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Category: Biology

Columns of workers penetrate the forest, furiously gathering as much food and supplies as they can. They are a massive army that living things know to avoid, and that few natural obstacles can waylay. So determined are these legions that should a chasm or gap disrupt the most direct path to their spoils they simply build a new path -- out of themselves.

This image shows the nervous system of about 1 cm-long Hydra revealed here with a fluorescent green marker.
Champion of regeneration, the freshwater polyp Hydra is capable of reforming a complete individual from any fragment of its body. It is even able to remain alive when all its neurons have disappeared. Researcher the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, have discovered how: cells of the epithelial type modify their genetic program by overexpressing a series of genes, among which some are involved in diverse nervous functions. Studying Hydra cellular plasticity may thus influence research in the context of neurodegenerative diseases. The results are published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.

This image shows a mantis shrimp in a defensive position, on its back with its legs, head and heavily armored tail closed over.
Researchers from the Queensland Brain Institute at The University of Queensland have uncovered a new form of secret light communication used by marine animals.

Scientists have solved a longstanding mystery about how some fish seem to disappear from predators in the open waters of the ocean, a discovery that could help materials scientists and military technologists create more effective methods of ocean camouflage.

In the animal world, if several males mate with the same female, their sperm compete to fertilize her limited supply of eggs. Longer sperm often seem to have a competitive advantage. However, a study conducted by researchers from the Universities of Zurich and Stockholm now reveals that the size of the animals also matters. The larger the animal, the more im-portant the number of sperm is relative to sperm length. That's why elephants have smaller sperm than mice.

New research reveals that two different evolutionary shifts toward camouflage investment occurred in the the charismatic horned praying mantises. The most recent shift in increased accumulation of numerous cryptic features occurred only after the re-evolution of important leg lobes that help disguise the appearance of the mantis from predators.

Independent male ruff at lek with colourful ruff and head tuft.
The ruff is a Eurasian shorebird that has a spectacular lekking behaviour where highly ornamented males compete for females. Now two groups report that males with alternative reproductive strategies carry a chromosomal rearrangement that has been maintained as a balanced genetic polymorphism for about 4 million years.

DNA was extracted from the molar teeth of this skeleton, dating from almost 10,000 years ago and found in the Kotias Klde rockshelter in Western Georgia.
The first sequencing of ancient genomes extracted from human remains that date back to the Late Upper Palaeolithic period over 13,000 years ago has revealed a previously unknown "fourth strand" of ancient European ancestry.

Wing color patterns of butterflies must perform different signalling functions to avoid predators and attract potential mates.
In the natural world, mimicry isn't entertainment; it's a deadly serious game spanning a range of senses - sight, smell and hearing. Some of the most striking visual mimics are butterflies. Many butterflies become noxious and unpalatable to predators by acquiring chemical defences from plants they ingest as caterpillars. Other butterflies mimic the 'aposematic' or warning colouration and conspicuous wing patterns of these toxic or just plain foul-tasting butterflies.

Two captive elephants blast air through their trunks to grasp hard-to-reach food, suggests an initial study published today in Springer's journal Animal Cognition. This behaviour, studied in a zoo population of Asian elephants (Elephas maximus), is altered according to the distance to the food, which may indicate advanced mental ability and awareness of their physical environment.

Eotiaris guadalupensis fossil was discovered by USC's Jeffrey Thompson in the Smithsonian collections.
Researchers have uncovered a fossil sea urchin that pushes back a fork in its family tree by 10 million years, according to a new study.

Millions of years ago, even before the continents had settled into place, jellyfish were already swimming the oceans with the same pulsing motions we observe today.

Alligators and the Everglades go hand-in-hand, and as water conditions change in the greater Everglades ecosystem, gators are one of the key species that could be affected.

Previously, giant sharks had only been recovered from rock dating back 130 million years, during the age of the dinosaurs. The largest shark that ever lived, commonly called "Megalodon", is much younger, with an oldest occurrence at about 15 million years ago. This means the new fossils from Texas indicate giant sharks go much further back into the fossil record.

Electric eels temporarily paralyze their prey by shocking them with electricity using a series of brief, high-voltage pulses, much as a Taser would do. Now, a researcher reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on October 28 has discovered that the eels can at least double the power of their electrical discharge by curling up their bodies. In bringing their tail up and around, the eels sandwich prey between the two poles of their electric organ, which runs most of the length of their long, flexible bodies.

