Biology articlesLearning to live on land: how some early plants overcame an evolutionary hurdle
The diversity of life that can be seen in environments ranging from the rainforests of the Amazon to the spring blooms of the Mohave Desert is awe-inspiring. But this diversity would not be possible if the ancestors of modern plants had just stayed in the water with their green algal cousins. Moving onto dry land required major lifestyle changes to adapt to this new "hostile" environment, and in turn helped change global climate and atmospheric conditions to conditions we recognize today. By absorbing carbon while making food, and releasing oxygen, early plants shaped ecosystems into a more hospitable environment, paving the way for animals to make a parallel journey onto land.
Understanding behavioral patterns: why bird flocks move in unison
Animal flocks, be it honeybees, fish, ants or birds, often move in surprising synchronicity and seemingly make unanimous decisions at a moment's notice, a phenomenon which has remained puzzling to many researchers.
Toward resolving Darwin's 'abominable mystery'
What, in nature, drives the incredible diversity of flowers? This question has sparked debate since Darwin described flower diversification as an 'abominable mystery.' The answer has become a lot clearer, according to scientists at the University of Calgary whose research on the subject is published today in the on-line edition of the journal Ecology Letters.
Notre Dame and Wyoming scientists genetically engineer silkworms to produce artificial spider silk
A research and development effort by the University of Notre Dame, the University of Wyoming, and Kraig Biocraft Laboratories, Inc. has succeeded in producing transgenic silkworms capable of spinning artificial spider silks.
No evidence for Clovis comet catastrophe, archaeologists say
New research challenges the controversial theory that an ancient comet impact devastated the Clovis people, one of the earliest known cultures to inhabit North America.
Evolution by mistake
A major driving force of evolution comes from mistakes made by cells and how organisms cope with the consequences, UA biologists have found. Their discoveries offer lessons for creating innovation in economics and society.
Finding footprints: how ancient people affect modern landscapes
There's a common misconception that prior to European contact in the 15th century, the Americas were a pristine, untouched wilderness, inhabited by people who lived in complete harmony with their environment. In reality, humans have been affecting and influencing their surroundings as long as we've existed.
Genetically modified chickens breakthrough to prevent spread of bird flu
Researchers funded by BBSRC have developed chickens that are genetically modified to prevent them from spreading bird flu to other chickens. If this genetic modification is introduced into poultry flocks in the future it has the potential to protect the health of the birds and so increase the production of meat and eggs. It could also reduce the risk of bird flu epidemics that can lead to new flu outbreaks in the human population.
Lampreys give clues to evolution of immune system
Biologists have discovered that primitive, predatory lampreys have structures within their gills that play the same role as the thymus, the organ where immune cells called T cells develop in mammals, birds and fish.
Ancient body clock discovered that helps to keep all living things on time
The mechanism that controls the internal 24-hour clock of all forms of life from human cells to algae has been identified by BBSRC-funded scientists.
A clearer picture of vision
The human retina - the part of the eye that converts incoming light into electrochemical signals - has about 100 million light-sensitive cells. So retinal images contain a huge amount of data. High-level visual-processing tasks - like object recognition, gauging size and distance, or calculating the trajectory of a moving object - couldn't possibly preserve all that data: The brain just doesn't have enough neurons. So vision scientists have long assumed that the brain must somehow summarize the content of retinal images, reducing their informational load before passing them on to higher-order processes.
WA's incredible underground orchid
Rhizanthella gardneri is a cute, quirky and critically endangered orchid that lives all its life underground. It even blooms underground, making it virtually unique amongst plants.
44-year-old mystery of how fleas jump resolved
If you thought that we know everything about how the flea jumps, think again. In 1967, Henry Bennet-Clark discovered that fleas store the energy needed to catapult themselves into the air in an elastic pad made of resilin. However, in the intervening years debate raged about exactly how fleas harness this explosive energy. Bennet-Clark and Miriam Rothschild came up with competing hypotheses, but neither had access to the high speed recording equipment that could resolve the problem.
Engineers and Blue Peter make hair-raising contraption to put fairytale to the test
A team of engineers from Imperial College London have developed a contraption made of human hair, enabling presenters from the world's longest running children's television program to test the theory behind a fairytale.
Conceptualizing cancer cells as ancient 'toolkit'
Despite decades of research and billions of dollars, cancer remains a major killer, with an uncanny ability to evade both the body's defenses and medical intervention. Now an Arizona State University scientist believes he has an explanation.
Birds use right nostril to navigate
Pigeons rely mainly on their olfactory sense when they navigate. Young pigeons learn to recognize environmental odours carried by the winds into the loft and to use these odours to find their way home from unfamiliar territory. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Radolfzell, Anna Gagliardo from the University of Pisa, and their colleagues at the University of Trient recently demonstrated that pigeons navigate more poorly with their right nostril blocked. This finding suggests that the left brain hemisphere, where olfactory information is processed, is of fundamental importance to the orientation and navigation of homing pigeons.
The most genes in an animal? Tiny crustacean holds the record
Scientists have discovered that the animal with the most genes--about 31,000--is the near-microscopic freshwater crustacean Daphnia pulex, or water flea.
Scientists determine what makes an orangutan an orangutan
For the first time, scientists have mapped the genome--the genetic code--of orangutans. This new tool may be used to support efforts to maintain the genetic diversity of captive and wild orangutans. The new map of the orangutan genome may also be used to help improve our understanding of the evolution of primates, including humans.
Regrowing hair: UCLA-VA researchers may have accidentally discovered a solution
It has been long known that stress plays a part not just in the graying of hair but in hair loss as well. Over the years, numerous hair-restoration remedies have emerged, ranging from hucksters' "miracle solvents" to legitimate medications such as minoxidil. But even the best of these have shown limited effectiveness.
Lie Detection: Misconceptions, Pitfalls, and Opportunities for Improvement
Unlike Pinocchio, liars do not usually give telltale signs that they are being dishonest. In lieu of a growing nose, is there a way to distinguish people who are telling the truth from those who aren't? A new report in Psychological Science in the Public Interest, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, discusses some of the common misconceptions about those proficient in the art of deception, reviews the shortcomings of commonly used lie-detection techniques, and presents new empirically supported methods for telling liars from truth-tellers with greater accuracy.