists from the University of Queensland, the University of California, Berkeley, and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.
Oct 30, 2005 - 2:22:00 PM

Special Topics : Evolution
Flipped Genes Illuminate Human Evolution
By comparing the human genome with that of the chimpanzee, man's closest living relative, researchers have discovered that chunks of similar DNA that have been flipped in orientation and reinserted into chromosomes are hundreds of times more common in primates than previously thought. These large structural changes in the genome, called inversions, may account for much of the evolutionary difference between the two species. They may also shed light on genetic changes that lead to human diseases. Although humans and chimpanzees diverged from one another genetically about six million years ago, the DNA sequences of the two species are approximately 98 percent identical. Given the 2005 publication of the draft chimpanzee genome sequence, researchers can now readily identify the differences between the human and chimp genomes. These differences lend insight into how primates evolved, including traits specific to humans.
Oct 27, 2005 - 12:28:00 AM

Special Topics : Evolution
Role of divergent selection in evolution of female mating preferences
In the evolutionary war of the sexes, females choose their mates while males fight for the right to inseminate. Darwin explained this widely observed phenomenon in terms of energy expenditure: whichever sex invests more to produce and rear offspring gets to choose. That lot typically falls to females, whose mating preferences have driven the evolution of secondary sex characteristics as diverse as the peacock's extravagant tail and the fiddler crab's outsized claw. Such preferences may also influence speciation by causing reproductive isolation, acting as a behavioral barrier to gene flow between populations in much the same way mountain ranges act as physical barriers. In both cases, isolated populations that once interbred can diverge into separate species.
Oct 26, 2005 - 3:45:00 PM

Special Topics : Evolution
Human Brain Is Still Evolving
Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers who have analyzed sequence variations in two genes that regulate brain size in human populations have found evidence that the human brain is still evolving. They speculate that if the human species continues to survive, the human brain may continue to evolve, driven by the pressures of natural selection. Their data suggest that major variants in these genes arose at roughly the same times as the origin of culture in human populations as well as the advent of agriculture and written language. The research team, which was led by Bruce T. Lahn, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at the University of Chicago, published its findings in two articles in the September 9, 2005, issue of the journal Science.
Sep 9, 2005 - 6:08:00 PM

Special Topics : Evolution
Multi-species genome comparison sheds new light on evolution
An international team that includes researchers from the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has discovered that mammalian chromosomes have evolved by breaking at specific sites rather than randomly as long thought – and that many of the breakage hotspots are also involved in human cancer.
Jul 23, 2005 - 1:46:00 AM

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