Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Water Found on Exoplanets

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has detected traces of the chemical signature of water in the atmospheres of five different exoplanets (WASP-17b, HD209458b, WASP-12b, WASP-19b and XO-1b) orbiting nearby stars.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Snakes Fastest to Evolve

With the first two full snake genomes (Burmese python, king cobra) fully sequenced, scientists have found snakes have the fastest rate of genetic evolution among vertebrates with the strongest changed genes involving body shape, metabolism and venom production.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Mice Inherit Learned Behavior

Conditioning mice to associate a certain odor with danger, researchers have found the first evidence of learned behavior being passed on trans-generationally to a degree in the mice's pups, who express a sensitivity to the same stimulus although never before having encountered the odor.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Oldest String Found

Researchers have found an artifact of twisted plant fibers at a site in southeast France dating back 90,000 years, providing evidence that the manufacture of string and cordage may have been known and used by Neanderthals before the arrival of Homo sapiens in Europe.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Low-Density Kuiper Belt Object

Astronomers have identified an intermediate-sized body of rock and ice (2002 UX25) in the Kuiper belt with a measured density significantly less than liquid water, challenging present planetary formation theories.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Algae Forced into Multicellularity

Using a centrifuge technique, biologists have forced a single-celled alga (Chlamydomonas reinhardtii) to evolve and cluster into a true multicellular organism, compressing the hundreds of millions of years of evolution of multicellular life into a sufficiently short timeframe for real-time study.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

New Clean Room Microbe

A rare new strain of microbe (Tersicoccus phoenicis) that survives harsh sterilization techniques and with almost no nutrients has been discovered in two spacecraft clean rooms in Florida and South Africa, a bacteria so different from known species it has been classified with a new genus.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Rembrandt's First Elephant

Results from a DNA and anatomy study of the remains of the type specimen for the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) reveal it to actually be an African elephant (Loxodonta spp.), and biologists searching for a new type specimen settled on a description published in 1693 of what is now the preserved skeleton of an individual elephant named Hansken -- an animal who's likeness was captured in sketches by Rembrandt in 1637.

Friday, November 1, 2013

T. rex Larger Than Fossils Suggest

Examining layers of bone within fossilized Tyrannosaurus rex collections, paleontologists have found indications most museum specimens were still growing at the time of their death and that the adult animals were more massive and bulkier than current remains suggest.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Bees Almost Went Extinct

Using molecular modeling techniques on the DNA of modern carpenter bees (Xylocopa spp.) along with fossil evidence, researchers believe that bees almost disappeared with the mass extinction event that ended the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, possibly related to the mass extinction of flowering plants that occurred at the same time.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

First Venomous Crustacean

Biologists have discovered the first known venomous crustaceanSpeleonectes tulumensis, a tiny, pale, cave-dwelling member of the remipedes group native to Central America that uses its venom to paralyze and partially digest small shrimp.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Gold in Tree Leaves

Researchers have found gold particles in the leaves of gum trees (Eucalyptus spp.) in Australia, with the trees acting as hydraulic pumps to draw the metals from underground sources and providing a possible new method for identifying mineral deposits.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Orca Undergo Menopause

Researchers have found that female killer whales (Orcinus orca) undergo menopause as they age, along with humans and pilot whales one of only three species known to do so, living 50 to 60 years past their reproductive age presumably as an evolutionary advantage to increase the survival rates of young males and their offspring.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Complete Skull of Homo erectus

Anthropologists have found the entire skull of a Homo erectus dating back some 1.8 million years in Georgia, the earliest complete specimen yet found and so perfectly preserved it suggests the human ancestor was more variable in appearance than previously believed with several classified subspecies such as H. habilis and H. rudolfensis simply belonging to this single species.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

First Tilted Solar System

NASA's Kepler spacecraft has detected the first known star system with two large planets that orbit on a plane at a steep 45-degree angle relative to the stellar equator, the gas giant Kepler-56 about 2800 light years distant.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Parasite Affects Instinctive Fear

A common single-cell pathogen (Toxoplasma gondii) removes the instinctive fear of predators (cats) in rodents, possibly permanently modifying a specific brain function as an evolutionary adaptation for the parasite, which can only reproduce sexually within the cat gut.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Weak Force Directly Measured

Researchers with the Q-weak experiment at the Jefferson National Accelerator Facility have made the first direct measurement of the value of the weak force, one of the four fundamental forces described in the Standard Model, for the proton, the neutron, and the up and down quarks.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Functioning Gears in Nature

