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Category: Biology

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.


Elite hunter from bat world has previously unknown cues at its disposal.
The ability of some bats to spot motionless prey in the dark has baffled experts until now. By creating the first visual images from echolocation, researchers reveal we have been missing how bats sense their world.


Life illustration of Gobisaurus, an ankylosaur with a stiff tail but no knob of bone at the end.
How did the ankylosaur get its tail club? According to research from North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences that traces the evolution of the ankylosaur's distinctive tail, the handle arrived first on the scene, and the knot at the end of the tail followed.

In early August, biologist Peter Ward returned from the South Pacific with news that he encountered an old friend, one he hadn't seen in over three decades. The University of Washington professor had seen what he considers one of the world's rarest animals, a remote encounter that may become even more infrequent if illegal fishing practices continue.

BiologyAugust 24, 2015 05:15 PM

We humans have been using self-medication to cure the illnesses since the dawn of our species. There is some evidence that also other animals can exhibit this type of behavior, but the evidence has been hard to come by.


This is the first-ever discovery of a salamander preserved in amber, from an unlikely spot -- the Dominican Republic, where all salamanders are now extinct.
More than 20 million years ago, a short struggle took place in what is now the Dominican Republic, resulting in one animal getting its leg bitten off by a predator just before it escaped. But in the confusion, it fell into a gooey resin deposit, to be fossilized and entombed forever in amber.

Early humans were the dominant cause of the extinction of a variety of species of giant beasts, new research has revealed.


Earthworms in rich organic soil. As they burrow, the worms consume soil in order to remove nutrients from decaying organic matter such as leaves and roots.
Scientists have discovered how earthworms can digest plant material, such as fallen leaves, that would defeat most other herbivores.

A study including researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago found evidence that gut microbes affect circadian rhythms and metabolism in mice.


A golden jackal (Canis aureus) from Israel. Based on genomic results, the researchers suggest this animal, the Eurasian golden jackal, is distinct from Canis anthus
Despite their remarkably similar appearance, the "golden jackals" of East Africa and Eurasia are actually two entirely different species. The discovery, based on DNA evidence and reported in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on July 30, increases the overall biodiversity of the Canidae--the group including dogs, wolves, foxes, and jackals--from 35 living species to 36.

In research that could lead to protective probiotics to fight the "chytrid" fungus that has been decimating amphibian populations worldwide, Jenifer Walke, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher at Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg, and her collaborators have grown bacterial species from the skin microbiome of four species of amphibians. The research appears July 10 in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology.


Research led by Oxford University scientists shows that mammals were evolving up to ten times faster in the middle of the Jurassic
Mammals were evolving up to ten times faster in the middle of the Jurassic than they were at the end of the period, coinciding with an explosion of new adaptations, new research shows.

From the smell of flowers to the taste of wine, our perception is strongly influenced by prior knowledge and expectations, a cognitive process known as top-down control.

The world's rarest ape has an increased chance of survival after a team led by international conservation charity the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) found a new family group of Hainan gibbons (Nomascus hainanus).


University of Washington researchers have discovered a link between floral scent release and circadian rhythms in the common garden petunia.
Good timing is a matter of skill. You would certainly dress up for an afternoon business meeting, but not an evening session of binge-watching Netflix. If you were just a few hours off in your wardrobe timing, your spouse might wonder why you slipped into a stiff business suit to watch "House of Cards."


Drilling deep into the night: The team of researchers headed by Christian Hallmann and Katherine French took elaborate precautions to keep their samples clean
Contaminated samples have evidently created some confusion in the timetable of life. On the basis of ultra-clean analyses, an international team, including scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, has disproved supposed evidence that eukaryotes originated 2.5 to 2.8 billion years ago. In contrast to prokaryotes such as bacteria, eukaryotes have a nucleus. Some researchers thought they had discovered molecular remnants of living organisms in rock samples up to 2.8 billion years old. However, as the current study shows, these molecular traces were introduced by contamination. The oldest evidence for the existence of eukaryotes is now provided by microfossils that are ca. 1.5 billion years old.

Scientists at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) and the University of Bonn led by Prof. Stefan Remy report on this in the journal "Neuron". Their investigations give new insights into the workings of spatial memory. Furthermore, they could also help improve our understanding of movement related symptoms associated with Parkinson's disease.


The restoration of formerly endangered species is raising conflict in some places.
A study of marine mammals and other protected species finds that several once endangered species, including the iconic humpback whale, the northern elephant seal and green sea turtles, have recovered and are repopulating their former ranges.


Maps of the lymphatic system: old (left) and updated to reflect UVA's discovery.

  • Vessels directly connecting brain, lymphatic system exist despite decades of doctrine that they don't
  • Finding may have substantial implications for major neurological diseases
  • Game-changing discovery opens new areas of research, transforms existing ones
  • Major gap in understanding of the human body revealed
  • 'They'll have to change the textbooks'


Pond snails used in the experiment, Lymnaea stagnalis, have been used for over 25 years to study learning and memory.
Animals, like humans, excel at some tasks but not others according to a new study published in the journal Scientific Reports.


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.

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