Biology articlesScientists crack rhino horn riddle
Rhinoceros horns have long been objects of mythological beliefs. Some cultures prize them for their supposed magical or medicinal qualities. Others have used them as dagger handles or good luck charms. But new research at Ohio University removes some of the mystique by explaining how the horn gets its distinctive curve and sharply pointed tip.
Brain, behavior may have changed as social insects colonies evolved
A new study suggests that brain and behavior relationships may have changed in a profound way as larger, more complex insect societies evolved from smaller, simpler ones.
Sperm proteome gives tantalising glimpse towards the origin of sex
The first ever catalogue of the different types of proteins found in sperm could help reveal the origins of sex and explain some of the mysteries of infertility, say scientists.
Scientists find new way to search for origin of life
Over the last half century, researchers have found that mineral surfaces may have played critical roles organizing, or activating, molecules that would become essential ingredients to all life—such as amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) and nucleic acids (the essence of DNA). But which of the countless possible combinations of biomolecules and mineral surfaces were key to this evolution?
Green plants share bacterial toxin
A toxin that can make bacterial infections turn deadly is also found in higher plants, researchers at UC Davis, the Marine Biology Laboratory at Woods Hole, Mass. and the University of Nebraska have found. Lipid A, the core of endotoxin, is located in the chloroplasts, structures that carry out photosynthesis within plant cells.
Origins of life
The origin of life lies in unique ocean reefs, and scientists from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science have developed an approach to help investigate them better.
Male chimpanzees prefer mating with old females
Researchers studying chimpanzee mating preferences have found that although male chimpanzees prefer some females over others, they prefer older, not younger, females as mates. The findings uncover a stark contrast between chimpanzee behavior and that of humans, their primate cousins.
Advance AIDS understanding of stem cell behavior
Biochemists at Oregon State University have developed a new method to identify the "DNA-binding transcription factors" that help steer stem cells into forming the wide variety of cells that ultimately make up all the organs and parts of a living vertebrate animal.
Liver cells prosper without telomeres
In most cells, telomeres are a critical protection against death: If these caps at the ends of chromosomes fail, the cell's life is cut short. But what's true for most cells isn't true for all cells, and a surprising new finding from Rockefeller University, recently published in Genes and Development, shows that cells in the livers of living mice have the remarkable ability to prosper without telomeres.
How to catch a mosquito
Male mosquitoes increase their chances of mating with a passing female by enhancing their ability to hear her flying past.
Detecting explosives with honeybees
Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory have developed a method for training the common honey bee to detect the explosives used in bombs. Based on knowledge of bee biology, the new techniques could become a leading tool in the fight against the use of improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, which present a critical vulnerability for American military troops abroad and is an emerging danger for civilians worldwide.
Geobiologists solve catch-22 problem concerning the rise of atmospheric oxygen
Two and a half billion years ago, when our evolutionary ancestors were little more than a twinkle in a bacterium's plasma membrane, the process known as photosynthesis suddenly gained the ability to release molecular oxygen into Earth's atmosphere, causing one of the largest environmental changes in the history of our planet.
Pressured by predators, lizards see rapid shift in natural selection
Countering the widespread view of evolution as a process played out over the course of eons, evolutionary biologists have shown that natural selection can turn on a dime - within months - as a population's needs change. In a study of island lizards exposed to a new predator, the scientists found that natural selection dramatically changed direction over a very short time, within a single generation, favoring first longer and then shorter hind legs.
Why do males and females of some species look so different?
Why and how do males and females of the same species often look so different? Armin Mocsek (Indiana University) has shown that in a certain group of insects, sex-differences in appearance are not the product of growing structures in a sex-specific manner, as previously assumed, but rather are generated by the sex-specific loss, or removal, of structures initially grown alike by both males and females.
A simpler, cheaper method for cell fusion
It's not easy to make one plus one equal one. But biological engineer Chang Lu has done just that with a new and cheaper method to electrically fuse cells — a vital technology for studying stem cells, creating clones and finding disease antibodies.
Genetic archaeology finds clues to pregnancy in male pipefish, seahorses
Genetic archaeology is providing a new clue to one of the greatest gender mysteries in the fish world: how did male pregnancy evolve in a family of fish?
Newts which regrow their hearts
When a newt loses a limb, the limb regrows. What is more, a newt can also completely repair damage to its heart. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research in Bad Nauheim have now started to decode the cellular mechanisms in this impressive ability to regenerate and have discovered the remarkable plasticity of newt heart cells. As mammals, and therefore also humans, do not have this ability, the findings could contribute to new cell therapies for patients with damaged organs.
Structure essential for brain remodeling identified
During learning and memory formation, the brain builds or remodels tiny structures on the surface of its nerve cells to store the new information. Now, a team led by Duke University Medical Center researchers has discovered where the brain gets the raw materials for such construction -- and has even taken "home movies" of the process.
Blame our evolutionary risk of cancer on our body mass
A key enzyme that cuts short our cellular lifespan in an effort to thwart cancer has now been linked to body mass.
Diminutive hummingbird's secret: a big brain
University of Alberta researchers have pin-pointed a section in the tiny hummingbird's brain that may be responsible for its unique ability to stay stationary in mid-air and hover.