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July 9 2014

Mantis shrimp use 'nature's sunblock' to see UV


The colorful little guy pictured above puts the eyes of every other animal to shame. Whereas humans receive color information via three color receptors in our eyes, mantis shrimp (Neogonodactylus oerstedii) have 12. Six of these differentiate five discrete wavelengths of ultraviolet light, researchers report online today in Current Biology.

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July 9 2014

Newfound Wasp Literally Has Skeletons in Its Closet


A newly discovered wasp has been keeping a gruesome secret: It stuffs ant corpses into the walls of its home.

As far as scientists know, the behavior is unique in the animal kingdom. The new creature has been named Deuteragenia ossarium, or the "bone-house wasp," after the historical ossuaries piled high with human skeletons found in monasteries or graveyards.

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July 9 2014

Will eating insects ever be mainstream?


“Why not eat insects?” asked American pamphleteer Vincent Holt in 1885, proof that selling the idea of insect-eating to meat’n'two veg culture is nothing new.

There are already 2 billion people worldwide who routinely eat bugs, but entomophagy is having a foodie moment in the western world. Insects are even a novelty on the UK food scene. They’re mainly found as subversive garnishes for salads or cocktails, or on the menus of experimental pop-up restaurants.

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July 9 2014

Sugar May Harm Brain Health


A poor diet can eat away at brain health. Now a study in Neurology helps elucidate why. It suggests that eating a lot of sugar or other carbohydrates can be hazardous to both brain structure and function.

Diabetes, which is characterized by chronically high levels of blood glucose, has been linked to an elevated risk of dementia and a smaller hippocampus, a brain region critical for memory.

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July 9 2014

US scientist's mutated H1N1 flu virus 'poses a threat to human population if it should escape'


One of the world’s leading vaccine experts has questioned the scientific rationale behind controversial research on the 2009 strain of pandemic flu virus undertaken by Professor Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Professor Stanley Plotkin, who pioneered the development of the rubella vaccine and has also worked on vaccines against polio, rabies and chickenpox, said that Professor Kawaoka has not been able to answer serious questions about the validity of his research into mutated forms of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic flu virus.

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July 9 2014

The Largest Extinction in Earth’s History May Have Been Caused by Microbes


At the end of the Permian period, about 252 million years ago, animals started dying at ferocious rates. In just 20,000 years 90 percent of all species on the planet had gone extinct. What triggered this die-off? Researchers have been trying to figure that out for decades.

Because the scale of the extinctions was so large, paleobiologists and geochemists started looking for an equally massive disaster as the root cause. Some proposed that an asteroid struck Earth, similar to what ended the reign of the dinosaurs.

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July 9 2014

Biggest ever flying bird and the beast that dwarfed it


Was this the biggest bird ever to grace the skies? With a wingspan of about 6.4 metres, Pelagornis sandersi was nearly twice the width of a wandering albatross, the living bird with the greatest wingspan, at 3.5 metres.

Its size puts it on a par with the similarly whopping Argentavis, which was estimated to have a wingspan of 7 metres but may have been smaller than that. Either way, they were all dwarfed by the extinct flying reptile Quetzalcoatlus northropi, perhaps the largest pterosaur, with a wingspan of up to 11 metres.

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July 9 2014

Ancient Dinosaur DNA May Hold Key to Cure Cancer, Other Human Diseases


The DNA of dinosaurs could unlock the key to a powerful method of healing for humans. According to reports, researchers from Manchester University have discovered evidence while examining ancient dinosaur fossils.

Lead researcher Professor Phil Manning, along with colleagues, studied the fossilised remains of a gorgosaurus, a dinosaur believed to be 72 million years old and an ancient ancestor of the Tyrannosaurus rex. They had found that the 26-feet high creature had the ability to heal from serious illness and restore broken bones.

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July 9 2014

Triceratops horns evolved over time


Aligning the results of classical biological studies and those in palaeontology is rarely easy. The fossil record is great for demonstrating many things about past life on Earth over large timescales and that involve big changes such as the origins of major groups of organisms. Biology is generally the reverse, with even long-term studies on fast-breeding species unlikely to get through too many generations and observe the major changes that are routine in studies of fossils that span millions of years.

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July 9 2014

X-Ray Scans Tell the Tale of Baby Mammoths' Life and Death


Detailed X-ray scans of two baby woolly mammoths unearthed in the Siberian Arctic reveal how they lived more than 40,000 years ago — and how they probably died.

The comprehensive analysis, published in the Journal of Paleontology, represents a forensic tour de force: Scientists reported their initial findings about the life and death of the Ice Age mammoths, nicknamed Lyuba and Khroma, almost three years ago. But since then they've fleshed out the story in a way that would make a "CSI" scriptwriter take notice.

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July 8 2014

Mysterious Earthen Rings Predate Amazon Rainforest


A series of square, straight and ringlike ditches scattered throughout the Bolivian and Brazilian Amazon were there before the rainforest existed, a new study finds.

These human-made structures remain a mystery: They may have been used for defense, drainage, or perhaps ceremonial or religious reasons. But the new research addresses another burning question: whether and how much prehistoric people altered the landscape in the Amazon before the arrival of Europeans.

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July 8 2014

Amazon rainforest grew after climate change 2,000 years ago -study


Swathes of the Amazon may have been grassland until a natural shift to a wetter climate about 2,000 years ago let the rainforests form, according to a study that challenges common belief that the world's biggest tropical forest is far older.

The arrival of European diseases after Columbus crossed the Atlantic in 1492 may also have hastened the growth of forests by killing indigenous people farming the region, the scientists wrote in the U.S. journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

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July 8 2014

Discovery of Neandertal trait in ancient skull raises new questions about human evolution


Re-examination of a circa 100,000-year-old archaic early human skull found 35 years ago in Northern China has revealed the surprising presence of an inner-ear formation long thought to occur only in Neandertals.


Related: Interbreeding Common? Ancient Human Had Neanderthal-Like Ear

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July 8 2014

Found yew! The 'oldest tree in Europe' discovered in a Welsh cemetery


The yew tree is more than 5,000 years old, from the era 3,000BC.

It started growing nearly 500 years before the Pharaohs built the Great Pyramid of Giza.

And it was a sapling at about the time work first began on building Stonehenge.

The 60ft wide tree’s age has been revealed by experts who carried out ring dating and DNA analysis.

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July 8 2014

Mesolithic shamanistic meteorite talisman unearthed


Archaeologists from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology (IAE) in Szczecin, Poland, have discovered a meteorite fragment inside the remains of a hut dating back more than 9,000 years at Bolków by Lake Swidwie in Western Pomerania.

The pyrite meteorite fragment is cylindrical shape and measures only 8 cm long and 5-3.5 cm wide.

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July 8 2014

We can predict which 14-year-olds will be binge-drinkers by 16, brain researchers say


Researchers have discovered a means of predicting whether an individual will become a binge drinker by 16 years of age by imaging their 14-year-old brains.

Robert Whelan and Hugh Garavan wanted “to develop a model to better understand the relative roles of brain structure and function, personality, environmental influences and genetics in the development of adolescent abuse of alcohol.”

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July 8 2014

The Persecution of Witches, 21st-Century Style


Most people believe that the persecution of “witches” reached its height in the early 1690s with the trials in Salem, Mass., but it is a grim paradox of 21st-century life that violence against people accused of sorcery is very much still with us. Far from fading away, thanks to digital interconnectedness and economic development, witch hunting has become a growing, global problem.

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