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  • March 30, 2011
  • 11:09 AM

Watch Out For That Thagomizer!

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking

Stegosaurus had a formidable tail. Studded with four long spikes, this dinosaur’s business end would have given Allosaurus and other Jurassic predators plenty of incentive to keep moving. But do we have any evidence that Stegosaurus really used its tail this way? Among paleontologists, the four-spiked tail of Stegosaurus is called a “thagomizer.” It is [...]... Read more »

Carpenter, Kenneth; Sanders, Frank; McWhinney, Lorrie A.; and Wood, Lowell. (2005) Evidence for predator-prey relationships: Examples for Allosaurus and Stegosaurus. The Carnivorous Dinosaurs, 325-350. info:/

  • March 30, 2011
  • 09:00 AM

Why we live in dangerous places

by Tim De Chant in Per Square Mile

Natural disasters always seem to strike in the worst places. The Sendai earthquake has caused over 8,000 deaths, destroyed 450,000 people’s homes, crippled four nuclear reactors, and wreaked over $300 billion in damage. And it’s only the latest disaster. Haiti will need decades to rebuild after its earthquake. New Orleans still hasn’t repopulated following Hurricane Katrina. Indonesia still feels the effect of the 2004 tsunami. The list could go on and on. The unfortunate lesso........ Read more »

Connell JH. (1978) Diversity in tropical rain forests and coral reefs. Science (New York, N.Y.), 199(4335), 1302-10. PMID: 17840770  

  • March 30, 2011
  • 08:57 AM

Wednesday Weird Science: SNAILS IN...SPAAAAAAACE

by Scicurious in Neurotic Physiology

There will be no NORMAL Friday Weird Science this week.  Sci's got something special coming at ya!  Keep your eyes peeled.   But of course, I couldn't just do a week without doing my NORMAL weird science, right??  Ok, I'll be honest, nothing else really appealed to me's SNAILS IN SPACE.  You know what?  [...]... Read more »

Balaban, P., Malyshev, A., Ierusalimsky, V., Aseyev, N., Korshunova, T., Bravarenko, N., Lemak, M., Roshchin, M., Zakharov, I., Popova, Y.... (2011) Functional Changes in the Snail Statocyst System Elicited by Microgravity. PLoS ONE, 6(3). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0017710  

  • March 30, 2011
  • 08:51 AM

Cell[phone] Cancer?

by A. Goldstein in WiSci

No longer are households filled with cries of, “Stop tying up the phone line! I need to make a call!” The advent of cell phones has enabled anyone to talk anywhere, anytime, for any amount of time. As convenient as these devices may be for our schedules, they might not be so good for our [...]... Read more »

Volkow, N., Tomasi, D., Wang, G., Vaska, P., Fowler, J., Telang, F., Alexoff, D., Logan, J., & Wong, C. (2011) Effects of Cell Phone Radiofrequency Signal Exposure on Brain Glucose Metabolism. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 305(8), 808-813. DOI: 10.1001/jama.2011.186  

Cardis, E., Richardson, L., Deltour, I., Armstrong, B., Feychting, M., Johansen, C., Kilkenny, M., McKinney, P., Modan, B., Sadetzki, S.... (2007) The INTERPHONE study: design, epidemiological methods, and description of the study population. European Journal of Epidemiology, 22(9), 647-664. DOI: 10.1007/s10654-007-9152-z  

  • March 30, 2011
  • 08:35 AM

Don’t Judge a Cheetah by Its Spots: New Insights into the Genetics and Evolutionary History of African and Asiatic Cheetahs

by Kelly Grooms in Promega Connections

The genetics of wild cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) populations has a special significance for me. In fact, it could be said that the population genetics of cheetahs changed my life.  I first learned about the low genetic variability in cheetahs in a darkened lecture hall at Iowa State University in 1988. I was so fascinated by [...]... Read more »

  • March 30, 2011
  • 08:32 AM

What can Zebrafish tell us about metastatic melanoma?

by Sally Church in Pharma Strategy Blog

This week’s Nature is chock full of interesting articles on various cancer related topics so it was quite hard to pick just one to discuss in a blog post.   Nevertheless, two on Zebrafish was very striking, since the Letters … Continue reading →
... Read more »

Ceol, C., Houvras, Y., Jane-Valbuena, J., Bilodeau, S., Orlando, D., Battisti, V., Fritsch, L., Lin, W., Hollmann, T., Ferré, F.... (2011) The histone methyltransferase SETDB1 is recurrently amplified in melanoma and accelerates its onset. Nature, 471(7339), 513-517. DOI: 10.1038/nature09806  

White, R., Cech, J., Ratanasirintrawoot, S., Lin, C., Rahl, P., Burke, C., Langdon, E., Tomlinson, M., Mosher, J., Kaufman, C.... (2011) DHODH modulates transcriptional elongation in the neural crest and melanoma. Nature, 471(7339), 518-522. DOI: 10.1038/nature09882  

  • March 30, 2011
  • 08:26 AM

Doing kinetics in vivo and in vitro - what can go wrong?

