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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Fossil ankles indicate Earth's earliest primates lived in trees

Posted: 19 Jan 2015 12:45 PM PST

Earth's earliest primates have taken a step up in the world, now that researchers have gotten a good look at their ankles. A new study has found that Purgatorius, a small mammal that lived on a diet of fruit and insects, was a tree dweller. Paleontologists made the discovery by analyzing 65-million-year-old ankle bones collected from sites in northeastern Montana.

Geophysicists find the crusty culprits behind sudden tectonic plate movements

Posted: 19 Jan 2015 12:45 PM PST

New research may have solved one of the biggest mysteries in geology -- namely, why do tectonic plates beneath the Earth's surface, which normally shift over the course of tens to hundreds of millions of years, sometimes move abruptly?

Predatory sea snails produce weaponized insulin

Posted: 19 Jan 2015 12:43 PM PST

Some cone snails add insulin to the venom cocktail they use to catch fish, biologists have discovered. Adding the hormone to the mix of venom toxins may have enabled predatory cone snails to disable entire schools of swimming fish with hypoglycemic shock. The snail insulin could prove useful as a tool to probe the systems the human body uses to control blood sugar and energy metabolism.

Transgenic crops: Multiple toxins not a panacea for pest control

Posted: 19 Jan 2015 09:48 AM PST

New findings could improve management practices for current biotech crops and promote development of new varieties that are more effective and more durable. Despite extensive planting of transgenic cotton that produces two toxins active against the cotton bollworm (Helicoverpa zea), insecticide sprays against this voracious caterpillar pest have increased in the United States, experts say.

Waiting to be discovered for more than 100 years, new species of bush crickets

Posted: 19 Jan 2015 09:47 AM PST

Museums of Natural History are an important source of evidences of existing variety and diversity of animal species. Many species lie on shelf, waiting for years and years to be discovered. A new study reveals four new genera and four new species of bush crickets discovered in museum collections to prove the value of these institutions.

Voyage from Earth's crust to its mantle and back again

Posted: 19 Jan 2015 09:45 AM PST

Uranium isotopes leave a distinct 'fingerprint' in the sources of volcanic rocks, making it possible to gauge their age and origin. Geologists have gained a new understanding of how Earth's crust is recycled back into its interior based on these uranium isotopes.

Melting glaciers have big carbon impact

Posted: 19 Jan 2015 09:45 AM PST

As Earth warms, scientists have been focused on how glaciers melting will affect sea level rise. But, another lurking impact is the amount of carbon that will be released when glaciers melt. This is the first attempt to calculate how much carbon will be released.

New high-speed 3-D microscope -- SCAPE -- gives deeper view of living things

Posted: 19 Jan 2015 09:45 AM PST

SCAPE, a new microscope that images living things in 3-D at very high speeds, has been developed by engineers. The microscope uses a simple, single-objective imaging geometry that requires no sample mounting or translation, making it possible to image freely moving living samples. Its ability to perform real-time 3-D imaging at cellular resolution in behaving organisms could be transformative for biomedical and neuroscience research, experts say.

How planetary building blocks evolved from porous to hard objects

Posted: 19 Jan 2015 06:09 AM PST

Thinking small has enabled an international team of scientists to gain new insight into the evolution of planetary building blocks in the early solar system. Planetary scientists study chondritic meteorites to reconstruct planet formation. These meteorites are made of a mixture of solid chondrules, millimeter-sized beads (the approximate width of a penny) that became embedded in a fluffy matrix.

New hope for fighting major fungal disease in durum wheat

Posted: 19 Jan 2015 05:33 AM PST

A variety of wheat that is resistant to a destructive fungal disease has been found to have specialized and protective cell walls, according to research. These insights could help to produce stronger, disease-resistant varieties of durum wheat for improved pasta production.

To beet or not to beet? Researchers test theories of beet juice benefits

Posted: 19 Jan 2015 05:33 AM PST

Athletes who down beet juice before exercising to increase blood flow and improve performance may be surprised at the results of a recent study. While beetroot juice rich in nitrates did not enhance muscle blood flow or vascular dilation during exercise, researchers found that it did 'de-stiffen' blood vessels under resting conditions, potentially easing the workload of the heart.

How stable are arsenic compounds found in edible algae?

Posted: 19 Jan 2015 05:30 AM PST

The stability of diverse arsenic species found in edible marine algae have been studied by researchers who have established the best conditions for their storage and preservation.

Preserved fossil represents oldest record of parental care in group of prehistoric reptiles

Posted: 19 Jan 2015 05:30 AM PST

New research details how a preserved fossil found in China could be the oldest record of post-natal parental care from the Middle Jurassic. The specimen, found by a farmer in China, is of an apparent family group with an adult, surrounded by six juveniles of the same species. Given that the smaller individuals are of similar sizes, the group interpreted this as indicating an adult with its offspring, apparently from the same clutch.

New inherited disease identified in calves of the Ayrshire breed

Posted: 19 Jan 2015 05:30 AM PST

A new inherited disease that causes ptosis, retarded growth, intellectual disability and mortality in Ayrshire calves has been discovered by researchers. The disease proved to be associated with a mutation in UBE3B gene.

Defining adhesion clusters: visualizing the building blocks of cell-cell adhesion

Posted: 19 Jan 2015 05:29 AM PST

The molecular mechanisms responsible for the formation of the adherens junction at the nanoscale level have been revealed by researchers in a new article. Although the cells that make up our body are functional units by themselves, they need to interact with each other and their environment to fulfill all their functions. Cells stick to one another through physical contacts called cell adhesions. Apart from serving as physical connections that enable cells to form tissues, cell adhesions also allow the cells to sense, signal, and respond to physical or chemical changes in the environment, as well as interact with neighboring cells.

Mitigation-driven animal translocations are problematic

Posted: 16 Jan 2015 01:15 PM PST

The use of animal translocations as a means to mitigate construction projects and other human developments is a widespread animal-management tool. A paper published today, produced through collaboration of conservationists, reviews the success rates associated with these moves from a species-conservation standpoint.

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