Biology news

blood in amber

At https://phys.org/print410453784.html ... blood preserved in amber, the fossilised red blood cells of monkeys.

At https://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/new-research-dispr... ... Palaeontologists have used skulls to delineate how much movement certain animals had in their necks - such as birds, dinosaurs, alligators etc.

Grass

Grasses have an ability to conserve water in their leaves. They can also absorb carbon dioxide without losing any water. Grasses are well equipped to deal with rapidly changing weather and strong winds, the kind that sweep across plains, praire and steppe environments. It would be also true to say that herbivores adapted to eating rough grasses, as well as seeking out the sweet grasses.

Midges

The good side of midges is explored at www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170317132648.htm ... ecologists have been studying midges in Wisconsin and Iceland. There are 15,000 lakes in Wisconsin and a third of the State lies within 200m of a lake or stream. Biting midges terrorise tourists and walkers in western Scotland (and horse flies in England) - so what use are these insects?

Rethinking Human Evolution

The headline should be - rethinking some aspects of human evolution. At https://cosmosmagazine.com/palaeontology/accidental-tool-makers ... and I suppose the problem can be laid at Uniformitarian principles, progress in small steps, from primitive thinking to sophisticated behaviour. Palaeoanthropologists have long cast their eye upon stone tools as a means of evaluating human progress (on the evolutionary scale that primitive is almost always older than the better examples of manufacture).

Dinosaur collagen

This story was at Dr Wile's blog a way back. At https://phys.org/print405956660.html ... dinosaurs are mostly known from fossilised bone but last year palaeontologists claimed they have now found collagen in a rib from 195 million years ago - which caused a bit of a stir as proteins were not supposed to survive for that long a time. An article in Nature Communications (Feb 2017) re-examines the issues involved, particularly the survival of soft tissue.

Photosynthesis

At https://phys.org/print405078446.html ... the mechanism for photosynthesis existed in primeval microbes. Will this put an end to the idea of earth as a satellite of Saturn? Thunderbolts and the Saturn Theory are like a hand and a glove but what does this study mean for the idea of solar system re-arrangement. Photosynthesis creates oxygenised carbohydrates such as glucose from solar energy, water, and co2 (carbon). It is indispensable for many species on this planet.

Dinosaur ribbing

At www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4178130/Researchers-dinosaur-bon... ... which concerns the discovery of a dinosaur rib bone in Yunnan Province in China that contained proteins inside the vascular canals (where blood vessels and nerves would have been present when it was alive). This is a remarkable find as fossilised bone is usually rock like. Organic matter is normally decomposed. It is therefore a surprising discovery - and useful (as it will enable scientists to understand dinosaur make up).

Microbes in Space

Gary sent in this link (aliens in the comments so beware). At www.seeker.com/atmosphere-microbes-microorganisms-balloon-life-venus-ext... ... we have a report on an experiment by students from the University of Houston. They are going to release high altitude balloons in the upper atmosphere fitted with a devilish device. This will open as the balloons reach a high enough point in the atmosphere and close on the descent. The hope is to avoid contamination of samples. They intend to reach altitudes of 18km to 50km (11 to 31 miles in old money). 

Trilobites

Trilobites look like ancient woodlice but they differ in that they lived in the sea and had soft parts. They go back 450 million years ago - very old on the tree of life ...

antibiotics

Fascinating post by Dr Wile at http://blog.drwile.com/?p=15423#more-15423 ... we have all succombed to the reasoning put abroad in the media and by earnest people in the health industry warning us about the danger of indulging in too many antibiotic treatments. We have all been constantly bombarded with the claim that over use of antibiotics is leading to the mutation of bacteria resistant to antibiotics and eventually they will overcome them and make the use of antibiotics obsolete - but do the biologists agree with this populist argument?