Biology articlesModel suggests how lifes code emerged from primordial soup
In 1953, Stanley Miller filled two flasks with chemicals assumed to be present on the primitive Earth, connected the flasks with rubber tubes and introduced some electrical sparks as a stand-in for lightning. The now famous experiment showed what amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, could easily be generated from this primordial stew. But despite that seminal experiment, neither he nor others were able to take the next step: that of showing how life's code could come from such humble beginnings.
Mary had a lot of lambs: researchers identify way to speed up sheep breeding
Mary had a little lamb, but only once a year. However, Cornell Sheep Program researchers have discovered an unusual form of a gene that prompts ewes to breed out of season as well as conceive at younger ages and more frequently.
Why are autumn leaves red in America and yellow in Europe?
Walking outdoors in the fall, the splendidly colorful leaves adorning the trees are a delight to the eye. In Europe these autumn leaves are mostly yellow, while the United States and East Asia boast lustrous red foliage. But why is it that there are such differences in autumnal hues around the world?
Key feature of immune system survived in humans, other primates for 60 million years
A new study has concluded that one key part of the immune system, the ability of vitamin D to regulate anti-bactericidal proteins, is so important that is has been conserved through almost 60 million years of evolution and is shared only by primates, including humans - but no other known animal species.
Major insights into evolution of life reported by UCLA molecular biologist
Humans might not be walking the face of the Earth were it not for the ancient fusing of two prokaryotes - tiny life forms that do not have a cellular nucleus. UCLA molecular biologist James A. Lake reported important new insights about prokaryotes and the evolution of life in the Aug. 20 advance online edition of the journal Nature.
U of T scientists identify gene that enables water striders to glide across water
Water striders, the familiar semi-aquatic bugs gliding across the lake at the cottage, have a novel body form that allows them to walk on water, but this was not always the case.
Stressed crops emit more methane than thought
Scientists at the University of Calgary have found that methane emission by plants could be a bigger problem in global warming than previously thought.
Researchers discover evolutionary event underlying the origin of dachshunds, other dogs with short legs
A single evolutionary event appears to explain the short, curved legs that characterize all of today's dachshunds, corgis, basset hounds and at least 16 other breeds of dogs, a team led by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of the National Institutes of Health, reported today. In addition to what it reveals about short-legged dogs, the unexpected discovery provides new clues about how physical differences may arise within species and suggests new approaches to understanding a form of human dwarfism.
Evolution of the appendix: a biological 'remnant' no more
The lowly appendix, long-regarded as a useless evolutionary artifact, won newfound respect two years ago when researchers at Duke University Medical Center proposed that it actually serves a critical function. The appendix, they said, is a safe haven where good bacteria could hang out until they were needed to repopulate the gut after a nasty case of diarrhea, for example.
Scientists discover new species of crustacean on Lanzarote
Diving expedition in lava tube finds remarkable new specimens. They gracefully swim through the complete darkness of submarine caves, constantly on the lookout for prey. Instead of eyes, predatory crustaceans of the class Remipedia rely on long antennae which search the lightless void in all directions. Like some type of science fiction monster, their head is equipped with powerful prehensile limbs and poisonous fangs.
Discovery of natural odors could help develop mosquito repellents
Entomologists at the University of California, Riverside working on fruit flies in the lab have discovered a novel class of compounds that could pave the way for developing inexpensive and safe mosquito repellents for combating West Nile virus and other deadly tropical diseases.
Nostrils alternate to process competing odors
When the nose encounters two different scents simultaneously, the brain processes them separately through each nostril in an alternating fashion.
The blossoms of maturity
Plants normally flower in response to seasonal changes, such as those associated with the end of winter or beginning of spring. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology have now identified a signaling pathway that allows plants to blossom even without positive signals from the environment. The concentration of a small RNA snippet in plants cells operates like an hour glass: a decline in its level awakes the plant from its vegetative dormancy and allows it to enter the reproductive mode.
Are you the next Usain Bolt? The answer could be in your saliva
Scientists at Newcastle University are launching a ground-breaking study to find out why some of us can run faster than others - despite doing the same amount of training.
Humidity key to healthy nails suggests new research
Maintaining normal humidity around you could be the key to attractive and healthy fingernails, according to new research from The University of Manchester.
Dog's place and date of birth identified
Earlier studies of this field have shown that Eastern Asia is the place where the wolf was tamed to become the dog. More detailed information has not been available. Now researchers at KTH have succeeded in further specifying the birthplace of man's best friend.
Chimpanzees develop 'specialized tool kits' to catch army ants
Chimpanzees in the Congo have developed specialised 'tool kits' to forage for army ants, reveals new research published in the American Journal of Primatology. This not only provides the first direct evidence of multiple tool use in this context, but suggests that chimpanzees have developed a 'sustainable' way of harvesting food.
Europe's first farmers replaced their stone age hunter-gatherer forerunners
Analysis of ancient DNA from skeletons suggests that Europe's first farmers were not the descendants of the people who settled the area after the retreat of the ice sheets. Instead, the early farmers probably migrated into major areas of central and eastern Europe about 7,500 years ago, bringing domesticated plants and animals with them, says Barbara Bramanti from Mainz University in Germany and colleagues.
Indoor plants found to release volatile organic compounds
Potted plants add a certain aesthetic value to homes and offices, bringing a touch of nature to indoor spaces. It has also been shown that many common house plants have the ability to remove volatile organic compounds-gases or vapors emitted by solids and liquids that may have adverse short- and long-term health effects on humans and animals-from indoor air. But take heed when considering adding some green to your environment; in addition to giving off healthy oxygen and sucking out harmful VOCs, a new study shows that some indoor plants actually release volatile organic compounds into the environment.
Secrets of the four chambers revealed by reptile hearts
The first genetic link in the evolution of the heart from three-chambered to four-chambered has been found, illuminating part of the puzzle of how birds and mammals became warm-blooded.