Scientists have found the first example of a naturally occurring gear mechanism in the hind leg joint structure of the plant hopper (Issus coleoptratus) featuring interlocking cog teeth that ensure a coordinated thrust when the insect jumps with a mechanical synchronization beyond what is capable with the nervous system.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Evolution Through Exaptation

A new quantitative study gives further support to the new biological concept of exaptation, an evolutionary phenomenon introduced in 1982 by Stephen Jay Gould and Elisabeth Vrba as a counterpart to adaptation by which existing traits are co-opted for new and advantageous uses unrelated to their biological origin.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Seismic Waves Reveal Hotspots

Scientists have taken advantage of a previously unknown type of slow-moving seismic waves to map channels of heat flow and "hotspots" of volcanic surfacing in Earth's mantle using new models similar to computerized tomography (CT) scans of the human body.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Convergent Evolution in Genes

Geneticists studying 2326 genes in 22 mammal species have found widespread "convergence signatures" in over 200 regions for biological traits, showing that convergent evolution of similar anatomical and functional features such as sight and echolocation across unrelated species is more widespread at the molecular level than previously thought.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

New Timeline for Ancient Egypt

Using radiocarbon dating of excavated hair, bones and plant materials along with established archaeological evidence and computer models, scientists have pinpointed a revised timeline for the rise of Egypt's first state dynasty with King Aha about 3100 B.C.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Younger Dryas Asteroid Impact

Scientists have found mounting evidence of unique mineral signatures in North America and Greenland soil samples indicating an asteroid impact near modern-day Quebec about 12,900 years ago, corresponding to archaeological global climate cooling and the most recent ice age known as the Younger Dryas.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Element 115 Confirmed

Chemists in Sweden have replicated a ten-year-old Russian experiment and positively confirmed the existence of a new element with atomic number 115, informally referred to by the unofficial name ununpentium but to be formally named later by a committee from the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC).

Friday, August 16, 2013

Voyager Leaves Solar System

A team of researchers has made the call that the Voyager I space probe has finally left the solar system (actually crossing over last summer) based on the disappearance of solar particle counts even though the local magnetic field has not changed, describing the irregular and ill-defined boundary as a "heliosheath depletion region."

Thursday, August 15, 2013

New Carnivore Species Discovered

Scientists have identified a previously unknown species of carnivorous mammal, the olinguito (Bassaricyon neblina), living in the cloud forests of Colombia and Ecuador, an extremely rare discovery as a new member of the family Procyonidae and order Carnivora.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Tomb of Moche Priestess-Queen

Archaeologists have discovered the tomb of a previously unknown Moche priestess-queen who was buried about A.D. 750 at San José de Moro in the Jequetepeque River valley of northern Peru, the eighth such elite female burial found at the site since 1991 and supporting the theory of an ancient female-ruled society.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Australian Fossil Field Discovered

Paleontologists have discovered a fossil-rich deposit near the Riversleigh fossil field in northwest Queensland, Australia, densely packed with previously unknown species dating from between 13 million and 5 million years ago and providing a rare fossil record for the period of Australia's transition from a tropical to an arid climate.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Shrew's Bizarre Strong Backbone

Scientists have discovered a previously unknown species of hero shrew (Scutisorex thori) in central Africa that possesses an unusually shaped backbone of 10 to 11 interlocking vertebrae unique in the mammalian world, providing the animal with extraordinary and disproportionate structural strength for reasons yet unknown.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Dolphins Identify by "Names"

New research shows that bottlenose dolphins have a unique signature whistle that they respond to by repeating that whistle back to the originator, ignoring other similar vocalizations and supporting evidence of a concept of identity with a distinct "name" for each individual animal.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Earth's Life on Land Much Older

A recent study presents newly discovered tiny fossils (Diskagma buttonii) found in ancient soil samples and comparable to modern Geosiphon fungi as evidence of land-based life on Earth, pushing back estimates of its first appearance from 500 million years to 2.2 billion years ago.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Giant Viruses Discovered

Researchers have discovered a previously unknown class of megaviruses (Pandoravirus) seemingly found everywhere and of unknown function or effect, some a thousand times larger than a flu virus and with 200 times as many genes with only 6% of those genes known to science.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Neutrino Flavor Flip Confirmed

Researchers at Japan's Super-Kamiokande laboratory have evidence of muon neutrinos changing to their electron counterpart "flavor" during mid-flight, the first such confirmation of predicted flavor oscillations with implications that their corresponding anti-particles may interact asymmetrically (CP violation).

