Biology

Category: Biology


Sir David Attenborough narrates and appears in a video about the digital curation of a 20-million-year-old amber collection at the Illinois Natural History Survey at Illinois.
Scientists are searching through a massive collection of 20-million-year-old amber found in the Dominican Republic more than 50 years ago, and the effort is yielding fresh insights into ancient tropical insects and the world they inhabited.

Birdsongs automatically decoded by computer scientists


This is an image of the inflorescence of Arabidopsis thaliana.
In close collaboration with Jürg Schönenberger and Yannick Städler from the Department of Botany and Biodiversity Research of the Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Vienna, 14 developmental stages of the flower of Arabidopsis thaliana from very early meristematic floral initiation to fully developed seeds were monitored with micro-computed tomography in 3D. From the same set of developmental stages a full metabolic profile using mass spectrometry was measured covering hundreds of biochemical pathways.


Paleontologist Dan Ksepka examines the fossilized skull of what may be the biggest flying bird ever found.
Scientists have identified the fossilized remains of an extinct giant bird that could be the biggest flying bird ever found. With an estimated 20-24-foot wingspan, the creature surpassed size estimates based on wing bones from the previous record holder -- a long-extinct bird named Argentavis magnificens -- and was twice as big as the Royal Albatross, the largest flying bird today. Scheduled to appear online the week of July 7, 2014, in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the findings show that the creature was an extremely efficient glider, with long slender wings that helped it stay aloft despite its enormous size.

Pushing closer to understanding the mechanisms behind the mysterious glow of light produced naturally by certain animals, scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego have deciphered the structural components related to fluorescence brightness in a primitive sea creature.


This reconstruction shows how scientists think the fly larvae adhered to the skin of the amphibian.
Around 165 million years ago, a spectacular parasite was at home in the freshwater lakes of present-day Inner Mongolia (China): A fly larva with a thorax formed entirely like a sucking plate. With it, the animal could adhere to salamanders and suck their blood with its mouthparts formed like a sting. To date no insect is known that is equipped with a similar specialised design. The international scientific team is now presenting its findings in the journal "eLIFE".

Chance events may profoundly shape history. What if Franz Ferdinand's driver had not taken a wrong turn, bringing the Duke face to face with his assassin? Would World War I still have been fought? Would Hitler have risen to power decades later?


Artist reconstruction of Mercuriceratops gemini, a new species of horned dinosaur that had wing-shaped ornamentation on the sides of its skull.
Scientists have named a new species of horned dinosaur (ceratopsian) based on fossils collected from Montana in the United States and Alberta, Canada. Mercuriceratops (mer-cure-E-sare-ah-tops) gemini was approximately 6 meters (20 feet) long and weighed more than 2 tons. It lived about 77 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous Period. Research describing the new species is published online in the journal Naturwissenschaften.

For some birds, recognising their own eggs can be a matter of life or death.

During evolutionary diversification of vertebrate limbs, the number of toes in even-toed ungulates such as cattle and pigs was reduced and transformed into paired hooves. Scientists at the University of Basel have identified a gene regulatory switch that was key to evolutionary adaption of limbs in ungulates. The study provides fascinating insights into the molecular history of evolution and is published by Nature today.

In a new study published in the Geological Society of America Bulletin, geoscientists Wolfgang Stinnesbeck of the University of Heidelberg and colleagues document the discovery of forty-six ophthalmosaurid ichthyosaurs (marine reptiles). These specimens were discovered in the vicinity of the Tyndall Glacier in the Torres del Paine National Park of southern Chile. Among them are numerous articulated and virtually complete skeletons of adults, pregnant females, and juveniles.

Ants are capable of complex problem-solving strategies that could be widely applied as optimization techniques. An individual ant searching for food walks in random ways, biologists found. Yet the collective foraging behaviour of ants goes well beyond that, as a mathematical study to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals: The animal movements at a certain point change from chaos to order. This happens in a surprisingly efficient self-organized way. Understanding the ants could help analyze similar phenomena - for instance how humans roam in the internet.


This is the winged male Dystacta tigrifrutex, or bush tiger mantis from Nyungwe National Park, southwestern Rwanda.
Scientists describe a new species of praying mantis, Dystacta tigrifrutex, or the bush tiger mantis from Rwanda's mountainous Nyungwe National Park. Like all praying mantises the new species is a vicious hunter. The wingless females are adapted for catching prey close to the ground and in the undergrowth, which inspired the name of the species due to the similarities in hunting practices with one of the world's favorite big cats. The study was published in the open access journal ZooKeys.


Octopus investigators: From left to right, Dr. Nir Nesher (standing), Dr. Guy Levy and Prof. Benny Hochner at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have discovered how octopuses don't tie themselves in knots.
An octopus's arms are covered in hundreds of suckers that will stick to just about anything, with one important exception: those suckers generally won't grab onto the octopus itself, otherwise the impressively flexible animals would quickly find themselves all tangled up.

BiologyMay 15, 2014 07:55 PM


This is a model of the nurse shark's immunoglobulin new antigen receptor molecule containing two stabilization principles, which could be transferred to human anitbodies to receive enhansed stability.
Custom-tailored antibodies are regarded as promising weapons against a multitude of serious illnesses. Since they can accurately recognize specific structures on the surface of viruses, bacteria or cancer cells, they are already being deployed successfully in cancer diagnostics and therapy, as well as against numerous other diseases. The stability of the sensitive antibodies is a decisive factor in every step, from production and storage to therapeutic application.


