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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Modern genetics confirm ancient relationship between fins and hands

Posted: 22 Dec 2014 01:54 PM PST

Efforts to connect the evolutionary transition from fish fins to wrist and fingers with the genetic machinery for this adaptation have fallen short because they focused on the wrong fish. Now, researchers describe the genetic machinery for autopod assembly in a non-model fish, the spotted gar.

Cells 'feel' their surroundings using finger-like structures

Posted: 22 Dec 2014 01:54 PM PST

Cells have finger-like projections that they use to feel their surroundings. They can detect the chemical environment and they can 'feel' their physical surroundings using ultrasensitive sensors. New research shows how the finger-like structures, called filopodia, can extend themselves, contract and bend in dynamic movements.

Hunter-gatherer past shows our fragile bones result from inactivity since invention of farming

Posted: 22 Dec 2014 01:50 PM PST

Latest analysis of prehistoric bones show there is no anatomical reason why a person born today could not develop the skeletal strength of a prehistoric forager or a modern orangutan. Findings support the idea that activity throughout life is the key to building bone strength and preventing osteoporosis risk in later years, say researchers.

New non-invasive method can detect Alzheimer's disease early

Posted: 22 Dec 2014 11:30 AM PST

A noninvasive MRI approach that can detect the Alzheimer's disease in a living animal, well before typical Alzheimer's symptoms appear, has been developed by researchers. The research team created an MRI probe that pairs a magnetic nanostructure with an antibody that seeks out the amyloid beta brain toxins responsible for onset of the disease. The accumulated toxins, because of the associated magnetic nanostructures, show up as dark areas in MRI scans of the brain.

Mysteries of 'molecular machines' revealed: Phenix software uses X-ray diffraction spots to produce 3-D image

Posted: 22 Dec 2014 11:30 AM PST

Scientists are making it easier for pharmaceutical companies and researchers to see the detailed inner workings of molecular machines.

Study pumps up the volume on understanding of marine invertebrate hearing

Posted: 22 Dec 2014 10:15 AM PST

Noise pollution in the ocean is increasingly recognized as harmful to marine mammals, affecting their ability to communicate, find mates, and hunt for food. But what impact does noise have on invertebrates -- a critical segment of the food web?

Distribution of fish on northeast US shelf influenced by both fishing, climate

Posted: 22 Dec 2014 10:15 AM PST

Scientists studying the distribution of four commercial and recreational fish stocks in Northeast US waters have found that climate change can have major impacts on the distribution of fish, but the effects of fishing can be just as important and occur on a more immediate time scale. The four species studied -- black sea bass, scup, summer flounder, and southern New England/Mid-Atlantic Bight winter flounder -- have varied in abundance and have experienced heavy fishing pressure at times over the past 40 years.

Shape-shifting may help some species cope with climate change

Posted: 22 Dec 2014 10:15 AM PST

Researchers have found that a Rocky Mountain mustard plant alters its physical appearance and flowering time in response to different environmental conditions, suggesting some species can quickly shape-shift to cope with climate change without having to migrate or evolve.

Coral reveals long-term link between Pacific winds, global climate

Posted: 22 Dec 2014 10:13 AM PST

New research indicates that shifts in Pacific trade winds played a key role in twentieth century climate variation and are likely again influencing global temperatures. The study uses a novel method of analyzing coral chemistry to reveal winds from a century ago.

New, fundamental mechanism for how resveratrol provides health benefits uncovered

Posted: 22 Dec 2014 08:19 AM PST

Resveratrol, the red-wine ingredient once touted as an elixir of youth, powerfully activates an evolutionarily ancient stress response in human cells, scientists have found. The finding should dispel much of and controversy about how resveratrol really works.

New technology makes tissues, someday maybe organs

Posted: 22 Dec 2014 08:16 AM PST

A new device for building large tissues from living components of three-dimensional microtissues borrows on ideas from electronics manufacturing. The Bio-Pick, Place, and Perfuse is a step toward someday making whole organs.

Methane is leaking from permafrost offshore Siberia

Posted: 22 Dec 2014 08:15 AM PST

Images of craters on Yamal Peninsula, caused by collapsing permafrost, have become world famous. But did you know that this permafrost extends to the ocean floor? And it is thawing.

Over two hundred interesting new species in 2014

Posted: 22 Dec 2014 08:15 AM PST

In 2014, researchers at the California Academy of Sciences added 221 new plant and animal species to our family tree. The new species include 110 ants, 16 beetles, three spiders, 28 fishes, 24 sea slugs, two marine worms, 9 barnacles, two octocorals, 25 plants, one waterbear, and one tiny mammal.

Variety is the spice of humble moth's sex life

Posted: 22 Dec 2014 05:43 AM PST

A small brown moth, the gold swift moth (Phymatopus hecta), has one of the most complex sex lives in the insect world, new research has found. Despite the insect's unassuming appearance, a new study reports a variety and complexity in its mating patterns and sexual positions worthy of an insect Karma Sutra.

Of bugs and brains: Striking similarities in brain structures across invertebrates

Posted: 18 Dec 2014 10:19 AM PST

The fundamental structures underlying learning and memory in the brains of invertebrates as different as a fruit fly and an earthworm are remarkably similar, according to neuroscientists. It turns out that the structure and function of brain centers responsible for learning and memory in a wide range of invertebrate species may possibly share the same fundamental characteristics.

Solving old mystery of silent cell death

Posted: 18 Dec 2014 10:15 AM PST

For the first time, researchers have revealed how dying cells are hidden from the immune 'police' that patrol the body. The research answers a decades-old mystery about the death of cells, which in some situations can alert the immune system to potential danger, but in other circumstances occurs 'silently', unnoticed by immune cells.

How cell keeps misdelivered proteins from causing damage in the cell nucleus

Posted: 18 Dec 2014 09:07 AM PST

New insights have been gained into how the cell keeps proteins misdirected into the cell nucleus from causing damage. The investigations focused on a complex apparatus on the inner nuclear membrane that detects and marks the misdelivered proteins. In an international cooperation with researchers from France, Sweden and Canada, demonstrated how the cellular "waste disposal service" is triggered in this process.

Discovery in fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria

Posted: 18 Dec 2014 09:07 AM PST

For four years, researchers have been trying to find out how bacteria can withstand antibiotics, so as to be able to attack them more effectively. These researchers now understand how one defense mechanism works, they report.

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