Biology

Category: Biology


Shown here is a panther chameleon.
Madagascar is home to extraordinary biodiversity, but in the past few decades, the island's forests and associated biodiversity have been under greater attack than ever. Rapid deforestation is affecting the biotopes of hundreds of species, including the panther chameleon, a species with spectacular intra-specific colour variation. A new study by Michel Milinkovitch, professor of genetics, evolution, and biophysics at the University of Geneva (UNIGE), led in close collaboration with colleagues in Madagascar, reveals that this charismatic reptilian species, which is only found in Madagascar, is actually composed of eleven different species. The results of their research appear in the latest issue of the Molecular Ecology journal. They also discuss the urgent need to protect Madagascar's habitats.


Chema and Rumumba, two low-ranking immigrant female chimpanzees, take turns grooming each other in Gombe National Park, Tanzania.
Low-ranking "new girl" chimpanzees seek out other gal pals with similar status, finds a new study of social relationships in the wild apes.


The Tara Oceans expedition collected these small zooplanktonic animals in the Indian Ocean: a molluscan pteropod on the right, and 2 crustacean copepods. On the left is a fragment of...
In five related reports in this issue of the journal Science, a multinational team of researchers who spent three and a half years sampling the ocean's sunlit upper layers aboard the schooner Tara unveil the first officially reported global analyses of the Tara Oceans consortium. Planktonic life in the ocean is far more diverse than scientists knew, these reports show. They provide new resources for cataloguing the ocean's numerous planktonic organisms, which -- though critical to life on Earth, providing half the oxygen generated annually through photosynthesis, for example -- have largely been uncharacterized. The reports also reveal how planktonic life is distributed and how planktonic species interact, and they suggest that these organisms' interactions, more so than environmental conditions, help explain their community structures.


This image shows the epithelial lining of the gut.
Scientists and clinicians on the Norwich Research Park have carried out the first detailed study of how our intestinal tract changes as we age, and how this determines our overall health.

A cartwheeling spider, a bird-like dinosaur and a fish that wriggles around on the sea floor to create a circular nesting site are among the species identified by the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) as the Top 10 New Species for 2015.


In a study using functional magnetic resonance imaging, Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute scientists found that our inherent risk-taking preferences affect how we view and act on information from other...
The hottest hairstyle, the latest extreme sport, the newest viral stunt -- trends happen for a reason and now scientists have a better understanding of why.

Duke and MIT scientists have discovered an area of the brain that is sensitive to the timing of speech, a crucial element of spoken language.

The evolutionary age of grass has been hotly contested. Scientists have previously dated the earliest grasses to 55 million years ago; after the dinosaurs went extinct. Now, a new 100-million-year-old specimen of amber from Myanmar potentially pushes back grass evolution to the Late Cretaceous.


In many of the more than 100 recognized species of lemurs, females run the show. Here, a crowned lemur female hogs a sprig of honeysuckle from her mate.
Lemur girls behave more like the guys, thanks to a little testosterone, according to a new study.


This is Odaraia alata, an arthropod resembling a submarine from the middle Cambrian Burgess Shale.
A new study from the University of Cambridge has identified one of the oldest fossil brains ever discovered - more than 500 million years old - and used it to help determine how heads first evolved in early animals. The results, published today (7 May) in the journal Current Biology, identify a key point in the evolutionary transition from soft to hard bodies in early ancestors of arthropods, the group that contains modern insects, crustaceans and spiders.


To eat, rorqual whales open their mouths and lunge while their tongues invert and their mouths fill like giant water balloons full of floating prey.
Nerves aren't known for being stretchy. In fact, "nerve stretch injury" is a common form of trauma in humans. But researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on May 4 have discovered that nerves in the mouths and tongues of rorqual whales can more than double their length with no trouble at all.

A team of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich has identified the first fossil specimens of a major group of killifishes that is widely distributed in freshwater habitats today. The 6-million-year-old material sheds new light on the evolution of the bony fishes.

Researchers of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich have carried out the first detailed study of the molecular mechanisms responsible for formation of the brachiopod shell. Comparison with shell synthesis in other groups reveals the deep evolutionary roots of the process.

If you thought that a beetle with a machine gun built into its rear end was something that only exists in sci-fi movies, you should talk to Wendy Moore at the University of Arizona.


Rare fossils from extinct pygmy sperm whales found in Panama indicate the bone involved in sound generation and echolocation, the spermaceti organ, reduced in size throughout the whales' evolution, according to a study published April 29, 2015 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Jorge Velez-Juarbe from Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and colleagues.


