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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

'Gold rush' threatens tropical forests in South America

Posted: 13 Jan 2015 05:43 PM PST

A global 'gold rush' has led to a significant increase of deforestation in the tropical forests of South America.

First contracting human muscle grown in laboratory

Posted: 13 Jan 2015 12:40 PM PST

Researchers have grown human skeletal muscle in the laboratory that, for the first time, contracts and responds just like native tissue to external stimuli such as electrical pulses, biochemical signals and pharmaceuticals. The development should soon allow researchers to test new drugs and study diseases in functioning human muscle outside of the human body.

Study sheds light on chemicals that insects use to communicate and survive

Posted: 13 Jan 2015 11:52 AM PST

Most insects are covered with a thin layer of hydrocarbon molecules as a waterproofing barrier. Embedded in this layer are compounds the insects use as chemical signals for a wide variety of functions such as communicating species and sex. But isolating these chemicals and determining their absolute configuration and functions has been a challenge. Now a team of scientists has devised a straightforward method for purifying these compounds.

Dinosaurs wiped out rapidly in Europe 66 million years ago

Posted: 13 Jan 2015 09:12 AM PST

The well-known theory that an asteroid suddenly killed the dinosaurs is based almost entirely on fossils from North America. A new study shows that dinosaurs -- and other continental vertebrates -- remained diverse in Europe up until the asteroid impact, 66 million years ago. This is strong evidence that dinosaurs and many of their contemporaries went extinct rapidly and simultaneously all across the globe.

Nothing to squirm about: Space station worms help battle muscle, bone loss

Posted: 13 Jan 2015 09:11 AM PST

Two investigations on the space station help researchers seek clues to physiological problems found in astronauts by studying C. elegans -- a millimeter-long roundworm that is widely used as a model organism. This simple, tiny roundworm could lead to a cure for symptoms affecting millions of the aging and infirm population of Earth, and the astronauts orbiting it, potentially offering a solution to a major problem in an extremely small package, scientists say.

World's oldest butchering tools gave evolutionary edge to human communication: Oldowan technology behind genesis of language and teaching

Posted: 13 Jan 2015 09:10 AM PST

Two and a half million years ago, our hominin ancestors in the African savanna crafted rocks into shards that could slice apart a dead gazelle, zebra or other game animal. Over the next 700,000 years, this butchering technology spread throughout the continent and, it turns out, came to be a major evolutionary force.

Glut2 protein's role identified in zebrafish brain development

Posted: 13 Jan 2015 09:09 AM PST

The key role that GLUT2 protein plays in embryonic brain development in zebrafish has now been reported by researchers. A new article proves that this molecule depletion alters the development of brain basic structures involved in glucose sensing.

Greenland meltwater contributes to rising sea levels

Posted: 13 Jan 2015 08:16 AM PST

As the largest single chunk of melting snow and ice in the world, the massive ice sheet that covers about 80 percent of Greenland is recognized as the biggest potential contributor to rising sea levels due to glacial meltwater.

Three new Begonia plant species from Brazil

Posted: 13 Jan 2015 08:16 AM PST

Scientists discover and describe three new species of the plant genus Begonia, which holds many of the world-favorite decoratives. The news species come from Brazil, where they are found dwelling on small, confined territories which makes them rare and hard to discover.

Crops can do their own weed control

Posted: 13 Jan 2015 08:16 AM PST

Weeds would have a tough time competing against crops such as corn, grains and beans if farmers were to alter their sowing patterns, experts say. "Our results demonstrate that weed control in fields is aided by abandoning traditional seed sowing techniques. Farmers around the world generally sow their crops in rows. Our studies with wheat and corn show that tighter sowing in grid patterns supresses weed growth. This provides increased crop yields in fields prone to heavy amounts of weeds," states an author and plant ecologist.

Brazilian scarab beetles found to be termitophiles

Posted: 13 Jan 2015 08:14 AM PST

An international team of scientists has provided the first record of chafer leaf beetles (Leucothyreus suturalis) living in the nests of two different termite species in Brazil.

Estimated social cost of climate change not accurate, scientists say

Posted: 13 Jan 2015 08:14 AM PST

The 'social cost' of carbon dioxide emissions may not be $37 per ton, as estimated by a recent US government study, but $220 per ton, experts report.

Surprise discovery off California exposes loggerhead 'lost years'

Posted: 13 Jan 2015 08:14 AM PST

North Pacific loggerhead turtles hatch in Japan, with many later reappearing 6,000 miles away off southern Baja California to forage. The sighting late last year of numerous young turtles far off the Southern California Coast provides new insight into their their epic migration across the Pacific Ocean.

Rescuing farmland after a flood

Posted: 13 Jan 2015 08:11 AM PST

When levees fail, either naturally or as an intentional breach, as was the case on the Mississippi River in 2011, an orchestrated effort is made to remove or repair flood-damaged homes and other structures. A soil scientist believes that an equivalent  effort should be coordinated to assess soil damages, including how flooding has affected soil productivity and land used for agriculture.

Iconic South American mammal tracked: Guanacos getting into trouble

Posted: 13 Jan 2015 08:10 AM PST

Guanacos are back -- and getting into trouble -- says a team of scientists tracking these iconic hoofed mammals across a variety of landscapes on the Chilean side of the island of Tierra del Fuego.

The recess swap: Getting kids to eat their veggies at school

Posted: 13 Jan 2015 06:05 AM PST

Many schools have reported that fruits and vegetables are feeding trash cans rather than students. A new study shows that one simple no-cost change, holding recess before lunchtime, can increase fruit and vegetable consumption by 54 percent.

Sizing up giants under the sea: Biologists correct inaccuracies for 25 marine species

Posted: 13 Jan 2015 06:05 AM PST

Researchers sifted through multiple datasets and historical records to produce more accurate and comprehensive measurements for 25 species including the Blue Whale, Giant Squid, and Great White Shark.

GMOs with health benefits have a large market potential

Posted: 13 Jan 2015 06:04 AM PST

Genetically modified crops with an increased vitamin and/or mineral content have large potential to improve public health, but their availability for consumers is still hampered, as a result of the negative public opinion. Research has demonstrated that these crops have a promising market potential.

Species of bird 'paints' its own eggs with bacteria to protect embryo

Posted: 13 Jan 2015 06:04 AM PST

Hoophoes cover their eggs with a secretion produced by themselves, loaded with mutualistic bacteria, which is then retained by a specialized structure in the eggshell that increases successful hatching. So far this sort of behavior has only been detected in this species of birds, and it is a mechanism to protect their eggs from infections by pathogens.

Sustainable approach for the world's fish supply

Posted: 13 Jan 2015 06:04 AM PST

China's booming aquaculture industry is increasingly dependent on fishmeal made from wild-caught fish, a practice that depletes wild fish stocks. A new study offers a more sustainable path by proposing recycling the waste by-products from seafood processing plants as feed for farm-raised fish..

Biochemically modified constituent of yew demonstrates early effectiveness in bile duct cancer

Posted: 13 Jan 2015 06:03 AM PST

Bile duct cancers are amongst the most aggressive tumor-related diseases and, so far, the medical treatment options available have been limited. Clinical oncologists have now demonstrated that the substance nab-paclitaxel, a biochemically modified ingredient that occurs in the bark of the Pacific yew tree, could be highly effective against bile duct cancers.

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