While the anthropogenic impact on global species diversity is clear, the role of ancient human populations in causing extinctions is more controversial. New data presented at the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology meetings in Dallas, Texas, implicates early humans in the extinction of large mammals, birds and lizards in Australia. More precise dating of these extinction events places them 10 thousand years after the first arrival of humans in Australia, suggesting human predation was the most likely cause.

In 2001, a paleontology field crew from Burpee Museum of Natural History (Rockford, IL) were prospecting for dinosaur fossils near Ekalaka, Montana, when they discovered bones of a half-grown T. rex weathering out from exposures of the Hell Creek Formation. "Jane", as she was later named, turned out to be the most complete adolescent T. rex ever discovered, filling a critical gap between juvenile and adult that had caused decades of scientific debate.

BiologyOctober 27, 2015 06:05 PM

This is Dr. Rowe with a large cod to be tagged and released in Bonavista Corridor.
Once an icon of overfishing, mismanagement, and stock decline, the northern Atlantic cod is showing signs of recovery according to new research published today in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences.

The researchers demonstrated that social insects, including bees, ants and wasps, are more complex than previously was thought.
Chemical signaling among social insects, such as bees, ants and wasps, is more complex than previously thought, according to researchers at Penn State and Tel Aviv University, whose results refute the idea that a single group of chemicals controls reproduction across numerous species.

Fish are far more effective at delivering oxygen throughout their body than almost any other animal.
When you think of the world's greatest athletes, names like Usain Bolt generally spring to mind, but scientists have discovered the best athletes could well be found in the water, covered in scales.

An endangered monkey species in Tanzania is living in geographical pockets that are becoming isolated from one another. The situation, researchers say, is mostly driven by the monkeys' proximity to villages and the deliberate burning of forests to make way for crops and pastures.

The color of dinosaurs is a fascinating topic, and in recent years the discovery of melanosomes - small, pigment-filled sacs - associated with fossilized dinosaur feathers has given rise to all sorts of speculation about our prehistoric pals, from the hue of their plumage to color's impact on behavior.

This circular family tree of Earth's lifeforms is considered a first draft of the 3.5-billion-year history of how life evolved and diverged.
A first draft of the "tree of life" for the roughly 2.3 million named species of animals, plants, fungi and microbes -- from platypuses to puffballs -- has been released.

This is a vaquita photo taken from the Secretaria de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (SEMARNAT), within a natural protected area subject to special management.
A new method of teasing information from scarce and highly degraded genetic samples is helping NOAA Fisheries and Mexican scientists unravel the genetic heritage of the enigmatic vaquita, the most endangered marine mammal on Earth.

A new study from researchers at Uppsala University shows that variation in genome size may be much more important than previously believed. It is clear that, at least sometimes, a large genome is a good genome.

The discovery of a new species of human relative was announced today, 10 September 2015, by the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits University), the National Geographic Society and the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the National Research Foundation of South Africa (NRF).

The ants become aggressive in response to the elongated projections (spotted patterns) of the larvae.
Project Assistant Professor HOJO Masaru of Kobe University, Graduate School of Science, and joint research groups at the University of the Ryukyus and Harvard University have discovered that lycaenid butterfly larvae, which are in a symbiotic relationship with ants, can control the effect of dopamine by supplying the ants with nectar. The results of this study provide novel insight into the phenomenon of symbiosis and give clues about the physiological functions of dopamine. The study was published in Current Biology on July 31.

This is a funnel-web spider.
Scientists studying funnel-web spiders at Booderee National Park near Jervis Bay on the New South Wales south coast have found a large example of an unexpected funnel-web species.

BiologySeptember 3, 2015 04:44 PM

A sophisticated imaging technique has allowed scientists to virtually peer inside a 10-million-year-old sea urchin, uncovering a treasure trove of hidden fossils.

Tiny sea sapphires' iridescence, created by a regular array of thin transparent crystal plates, is also the secret of their "disappearance. "
Tiny ocean creatures known as sea sapphires perform a sort of magic trick as they swim: One second they appear in splendid iridescent shades of blue, purple or green, and the next they may turn invisible (at least the blue ones turn completely transparent). How do they get their bright colors and what enables them to "disappear?" New research at the Weizmann Institute has solved the mystery of these colorful, vanishing creatures, which are known scientifically as Sapphirinidae. The findings, which recently appeared in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, could inspire the development of new optical technologies.

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