Biology articlesUCLA scientists discover ultrasonic communication among frogs
UCLA scientists report for the first time on the only known frog species that can communicate using purely ultrasonic calls, whose frequencies are too high to be heard by humans. Known as Huia cavitympanum, the frog lives only on the Southeast Asian island of Borneo.
Dogs, maybe not, but old genes can learn new tricks
A popular view among evolutionary biologists that fundamental genes do not acquire new functions was challenged by a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Voyages of discovery or necessity?
Ciguatera poisoning, the food-borne disease that can come from eating large, carnivorous reef fish, causes vomiting, headaches, and a burning sensation upon contact with cold surfaces. An early morning walk on cool beach sand can become a painful stroll on fiery coals to a ciguatera victim. But is this common toxin poisoning also the key to a larger mystery? That is, the storied migrations of the Polynesian natives who colonized New Zealand, Easter Island and, possibly, Hawaii in the 11th to 15th centuries? Could ciguatera be the reason masses of people left paradise?
Bolivian rainforest study suggests feeding behavior in monkeys and humans have ancient, shared roots
Behavioural ecologists working in Bolivia have found that wild spider monkeys control their diets in a similar way to humans, contrary to what has been thought up to now. Rather than trying to maximize their daily energy intake, the monkeys tightly regulate their daily protein intake, so that it stays at the same level regardless of seasonal variation in the availability of different foods.
Embryo's heartbeat drives blood stem cell formation
Biologists have long wondered why the embryonic heart begins beating so early, before the tissues actually need to be infused with blood. Two groups of Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) researchers from Children's Hospital Boston (Children's) and Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) - presenting multiple lines of evidence from zebrafish, mice, and mouse embryonic stem cells - provide an intriguing answer: A beating heart and blood flow are necessary for development of the blood system, which relies on mechanical stresses to cue its formation.
DNA molecules engineered to detect pathogens
First, Cornell researchers created DNA "bar codes" -- strands of the genetic material that quickly identify the presence of different molecules by fluorescing. Now, they have created new DNA molecules that can detect pathogens and deliver drugs to cells when they form long chains called polymers.
Research team finds important role for junk DNA
Scientists have called it "junk DNA." They have long been perplexed by these extensive strands of genetic material that dominate the genome but seem to lack specific functions. Why would nature force the genome to carry so much excess baggage?
Meet the complete mouse - Whole mouse genome sequence published
Are you a man or a mouse? A new paper, published in PLoS Biology, explores exactly what distinguishes our genome from that of the lab mouse. In the first comprehensive comparison between the genes of mice and humans, scientists from institutions across America, Sweden and the UK reveal that there are more genetic differences between the two species than had been previously thought. One-fifth of mouse genes are new copies that have emerged in the last 90 million years of mouse evolution. These large differences between genes in humans and the mouse are likely to reflect many of the differences that distinguish human and mouse biology.
Oldest evidence of leprosy found in India
A biological anthropologist from Appalachian State University working with an undergraduate student from Appalachian, an evolutionary biologist from UNC Greensboro, and a team of archaeologists from Deccan College (Pune, India) recently reported analysis of a 4000-year-old skeleton from India bearing evidence of leprosy. This skeleton represents both the earliest archaeological evidence for human infection with Mycobacterium leprae in the world and the first evidence for the disease in prehistoric India.
What goes down, must come up: Earth's leaky mantle
A new analysis of the processes that constantly stir the Earth's deep mantle is helping to explain how the mantle holds onto a portion of ancient noble gases that were trapped during the Earth's formation.
Resilin springs simplify the control of crustacean limb movements
Animals can simplify the brain control of their limb movements by moving a joint with just one muscle that operates against a spring made of the almost perfect elastic substance called resilin. This principle is analysed and illustrated by striking photographs and high-speed video footage, published in the open access journal BMC Biology, of the movements of the mouthparts of crabs and crayfish.
Komodo dragon even deadlier than thought
The fearsome Komodo dragon is deadlier than previously thought, with new research revealing that the giant lizards weaken and immobilize their prey with a potent venomous bite before using razor sharp teeth and powerful neck muscles to kill victims.
Using dominance to explain dog behaviour is old hat
A new study shows how the behaviour of dogs has been misunderstood for generations: in fact using misplaced ideas about dog behaviour and training is likely to cause rather than cure unwanted behaviour. The findings challenge many of the dominance related interpretations of behaviour and training techniques suggested by current TV dog trainers.
Trading energy for safety, bees extend legs to stay stable in wind
New research shows some bees brace themselves against wind and turbulence by extending their sturdy hind legs while flying. But this approach comes at a steep cost, increasing aerodynamic drag and the power required for flight by roughly 30 percent, and cutting into the bees' flight performance.
Reconstructing the evolution of laughter in great apes and humans
Like human infants, young apes are known to hoot and holler when you tickle them. But is it fair to say that those playful calls are really laughter? The answer to that question is yes, say researchers reporting online on June 4th in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication.
Boy or girl? In lizards, egg size matters
Whether baby lizards will turn out to be male or female is a more complicated question than scientists would have ever guessed, according to a new report published online on June 4th in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication. The study shows that for at least one lizard species, egg size matters.
At long last, how plants make eggs
A long-standing mystery surrounding a fundamental process in plant biology has been solved by a team of scientists at the University of California, Davis.
New 'molecular clock' aids dating of human migration history
Researchers at the University of Leeds have devised a more accurate method of dating ancient human migration - even when no corroborating archaeological evidence exists.
UF study finds ancient mammals shifted diets as climate changed
A new University of Florida study shows mammals change their dietary niches based on climate-driven environmental changes, contradicting a common assumption that species maintain their niches despite global warming.
When hosts go extinct, what happens to their parasites?
Hands wring and teeth gnash over the loss of endangered species like the panda or the polar bear. But what happens to the parasites hosted by endangered species? And although most people would side with the panda over the parasite, which group should we worry about more?