Biology news

appaloosa horses

A couple of years ago there was a TV documentary, 'True Appaloosas' about a journey by a New Zealand horse breeder, Scott Engstrom, when she was 66 years of age, to Kyrgistan after reading about a horse breed that closely resembled the Appaloosa breed. Modern Appaloosas are of course a modern breeding success but they seem to have an origin in horses bred by the Nez Perce tribe, famous for the long march to the Canadian border pursued by the US Army.

nest sites

At http://phys.org/print372582577.html ... we learn that nesting grounds of sauropod dinosaurs are quite astonishly preserved in some parts of the world, some sites covering many square miles. These form vast playgrounds to rear their young. At Jabaljur in India, and at Lemta Ghat for example eggs of giant crocodiles have also been found in these fossilised nesting sites. The nesting sites with crocodiles tend to be located in estuarine situations in what may indicate crocodiles and dinosaurs wee able to tolerate each other.

rodents

The Times, February 25th 2015, nearly a year ago, had a report on the Black Death - and Asian gerbils were said to be responsible. Between the winter of 1348 and the summer of 1349 the plague is said to have wiped out a quarter of England's population and half that of London. An estimated 50 million people in Europe died in such a short space of time that it makes you wonder if rodents could spread a disease that quickly. Mike Baillie in his book, 'New Light on the Black Death; the Cosmic Connection' had a different view.

mammoths where they shouldn't be

Mammoths, or big elephants shall we say, are always a crowd pleaser which draws attention and the story at www.sciencenews.org/article/humans-visited-arctic-earlier-thought?tgt=nr .. where we learn a frozen mammoth carcase displays evidence of butchering by some of our ancestors. The problem is that the discovery was made deep inside the Arctic Circle, at 72 degrees N, in what we might call the northern region of central Siberia. Other kill sites are known just below the Arctic Circle but most of them occur well outside the region.

big boy

At http://phys.org/print371876448.html ... the Pleistocene is famous for big versions of beasts we see around us in the modern world. Mammoths are large elephants with woolly vest and cave bears are larger versions of brown bears and so forth. There were giant sloths, larger types of bison and musk ox, and various theories have been advanced in to why this might be so. The latest big boy is a giraffe like animal - the biggest ruminant mammal ever.

dinosaur eggs

At http://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/110-million-year-ol... ... dinosaur eggs found in Japan, just 5cm long and 2cm wide, really quite small for a big dinosaur beast to crack open. It is not known what species laid the eggs but they are thought to be from a small species - or a bird. They were fossilised inside their nest.

functional food

At http://phys.org/print369910125.html ... I found this story interesting but I don't suppose everyone will. Functional food - or food using emulsifiers. This has now progressed into medical food - for diabetics, the seriously overweight, and various kinds of illness where ordinary food may cause problems. It also includes the use of nutritional supplements. I haven't tried any of them out but we appear to be moving towards artificial food. This may be a necessity if population numbers continue to rise and land to farm becomes scarce as building houses becomes the priority.

Dogs

This story was everywhere - but then dogs are very popular as human companions, as working dogs (retrieving dead animals, rooting out rabbits in holes, rounding up sheep, and sniffing out drugs etc) and as warning sentries (barking like mad when a stranger approaches, very handy if you live in an isolated hill farm). We take them for granted but how did they evolve into so many different breeds and cross breeds. Where did the original domestic dog come from - a jackal, a wolf, or some lost relative.

aphids

Gardeners and farmers are well aware of aphids as a sap eating pest of various crops and flowering plants. They suck up a sugary sap from plants and an infestation can be devastating. These little bugs are even farmed by ants and preyed on by a variety of insects such as ladybird larvae. It seems that aphids are an extremely complex organism as their diet lacks an adequate amount of amino acids. To compensate for this aphids, in association with bacteria, reform the little amino acid in sap into a more balanced form of amino acids that meets their needs to thrive and prosper.

pipes and taps

A Swedish study has found domestic water pipes are crawling with bacteria. However, this is not your bad kind of bacteria but your good kind of bacteria as they are thought to help purify the water. They appear to thrive in pipes and taps and in water treatment plants - go to http://phys.org/print369482206.html