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  • May 15, 2010
  • 09:12 AM

Mesopredators gone wild

by DeLene Beeland in Wild Muse

Are we headed toward a world full of foxes, skunks and raccoons — but empty of lions, tigers and bears? Maybe. It’s a fact that many of the planet’s large carnivores are in dire straits. Where I live in the eastern U.S., we no longer have cougars or eastern wolves, top predators that used to [...]... Read more »

Prugh, L., Stoner, C., Epps, C., Bean, W., Ripple, W., Laliberte, A., & Brashares, J. (2009) The Rise of the Mesopredator. BioScience, 59(9), 779-791. DOI: 10.1525/bio.2009.59.9.9  

  • May 14, 2010
  • 03:25 PM

Water pollution turns microbes virulent

by Katie Kline in EcoTone

An idyllic lake turns threatening when heavy rainfall causes a sewage treatment plant to overflow. Within 24 hours, once-benign microbes turn into virulent pathogens, breeding incessantly and attacking the embryos of lake fish. As much as that may sound like the synopsis of a movie on Mystery Science Theater, this is an impact on lake ecosystems that is actually occurring.

... Read more »

  • May 14, 2010
  • 02:51 PM

Whale sharks start to give up their secrets

by Alistair Dove in Deep Type Flow

Whale sharks are the largest fish in the oceans; they can grow to 20m in length and weigh many tons, although 7-9m is closer to the common average these days.  Despite their tremendous size, scientists don't know that much about them.  We know that they eat plankton and that they live in the tropical oceans throughout the world and there have been quite a few papers reporting their presence in ... Read more »

  • May 14, 2010
  • 10:05 AM

Fossil Skeleton Preserves Signs of Shark Buffet

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking

According to a short communication recently published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, an ancient marine reptile provided a feast for hungry sharks.
In 2006 paleontologists Tamaki Sato, Yoshikazu Hasegawa and Makoto Manabe described the remains of a previously-unknown kind of elasmosaurid, Futabasaurus suzukii, a long-necked predator that swam the seas in what is now Japan [...]... Read more »

Shimada, K., Tsuihiji, T., Sato, T., & Hasegawa, Y. (2010) A Remarkable Case of a Shark-Bitten Elasmosaurid Plesiosaur. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 30(2), 592-597. DOI: 10.1080/02724631003621920  

  • May 14, 2010
  • 09:38 AM

Inviting Mother Nature to the design table

by Caroline Sober in Promega Connections

Sustainability is all over the news these days. Green this, eco-friendly that, recycle everything, buy the twisty lightbulbs, and “Aren’t you going to compost that?” Much like good compost, sustainability is hot, and it’s finding its way not only into our households, but also into product design. Principles like using low-impact materials, energy efficiency and designing for [...]... Read more »

  • May 14, 2010
  • 09:37 AM

Amphiumas: gigantism, extended parental care and freaky morphology in a group of eel-like salamanders

by Darren Naish in Tetrapod Zoology

A few days ago I visited my friends at the Centre for Fortean Zoology (for non-Tet Zoo-related reasons), and I particularly enjoyed looking at their amphiumas. Purely because I want to share the photos I took - well, and because amphiumas are weird, little known and really, really neat - I thought I'd say a little bit about them.

As usual, that 'little bit' quickly grew into a full-length article... nuts. Read the rest of this post... | Read the comments on this post...... Read more »

Bonett RM, Chippindale PT, Moler PE, Van Devender RW, & Wake DB. (2009) Evolution of gigantism in amphiumid salamanders. PloS one, 4(5). PMID: 19461997  

  • May 14, 2010
  • 07:29 AM

Breathing like Buddha: altitude & Tibet

by Razib Khan in Gene Expression

You probably are aware that different populations have different tolerances for high altitudes. Himalayan sherpas aren’t useful just because they have skills derived from their culture, they’re actually rather well adapted to high altitudes because of their biology. Additionally, different groups seem to have adapted to higher altitudes independently, exhibiting convergent evolution. But in [...]... Read more »

Tatum S. Simonson, Yingzhong Yang, Chad D. Huff, Haixia Yun, Ga Qin, David J. Witherspoon, Zhenzhong Bai, Felipe R. Lorenzo, Jinchuan Xing, Lynn B. Jorde.... (2010) Genetic Evidence for High-Altitude Adaptation in Tibet. Science. info:/10.1126/science.1189406

  • May 14, 2010
  • 06:27 AM

Testing common ancestry to all modern-day life

by Grant Jacobs in Code for life

That evolution occurs is well resolved. Precisely how evolution occurs, in detail, is less so.
One question revolves around if present-day life arose from a single species or more than one.
Douglas Theobald  from Brandeis University has tested if life arose from one or several ancestral paths.1 His results strongly support a single ancestry.
The question of if life has [...]... Read more »

  • May 14, 2010
  • 06:00 AM

Extreme conservation: constructing new habitat in ecological wastelands

by Rob Goldstein in Conservation Maven

... Read more »

  • May 14, 2010
  • 01:39 AM

Friday Weird Science: We need your ID, kiss on the dotted line.

by Evil Monkey in Neurotopia

Sci watched the new Sherlock Holmes movie the other night. It's cute, and one of the things that she really enjoyed was watching Sherlock Holmes use his amazing power of deduction:

Sherlock Holmes: As to where I am, I was, admittedly, lost for a moment, between Charing Cross and Holborn, but I was saved by the bread shop on Southford Hill. The only baker to use a certain French glaze on their loaves - a Brittany sage. After that, the carriage forked left and right, and then a tell-tale bump at........ Read more »

  • May 13, 2010
  • 11:55 PM

Strong Evidence of Empathy Among Ravens

by Michael Long in Phased

Orlaith Fraser (University of Vienna, Austria) and Thomas Bugnyar (Konrad Lorenz Forschungstelle, Austria) have presented strong initial evidence of empathy among non-primates. This news feature was written on May 13, 2010.... Read more »

  • May 13, 2010
  • 11:24 PM

Mitochodrial DNA in the Nucleus and Species Life Span Differences

by Reason in Fight Aging!

