Biology news

Water Planet

More evidence of the dominance of water on our planet - see .... and the missing words to that are 'without water'. A study in June's issue of PNAS provides evidence that proteins are folded by smaller water molecules. Protein molecules fall into particular shapes to enable biological reactions - but they can't fold themselves. Water molecules are able to do that for them - and the process has been observed (it would seem).


Testosterone and its effects on evolution - go to ... another kind of change to the pure Darwinian model of evolution is being suggested - and one that involves testosterone levels. Animals with high testosterone have an edge on those of their own species with a more relaxed attitude to mating, display, and the competition for food resources.

Deer and magnetism

At ... Dr Wile discusses animals reacting to earth's magnetic field such as migrating Monarch butterflies and salmon. Homing pigeons are a well known example and some people even claim if you throw your snails over next door's fence they will find their way back home (if you take them in a bucket to a nearby piece of waste ground the same thing is said to happen).

Mosquitoes in History

Mosquitoes are blamed for spreading the Zika virus but the variety appears to have crossed the Atlantic in slaving ships in the 15th and 16th centuries - see ... the variety of mosquito known as Aedes aegypti has a preference for human blood. It has also learned to live in human environments, laying eggs in artificial containers, pots and cans, barrels, wells and cisterns etc..

Dinosaur Ants

At ... ants go back a long way - but they were not always social insects (although small groups of ants are known in fossilised settings). Modern forms of ants are successful as they all work for the common good - or that of the queen ant. In the early stages ants were often solitary predators and here we have another example (or seemingly so). Dr Wang Bo of the Chinese Academy of Sciences has been looking at an ant preserved in amber from Burma going back 99 million years ago ...

Plankton and Vents

At ... the subject is hydrothermal vents and methane seeps on the sea floor in various regions of the world. These have variously been treated as something of a geological and biological oddity - under the waves and out of sight. It is now emerging they are something special, an important force in the ecology of the marine system. They are also said to affect global climate but we can take that with a pinch of salt as climate has a habit of creeping into all manner of studies, with little real relevance.

wild and wilder horses

At ... science has been having a look at wild horses and how they survived the last Ice Age into the Holocene and the modern world. In the open landscape of the Late Pleistocene the wild horse was common. In the post glacial wooded environment horses were confined to a few refugia, it is thought. Mostly they were confined to the steppe zone and central Asia which is where they were eventually domesticated. Did wild horses survive into the 19th and 20th centuries. It is thought most of these were feral - domesticated horses gone wild.


At ... archaeologists have unearthed the bone of pre-Younger Dryas bison on a dig in Florida (among other interesting things) some ten feet below the ground surface. The bone was found in material from the Pleistocene epoch and it seems it is a rare find as bison roamed a grassland environment and most bones disintegrated over time.

monkey business

At ... (see also ... is one of those stories where a new find is like a torpedo, holing a consensus theory in the midriffs. Fossil teeth of monkeys have been unearthed by the Panama Canal expansion project. It was thought monkeys crossed over from South America when the two parts of the continent came together around 3.5 million years ago.

radiation a lesser effect than ...

Radiation appears to have a lesser effect on animals than human activity and interference - see Robert Farrar has also sent in the link to ... and the same story can be seen at other online sites (now or in the recent past). We might begin by saying here we go again -Chernobyl and the exclusive zone. However, this time some further information is p[assed on to Joe Public. Some of the animals in the exclusion zone, such as Dzungarian horses, were deliberately introduced as an experiment.