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Memory in Decapitated Worms

Researchers have found that flatworms trained in a simple task and then decapitated retained their memories of the task after their head had regrown, implying that memory may be stored in other body cells and then imprinted in the new brain as it regenerates.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Electron Microscope Noise Barrier

Researchers working with advancing electron microscopy have encountered a noise source from thermal vibrations in the atomic structure of materials that generates an interfering magnetic field for the incident electrons, possibly introducing a physical limit to the resolution possible with the technology.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Behavior of Watched Crickets

Researchers have demonstrated crickets change their own aggressive behavior when they are aware of being watched by other crickets, the first time such social behavior has been observed in invertebrates and revealing an unexpected depth of learning and memory in insects.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Blue Blood Survives Freezing

Researchers have found a specialized blue pigment called hemocyanin in the blood of the Antarctic octopus (Pareledone charcoti) that is copper-based instead of the more common iron-based hemoglobin, allowing the ions to bind with oxygen and the animals to survive in sub-freezing waters of -1.9 degrees Celsius.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Optical Lattice Atomic Clock

Scientists have developed a new method of timekeeping called an optical lattice atomic clock that is three times more accurate than current atomic clocks, measuring oscillations from strontium atoms excited by a laser rather than microwave-based cesium fountains with an accuracy of losing only one second every 300 million years.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Ancient Forest Found Underwater

Divers have discovered a Bald Cypress forest at least 0.8 km long off the coast of Alabama, freshly preserved for at least 52,000 years under ocean sediment in an oxygen-free environment in the Gulf of Mexico and most likely uncovered by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Mysterious Deep-Space Explosions

Astronomers from the CSIRO Parkes radio telescope have detected four point sources of powerful fast radio bursts (FRB) of unknown origin outside the Milky Way galaxy and billions of light-years away, each lasting only a few milliseconds yet giving off more energy than does our Sun in 300,000 years.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Pluto's Moons Named

After a membership vote, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) has formally adopted the names Kerberos and Styx for the recently discovered fourth (P4) and fifth (P5) moons, respectively, of Pluto.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Meteor Shockwave Circled Globe

The shockwave from a 17-m, 10,000-ton meteor that burned up over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in February was powerful enough to circle the Earth twice, as measured by an International Monitoring System designed to detect ultra-low frequency acoustic waves (infrasound) from nuclear tests.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

New Bird Species in Metro Area

The Cambodian tailorbird (Orthotomus chaktomuk), a species new to science, was found in the capitol city Phnom Penh during routine checks for the avian flu in 2009, the first time a new animal species has been discovered in a modern urban environment.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Fruits, Vegetables Still Alive

New research shows that fruits and vegetables can respond to circadian cycles up to about a week after harvest, adapting their internal levels of nutrients and protective chemical compounds in response to predator cycles.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Tetraquark Candidate Found

Researchers at KEK's Belle Collaboration and Beijing's BESIII Collaboration have independently reported evidence for a tetraquark particle designated Zc(3900), the strongest evidence yet for matter consisting of more than three quarks.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Lost Mayan City Discovered

Archaeologists have discovered the lost Mayan city of Chactun hidden in the thick jungle of the Yucatan, a 22-hectare site that includes 15 pyramids and ball game courts and may have been home to as many as 40,000 people before being abandoned around 1000 A.D.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

New Atlantic Subduction Zone

A newly formed crack in the Eurasian tectonic plate about 200 km off the southwestern coast of Portugal is the birth of a new subduction zone, splitting the plate into oceanic and continental sections that will cause the Atlantic Ocean to disappear in about 220 million years as Europe and North American drift toward one another.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Lost Cambodian City Revealed

Using LIDAR technology on board a helicopter, archaeologists have revealed the lost city of Mahendraparvata in Cambodia, a planned urban network of roadways and canals linking the 1200-year-old temples of the Angkor Wat complex hidden under dense vegetation.

Friday, June 14, 2013

New Layer of Cornea Discovered

Researchers have found a previously unknown and distinct tough sixth layer (named the Dua's layer after its discoverer) in the cornea of the human eye, located at the back of the cornea with a thickness of only about 15 microns.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Fossil Soft Tissue Reconstructed

Scientists have reconstructed the neck and abdominal muscles of rare, well-preserved 380 million-year-old early jawed fish (placoderm) fossils from the Gogo Formation of northwestern Australia using high-contrast x-ray beams to image the soft-tissue impressions without damage to the fossil.