A large merged double edition of the journal Rejuvenation Research is now online, bringing with it a lot of papers to look through. I thought I'd direct your attention to one of those many papers, as it presents an interesting evolutionary background to the SENS approach to the mitochondrial DNA damage that accumulates with age. Our mitochondria are biological power plants within our cells, the evolved descendants of symbiotic bacterial species. They convert food into ATP, the chemical used as f........ Read more »

Muradian, K., Lehmann, G., & Fraifeld, V. (2010) NUMT (“New Mighty”) Hypothesis of Longevity. Rejuvenation Research, 13(2-3), 152-155. DOI: 10.1089/rej.2009.0974  

  • May 13, 2010
  • 03:14 PM

Cambrian survivors - weird critters which (temporarily) cheated extinction

by Laelaps in Laelaps

Components of the newly-described Fezouata fauna. a, Demosponge Pirania auraeum b, Choiid demosponge c, Annelid worm d, Organism showing possible similarities to halkieriids e, Possible armoured lobopod f, Thelxiope-like arthropod g, Marrellomorph arthropod, probably belonging to the genus Furca h, Skaniid arthropod i, Spinose arthropod appendage
apparatus consisting of six overlapping elements. From Van Roy et al, 2010.

When the Cambrian period comes up in conversation, it is usually in re........ Read more »

Van Roy, P., Orr, P., Botting, J., Muir, L., Vinther, J., Lefebvre, B., Hariri, K., & Briggs, D. (2010) Ordovician faunas of Burgess Shale type. Nature, 465(7295), 215-218. DOI: 10.1038/nature09038  

  • May 13, 2010
  • 02:41 PM

Black ghost knifefish in a strange angle

by Lucas in thoughtomics

I bet you never wondered why the black ghost knifefish hunts at an uncomfortable angle of -30°! Prepare to take a journey on the intersection of animal behaviour, neurobiology and biomechanics!
Suppose you’re one of your animal ancestors, swimming around in one of the warm and shallow Cambrian seas 500 million years ago. You’re a small [...]... Read more »

MacIver, M., Patankar, N., & Shirgaonkar, A. (2010) Energy-Information Trade-Offs between Movement and Sensing. PLoS Computational Biology, 6(5). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000769  

  • May 13, 2010
  • 02:30 PM

The Future is Now?

by Journal Watch Online in Journal Watch Online

Global warming may already be driving lizard populations extinct

... Read more »

Sinervo, B. et al. (2010) Erosion of lizard diversity by climate change and altered thermal niches. Science. info:/10.1126/science.1184695

Huey, R.B., Losos, J.B., & C. Moritz. (2010) Are lizards toast?. Science. info:/10.1126/science.1190374

  • May 13, 2010
  • 01:00 PM

Acidification and Extinctions

by Uncharted Atolls in Uncharted Atolls

“Human beings are now carrying out a large scale geophysical experiment of a kind that could not have happened in the past nor be reproduced in the future. Within a few centuries, we are returning to the atmosphere and oceans the concentrated organic carbon stored in sedimentary rocks over hundreds of millions of years.” - [...]... Read more »

  • May 13, 2010
  • 08:46 AM

Health Story on Cancer Drug Sparks Heated Debate

by aviwener in Canadian Biotechnologist 2.0

Yesterday, the CBC reported a story of a University of Alberta scientist who managed to raise funds from private donors to test the effects of an unconventional (and unpatented) drug in the fight against cancer (see Potential brain-cancer drug shows promise). The study was recently published in The Journal Science Translational Medicine (see bottom of [...]... Read more »

Michelakis, E., Sutendra, G., Dromparis, P., Webster, L., Haromy, A., Niven, E., Maguire, C., Gammer, T., Mackey, J., Fulton, D.... (2010) Metabolic Modulation of Glioblastoma with Dichloroacetate. Science Translational Medicine, 2(31), 31-31. DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3000677  

  • May 13, 2010
  • 08:43 AM

The Menhaden of History

by Southern Fried Scientist and Bluegrass Blue Crab in Southern Fried Science

Menhaden were the most important fisheries throughout American history. When the first settlers learn to farm corn, it was with menhaden that they fertilized the seeds. When the whaling industry reached its height, it was outweighed by menhaden oil. Menhaden ruled the ocean from the middle of the food chain, they [...]... Read more »

G. Brown Goode. (1880) A History of the Menhaden. Menhaden Fisheries. info:/

  • May 13, 2010
  • 08:30 AM

When habitat destruction is extremely subtle

by Rob Goldstein in Conservation Maven

When it comes to habitat destruction, startling events like oil spills and deforestation are certain to grab the headlines.

Yet as a new study in the journal Animal Conservation shows, sometimes habitat destruction can be so subtle that it passes under the eyes of all but the most astute scientists.... Read more »

  • May 13, 2010
  • 05:00 AM

Can direct payments avert deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon?

by Rob Goldstein in Conservation Maven

In a bid to find a solution to the dual crises of climate change and deforestation, the REDD program has emerged as a potential "win-win" conservation idea. However, the question arises whether underlying social and economic preconditions exist in many countries for REDD to be successful...... Read more »

Börner, J., Wunder, S., Wertz-Kanounnikoff, S., Tito, M., Pereira, L., & Nascimento, N. (2010) Direct conservation payments in the Brazilian Amazon: Scope and equity implications. Ecological Economics, 69(6), 1272-1282. DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2009.11.003  

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