by Vasili Hauryliuk in stringent response

When you study an enzyme-catalyzed reaction happening in the cell, there are basically 3 things you want to know:1) how fast?2) how sensitive to the substrate concentration?3) how specific?In terms of the Michaelis-Menten kinetics that would be kcat, KM and kcat/KM. These all can be measured in vitro, given that you can purify your protein of interest and set up an assay to follow the reaction. But that's in vitro, you say, and how about in vivo? May be everything is different there? What a plea........ Read more »

Neubauer C, Gao YG, Andersen KR, Dunham CM, Kelley AC, Hentschel J, Gerdes K, Ramakrishnan V, & Brodersen DE. (2009) The structural basis for mRNA recognition and cleavage by the ribosome-dependent endonuclease RelE. Cell, 139(6), 1084-95. PMID: 20005802  

Burmann BM, Schweimer K, Luo X, Wahl MC, Stitt BL, Gottesman ME, & Rösch P. (2010) A NusE:NusG complex links transcription and translation. Science (New York, N.Y.), 328(5977), 501-4. PMID: 20413501  

  • March 30, 2011
  • 01:29 AM


by Julia Whitty in Deep Blue Home

A new paper in Conservation Letters calculates that the numbers of whales and dolphins killed in BP's Deepwater Horizon disaster could be 50 times higher than the number of carcasses found. The authors—a high-powered list of renowned cetacean researchers from Canada, the US, Australia, and Scotland (including Scott Krause, who I filmed years ago for a documentary about North Atlantic right whales)—write of a general misperception of the Deepwater Horizon impact:Many media reports have sugge........ Read more »

Rob Williams, Shane Gero, Lars Bejder, John Calambokidis, Scott D. Kraus, David Lusseau, Andrew J. Read, & Jooke Robbins. (2011) Underestimating the damage: interpreting cetacean carcass recoveries in the context of the Deepwater Horizon/BP incident. Conservation Letters. info:/10.1111/j.1755-263X.2011.00168.x

  • March 30, 2011
  • 01:07 AM

Tip of the Week: MetaPhoOrs, orthology and paralogy predictions

by Trey in OpenHelix

The researchers and developers at PhylomeDB haven’t rested on their laurels. I did a tip of the week on PhylomeDB 3 months ago and not too long ago I was checking over there and found the team had created another useful database and analysis tool, MetaPhoOrs. What is MetaPhoOrs? To quote from the homepage:
MetaPhOrs is a public repository of phylogeny-based orthology and paralogy predictions that were computed using resources available in seven popular homology prediction services (Phylome........ Read more »

  • March 29, 2011
  • 11:48 AM

Ratting out landmines and tuberculosis

by Iddo Friedberg in Byte Size Biology

Thanks to John Stevenson for drawing my attention to this one: Giant African Pouched Rats are trained as detectors; a good solution for low-income countries and communities. HeroRATS, as they are called, come in two "models": landmine detectors and tuberculosis detectors. Rats born in captivity (captured rats are impossible to train) are trained to sniff out landmines in historically war-ravaged zones where many landmines are laying unmapped, and using other detection or disposal tech........ Read more »

Poling, A., Weetjens, B., Cox, C., Mgode, G., Jubitana, M., Kazwala, R., Mfinanga, G., & Huis in 't Veld, D. (2010) Using Giant African Pouched Rats to Detect Tuberculosis in Human Sputum Samples: 2009 Findings. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 83(6), 1308-1310. DOI: 10.4269/ajtmh.2010.10-0180  

Alan Poling, Bart J. Weetjens, Christophe Cox, Negussie W. Beyene, & Andrew Sully. (2010) USING GIANT AFRICAN POUCHED RATS (CRICETOMYS GAMBIANUS) TO DETECT LANDMINES. The Psychological Record, 60(4), 715-728. info:other/

  • March 29, 2011
  • 11:36 AM

The Ghosts of Yellowstone

by Rob Mitchum in ScienceLife

Paleontologists often deal with time scales in the hundreds of millions of years, reading the messages of fossils to learn about life on Earth long before humans arrived on the scene. But bones aren’t limited to providing insight on prehistoric ecosystems. The skeletal fragments left behind by animals at their final resting place can be [...]... Read more »

  • March 29, 2011
  • 11:15 AM

Virus-Killers: Are virophages alive?

by Brooke N in Smaller Questions

Highlights new virophage (OLV) found in Organic Lake, Antarctica and includes a brief background of Sputnik, original virophage found in Paris.... Read more »

La Scola, B., Desnues, C., Pagnier, I., Robert, C., Barrassi, L., Fournous, G., Merchat, M., Suzan-Monti, M., Forterre, P., Koonin, E.... (2008) The virophage as a unique parasite of the giant mimivirus. Nature, 455(7209), 100-104. DOI: 10.1038/nature07218  

  • March 29, 2011
  • 10:15 AM

Big Crayfish Could Be Key to Population Stability

by Nature Education in Student Voices

Any respectable Cajun restaurant in the United States serves crayfish (although ...... Read more »

