Biology news

Birds in Amber

At http://phys.org/print386346868.html ... life evolved three times faster after the extinction of the dinosaurs than it evolved in the preceding 80 million years. Is this more evidence of faulty geochronology - the assumption layers of sediment were laid down over an inordinately long period of time whereas an asteroid impact hardly created a whisper in the geological record? The research is published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B (June 2016).

Bees and Flowers

Bees and electricity feature in this month's Thunderbolts videos - go to www.thunderbolts.info/wp/2016/06/25/bees-and-electric-charge-electricity... ... but we also have the same subject but more nuanced at http://blog.drwile.com/?p=14906 ... in which the aforesaid Dr Wile, a Creationist rather than an EU advocate, begins by saying that flowers attract bees by a variety of means including flower shape, scent, colour and ultra-violet reflection patterns. The point is that electricity is one of several factors that make up the relationship between flowers and pollinating insects.

Magnetic Pigs

At http://phys.org/print385809691.html ... some fish have evolved the ability to live on land, such as blennies. One can see fish adapting in an environment of seasonal water holes or streams that dry up in high summer. Sme of them of course bury themselves in the mud at pond and lake bottoms - waiting for the rains to come round again. On islands the situation differs and it seems blennies can live in water and on dry land - which is quite remarkable.

Water Planet

More evidence of the dominance of water on our planet - see https://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.co.uk/2016/06/scientists-glimpse... .... 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

Testosterone and its effects on evolution - go to https://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.co.uk/2016/06/when-it-comes-to-e... ... 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 http://blog.drwile.com/?p=14883 ... 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 www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/how-lowly-mosquito-helped-america-... ... 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 https://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/new-cretaceous-fos... ... 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 http://phys.org/print383921447.html ... 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 http://phys.org/print383382056.html ... 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.