Marine scientists at the Northeastern University Marine Science Center have shown that the behavior of middle predators in marine food webs plays an important role in the welfare of the...
Northeastern University researchers at the Marine Science Center have shown that the behavior of the "middle child" in the predator-prey food chain plays a strong role in determining how the reef as a whole will fare. The new research from the team was published online on Tuesday in the journal Ecology Letters.


This image shows a reconstruction of Plexus ricei.
Scientists at the University of California, Riverside have discovered a fossil of a newly discovered organism from the "Ediacara Biota" — a group of organisms that occurred in the Ediacaran period of geologic time.


This shows the female penis of N. aurora.
Researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on April 17 have discovered little-known cave insects with rather novel sex lives. The Brazilian insects, which represent four distinct but related species in the genus Neotrogla, are the first example of an animal with sex-reversed genitalia.


The 375 million-year-old fossil lycopod Leclercqia scolopendra, described and beautifully rendered by UC Berkeley graduate student Jeffrey Benca.
Jeff Benca is an admitted über-geek when it comes to prehistoric plants, so it was no surprise that, when he submitted a paper describing a new species of long-extinct lycopod for publication, he ditched the standard line drawing and insisted on a detailed and beautifully rendered color reconstruction of the plant. This piece earned the cover of March's centennial issue of the American Journal of Botany.

New research from scientists at the University of Massachusetts Medical School shows that fruit flies are secretly harboring the biochemistry needed to glow in the dark —otherwise known as bioluminescence.

Stunning images of a 305-million-year-old harvestman fossil reveal ancestors of the modern-day arachnids had two sets of eyes rather than one.


This image shows the dorsal view of Fuxianhuia protensa.
An international team of researchers from the University of Arizona, China and the United Kingdom has discovered the earliest known cardiovascular system, and the first to clearly show a sophisticated system complete with heart and blood vessels, in fossilized remains of an extinct marine creature that lived over half a billion years ago. The finding sheds new light on the evolution of body organization in the animal kingdom and shows that even the earliest creatures had internal organizational systems that strongly resemble those found in their modern descendants.


UC Davis scientists have learned why zebras, like these plains zebras in Katavi National Park, Tanzania, have stripes.
Why zebras have black and white stripes is a question that has intrigued scientists and spectators for centuries. A research team led by the University of California, Davis, has now examined this riddle systematically. Their answer is published April 1 in the online journal Nature Communications.


The two partial limb fossils from the ancient sea turtle Atlantochelys mortoni fit together perfectly, leaving little room for doubt that they are from the same bone.
"As soon as those two halves came together, like puzzle pieces, you knew it," said Ted Daeschler, PhD, associate curator of vertebrate zoology and vice president for collections at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.

How does the Arctic tern (a sea bird) fly more than 80,000 miles in its roundtrip North Pole-to-South Pole migration? How does the Emperor penguin incubate eggs for months during the Antarctic winter without eating? How does the Rufous hummingbird, which weighs less than a nickel, migrate from British Columbia to Mexico? These physiological gymnastics would usually be influenced by leptin, the hormone that regulates body fat storage, metabolism and appetite. However, leptin has gone missing in birds - until now.


This is an example of the horned pollinaria found in South American milkweed.
Rutting stags and clawing bears are but two examples of male animals fighting over a mate, but research in New Phytologist has uncovered the first evidence of similar male struggles leading to the evolution of weaponry in plants.


Ohio University scientists have found the oldest definitive fossil evidence of modern, venomous snakes in Africa, according to a new study published March 19 in the journal PLOS ONE
Ohio University scientists have found the oldest definitive fossil evidence of modern, venomous snakes in Africa, according to a new study published March 19 in the journal PLOS ONE.


A leatherback turtle equipped with a satellite tag crawls off the tagging vessel, the F/V Sea Holly
A first-of-its-kind satellite tagging study of migrating New England leatherback turtles in the North Atlantic offers a greatly improved understanding of their seasonal high-use habitats, diving activity and response to key ocean and environmental features in relation to their search behavior. Leatherbacks are considered endangered species in all the world's oceans.


The protector species, the weaver ant Oecophylla smaragdina, can also turn predator of the associate species, the jumping spider Phintella piatensis.
A timid jumping spider uses the scent of ants as a secret weapon to save itself from becoming the somewhat soggy prey of the predatory spitting spider. The downside to this plan is that jumping spiders are also a favorite snack of its very own saviors. To overcome this additional hazard, the spider has made yet another plan in the form of an ant-proof nest, writes Ximena Nelson of the University of Canterbury in New Zealand and Robert Jackson of the University of Canterbury and the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology in Kenya, in Springer's journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology.


This shows the North Atlantic tracking routes of 17 juvenile loggerhead sea turtles.
A new study satellite tracked 17 young loggerhead turtles in the Atlantic Ocean to better understand sea turtle nursery grounds and early habitat use during the 'lost years.' The study, conducted by a collaborative research team, including scientists from the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, was the first long-term satellite tracking study of young turtles at sea.

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