Biology news

Hydrogen on Enceladus

The BBC was highly excitable on Thursday evening - hours of debate on the prospect of life on Enceladus, a moon of the planet Saturn. The presenters had seemingly read little or anything about the subject prior to their auto cue reader being set in front of their noses, but hey, they were out to educate the public. Analysis of data from NASAs Cassini Mission spacecraft indicates hydrogen gas in the plume of material erupting from Enceladus. Hydrogen, it says, is best explained by chemical reactions between the moon's rocky core and warm water from its sub-surface ocean.

Teleocrater Rhadinus

Teleocrater rhadinus is the name of a critical animal that lived during an important transition - from reptile to dinosaur (and eventually birds). It is a cousin of the dinosaurs, yet has many reptilian traits. Therefore it has been positioned on the tree of evolutionary development at an early stage - prior to the dinosaurs proper. There is of course one reason for this - it lived in the Triassic (before the dinosaur age took off). In positioning in late Triassic it provides a mechanism for evolutionary development. This is particularly relevant in neo-catastrophist evolution.

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).