It basically looks like a weapon: the fossil of a worm-like animal from the Cambrian period has been presented by scientists, and it’s as armored as it gets. The Cambrian was definitely one of the strangest geological and biological stages in Earth’s history; it’s not only that it was 500 million years ago, but the Cambrian explosion was firing at all
It sounds like a plot from Frankenstein, but apparently there’s no limit to how versatile flatworms can be. Previously, researchers at Tufts University determined that the small, yellow worm can retain its memories after it head was severed. As a reminder, flatworms can regrew new heads following decapitation. Now, the same team yet again guillotined some flatworms and interrupted gap junctions, which are protein channels that enable cells to communicate with each other by passing electrical signals back and forth – just to see what would happen. Yes, the flatworm grew a new head, but it was that of another flatworm species. They eventually induced the same flatworm species to grow the heads and brains of multiple other, closely related species. There’s a lot of biology and behaviour encoded in genes, but these findings show that tweaking physiological mechanisms in a live body can actually cause new anatomical developments. We might have uncovered a new form of epigenetics.
Crown shyness is a phenomenon observed in some tree species, in which the crowns of fully stocked trees do not touch each other, forming a canopy with channel-like gaps.
An University of Queensland study of mantis shrimp discovered a new form of light communication employed by the animals, the findings having potential applications in satellite remote sensing, biomedical imaging, cancer detection, and computer data storage.
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.
Once with the advent of agriculture, and its spread to Europe from the Near East, human society was transformed forever. Resources became more plentiful, communities could stay in one place and develop, and humans were free to pursue other activities. Agriculture turbo boosted the division of labor, an essential prerequisite to any civilization. Agriculture not only transformed human society, it also modified our DNA. A first of its kind study compared the DNA of ancient humans who lived between 8,500 and 2,300 years ago. The analysis revealed that humans underwent widespread genetic changes that influence height, immune system, digestion and skin colour once agriculture was introduced.
According to a new study from the Stanford University School of Medicine, human cellular development appears to depend on the actions of genetic material left over from ancient viral infections.
You’d think there’s not much a little fish can do to hide from predators in open waters. But when rocks, algae and other marine nooks and crannies are nowhere to be found, fish turn to manipulate the physical interactions of light to balance the scale. For instance, some open ocean fish species employ specialized skin cells that reflect polarized light. This reflection is most effective, not coincidentally, at the ‘chase angle’ or from the predator’s point of view. It’s so effective that the US Navy is funding work that might shed light how exactly some fish do this and how this can be applied to make submersibles equally inconspicuous.
As more Millennials are leaving religion in droves, or choosing not to identify with any faith, acceptance of evolution among the public strengthens.
When is a rose not a rose? When it’s a transistorized electronic circuit, of course. Scientists at Sweden’s Linköping University have implanted a rose with conductive polymers and arranged the resulting circuitry into a real transistor system – complete with a digital switch. Here’s how materials scientist Magnus Berggren turned a rose into a piece of electronics. He started with