Matthew Webster and Andreas Wallberg at Uppsala University, have studied recombination in honeybees.
Recombination, or crossing-over, occurs when sperm and egg cells are formed and segments of each chromosome pair are interchanged. This process plays an crucial role in the maintanance of genetic variation. Matthew Webster and Andreas Wallberg at the Biomedical Centre, Uppsala University, have studied recombination in honeybees. The extreme recombination rates found in this species seem to be crucial for their survival.

Genetic testing of Iñupiat people currently living in Alaska's North Slope is helping Northwestern University scientists fill in the blanks on questions about the migration patterns and ancestral pool of the people who populated the North American Arctic over the last 5,000 years.


This is the gorgeous new Psammisia sophiae from Colombia.
The description of five new species of blueberry relatives from Colombia highlights the country's great diversity of the plant family Ericaceae and the importance of field exploration. These new mortiños, as locally known, are added to the hundreds of blueberry relatives that are native to Colombia. The new additions are endemic species that exhibit morphological characters unparalleled within the genera in which they are classified. The study was published in the open access journal PhytoKeys.


The discovery of a single anatomical difference between males and females in the species Stegosaurus mjosi provides some of the most conclusive evidence that some dinosaurs looked different based on sex
The discovery of a single anatomical difference between males and females of a species of Stegosaurus provides some of the most conclusive evidence that some dinosaurs looked different based on sex, according to new research.

Among soft-bodied cephalopods, vampire squid live life at a slower pace. At ocean depths from 500 to 3,000 meters, they don't swim so much as float, and they get by with little oxygen while consuming a low-calorie diet of zooplankton and detritus. Now, researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on April 20 have found that vampire squid differ from all other living coleoid cephalopods in their reproductive strategy as well.

BiologyApril 17, 2015 07:04 PM

An evolutionary biologist fascinated by the way new species evolve, J. Albert C. Uy has longed to have his research featured in a film geared toward the general public. But concerns over the way some nature documentaries distort science always dissuaded him from collaborating with filmmakers.

The neural network necessary for normal face recognition has been not fully understood yet until now. Here, the research group of Dr. Daisuke Matsuyoshi (present affiliation: The University of Tokyo) led by Prof. Ryusuke Kakigi and Prof. Norihiro Sadato of the National Institute for Physiological Sciences (NIPS), National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS), by using the functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), revealed that suppression of the brain area responsible for object recognition by that for face recognition is necessarily for "normal face" recognition. The researchers simulated mathematically networks between the brain areas and showed that not only brain areas that execute face recognition but also brain areas that had been considered non-essential to face recognition are important for "normal face" recognition. This result was published in The Journal of Neuroscience, the weekly official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, Washington, DC.


The high diversity of phytoplankton has puzzled biological oceanographers for a long time.
Diversity of life abounds on Earth, and there's no need to look any farther than the ocean's surface for proof. There are over 200,000 species of phytoplankton alone, and all of those species of microscopic marine plants that form the base of the marine food web need the same basic resources to grow--light and nutrients.


Researchers have discovered a new birth story for mosasaurs.
New Haven, Conn. - They weren't in the delivery room, but researchers at Yale University and the University of Toronto have discovered a new birth story for a gigantic marine lizard that once roamed the oceans.

Outbreaks of leukemia that have devastated some populations of soft-shell clams along the east coast of North America for decades can be explained by the spread of cancerous tumor cells from one clam to another. Researchers call the discovery, reported in the Cell Press journal Cell on April 9, 2015, "beyond surprising."


This is an artist's reconstruction of one Daspletosaurus feeding on another.
A new study documents injuries inflicted in life and death to a large tyrannosaurine dinosaur. The paper shows that the skull of a genus of tyrannosaur called Daspletosaurus suffered numerous injuries during life, at least some of which were likely inflicted by another Daspletosaurus. It was also bitten after death in an apparent event of scavenging by another tyrannosaur. Thus there's evidence of combat between two large carnivores as well as one feeding on another after death.


The camel skeleton was unearthed near the river Danube in Lower Austria, Tulln.
In 2006 construction began on a new shopping centre in Tulln. The works unearthed various archaeologically valuable objects that were salvaged during rescue excavations. Among these objects was also the complete skeleton of a large mammal.

Foraging bats obey their own set of 'traffic rules', chasing, turning and avoiding collisions at high speed according to new research publishing in PLOS Computational Biology.


These are bees on a hive.
Honey bees use different sets of genes, regulated by two distinct mechanisms, to fight off viruses, bacteria and gut parasites, according to researchers at Penn State and the Georgia Institute of Technology.


This is a ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta) indigenous only to Madagascar. UC's Brooke Crowley is researching lemurs' geographic mobility.
Out of the mouths of lemurs come many answers to old mysteries about Madagascar's unique fauna. What were their origins, and how and why did they move around?

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