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  • 50 million-year-old fossil assassin bug has unusually well-preserved genitalia
    on January 19, 2021 at 3:28 pm

    The fossilized insect is tiny and its genital capsule, called a pygophore, is roughly the length of a grain of rice. It is remarkable, scientists say, because the bug's physical characteristics -- from the bold banding pattern on its legs to the internal features of its genitalia -- are clearly visible and well-preserved. Recovered from the Green River Formation in present-day Colorado, the fossil represents a new genus and species of predatory insects known as assassin bugs.

  • Glass frogs living near roaring waterfalls wave hello to attract mates
    on January 15, 2021 at 8:53 pm

    A conservationist has discovered that the glass frog Sachatamia orejuela can be added to the list of species that make use of visual cues in response to their acoustic environments. This is the first time a member of the glass frog family (Centrolenidae) has been observed using visual communication in this manner.

  • Snakes evolve a magnetic way to be resistant to venom
    on January 15, 2021 at 2:13 pm

    Certain snakes have evolved a unique genetic trick to avoid being eaten by venomous snakes, according to new research. The technique works in a manner similar to the way two sides of a magnet repel each other.

  • Guppies have varying levels of self-control
    on January 15, 2021 at 2:13 pm

    Just like humans trying to stick to New Year's resolutions, guppies have varying levels of self-control, a new study shows.

  • Scientists discover electric eels hunting in a group
    on January 14, 2021 at 9:39 pm

    Deep in the Brazilian Amazon River basin, scientists discovered a small, river-fed lake filled with more than 100 adult electric eels. Researchers witnessed the electric eels working together to herd small fish into tightly packed balls. Groups of up to 10 eels periodically split off to form cooperative hunting parties. Those smaller groups then surrounded the prey and launched simultaneous electric attacks. The findings overturn the idea that these serpentine fish are exclusively solitary predators.

  • How insects activate muscles to adapt to limbs removed
    on January 14, 2021 at 9:39 pm

    Adaptability explains why insects spread so widely and why they are the most abundant animal group on earth. Insects exhibit resilient and flexible locomotion, even with drastic changes in their body structure such as losing a limb.

  • Feces and algorithms: Artificial Intelligence to map our intestinal bacteria
    on January 14, 2021 at 6:01 pm

    The intestines and their bacteria are sometimes called our 'second brain', but studying these bacteria in their natural environment is difficult. Now researchers have developed a method that uses artificial intelligence to map intestinal bacteria using feces. The researchers thus hope to gain more knowledge of the role played by these bacteria in various diseases.

  • Spectacular fossil discovery: 150 million-year-old shark was one of the largest of its time
    on January 14, 2021 at 4:19 pm

    A team led by Sebastian Stumpf from the University of Vienna describes an well-preserved skeleton of the ancient shark Asteracanthus. This rare fossil find comes from the famous Solnhofen limestones in Bavaria, which was formed in a tropical-subtropical lagoon landscape during the Late Jurassic, about 150 million years ago. The almost complete skeleton shows that Asteracanthus was two-and-a-half meters long, which makes this ancient shark one of the largest of its time.

  • Scientists discover new 'spectacular' bat from West Africa
    on January 13, 2021 at 7:44 pm

    Scientists have discovered a new species of a striking orange and black bat in a mountain range in West Africa. The species, which the researchers expect is likely critically endangered, underscores the importance of sub-Saharan 'sky islands' to bat diversity.

  • Rare quadruple-helix DNA found in living human cells with glowing probes
    on January 13, 2021 at 6:24 pm

    New probes allow scientists to see four-stranded DNA interacting with molecules inside living human cells, unravelling its role in cellular processes.

  • How teeth functioned and evolved in giant mega-sharks
    on January 13, 2021 at 2:09 pm

    Researchers find that the evolution of teeth in the giant prehistoric shark Megalodon and its relatives was a by-product of becoming huge, rather than an adaptation to new feeding habits.

  • How different plants can share their genetic material with each other
    on January 11, 2021 at 4:22 pm

    The genetic material of plants, animals and humans is well protected in the nucleus of each cell and stores all the information that forms an organism. For example, information about the size or color of flowers, hair or fur is predefined here. In addition, cells contain small organelles that contain their own genetic material. These include chloroplasts in plants, which play a key role in photosynthesis, and mitochondria, which are found in all living organisms and represent the power plants of every cell. But is the genetic material actually permanently stored within one cell? No! As so far known, the genetic material can migrate from cell to cell and thus even be exchanged between different organisms. Researchers have now been able to use new experimental approaches to show for the first time how the genetic material travels.

  • This tree snake climbs with a lasso-like motion
    on January 11, 2021 at 4:21 pm

    Researchers have discovered that invasive brown tree snakes living on Guam can get around in a way that had never been seen before. The discovery of the snake's lasso-like locomotion for climbing their way up smooth vertical cylinders has important implications, both for understanding the snakes and for conservation practices aimed at protecting birds from them.

  • Inspired by kombucha tea, engineers create 'living materials'
    on January 11, 2021 at 4:21 pm

    Engineers have developed a new way to generate tough, functional materials using a mix of bacteria and yeast similar to the 'kombucha mother' used to ferment tea. Using this mix, called a Syn-SCOBY (synthetic symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast), they produced cellulose embedded with enzymes that can perform a variety of functions, such as sensing environmental pollutants.

  • Megalodons gave birth to large newborns that likely grew by eating unhatched eggs in womb
    on January 11, 2021 at 12:24 am

    A new study shows that the gigantic Megalodon or megatooth shark, which lived nearly worldwide roughly 15-3.6 million years ago and reached at least 50 feet (15 meters) in length, gave birth to babies larger than most adult humans.

  • Jellyfish create a 'virtual wall' to enhance performance
    on January 8, 2021 at 5:34 pm

    A new discovery finds that jellyfish create a 'ground effect,' similar to how air squeezes between an airplane and ground during take-off, which builds pressure and a force that boosts performance. Never before has it been proven that an animal can create this phenomenon away from a solid boundary, let alone the open ocean.

  • Which came first, sleep or the brain?
    on January 8, 2021 at 4:10 pm

    In work that could help unravel the origin of sleep, an international team of researchers has shown that tiny, water-dwelling hydras not only show signs of a sleep-like state despite lacking central nervous systems but also respond to molecules associated with sleep in more evolved animals. The new results suggest that many sleep-related mechanisms developed before the brain and may have been conserved during the evolution of central nervous systems.

  • Mysterious family life of notorious saber-toothed tiger
    on January 7, 2021 at 9:47 pm

    New research indicates adolescent offspring of the menacing saber-toothed predator, Smilodon fatalis, were more momma's cubs than independent warriors.

  • Unusual sex chromosomes of platypus, emu and pekin duck
    on January 7, 2021 at 4:21 pm

    Three studies uncovered the unusual sex chromosomes of platypus, emu and Pekin duck. Platypus have five pairs of sex chromosomes forming an unusual chain shape, while the sex chromosomes of emu and duck are not as different between sexes as those of human.

  • Mapping the platypus genome: How Earth's oddest mammal got to be so bizarre
    on January 6, 2021 at 6:30 pm

    Australia's beaver-like, duck-billed platypus exhibits an array of bizarre characteristics: it lays eggs instead of giving birth to live babies, sweats milk, has venomous spurs and is even equipped with 10 sex chromosomes. Now, researchers have conducted a unique mapping of the platypus genome and found answers regarding the origins of a few of its stranger features.

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