Biology, News

Rats reward their friends for help – first such act seen among non-humans

norwegian rat

Norwegian rats know how to keep their friends close. A new study found they reward other rats for their help even though there’s no immediate gain at hand as a result of this behavior. Called direct reciprocation, this is the first time something like this has been recorded by science outside human interactions.

Biology, News

Eyelashes keep eyes clean and dry – but longer is not better

Sheep eyelash. Image credits: Guillermo J. Amador

Humans have been fascinated by eyelashes for centuries, with long and luxuriant eyelashes being in fashion since the days of ancient Egypt. Now, researchers have found how eyelashes actually work, what their functions are, and revealed that longer is not necessarily better.

Biology, Genetics

Carnivorous plant lacks junk DNA, shows evolution takes place at a genetic level

tb-Utricularia-gibba-01

The carnivorous bladderwort (Utricularia gibba) a carnivorous plant which occurs fresh water and wet soil. Recently, they took biologists by surprise by having a huge number of genes, despite a fairly small genome. The plant is six times smaller than the grape for example, but has 28,500 genes, compared to the 26,300 of the grape.

Biology, News

Madagascar cave is a graveyard for extinct giant lemurs

madagascar cave

Paleontologists diving beneath the surface of a water-filled cave in Madagascar made a monumental find: a graveyard filled with the bones of a wide variety of species,some very rare, other extinct for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Some of the remains that dot the bottom of the Aven Cave in Tsimanampetsotse National Park include those of the extinct elephant bird, a flightless giant similar to an ostrich, but most bones belong to the long-lost giant lemurs.

Animals, Biology, News

New Seadragon Species Discovered After 150 Years – Ruby Seadragon Uses Color as Camouflage

The three known seadragon species. Image credits: Stiller et al.

Until now, only two species of seadragon had been reported, with the last one being discovered 150 years ago! Now, biologists have discovered a new species off the coast of Australia: a red hot sea dragon. “All this time we thought that there were only two species,” marine biologist Nerida Wilson of the Western Australia Museum said in a press release. “Suddenly,

Biology, News

Plants are much better at adapting to mass extinction than animals

Image credit: PIXGOOD

Life has found our blue gem planet as a welcoming host, but it hasn’t always been all fun and games. To our knowledge, life has gone through five major mass extinctions over the past couple hundred millions of years. During this time countless species and even families were wiped out in a heart beat, but geological time frame standards. When faced with overwhelming odds, nature favors those who can adapt. According to researchers at the University of Gothenburg plants have always been surprisingly resilient to these challenging times, compared to animals. That’s not to say that plants didn’t go extinct as well – sure, countless as well, but others soon filled their space at a much great pace than animals could.

Biology, Materials, News

Limpet Teeth May Be World’s Strongest Material

Limpet species Patella vulgata on a rock surface in Wales. Image via Wiki Commons.

According to a new study, limpet teeth may be the strongest material known to man, stronger than spider silk or kevlar. Scientists from Portsmouth University made the surprising discovery after analyzing limpets with a technique called atomic force microscopy.

Biology, News

New Silicone Technology Creates Super Slippery, Anti-Bacterial Surface

Harvard researchers have demonstrated a powerful, long-lasting repellent surface technology that can be used with medical materials to prevent infections caused by biofilms. (Image courtesy of Joanna Aizenberg, via Harvard University)

A new liquid-infused polymer can make sure that medical equipment is bacteria free by being extremely slippery. This technology, which involves silicone infused with a silicone oil also has a myriad of potential applications outside of medical equipment – in the oil industry, in air planes and cosmetics.