Biology, Environmental Issues, News, World Problems

Virus might be causing a Horrible Disease that turns Starfish into paste

Credit: Vancouver Aquarium

Since June, 2013 swarms of dying starfish have been riddling the North American western coast. The disease, called  sea star wasting syndrome (SSWS), causes the star-shaped echinoderms to first curl from the tips, then swell and twist like a pretzel, followed by festering sores appearing on the flesh and ending in complete degeneration. A starfish hit by SSWS is unrecognizable…

Animals, Biology, News

Elephant overhunting kills Tropical Forest as well in cascading effect

Elephant Tree by Shai Biran

We’re used to hearing how elephants are driven off by habitat lost, but never the other way around. Researchers at University of Florida claim that as overhunting has dramatically cut the number of elephants in the wild, but since these also disperse seeds, it seems like dominant tree species are also dying off. Along with the trees, other forest life is sure…

Biology, Mind & Brain, News

Is this the first Proof that Meditation alters Cellular Activity?

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There’s an immense body of evidence that proves that meditation has significant beneficial effects for mental health, but it’s only recently that researchers in Canada discovered a link between mindfulness meditation and altered cellular activity in cancer patients. Biology and meditation: no longer mutually exclusive “We already know that psychosocial interventions like mindfulness meditation will help you feel better mentally,…

Biology, Genetics

Scientists find antibiotic-like substance in mushroom that grows on horse dung

mushroom antibiotic copsin

You just have to applaud the researcher that study mushrooms growing on horse dung to see what medicinal properties they have. Microbiologists molecular biologists at ETH Zurich and the University of Bonn have discovered a new agent in fungi that kills bacteria. The substance they found in the mushroom is called copsin. Copsin has a similar effect to antibiotics, but belongs…

Biology, News

Multicellular Life may have ‘cheated’ its way into Existence

Bacterial collectives were bred where cheats were either suppressed or encouraged. Photo: Gayle Ferguson

One of the most fundamental question evolutionary biologists are trying to answer is how did multicellular life evolve from single celled organisms. Researchers from New Zealand, Germany and the USA believe they have found a counter-intuitive hint after studying organisms evolve in real time: cheating, non-cooperative cells may have pressured evolution to work on a program that would integrate two cell states….

Biology, News, Space

Synthetic biology might enable future manned missions to Mars

Microbial-based biomanufacturing could be transformative once explorers arrive at an extraterrestrial site. (Image courtesy of Royal Academy Interface)

In all likelihood, we won’t be seeing a manned mission for Mars before 2030, but until this happens forefront research is pushing the limits so we can finally get there. This includes synthetic biology, which promises to play a key role in reducing payload – a major concern in every space application, manned or not – and provide food and…

Animals, Biology, News

Flying insects evolved wings 406 million years ago, most complex insect family tree reveals

The Snakefly (Dichrostigma flavipes) didn’t give up limbs to evolve wings. Credit: Dr. Oliver Niehuis, ZFMK, Bonn

An international team of more than 100 scientists has undertaken a most complex and challenging task: they’ve determined the timings and patterns of evolution for most of the insect family tree, until they arrived at at the original insect foremother which lived some 500 million years ago. Thus, the researchers were able to pinpoint when the major insect groups, most still…

Biology, Health & Medicine, News

First was the limb, then was the penis: study unravels Genitalia Evolution

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A breakthrough study authored by Harvard University developmental biologists has finally resolved the mystery of how sexual organs appeared for the first time in vertebrates. According to their findings, shortly after our sea-dwelling ancestors migrated on land, creatures were pressured to quickly evolve genitalia – which they didn’t require up until then. These sexual organs, at least for snakes and lizards, originated…

Biology, Geology, News

Turtle fossil unearthed in New Mexico

n this undated photo, people from the New Mexico Museum of Natural History pictured from left to right, fossil preparer Tom Suazo, geosciences collections manager Amanda Cantrell, volunteer Jake Sayler and student researcher Asher Lichtig excavate a turtle fossil east of Turtleback Mountain, N.M., a well-known peak near Truth or Consequences. The fossilized remains of the turtle are believed to have lived in a swampy environment tens of millions of years ago. (AP Photo/The Las Cruces Sun-News, Robin Zielinski)

Fossil hunting can be exciting and highly rewarding, but sometimes, fossils are also found through a fluke. Jeff Dornbusch, a volunteer with the Truth or Consequences museum in southern New Mexico (a museum of local history and tradition), was taking a hike on his day off when he stumbled on what he initially thought was a pile of rocks. “I never really…

Biology, Diseases, Health & Medicine, News

Heart Disease affects Urban and Rural Dwellers Alike

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According to a study from Women’s College Hospital and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES), Canada, it doesn’t matter whether you live in a rural or urban setting when it comes to heart disease – the risk if the same for both environments. The general consensus is that those living in rural areas are at a disadvantage as far…