Baby Frozen Mammoth Found Intact
July 10, 2007
The BBC News has a picture of a baby frozen mammoth that was found intact in northwest Siberia. The article says it is one of the best-preserved frozen mammoths ever found, complete with eyes, fur, and trunk. One investigator said, “In terms of its state of preservation, this is the world’s most valuable discovery” of […]
Elephant Trunk Inspires Robot Arm
July 9, 2007
A German company took inspiration from the soft, supple, yet powerful trunk of the elephant and built an arm to imitate it. Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, a company engaged in “research of practical utility,” rhapsodized on the abilities of the elephant trunk: It is long, gray, soft and – endowed with no fewer than 40,000 muscles – extremely […]
What Are Human Genes Doing in a Sea Anemone?
July 8, 2007
The genome of a sea anemone has been published, and of all things, this lowly animal has genes common to vertebrates, even humans. Science Daily began with a conundrum, “The first analysis of the genome of the sea anemone shows it to be nearly as complex as the human genome, providing major insights into the […]
Mother-of-Pearl Inspires Materials Science
July 5, 2007
It’s not only beautiful, it’s strong. EurekAlert described how scientists are intrigued by mother-of-pearl, also called nacre, because of its strength: you can drive a truck over it and it will not break. It is 3,000 times more resistant to fracture than the aragonite from which the oyster makes it. 95% of it self-assembles in […]
Chimp Altruism: Is it All True?
June 27, 2007
Humans are the only inhabitants of earth that are masters of true altruism: helping others with no thought of reward. Previous experiments had shown that chimpanzees lack this trait. Given an opportunity to help another chimp get a banana, they showed no pattern of charity. New experiments by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for […]
Giant Fossil Penguins Lived in Warm Waters
June 26, 2007
“Giant prehistoric penguins? In Peru?” puzzled a reporter on Science Daily. “It sounds more like something out of Hollywood than science,” but a fossil penguin you could look eye to eye with has been found that far north. “We tend to think of penguins as being cold-adapted species,” said one of the discoverers,” but not […]
Crisis at Both Ends of Darwins Tree
June 21, 2007
Two assumptions about evolution – one about the earliest multicellular organisms and one about the rise of mammals – have run into trouble. Eukarya sans Mechanista: “In the absence of direct evidence, science should proceed cautiously with conjecture,” wisely advised Anthony Poole and David Penny in Nature.1 They scorned the researchers who glibly invent fables […]
Imaginary Dinosaur Feathers Found Again!
June 13, 2007
Last year, we reported that imaginary feathers had been found on a dinosaur fossil (see 02/08/2006). Now, more imaginary feathers have turned up. This turkey was big, too: the dinosaur plumed in the imaginary feathers stood almost 12 feet tall. Everyone’s talking about it: Fox News, MSNBC News and Science News among others. National Geographic […]
Ma Lizards Dress Their Young
June 12, 2007
Leapin’ lizards: the side-blotched lizards of the American southwest are able to dress their kids in the latest scale fashions. A press release from UC Santa Cruz shows that hormones from mom can dramatically affect the pattern and coloration of offspring. The scientists observing this phenomenon think it has something to do with matching their […]
Why Do Some Fruit Bats Have Color Vision?
June 12, 2007
One would think bats don’t need color, since most fly at night. That’s what scientists thought, reported Max Planck Institute, until color-vision cones were found in some species. Some species have two cone types, giving them bichromatic vision, and some have only one, making them effectively color blind. Bats come in two orders: […]
Video Clip: The Rich Little Bird
June 7, 2007
A popular video clip has been circulating around the internet for over a year. It shows an Australian lyre bird imitating other birds and man-made sounds. Click here to watch the 3.5 minute performance. Narrated by David Attenborough, it was voted the #1 most popular Attenborough moment from the naturalist’s TV shows. Speaks for itself. […]
Did Sponges Invent Nerves?
June 6, 2007
Scientists didn’t expect to find working neurons in a sea sponge, among the simplest of multicellular organisms. Sponges lack internal organs and a nervous system. Yet there they were, according to Science Daily, with synapses and apparent means of communication across them. “This pushes back the origins of these genetic components of the […]
Color-Blind Cephalopods Perform Colorful Camouflage Tricks
June 6, 2007
Roger Hanlon has studied octopi, squid and cuttlefish for decades. He stands in awe of their ability to camouflage themselves. In a Primer article for Current Biology,1 he detailed some of their sleight-of-skin magic tricks. His article has frames from a movie clip that show an octopus changing its skin from plain to […]
Did Walking Evolve in the Trees?
June 4, 2007
The news media are all echoing a report from Science1 that orangutan behavior in trees tells us something about the evolution of human bipedalism (see National Geographic, Fox News, and MSNBC News). If this new view gains acceptance, it means the old iconic image of man emerging upright from a stooped-over ape posture (05/03/2007) is […]
Ant Brain: Software Compression Extreme
May 28, 2007
How can so much software fit in such a small space? An ant brain can’t be very big, but look what it can do. The BBC News and Science Daily both told about the route-finding ability of army ants. Not only do they find the most efficient routes to their targets, they even plug potholes […]