Biology


- Today, being "birdbrained" means forgetting where you left your keys or wallet. But 66 million years ago, it may have meant the difference between life and death—and may help explain why birds are the only dinosaurs left on Earth. Research on a newly discovered bird fossil led by The University of Texas at Austin found that a unique brain shape may be why the ancestors of living birds survived the mass extinction that claimed all other known dinosaurs. "Living birds have brains more complex ... [Read More]

Source: phys.org

- Scientist Dr Lauren Smith explains why Sylvester Stallone's dunderheaded supervillain would struggle with shrivelling eyes in the real world – and would have no desire to munch on humans. Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, sharks have started to grow legs and walk about on land. Or at least that’s the idea behind one of The Suicide Squad ’s most ludicrous characters: King Shark, a walking, talking great white shark (voiced by Sylvester Stallone) with a low IQ and a ... [Read More]


- Paleontologists have uncovered an enormous fossil graveyard of squiggly, alien-like Jurassic sea creatures beneath a limestone quarry in the UK's Cotswolds region. The fossil find includes perhaps tens of thousands of marine invertebrates called echinoderms - meaning "hedgehog skin" in Greek, and including the ancient ancestors of modern starfish, sea cucumbers , sea urchins and frilly-limbed sea lilies - immaculately preserved at all stages of their life cycles, the researchers said in a ... [Read More]


- The tenacious hadrosaur lived for some time after it was injured. A dinosaur that lived about 70 million years ago suffered from fractured tailbones and a "cauliflower-like" foot tumor, a new fossil analysis shows. But despite these painful maladies, the dinosaur survived for some time after it was hurt. When late paleontologist Jaime Eduardo Powell discovered the skeleton in Argentina's Río Negro Province in the 1980s, he observed that one of the feet was injured, and he described the injury ... [Read More]


- New research has identified a 100-million-year-old weevil unlike any other known fossilized or living weevil. Oregon State University research has identified a 100-million-year-old weevil unlike any other known fossilized or living weevil. George Poinar Jr., an international expert in using plant and animal life forms preserved in amber to learn about the biology and ecology of the distant past, calls the male specimen a "mammoth weevil" because of its "monstrous trunk" -- also known as the ... [Read More]


- Using an exceptionally preserved fossil from South Africa, a particle accelerator, and high-powered x-rays, an international team including a University of Minnesota researcher has discovered that not all dinosaurs breathed in the same way. The findings give scientists more insight into how a major group of dinosaurs, including well-known creatures like the triceratops and stegosaurus, evolved. The study is published in eLife , a peer-reviewed open access scientific journal for the biomedical ... [Read More]


- Peter Kropotkin thought mutual aid in the animal kingdom showed cooperation comes naturally. But we shouldn’t defer to nature in moral questions. The phrase “mutual aid” has been cropping up a lot recently, often in the context of grassroots responses to natural disasters , the demonstrations for Black lives and against police brutality , and neighbors helping neighbors during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic . Generally described as cooperation for the sake of the common good, mutual aid ... [Read More]


- New research finds that sexual reproduction and multicellularity drive diversity among different species. There are huge differences in species numbers among the major branches of the tree of life. Some groups of organisms have many species, while others have few. For example, animals, plants and fungi each have over 100,000 known species, but most others -- such as many algal and bacterial groups -- have 10,000 or less. A new University of Arizona-led study, published in the Proceedings of the ... [Read More]


- Animals Humans Lived Alongside Fierce Dog-Like Creatures in Prehistoric Europe, Fossil Find Suggests Known as “Eurasian hunting dogs,” these non-wolf canids are very distantly related to domesticated dogs. New research details the discovery of an extinct dog-like animal that lived in the Caucasus region of Europe some 1.7 million years ago. Intriguingly, early humans occupied the same region during this time, prompting questions about potential interactions. The remains are scarce—a ... [Read More]

Source: gizmodo.com

- A tiny insect is transforming the western US — with a little help from climate change. This story is part of Down to Earth , a Vox reporting initiative on the science, politics, and economics of the biodiversity crisis. Extreme drought. Soaring temperatures. Decades of fire suppression. It’s a perfect recipe for the kinds of wildfires now tearing through the West . But there’s another ingredient that could make fires even more severe, and it’s just the size of a grain of rice: bark ... [Read More]

Source: vox.com

- The gene-drive element spreads rapidly through the populations, fully supresses the population within one year and without selecting for resistance to the gene drive. Approximate Bayesian computation allowed retrospective inference of life-history parameters from the large cages and a more accurate prediction of gene-drive behaviour under more ecologically-relevant settings. Generating data to bridge laboratory and field studies for invasive technologies is challenging. Our study represents a ... [Read More]

Source: nature.com

- The fossils are more than 350 million years older than the next-oldest sponge fossils. That sea sponge hanging in your shower may be able to trace its evolutionary lineage to nearly a billion years ago, according to fossils that could be the oldest examples of animal life on Earth. The 890-million-year-old fossils of what may be ancient sponges were found in Canada's Northwest Territories, and their tiny and delicately branching tendrils are invisible to the naked eye. But under a microscope , ... [Read More]


- The jawbone of a bat that lived 100,000 years ago has been confirmed as belonging to an extinct species of giant vampire bat. The discovery of the jawbone of the species Desmodus draculae , found in a cave in Argentina, is helping fill in the huge gaps in the history of these amazing animals, and could provide some clues as to why these bats eventually died out. Bats today are extremely diverse. They constitute roughly 20 percent of all known mammal species, which is really quite a sizable ... [Read More]


- Western monarchs have lost 99.9 percent of their numbers since the 1980s In many ways, monarch butterflies are the poster child of the insect world. Amateur and professional entomologists alike celebrate the insects’ iconic black-and-orange wings. However, the beautiful butterfly is under severe threat. Its numbers are dwindling precipitously and scientists are not sure why. Populations of eastern monarchs have declined more than 80 percent in the past two decades while western monarchs have ... [Read More]


- Colonies of feral bees, thought to have died out decades ago, are generating a buzz among researchers. Since the Middle Ages, humans have had a close relationship with honeybees as we’ve captured and reared them for their valuable and delicious honey. Over time, however, captive honeybees started to outcompete wild honeybees, which were also losing habitat as their native forests were cut down. Then in the late 1940s, beekeepers in Africa started to see outbreaks of a virulent parasite – ... [Read More]


- The nine biggest cats prowling our planet today. Big cats are found all over the planet, and each species is unique, from the elusive snow leopards that stalk wild sheep in the mountains of Afghanistan to the lions that face off against wildebeest in sub-Saharan Africa. There are many strong contenders for the giant cat crown, but two ferocious felines stand head and shoulders above the rest. From smallest to largest, here are the nine biggest cats living in the wild today. Clouded leopards ( ... [Read More]