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Saturday, November 8, 2014

ScienceDaily: Strange Science News

ScienceDaily: Strange Science News

Genes contribute to behavior differences between fierce and friendly rats

Posted: 07 Nov 2014 06:16 AM PST

After many generations, rats bred for their bad attitude behave differently from those selected for a calm demeanor around humans. Researchers have now identified gene regions that contribute to differences between nasty and nice rats in their behavior and the activity of genes in the brain. These results may provide important clues as to which genes make tame animals like dogs behave so differently from their wild ancestors.

New Zealand's moa were exterminated by an extremely low-density human population

Posted: 07 Nov 2014 06:16 AM PST

A new study suggests that the flightless birds named moa were completely extinct by the time New Zealand's human population had grown to two and half thousand people at most.

Scientists examine mysterious tar mounds in the West African deep ocean

Posted: 07 Nov 2014 06:15 AM PST

More than two thousand mounds of asphalt harboring a wealth of deep-water creatures have been discovered up to two kilometers deep, off the coast of Angola. Scientists have been examining the images and data captured at the site to build an intriguing picture of the life and geology of this underwater area. The naturally-occurring asphalt mounds are made up of the same substance that covers our roads.

Turtles use muscle power to breathe due to rigid shell

Posted: 07 Nov 2014 06:14 AM PST

Turtle shells are unique in the animal kingdom. In order to be able to breathe in this inflexible casing, tortoises have a muscle sling which is attached to the shell to ventilate the lung. Scientists can now reveal that the turtle's ancestor Eunotosaurus africanus already breathed with the aid of such a sling – even though it did not yet have a solid shell. The muscle sling was thus the anatomical prerequisite for the development of the rigid turtle shell.

The tiger beetle: Too fast to see: Biologist looks into how the speedy predator pursues prey

Posted: 06 Nov 2014 12:29 PM PST

Speed is an asset for a predator. Except when that predator runs so fast that it essentially blinds itself.

Mystery sea of stars? Rocket experiment finds surprising cosmic light

Posted: 06 Nov 2014 11:37 AM PST

Using an experiment carried into space on a NASA suborbital rocket, astronomers have detected a diffuse cosmic glow that appears to represent more light than that produced by known galaxies in the universe. The discovery suggests that many such previously undetected stars permeate what had been thought to be dark spaces between galaxies, forming an interconnected sea of stars.

Hungry bats compete for prey by jamming sonar

Posted: 06 Nov 2014 11:37 AM PST

In their nightly forays, bats hunting for insects compete with as many as one million hungry roost-mates. Now scientists have discovered that Mexican free-tailed bats jam the sonar of competitors to gain advantage in aerial foraging contests.

Rare 2.5-billion-year-old rocks reveal hot spot of sulfur-breathing bacteria: Sulfur-dependent life forms thrived in oceans

Posted: 06 Nov 2014 11:37 AM PST

Biogeochemical signals in 2.5-billion-year-old carbonate rocks from Brazil reveal that sulfur-consuming bacteria were active at a time when ocean sulfur levels were low. Geologists focused on sulfur isotopes in ancient carbonate rocks. The study sheds light on Earth's early atmospheric chemistry.

Astronomy: Debris-strewn exoplanetary construction yards

Posted: 06 Nov 2014 11:35 AM PST

Over the past few years, astronomers have found an incredible diversity in the architecture of exoplanetary systems, as well as the planets themselves. A survey using the sharp view of the Hubble Space Telescope has uncovered a similar diversity in the debris systems that coincide with the formation of exoplanets. These circumstellar dusty disks are likely generated by collisions between objects left over from planet formation around stars. The survey's results suggest that there is some sort of interdependence between a planet and the accompanying debris system.

Koala study reveals clues about origins of the human genome

Posted: 06 Nov 2014 10:23 AM PST

Eight percent of your genome derives from retroviruses that inserted themselves into human sex cells millions of years ago. In a recent study, scientists discovered that 39 different koala retroviruses in a koala's genome were all endogenous, which means passed down to the koala from one parent or the other; one of the koala retroviruses was found in both parents.

Synthetic biology for space exploration

Posted: 06 Nov 2014 10:23 AM PST

Synthetic biology may hold the key to long-termed manned explorations of Mars and the Moon. Researchers have shown that biomanufacturing based on microbes could to make travel to and settlement of extraterrestrial locations more practical and bearable.

Body weight heavily influenced by gut microbes: Genes shape body weight by affecting gut microbes

Posted: 06 Nov 2014 10:22 AM PST

Our genetic makeup influences whether we are fat or thin by shaping which types of microbes thrive in our body, according to a new study. Scientists identified a specific, little known bacterial family that is highly heritable and more common in individuals with low body weight. This microbe also protected against weight gain when transplanted into mice. The results could pave the way for personalized probiotic therapies that are optimized to reduce the risk of obesity-related diseases based on an individual's genetic make-up.

Images of a nearly invisible mouse

Posted: 06 Nov 2014 10:18 AM PST

A method that combines tissue decolorization and light-sheet fluorescent microscopy has been developed to take extremely detailed images of the interior of individual organs and even entire organisms. The work opens new possibilities for understanding the way life works -- the ultimate dream of systems biology -- by allowing scientists to make tissues and whole organisms transparent and then image them at extremely precise, single-cell resolution.

Ghost illusion created in the lab

Posted: 06 Nov 2014 10:18 AM PST

Patients suffering from neurological or psychiatric conditions have often reported 'feeling a presence' watching over them. Now, researchers have succeeded in recreating these ghostly illusions in the lab.

All kidding aside: Medical clowns calm children during uncomfortable allergy test

Posted: 06 Nov 2014 08:33 AM PST

Because the 'scratch test' for allergies involves needles that prick multiple points along the skin's surface, it's a particularly high-stress examination for children -- and their understandably anxious parents. Now a new study has confirmed that 'medical clowns' not only significantly decrease the level of anxiety expressed by children undergoing these tests, but they also assuage the pain the children experience.

Manipulating complex molecules by hand

Posted: 06 Nov 2014 07:40 AM PST

Scientists have developed a new control technique for scanning probe microscopes that enables the user to manipulate large single molecules interactively using their hands. Until now, only simple and inflexibly-programmed movements were possible. To test their method, the researchers 'stenciled' a word into a molecular monolayer by removing 47 molecules. The process opens up new possibilities for the construction of molecular transistors and other nanocomponents.

Sustainability, astrobiology illuminate future of life in the universe and civilization on Earth

Posted: 06 Nov 2014 07:17 AM PST

Two astrophysicists argue that questions about the future of life on Earth and beyond may soon be resolvable scientifically, thanks to new data about the Earth and about other planets in our galaxy, and by combining the earth-based science of sustainability with the space-oriented field of astrobiology.

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