Biology

Category: Biology


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.


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.

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