Shrimps communicate using a secret, polarized light language

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.

Largest genetic complement identified, owned by the water bear

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.

Study finds pigeons are very good at identifying cancer

With robots taking up all the factory jobs and CEO’s outsourcing each and any position they can to China, it’s harder and harder for the common bloke to find a job these days. And it’s only about to get worse as pigeons are now poised to take over the health industry positions for the price of bread crumbs.

Cave dwelling arachnid named after Tolkien’s character

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

Roundworm infections found to increase fertility in women

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.”

How pets make you hotter to the opposite sex

A University of Nevada team, led by anthropologist Peter Gray, tested several hypotheses about pets and contemporary courtship or dating rituals. Their study will appear in a forthcoming issue of the journal Anthrozoös.

Men ate almost twice as much when they dined with women

We all know that men like to impress the fairer members of our species, and this permeates into almost everything we do: we want to drive the shiniest car on the block, crack the funniest jokes 24/7 and write for ZMEScience so we can impress the ladies at parties. In essence, no matter how unlikely it is to actually impress, if a man has a choice between doing something and doing that something over the top so he can show off to women, you can bet your right arm he’s gonna do the latter.

Humans are not unique in understanding the basics of language

A paper published recently in Nature Communications details how a team lead by Dr. Ben Wilson and Professor Chris Petkov used a brain imaging technique to identify the neuronal evolutionary origins of language. Their findings help us understand how we learn to speak, and could allow new treatments for those who lose this ability from aphasia after a stroke or dementia.

Good quality breakfast linked to better performance in school

Cardiff University public health experts have discovered a powerful link between a pupil’s breakfast quality and their performance at school. The study – the largest to date looking at how nutrition influences school performance — recorded the breakfast habits of 5000 pupils aged 9 through 11, and their results in the Key Stage 2 Teacher Assessments 6-18 months later.

New Horizons images suggest Pluto is geologically active

NASA released a stunningly colorful new image of the dwarf planet Pluto, the latest in a series of images that steadily trickle down from the New Horizons probe since it left the solar system this July. And it’s not only eye candy either; the features this picture reveals has left the smart guys at the agency scratching their heads.

Orphan gene boosts the protein levels of crops

A recent study from Iowa State University shows how a gene, found in a single plant species so far, can increase protein content when grafted into the DNA of staple crops. Their findings could help improve a huge variety of crops and improve nutrition in developing parts of the world, where available sources of protein are sometimes limited.

First porous liquid could revolutionize carbon capture

Research at the Queen’s University Belfast has produced a major (and mind-bending) breakthrough, in the form of the first synthesized porous liquid. The new material has the potential for a massive range of new technologies including carbon capture.

Ant colonies behave as a single superorganism when attacked

Ant colonies are incredibly complex systems — the tightly knit, intensely cooperative colonies are closer to a single superorganism than to human societies. Researchers form the University of Bristol wanted to know how this single mind of the hive reacted to distress, and subjected colonies of migrating rock ants to differing forms of simulated predator attack to record their response.

Eating sweets with every meal may help your memory

Scientists at the Georgia State University, Georgia Regents University and Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center found that the brain uses sweet foods to form the memory of a meal. The paper shows how the neurons in the dorsal hippocampus — a part of the brain that is critical for episodic memory — are activated by consuming sweets.

Pregnancy related deaths down by half in the last 25 years

Between reports of melting icecaps, starving polar bears and reports of food shortages, it’s easy to become pessimistic about life. But it’s not all bad, as a recently released report by the UN, published in The Lancet, shows how pregnancy-related deaths have fallen almost by half in the past 25 years.

How maternal testosterone levels can cause anxiety in offspring

Women suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) show elevated levels of testosterone and testosterone derivatives in their systems, as well as an increased risk of anxiety and depression. As the offspring of these women (both sons and daughters) show similar symptoms, it’s been believed that PCOS can be transmitted through genetic code. However, a new idea comes to question this — specifically, the fact that the fetuses of mothers with PCOS are gestating in high levels of testosterone is what causes these symptoms.

New most distant body in the Solar system identified

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.

Wireless implants can block or induce the sensation of pain

Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed implantable devices that can activate — and in theory, block too — pain signals traveling from the body through the spinal cord before they reach the brain.

Space food: what astronauts eat in space

Many of you reading this hope to one day be able to explore outer space; the thrill of discovery, entwined with the peace and solitude that only the silent void can provide. It’s awesome stuff, I’m completely on board. But as it usually goes, great adventures come with great sacrifices.

Tremors around St. Helens may hint at a new eruption

Seismic tremors around Mount St. Helens hint at a new possible eruption in the area. Geological surveys have revealed the interior structure of the volcanic system, and geologists have been able to correlate seismic activity with the activation of the system