Also known as the water bear, the tardigrade has a lot to be proud of — this tiny organism is nigh-indestructible, known to have survived in extreme temperatures ( -272C to +151C / -457.6F to 303.8F) and to be the only animal that can brave the vacuum of space unprotected and live to tell the tale.
Biologists have recently identified a new species of harvestman (daddy longlegs spider) near the town of Monjolos in Minas Gerais, southern Brazil, and gave the precious new discovery an accurate but tongue in cheek name: Iandumoema smeagol
A study of 986 Bolivian women found that on average, a lifetime infection with a type of roundworm named Ascarius lumbricoides led to an extra two children in the family. Their paper, published in the journal Science, suggests that the worm is altering the host’s immune system, making it easier to become pregnant — in effect, the parasite increases female fertility. The researchers hope this discovery will lead to “novel fertility enhancing drugs.”
A new dwarf planet, designated V774104 has been identified and now takes the crown of most distant object in our solar system, being three times farther away than Pluto. The dwarf planet is estimated to be between 500 and 1000 kilometers across. Astronomers don’t yet have enough data to estimate its orbit and estimate that about an year of observations is needed to gather enough data for a precise answer.
Cristiano Menezes of the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation has discovered farming behaviors in bees, adding them to the list of social insects that practice agriculture.
What exactly makes you thirsty? Dehydration, obviously, but how does your brain know that your body needs water? And how does that grey, squishy lump resting in your cool and comfortable cranium, know when your body needs to heat up or cool off? Scientists at the McGill University Health Centre Research Institute (RI-MUHC) and Duke University have asked themselves just that, and being scientists, went ahead to find out.
A research effort at Winship Cancer Institute recently identified a substance in orange lichen and rhubarb that has the potential to be used as a new anti-cancer drug. The substance, an orange pigment known as parietin or physcion, slows the growth and can even kill leukemia cells harvested from patients, without obvious toxic effects on human cells, the study authors report.
Researchers have discovered a new species of banana christened “nanensis”, belonging to the Musa genus, sharing a place in the family Musaceae with more than 70 other species of bananas and plantains. It’s scientific name honors the province of Nan where the type specimens were collected.
Recent fossils unearthed in the Chinese province of Daoxian come to unravel the story of humanity’s spread as we know it today. The find consists of 47 teeth, belonging to modern humans, but what’s really important is their age – they have been dated to 80,000 years ago. This number doesn’t fit with the “Out of Africa” migration theory, holding that humans originate and have spread from the horn of the continent all around the world. The theory as we know it can’t explain human presence in the area for another 20,000 years.
Chinese researchers discovered a chemical compound that works just as well as morphine — without any of the negative side effects. The substance is derived from the venom of a centipede native to China. The discovery has huge medical applications, and could potentially reduce the country’s military reliance on morphine for battlefield use.