VIEW HEADLINES ONLY

Evolutionary Explanation Is Always a Work in Progress

As evolutionary biologists examine diverse plants and animals, it seems they are never able to give a definitive answer as to how they got that way.  Their work merely begins or continues to search for clues.  Like mothers, their work is never done.  At least this provides them job security. Box jellyfish:  There are about […]

New Word Means Green Living: Bioplastics

Did you know that 10% of America’s oil consumption goes into making plastic?  The plastic products from oil pollute our landfills and harm the environment.  Next month, a company founded by a biology professor from MIT is going to make plastic from something green: corn.     Anthony Siskey and Oliver Peoples, according to PhysOrg, […]

Insect Wing Photocopied for Good

Biomimetics is the new science of imitating nature – but why not save a step, and just copy the design directly?  That’s what Aussie and British researchers did.  They wanted a self-cleaning surface that could repel moisture and dust, so they made a template of an insect wing.  And why not?  “Insects are incredible nanotechnologists,” […]

Soft Muscle Tissue Found in Fossil Salamander

More soft tissue has been found in a fossil – this time in a salamander said to be 18 million years old.  The article on PhysOrg called it “the highest quality soft tissue preservation ever documented in the fossil record.”     Unlike the previous discoveries of fossil tissue inside bone or amber, the recognizable […]

Polar Bears and Grizzlies Hybridize

What do you get when you cross a polar bear with a grizzly bear?  It’s not a joke; look at the BBC News and see.  You get bears with mixed shades of fur and a blend of characteristics.  Live Science also commented on the BBC report.     Scientists have known that these species can […]

How a Biotoxin Evolved

What do shrews and lizards have in common?  Not much, but two species developed the same toxin in their digestive enzymes, giving them both a poisonous bite.  Science Daily said a harmless digestive enzyme became overactive through three related changes.  “What had been a mild anticoagulant in the salivary glands of both species has become […]

To Advance Science, Imitate Nature

Biomimetics – the imitation of nature – continues to be one of the hottest areas in science.  Here are a few of the latest findings coming from the world of living creatures. Fish robot:  National Geographic News shows a photo of the latest thing in underwater robotics: a robotic submarine modeled after the Amazonian knifefish.  […]

No Evolution in 58 Million Years

“Plant fossils give first real picture of earliest Neotropical rainforests,” announced a press release from University of Florida.  The fossils from Colombia show that “many of the dominant plant families existing in today’s Neotropical rainforests – including legumes, palms, avocado and banana – have maintained their ecological dominance despite major changes in South America’s climate […]

Trilobites Found in Fool’s Gold: What Does It Mean?

Trilobites are icons of the Cambrian and Ordovician periods.  When thousands are found in beds over a wide area encased in pyrite, with no sign of decay, what does it mean?  A team publishing their findings in Geology suggests it means rapid burial.1  Here’s the abstract from their paper: Pyritization of soft tissues is extremely […]

How the Octopus Built Its Own Brain for Better Fishing

The octopus was glad to see fish evolve, but needed a bigger brain to catch them, so it evolved one of the most complex brains in the animal kingdom.  Is that the gist of this story in the Science blog Origins?  Greg Miller wrote in the style of a children’s storybook: Cephalopods—octopuses, squid, and their […]

Introducing the Maple-Copter

Plants are not as stationary as one might think.  Parts of them, like seeds, can travel for miles.  One good example is the maple seed.  Its little helicopter seeds can catch an updraft and fly a long distance from the tree.  Now, engineers at University of Maryland have imitated its physics and designed a radio-controlled […]

Beethoven: It All Began With a Thump

Live Science in all seriousness, “When monkeys drum, they activate brain networks linked with communication, new findings that suggest a common origin of primate vocal and nonvocal communication systems and shed light on the origins of language and music.”     Choi reported on work at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics to determine […]

Fossil Said to Enlighten Evolution of the Ear

Did mammal ear bones evolve?  If so, it was not a straightforward Darwinian progression.  Authors of a paper in Science who announced a new Cretaceous mammal fossil from China had to invoke convoluted explanations to keep the evolution story intact. Science Daily shows an artist’s conception of Maotherium, a chipmunk-sized mammal said to have lived […]

How to Copy a Butterfly Wing

Here’s what you have to do to copy a butterfly wing without destroying it: create compounds using Germanium, Selenium and Stibium.  Combine thermal evaporation and substrate rotation in a low pressure chamber.  Immerse in an aqueous orthophosphoric acid solution to dissolve the chitin.  If you are lucky, you can copy the delicate nanostructure of a […]

Dino Clawprints in the Sandstones of Time

Some of the largest dinosaur tracks ever found have been uncovered in France.  The BBC News has a picture of tracks nearly 5 feet across made by sauropods that weighed 30 tonnes.  Tracks of ornithischian dinosaurs in South Africa are being analyzed for clues to dinosaur behavior, reported Science Daily.  The team believes that tracks […]
All Posts by Date