Biology articles80,000 year old shells point to earliest cultural trend
Shell beads newly unearthed from four sites in Morocco confirm early humans were consistently wearing and potentially trading symbolic jewellery as early as 80,000 years ago. These beads add significantly to similar finds dating back as far as 110,000 in Algeria, Morocco, Israel and South Africa, confirming these as the oldest form of personal ornaments. This crucial step towards modern culture is reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (PNAS).
Highly valued rice fragrance has origins in Basmati rice, study finds
A new Cornell study reports that the gene that gives rice its highly valued fragrance stems from an ancestor of basmati rice and dispels other long-held assumptions about the origins of basmati.
Why solitary reptiles lay eggs in communal nests
Reptiles are not known to be the most social of creatures. But when it comes to laying eggs, female reptiles can be remarkably communal, often laying their eggs in the nests of other females. New research in the September issue of The Quarterly Review of Biology suggests that this curiously out-of-character behavior is far more common in reptiles than was previously thought.
MU researcher uses bacteria to make radioactive metals inert
The Lost Orphan Mine below the Grand Canyon hasn't produced uranium since the 1960s, but radioactive residue still contaminates the area. Cleaning the region takes an expensive process that is only done in extreme cases, but Judy Wall, a biochemistry professor at the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, is researching the use of sulfate-reducing bacteria to convert toxic radioactive metal to inert substances, a much more economical solution.
Scientists use micrornas to track evolutionary history for first time
The large group of segmented worms known as annelids, which includes earthworms, leeches and bristle worms, evolved millions of years ago and can be found in every corner of the world. Although annelids are one of the most abundant animal groups on the planet, scientists have struggled to understand how the different species of this biologically diverse group relate to each other in terms of their evolutionary history. Now a team of scientists from Yale University and Dartmouth College has used a groundbreaking method to untangle some of that history.
Molecular decay of enamel-specific gene in toothless mammals supports theory of evolution
Biologists at the University of California, Riverside report new evidence for evolutionary change recorded in both the fossil record and the genomes (or genetic blueprints) of living organisms, providing fresh support for Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.
Biologists discover 'death stench' is a universal ancient warning signal
The smell of recent death or injury that repels living relatives of insects has been identified as a truly ancient signal that functions to avoid disease or predators, biologists have discovered.
For carnivorous plants, slow but steady wins the race
Like the man-eating plant in Little Shop of Horrors, carnivorous plants rely on animal prey for sustenance. Fortunately for humans, carnivorous plants found in nature are not dependent on a diet of human blood but rather are satisfied with the occasional fly or other insect. The existence of carnivorous plants has fascinated botanists and non-botanists alike for centuries and raises the question, "Why are some plants carnivorous?"
Secrets of insect flight revealed
Researchers are one step closer to creating a micro-aircraft that flies with the manoeuvrability and energy efficiency of an insect after decoding the aerodynamic secrets of insect flight.
Ocean acidification: impact on key organisms of oceanic fauna
In addition to global warming, carbon dioxide emissions cause another, less well-known but equally serious and worrying phenomenon: ocean acidification. Researchers in the Laboratoire d'Océanographie at Villefranche (LOV) (CNRS / UPMC) have just demonstrated that key marine organisms, such as deep-water corals and pteropods (shelled pelagic mollusks) will be profoundly affected by this phenomenon during the years to come. Two studies have been published in the journal Biogeosciences.
Scientists pinpoint protein link to fat storage
A protein found present in all cells in the body could help scientists better understand how we store fat.
New research reveals the ancestral populations of India and their relationships to modern groups
In a study published in the September 24th issue of Nature, an international team describes how they harnessed modern genomic technology to explore the ancient history of India, the world's second most populous nation.
Ratchet-like genetic mutations make evolution irreversible
A University of Oregon research team has found that evolution can never go backwards, because the paths to the genes once present in our ancestors are forever blocked. The findings -- the result of the first rigorous study of reverse evolution at the molecular level -- appear in the Sept. 24 issue of Nature.
The secrets of cilia
Forty years ago, doctoral student Joel Rosenbaum asked this question: How are cilia, the tiny thread-like appendages protruding from most cells, formed from molecules in the interior of cells?
How do high ducks get enough oxygen?
Oxygen is a basic necessity of life. Yet some humans and animals thrive in places like the high Andes or Himalayas where the low atmospheric pressure results in half or less the oxygen found at sea level.
To flap, or not to flap? Flapping wings can be more efficient than fixed wings, study shows
In the search for better ways to fly, researchers have long pondered the question: Which is a better system -- the flapping wings of birds and insects, or the fixed wings of your average 747?
Hyenas cooperate, problem-solve better than primates
Spotted hyenas may not be smarter than chimpanzees, but a new study shows that they outperform the primates on cooperative problem-solving tests.
Cells in developing tissue consider their signaling exposure history to determine location
Researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have proposed a novel model that differs from a widely held hypothesis about the mechanisms by which developing animals pattern their tissues and structures.
High mortality rates may explain small body size
A new study suggests that high mortality rates in small-bodied people, commonly known as pygmies, may be part of the reason for their small stature. The study, by Jay Stock and Andrea Migliano, both of the University of Cambridge, helps unravel the mystery of how small-bodied people got that way.
Rhesus Macaque moms 'go gaga' for baby, too
The intense exchanges that human mothers share with their newborn infants may have some pretty deep roots, suggests a study of rhesus macaques reported online on October 8th in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication.