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May 31 2014

Tai Chi May Slow Aging Process


A traditional Chinese martial art and sport may be able to slow down the aging process, according to a recent study.

Researchers found that Tai Chi is beneficial in raising the numbers of a cluster of differentiation 34 expressing (CD34+) cells, a stem cell important to a number of the body's functions and structures.

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May 31 2014

Toxins in the environment might make you older than your years


Why are some 75-year-olds downright spry while others can barely get around? Part of the explanation, say researchers is differences from one person to the next in exposure to harmful substances in the environment, chemicals such as benzene, cigarette smoke, and even stress.

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May 31 2014

Forget the dentist's drill, use lasers to heal teeth


Open wide, this won't hurt a bit. That might actually be true if the dentist's drill is replaced by a promising low-powered laser that can prompt stem cells to make damaged hard tissue in teeth grow back. Such minimally invasive treatment could one day offer an easy way to repair or regrow our pearly whites.

When a tooth is chipped or damaged, dentists replace it with ceramic or some other inert material, but these deteriorate over time.

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May 31 2014

Kids will eat veggies if you start early and don’t give up


Even the pickiest kids will eat more vegetables if you offer veggies to kids when they are very young—and keep offering—a new study finds.

The research, involving babies and children from the UK, France, and Denmark, also dispels the popular myth that vegetable tastes need to be masked or given by stealth in order for children to eat them.

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May 31 2014

Spider Masquerades as Bird Poo to Avoid Being Eaten


One of the best ways to avoid being bothered is to masquerade as something unsavory, reports a new study identifying a spider whose web and body resemble bird droppings.

The orb-web Cyclosa ginnaga adds to the growing list of spiders that are nearly indistinguishable from avian excrement.

In this case, the spider sells the look via additions, otherwise known as "decorations," to its web, which may include carcasses, egg sacs, plant detritus or silk.

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May 31 2014

Crickets in two places fall silent to survive


To hide themselves from deadly flies, crickets on two Hawaiian islands have evolved an inability to sing.

Ten years ago, two years apart, males appeared on Kauai and Oahu with altered wings, which they would normally rub together to chirp and attract females.

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May 31 2014

Longest Migration Among African Mammals Discovered


A population of zebras surprised biologists by making a more than 300-mile beeline across parts of Namibia and Botswana—the longest big-mammal migration ever documented in Africa.

In the wilds of Africa, food and water come and go with the seasons, and animals follow.

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May 31 2014

A Little Bird Either Learns Its Name Or Dies


I've been wondering lately, do animals invent names? As in names for themselves? Names for each other? I've always thought that what we do when we call ourselves "Ralph" or "Laura" is unique, something exclusively human. But it turns out that's wrong. Other animals have name-like calls that they use much like we do.

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May 31 2014

Dolphins Guide Scientists to Rescue Suicidal Girl


One day, my research team and I were following a school of bottlenose dolphins near shore as we do on a regular basis in the waters off Los Angeles, California. We just wrapped up our photo-identification work and were moving on to take video of dolphin social interactions and enter data on behavior.

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May 30 2014

'Free choice' in primates altered through brain stimulation


When electrical pulses are applied to the ventral tegmental area of their brain, macaques presented with two images change their preference from one image to the other. The study is the first to confirm a causal link between activity in the ventral tegmental area and choice behavior in primates.

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May 30 2014

Neolithic Near East wetter and more fertile than today


A new study describes the characteristics of agriculture at its beginnings by comparing kernel and wood samples from ancient Near East sites, with present day samples. It is the first time that direct evidence is able to reveal humidity and fertility conditions of crops, as well as the process of cereal domestication developed from the Neolithic (12,000 years ago) to early Roman times (around 2,000 years ago).

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May 30 2014

Antarctic Ice Sheet unstable at end of last ice age, new study finds


A new study has found that the Antarctic Ice Sheet began melting about 5,000 years earlier than previously thought coming out of the last ice age – and that shrinkage of the vast ice sheet accelerated during eight distinct episodes, causing rapid sea level rise.

The international study, funded in part by the National Science Foundation, is particularly important coming on the heels of recent studies that suggest destabilization of part of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet has begun.

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May 30 2014

Ancient 'Fish Lizard' Graveyard Discovered Beneath Melting Glacier


Dozens of nearly complete skeletons of prehistoric marine reptiles have been uncovered near a melting glacier in southern Chile.

Scientists found 46 specimens from four different species of extinct ichthyosaurs. These creatures, whose Greek name means "fish lizards," were a group of large, fast-swimming marine reptiles that lived during the Mesozoic Era, about 245 million to 90 million years ago.

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May 30 2014

Huge Tooth Proves Jurassic Seas Were Crazy Dangerous


A fossilized tooth dredged from the bottom of the English Channel near Dorset, England, belonged to a formidable Jurassic marine predator and is the largest known tooth of its kind found in the U.K., according to a new study.

The 2.36-inch-long tooth has a broken tip, and would have been even bigger when new, suggests the paper, published in the journal Historical Biology.

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May 30 2014

Dog domestication may explain European mammoth kill sites


A new analysis of European archaeological sites containing large numbers of dead mammoths and dwellings built with mammoth bones has led Penn State Professor Emerita Pat Shipman to formulate a new interpretation of how these sites were formed.

She suggests that their abrupt appearance may have been due to early modern humans working with the earliest domestic dogs to kill the now-extinct mammoth. Shipman’s analysis also provides a way to test the predictions of her new hypothesis. Advance publication of her article “How do you kill 86 mammoths?” is available online through Quaternary International.

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May 30 2014

Butterfly 'eyespots' add detail to the story of evolution


A new study of the colorful "eyespots" on the wings of some butterfly species is helping to address fundamental questions about evolution that are conceptually similar to the quandary Aristotle wrestled with about 330 B.C. – "which came first, the chicken or the egg?"

After consideration, Aristotle decided that both the egg and the chicken had always existed. That was not the right answer. The new Oregon State University research is providing a little more detail.

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May 30 2014

Did Charles Darwin 'borrow' the theory of natural selection?


When Charles Darwin published ‘On the Origin of Species by Natural Selection’ in 1859 one Scottish fruit farmer was, understandably, rather put out.

Decades before, Patrick Matthew had written a book in which he described ‘the natural process of selection’ explaining how ‘a law universal in nature’ ensured the survival of the fittest.

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