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Thursday, October 16, 2014

ScienceDaily: Strange Science News

ScienceDaily: Strange Science News

Informative visit to the toilet, for lemurs

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 06:08 PM PDT

Emily loves Justin, Stop global warming, Two more weeks till I graduate! The exchange of information in public toilets is widespread. It also occurs in the world of white-footed sportive lemurs. Only instead of writing on the walls, they use scent-marks in order to communicate with their own kind. Biologists have found that, in particular, the urine left on latrine trees serves as a method to maintain contact to family members. It also serves as a means to inform an intruder that there is a male that will defend his partner. Latrines serve as information exchange centers and promote social bonding in territorial nocturnal animals that do not live in closely-knit groups.

Getting to know super-Earths: Using Hubble to study mysterious exoplanet

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 12:25 PM PDT

Results from NASA's Kepler mission have indicated that the most common planets in the galaxy are super-Earths -- those that are bigger than Earth but smaller than Neptune. We have no examples of these planets in our own solar system, so astronomers are using space telescopes to try to find out more about these worlds. Most recently they used Hubble to study the planet HD 97658b, in the constellation Leo.

Milky Way ransacks nearby dwarf galaxies

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 12:25 PM PDT

Astronomers have discovered that our nearest galactic neighbors, the dwarf spheroidal galaxies, are devoid of star-forming gas, and that our Milky Way Galaxy is to blame.

These roos were 'made' for walking, study suggests of extinct enigmas

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 11:31 AM PDT

Based on a rigorous comparative analysis of kangaroo anatomy, researchers posit that the ancient family of sthenurine kangaroos that lived until 30,000 years ago likely preferred walking to hopping.

Researchers develop world's thinnest electric generator

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 11:28 AM PDT

Researchers have made the first experimental observation of piezoelectricity and the piezotronic effect in an atomically thin material, molybdenum disulfide, resulting in a unique electric generator and mechanosensation devices that are optically transparent, extremely light, and very bendable and stretchable.

Discarded cigarette ashes could go to good use -- removing arsenic from water

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 08:23 AM PDT

Arsenic, a well-known poison, can be taken out of drinking water using sophisticated treatment methods. But in places that lack the equipment or technical know-how required to remove it, it still laces drinking water and makes people sick. To tackle this problem, scientists have come up with a new low-cost, simple way to remove arsenic using leftovers from another known health threat -- cigarettes.

Dolphin 'breathalyzer' could help diagnose animal and ocean health

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 08:23 AM PDT

Alcohol consumption isn't the only thing a breath analysis can reveal. Scientists have been studying its possible use for diagnosing a wide range of conditions in humans -- and now in the beloved bottlenose dolphin. One team describes a new instrument that can analyze the metabolites in breath from dolphins, which have been dying in alarming numbers along the Atlantic coast this year.

Chimpanzees have favorite 'tool set' for hunting staple food of army ants

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 07:17 AM PDT

New research shows that chimpanzees search for the right tools from a key plant species when preparing to 'ant dip' -- a crafty technique enabling them to feast on army ants without getting bitten. The study shows that army ants are not a poor substitute for preferred foods, but a staple part of chimpanzee diets.

Importance of dead jellyfish to deep-sea ecosystems

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 07:15 AM PDT

Dead jellyfish contribute to the deep-sea food chain, unlike previously thought, innovative experiments show. Researchers deployed lander systems to look at how scavengers responded to jellyfish and fish baits in the deep sea off Norway. The experiments were carried out in areas with jellyfish blooms near the ocean surface and showed that when the creatures fell to the seabed they were rapidly eaten by scavengers.

Ancient fossils of bizarre figure-eight water creatures confirmed among our strangest distant cousins

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 07:13 AM PDT

More than 100 years since they were first discovered, some of the world's most bizarre fossils have been identified as close relatives of vertebrates. The fossils belong to 500-million-year-old blind water creatures, known as "vetulicolians". Alien-like in appearance, these marine creatures were "filter-feeders" shaped like a figure eight. In a new paper, researchers argue for a change in the way these creatures are viewed, placing them with the same group that includes vertebrate animals, such as humans.

Astronomers spot faraway Uranus-like planet: First 'ice giant' planet found in another solar system

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 07:13 AM PDT

Our view of other solar systems just got a little more familiar, with the discovery of a planet 25,000 light-years away that resembles our own Uranus. Astronomers have discovered hundreds of planets around the Milky Way, including rocky planets similar to Earth and gas planets similar to Jupiter. But there is a third type of planet in our solar system -- part gas, part ice -- and this is the first time anyone has spotted a twin for our so-called "ice giant" planets, Uranus and Neptune.

Construction secrets of a galactic metropolis: APEX reveals hidden star formation in protocluster

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 06:22 AM PDT

Astronomers have used the APEX telescope to probe a huge galaxy cluster that is forming in the early Universe and revealed that much of the star formation taking place is not only hidden by dust, but also occurring in unexpected places. This is the first time that a full census of the star formation in such an object has been possible.

Partisan lenses: Beauty lies in your political affiliation

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 05:45 AM PDT

Have you ever noticed you find your candidate for political office more attractive than the opponent? New research shows you're not the only one.

Collapsible wings help birds cope with turbulence, eagle sporting 'black box' shows

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 06:18 PM PDT

Collapsible wings may be a bird's answer to turbulence, according to a new study in which an eagle carried its own 'black box' flight recorder on its back.

What goes up must come down: Geckos alter foot orientation during downhill locomotion

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 06:18 PM PDT

Geckos employ an adhesive system that facilitates their climbing vertically, and even in inverted positions. But can geckos employ this system when moving downhill? Biologists have conducted lab experiments on geckos to find that when moving on steep downhill surfaces geckos reverse the position of their hind feet to potentially use the adhesive system as a brake and/or stabilizer, resulting in the digits of the hind feet facing backwards.

How the fruit fly could help us sniff out drugs and bombs

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 06:18 PM PDT

A fly's sense of smell could be used in new technology to detect drugs and bombs, new research has found. Brain scientists were surprised to find that the 'nose' of fruit flies can identify odors from illicit drugs and explosive substances almost as accurately as wine odor, which the insects are naturally attracted to because it smells like their favorite food, fermenting fruit.

The neuroscience of 'holding it': Involuntary link in brain between pelvic floor, other muscles

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 12:25 PM PDT

Wherever you are right now: squeeze your glutes. Feel that? You just also contracted your pelvic floor too, whether you wanted to or not. Scientists have found themselves surprised to discover an involuntary link in the brain between the pelvic floor and other muscles.

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