Biology

Category: Biology

BiologySeptember 19, 2014 06:16 PM


Rhinorex, a newly discovered dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous period, had an impressive nose.
Call it the Jimmy Durante of dinosaurs – a newly discovered hadrosaur with a truly distinctive nasal profile. The new dinosaur, named Rhinorex condrupus by paleontologists from North Carolina State University and Brigham Young University, lived in what is now Utah approximately 75 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous period.


These are adult marine (top) and freshwater (bottom) threespine sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus) stained with a red dye that labels calcified bone.
Sticklebacks, the roaches of the fish world, are the ideal animal in which to study the genes that control body shape. They've moved from the ocean into tens of thousands of freshwater streams and lakes around the world, each time changing their skeleton to adapt to the new environment.

It's hard to comprehend how bad the current rate of species extinction around the world has become without knowing what it was before people came along. The newest estimate is that the pre-human rate was 10 times lower than scientists had thought, which means that the current level is 10 times worse.

Move over antibiotic ointment, there might be a new salve to dominate medicine cabinets of the future, and it comes from an unlikely place—the lowly salamander. Salamanders may not be the cuddliest of animals, but they can regenerate lost limbs and achieve amazing recovery of seriously damaged body parts. Now, a new report published in the September 2014 issue of The FASEB Journal, identifies a small protein (called a "peptide") from the skin of salamanders that may be the key to unlocking the secret of this amazing wound healing trick in humans.

About 400 million years ago a group of fish began exploring land and evolved into tetrapods – today's amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. But just how these ancient fish used their fishy bodies and fins in a terrestrial environment and what evolutionary processes were at play remain scientific mysteries.


A dead ant manipulated by a species of so-called "zombie ant fungus " clings to a twig in a South Carolina forest.
A parasitic fungus that reproduces by manipulating the behavior of ants emits a cocktail of behavior-controlling chemicals when encountering the brain of its natural target host, but not when infecting other ant species, a new study shows.


The green anole lizard (Anolis carolinensis), when caught by a predator, can lose its tail and then grow it back.
By understanding the secret of how lizards regenerate their tails, researchers may be able to develop ways to stimulate the regeneration of limbs in humans. Now, a team of researchers from Arizona State University is one step closer to solving that mystery. The scientists have discovered the genetic "recipe" for lizard tail regeneration, which may come down to using genetic ingredients in just the right mixture and amounts.


The arapaima fish, which once dominated Amazon fisheries, is long and can weigh as much as 400 pounds.
An international team of scientists has discovered that a large, commercially important fish from the Amazon Basin has become extinct in some local fishing communities.

BiologyAugust 5, 2014 04:55 PM

Spider silk is an impressive material; lightweight and stretchy yet stronger than steel. But the challenge that spiders face to produce this substance is even more formidable. Silk proteins, called spidroins, must convert from a soluble form to solid fibers at ambient temperatures, with water as a solvent, and at high speed. How do spiders achieve this astounding feat? In new research publishing in the open access journal PLOS Biology on August 5, Anna Rising and Jan Johansson show how the silk formation process is regulated. The work was done at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) and Karolinska Institutet in collaboration with colleagues in Latvia, China and USA.


Yale University scientists have performed the first artificial selection on a structural color, using butterfly wings. This image shows a male Bicyclus anynana butterfly
Yale University scientists have chosen the most fleeting of mediums for their groundbreaking work on biomimicry: They've changed the color of butterfly wings.

Whale sharks (Rhincodon typus)—which grow more than 30 feet long—are the largest fish in the world's ocean, but little is known about their movements on a daily basis or over years. A newly discovered juvenile whale shark aggregation off Saudi Arabia is giving researchers a rare glimpse into the lives of these gentle giants.


A member of the Martu Aboriginal community in western Australia sets fire to mature spinifex grass as a way to expose burrows occupied by sand monitor lizards
Australia's Aboriginal Martu people hunt kangaroos and set small grass fires to catch lizards, as they have for at least 2,000 years. A University of Utah researcher found such man-made disruption boosts kangaroo populations – showing how co-evolution helped marsupials and made Aborigines into unintentional conservationists.


LB1 is shown in three different views to illustrate facial asymmetry.
In October 2004, excavation of fragmentary skeletal remains from the island of Flores in Indonesia yielded what was called "the most important find in human evolution for 100 years." Its discoverers dubbed the find Homo floresiensis, a name suggesting a previously unknown species of human.


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.

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