Biology news

Fossils and Bones

At https://phys.org/print456129859.html ... a researcher at Oxford's department of zoology in collaboration with an Australian scientist has been looking at fossils from Utah collected 25 years ago and post their findings at Nature Communications (September 2018). Y=The fossil in question if an arthropod, an extinct relative of modern crabs and spiders ...

Mini Mammoths

Sent in by Robert - two posts at the Daily Mail online site - www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-6054483/Frozen-mammoth-carcass-u... ... and www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-6055207/New-species-pterodactyl-... ... to which Robert comments, 'new pterodactyl and mini mammoth found. Interestingly, both are at sites of 'mass kill' events ....'.

Vertigo

Sent in by Robert. An interesting post at https://crev.info/2018/08/one-wrong-handed-amino-acid-can-cause-vertigo/ ... yes, one amino acid gone awry can cause vertigo. How does this happen? It is down to chirality - how life ended up with one handed (chiral) building blocks such as amino acids and sugars, when both are just as likely to form by the laws of physics. The author claims it is an unsolved mystery in the study of life sciences - because proteins cannot work without 100 per cent one handed. Electricity may of course play an undefined role.

Snake in Amber

At https://phys.org/print451201630.html ... a fossilised snake embryo preserved in amber and dating back over a 100 million years ago - has been discovered.

Itg seems the snake was living in an ancient forest environ with numerous insects and plants (also trapped in amber). Jovan sent in the link http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/deadthings/2018/07/18/baby-snake-in-am...

Rice and Water

At https://phys.org/print450598731.html ... rice is grown in rice paddies - a wetland environment. Why? Plants do not like excessive waterlogging - and some plants actively dislike it. On the other hand there are plant variants that adapt to watery conditions. For example water forget me not is a variation on the forget me not. Rice, I suppose, is a grass - a variation in related grasses. In S and SE Asia periodic flooding comes with the annual monsoon season - and can last several months at a time.

Triassic Dinosaurs

At https://phys.org/print450409594.html ... giant dinosaurs lived on Earth much earlier than thought. The recently discovered dinosaur graveyards in Argentina are throwing up facts not envisaged as we now have a very large herbivore dinosaur dating from the Triassic period. Gigantism originated earlier than the Jurassic it would seem. Some clarification on gigantism is necessary as it cannot occur as a gradual process - unless the Triassic has been underestimated.

Microbes in Fracking liquids

At https://phys.org/print449152856.html ... an intriguing story. Deep inside the earth, as revealed by fracking, lives a community of microbes (found in fracking wells). These microbes live at great depths it would seem - and apparently have the ability to produce methane (amongst other things). The study was done by researchers at Ohio State University (deep in the heart of fracking country) and is published in PNAS.

Yellowstone Wolf

Wolves were re-introduced to the Yellowstone National Park in the mid 1990s and have generally received a good press (especially in TV wildlife programmes and in the media in general). The elk of the park are their chief prey animal and it was thought the re-introduction would alter their behaviour - creating a 'landscape of fear' as the saying goes (the wolf controlling elk numbers etc) - see www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/06/180622104544.htm ...

Declining Insects

At https://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/06/20/study-bugs-hate-light-at-night-mo... ... the reason this has popped up on WattsUp is the fact that the researchers claim light pollution is a bigger factor than climate change for the ongoing decline in insect numbers. The interesting theory is advanced by scientists at a German institute of Freshwater Ecology and Fisheries (where one have thought the climate change meme would have taken precedent). They discovered a sharp decline in flying insects as a result of light pollution.

Origin of Pluto

Also sent in by Jovan. Busy man. At https://astronomynow.com/2018/05/26/evidence-found-for-giant-comet-theor... ... what is the origin of Pluto? Is it a planet - or something else. It is being suggested Pluto is a great comet - of sorts. They say it is an agglomeration of a billion comets (in other words an inestimable number of comets). Another idea is that Pluto formed from coldices with a chemical composition similar to the Sun (but the giant comet theory is gaining traction it is alleged).