  • March 29, 2011
  • 09:28 AM

Video: Physical Attraction

by Jack Serle in Elements Science

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. With so many images of an idealised beauty thrown at us every day, how does this affect our judgement? Richard Masters investigates

Related posts:Video: the unhealthy option – transfats and fastfood
... Read more »

Swami, V., Furnham, A., Chamorro-Premuzic, T., Akbar, K., Gordon, N., Harris, T., Finch, J., & Tovee, M. (2010) More Than Just Skin Deep? Personality Information Influences Men's Ratings of the Attractiveness of Women's Body Sizes. The Journal of Social Psychology, 150(6), 628-647. DOI: 10.1080/00224540903365497  

  • March 29, 2011
  • 09:05 AM

Moths that pass in the night: Reproductive isolation due to pickiness, or just bad timing?

by Jeremy Yoder in Denim and Tweed

On a summer night in a Florida corn field, a female armyworm moth emerges from her underground cocoon and spreads her wings to dry in the humid air. Over the next few weeks, she will fly miles away in search of a mate, and a likely-looking patch of host plants on which to lay her eggs.

Her brief adult life will be shaped in many ways by the life she led as a larva, feeding on domestic corn. She could easily find other grasses to feed her offspring, but she'll probably seek out another cornfield........ Read more »

  • March 29, 2011
  • 06:30 AM

Miniaturizing medicine

by Becky in It Takes 30

You’ve probably seen NMR machines at some point during your career.  They usually have their own room, often with an extra-high ceiling to allow the operator to insert the sample without bumping his or her head.  So it may surprise you to know that a miniaturized NMR machine that you can literally hold in the [...]... Read more »

Haun JB, Castro CM, Wang R, Peterson VM, Marinelli BS, Lee H, & Weissleder R. (2011) Micro-NMR for Rapid Molecular Analysis of Human Tumor Samples. Science translational medicine, 3(71). PMID: 21346169  

  • March 29, 2011
  • 05:10 AM

The flat and the fit

by Razib Khan in Gene Expression

The Pith: In evolution if you want to win in the long run you don’t want all your eggs in one basket, even if that’s the choicest basket. Sh*t happens, and you better have some back up strategies.
Diversity is a major question in evolutionary biology. In particular, why is there so much diversity, so that the tree of life manifests a multitude of morphs? Might there not be some supreme replicator which emerges from the maelstrom to conquer all before it? This is actually the scenari........ Read more »

  • March 28, 2011
  • 04:44 PM

A Word of Caution on Mesenchymal Stem Cells

by Sanford- Burnham in Beaker

We still don’t quite know enough about many of the existing stem cell types to predict exactly how they will behave when transplanted into a patient. Each of the many different types of stem cells has its unique repertoire of behaviors, and its own benefits and drawbacks (not to mention ethical implications). A recent paper and editorial in Experimental Neurology hammers home the possible dangers of one particular very popular and oft-used type of stem cell. Here, researchers found that brain ........ Read more »

Grigoriadis N, Lourbopoulos A, Lagoudaki R, Frischer JM, Polyzoidou E, Touloumi O, Simeonidou C, Deretzi G, Kountouras J, Spandou E.... (2011) Variable behavior of autologous bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells transplanted in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Experimental Neurology. info:/doi:10.1016/j.expneurol.2011.02.021

  • March 28, 2011
  • 04:14 PM

You can take a horse out of the wild, but you cannot take the wild out of a horse…

by Dr. Carin Bondar in Dr. Carin Bondar - Biologist With a Twist

Feral horse populations are alive and well on several continents including North America, Europe, Australia and India.  Feral horses – referring to specimens that are free roaming but with a domesticated ancestry – live in herds (harems) that are comprised of a dominant stallion, sub-dominant males, and several females.  The majority of the foals in [...]... Read more »

Bartoš, L., Bartošová, J., Pluháček, J., & Šindelářová, J. (2011) Promiscuous behaviour disrupts pregnancy block in domestic horse mares. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. DOI: 10.1007/s00265-011-1166-6  

  • March 28, 2011
  • 02:35 PM

Digitizing Jane Goodall's Legacy at Duke

by Jason Goldman in The Thoughtful Animal

A new piece by me today at the Scientific American Guest Blog, on some exciting news from the Jane Goodall Institute and Duke University:

Fifty years ago, in the summer of 1960 - the same year that a US satellite snapped the first photo of the Earth from space, the same year that the CERN particle accelerator became operational, the same year that the Beatles got their name - a 26-year-old Jane Goodall got on a plane in London and went for the first time to Gombe Stream Game Reserve, in Tanzani........ Read more »

Goodall, J., & Pintea, L. (2010) Securing a future for chimpanzees. Nature, 466(7303), 180-181. DOI: 10.1038/466180a  

Pusey AE, Pintea L, Wilson ML, Kamenya S, & Goodall J. (2007) The contribution of long-term research at Gombe National Park to chimpanzee conservation. Conservation biology : the journal of the Society for Conservation Biology, 21(3), 623-34. PMID: 17531041  

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