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Wanted Dead or Alive: New Mammals

Do we know all our fellow mammals?  Further research has uncovered new furry creatures, fur sure.  Furthermore, some are dead and some are alive and well: Weird Tooth:  An “ancient mammal that defies classification” has been given a name, at least.  EurekAlert reported that Horolodectes sunae, found 30 years ago in Alberta, remains a mystery: […]

Whiskers Inspire Technology

The latest gadget on robots or Mars rovers could be whiskers.  These tactile sensors provide ways to see in 3D, says a report on National Geographic News.  Information about latitude, longitude and elevation can be gleaned from whiskers.  Rodents continually rotate their whiskers to gather information, but seals and sea lions let the ocean currents […]

Should Elephants and Lions Be Reintroduced to North America?

Believe it or not, some scientists think large mammals that existed in North America in prehistoric times should be brought back.  This is called “rewilding,” in hopes of healing some of the ecological disruption caused when early humans “played a significant role in their demise 13,000 years ago.”  A dozen scientists provided a detailed proposal […]

Voles Throw Evolutionary Genetics Into Disarray

What is it with voles?  These little gopher-like furballs with beady eyes, short tails and tiny ears are giving evolutionary geneticists fits.  A press release from Purdue University states, “Purdue University research has shown that the vole, a mouselike rodent, is not only the fastest evolving mammal, but also harbors a number of puzzling genetic […]

Do Mammals Depend on Virus Help?

Researchers found that sheep depend on a retrovirus to become pregnant.  Retroviruses (those that can insert themselves into a genome of a host cell) include the dreaded HIV and generally have a bad reputation.  Remnant retroviruses are prevalent in many animal species and have been considered a class of “junk DNA,” having mutated away their […]

Can Evolution Run in Reverse?

Evolutionists in Utah are claiming to have run the evolutionary tape in reverse, says the BBC News: “US researchers have taken a mouse back in time some 500 million years by reversing the process of evolution.”  How can this be?  By engineering its genetic blueprint, they have rebuilt a gene that was present in primitive […]

Eye Sends Information at Ethernet Rates

Neuroscientists from Pennsylvania and New Jersey calculated the information rate of the eye.  Using guinea pigs (real guinea pigs, not humans as guinea pigs), they came up with a number and interpolated it for humans: In the classic “What the frog’s eye tells the frog’s brain,” Lettvin and colleagues showed that different types of retinal […]

Bear Tooth DNA Yields New Date Record: 400,000 Years

According to a story posted on Yahoo News, Swedish scientists found intact DNA in a bear tooth claimed to be 400,000 years old.  The team leader remarked, “It is usually hard to find DNA that is older than 100,000 years, and work on fossilized DNA mostly focuses on material that is a few tens of […]

Evolutionists Find Pegasus in the Gene Epic

When you conjure with genes, you never know what might appear.  Japanese scientists, publishing in PNAS,1 tried to find evolution in mammalian retroposons and found an unexpected relationship.  New Scientist explains: “You could call it a batty idea, but bats seem to be more closely related to horses than cows are.”     “Despite the […]

Domestic Housecat Trees Wild Bear

Donna Dickey has quite a watchcat.  This declawed tabby chased a roaming black bear up a tree and held it at bay for 15 minutes.  When the bear slid down to try to get away, Jack chased it, hissing and snarling, till the bear escaped up a second tree.  That’s when Donna called her cuddly […]

Beavers Achieve Environmental Reprieve

In what might be considered an unexpected convergence between geology and zoology, it has been found that beaver dams influence large tracts of land both above and below ground.  “Impact of beaver dams wider than thought” announced a headline on LiveScience summarizing studies by scientists in Rocky Mountain National Park.     The dams take […]

Bioneers Update: International Conference Held on Animal-Inspired Design

Georgia Tech came out with a press release about progress at their Center for Biologically Inspired Design (CBID) that opened last year (see 10/29/2005).  At a two-day conference May 11-12, international representatives from 20 institutions shared their inspirations on how nature can “help them solve some of the most complex problems of the day,” just […]

Comparing Preferences for Pain or Gain

A group of researchers published in the Journal of Political Economy introduced the idea economic loss and gain incentives are innate, not learned.  To demonstrate this concept, the researchers presented capuchin monkeys two opportunities leading to two different outcomes for the monkey: pain or gain.  The capuchin monkeys had a tendency to choose the opportunity […]

Experimental Biologists Look to Animals for Inspiration

Whether insects, fish, birds or mammals, animals have a lot to teach scientists and engineers.  Here are some recent stories that begin to answer, “How do they do that?” with hopes that humans might be able to mimic their feats. Hard sponges:  Aimee Cunningham in Science News (03/25/2006; 169:12, p. 184) described the astonishment Joanna […]

Lazarus, Come Forth: Living Fossils Rise from the Dead

An animal goes extinct.  Millions of years pass.  The animal is found living in some remote jungle.  Scientists call this the “Lazarus effect,” after the man Jesus raised from the dead (see John 11).  Others call these finds “living fossils,” long thought to be extinct but now thriving in isolated ecological niches.  There are many […]
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