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  • July 24, 2016
  • 04:45 AM
  • 36 views

Week 29 In Review: Open-Access Science | 18 to 25 July

by TakFurTheKaffe in Tak Fur The Kaffe

Cave art, wild fires, new dinosaur with teeny T-rex arms, thirsty trees and a new method to create hydrogen from grass. Here are five of the latest scientific studies published open-access this week.... Read more »

Cooper, J., Samson, A., Nieves, M., Lace, M., Caamaño-Dones, J., Cartwright, C., Kambesis, P., & Frese, L. (2016) ‘The Mona Chronicle’: the archaeology of early religious encounter in the New World. Antiquity, 90(352), 1054-1071. DOI: 10.15184/aqy.2016.103  

Nagra, G., Treble, P., Andersen, M., Fairchild, I., Coleborn, K., & Baker, A. (2016) A post-wildfire response in cave dripwater chemistry. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 20(7), 2745-2758. DOI: 10.5194/hess-20-2745-2016  

Caravaca, A., Jones, W., Hardacre, C., & Bowker, M. (2016) H production by the photocatalytic reforming of cellulose and raw biomass using Ni, Pd, Pt and Au on titania . Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Science, 472(2191), 20160054. DOI: 10.1098/rspa.2016.0054  

  • July 21, 2016
  • 10:08 AM
  • 84 views

The decline of biodiversity: Past the point of no return?

by gdw in FictionalFieldwork

Mohi looks up at her mother. Confused. Afraid. Mother had always said that she had to keep her filtration veil on when they left their housedome. But now, here stood her mother, unveiled. The woman gifted an encouraging nod to her young daughter. Mohi removed her veil. Air! Light! The freshness of the breeze and […]... Read more »

Steffen W, Richardson K, Rockström J, Cornell SE, Fetzer I, Bennett EM, Biggs R, Carpenter SR, de Vries W, de Wit CA.... (2015) Sustainability. Planetary boundaries: guiding human development on a changing planet. Science, 347(6223). PMID: 25592418  

Newbold T, Hudson LN, Arnell AP, Contu S, De Palma A, Ferrier S, Hill SL, Hoskins AJ, Lysenko I, Phillips HR.... (2016) Has land use pushed terrestrial biodiversity beyond the planetary boundary? A global assessment. Science, 353(6296), 288-91. PMID: 27418509  

Oliver TH. (2016) How much biodiversity loss is too much?. Science, 353(6296), 220-1. PMID: 27418489  

  • July 18, 2016
  • 04:07 PM
  • 119 views

Eggs can develop without being fertilized in this sturgeon… but they don’t survive

by Emily Makowski in Sextraordinary!

Parthenogenesis is the development of eggs without fertilization. For the first time, it has been shown to occur in the sterlet sturgeon. ... Read more »

  • July 13, 2016
  • 10:30 PM
  • 128 views

Modeling influenza at ECMTB/SMB 2016

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

This week, I am at the University of Nottingham for the joint meeting of the Society of Mathematical Biology and the European Conference on Mathematical and Theoretical Biology — ECMTB/SMB 2016. It is a huge meeting, with over 800 delegates in attendance, 308 half-hour mini-symposium talks, 264 twenty-minute contributed talks, 190 posters, 7 prize talks, […]... Read more »

Gog, J.R., Ballesteros, S., Viboud, C., Simonsen, L., Bjornstad, O.N., Shaman, J., Chao, D.L., Khan, F., & Grenfell, B.T. (2014) Spatial Transmission of 2009 Pandemic Influenza in the US. PLoS Computational Biology, 10(6). PMID: 24921923  

  • July 13, 2016
  • 03:59 PM
  • 152 views

A New Tool for Studying Gorilla Health: Half-Chewed Food

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



In the mountains of Central Africa, scientists who study critically endangered gorillas have a new tool. They've discovered that they can learn what viruses gorillas are carrying by stealthily collecting half-chewed plants the apes leave behind.

If this sounds reminiscent of that class clown at the third-grade lunch table who would ask if you liked seafood and then say "See? Food!" and open his mouth wide to display his sloppy Joe slurry, don't worry—mountain gorillas are vegetarians. ........ Read more »

Smiley Evans T, Gilardi KV, Barry PA, Ssebide BJ, Kinani JF, Nizeyimana F, Noheri JB, Byarugaba DK, Mudakikwa A, Cranfield MR.... (2016) Detection of viruses using discarded plants from wild mountain gorillas and golden monkeys. American journal of primatology. PMID: 27331804  

  • July 13, 2016
  • 01:00 AM
  • 109 views

Another one bites the dust?

by Henkjan Honing in Music Matters

The music theory literature has been suggesting it for a long time: the idea that simultaneous sounding tones with frequency relationships that are low integer multiples, like 1:2 (octave) or 3:2 (a perfect fifth), are determinant of how listeners perceive consonance. It is an idea that is often related to the overtone structure of natural sounds (such as the voice or string instruments) suggesting that musical harmony is reflective or even a result of the acoustic structure that is found in nat........ Read more »

Honing, H., ten Cate, C., Peretz, I., & Trehub, S. (2015) Without it no music: cognition, biology and evolution of musicality. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 370(1664), 20140088-20140088. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2014.0088  

  • July 11, 2016
  • 12:48 PM
  • 112 views

Size matters (for both sexes of seahorses)

by Emily Makowski in Sextraordinary!

This week's article is about research on whether male seahorses contribute to the size of their offspring. Seahorses are unique in that the young develops in the male's specialized pouch.... Read more »

Faleiro F, Almeida AJ, Ré P, & Narciso L. (2016) Size does matter: An assessment of reproductive potential in seahorses. Animal Reproduction Science, 61-7. PMID: 27062576  

  • July 6, 2016
  • 11:29 AM
  • 182 views

Fish May Lose Their Jelly Friends in a Changing Ocean

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



In the open ocean, it's good to have friends. Some young fish like to buddy up with stinging jellies to stay safe from predators. Hiding under the shelter of a jellyfish's bell, they can grow up unharmed (as long as they dodge its tentacles). These fish include some species that humans rely on for food. But in a warming ocean, that buddy system may fall apart.

Many types of fish take advantage of hop-on jelly trolleys. Ivan Nagelkerken, a marine biologist at the University of Adelaide in ... Read more »

Nagelkerken I, Pitt KA, Rutte MD, & Geertsma RC. (2016) Ocean acidification alters fish-jellyfish symbiosis. Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society, 283(1833). PMID: 27358374  

  • July 6, 2016
  • 08:50 AM
  • 222 views

Why do we eat spices?

by Alice Breda in la-Plumeria

I love curries. My favorite is Indian tikka masala which is prepared with tomato, yogurt and many different spices including turmeric, ginger, garlic, cardamom, cumin, paprika, cloves and cinnamon. But I’m not the only one, because the passion for spicy dishes is shared among humans of all regions and ages. We eat them fresh, dried, whole, ground, raw or cooked, and our love for these tasty substances led explorers such as Polo, Magellan and Columbus to undertake risky expeditions in searc........ Read more »

Sherman, P., & Billing, J. (1999) Darwinian Gastronomy: Why We Use Spices. BioScience, 49(6), 453. DOI: 10.2307/1313553  

Billing J, & Sherman PW. (1998) Antimicrobial functions of spices: why some like it hot. The Quarterly review of biology, 73(1), 3-49. PMID: 9586227  

  • June 29, 2016
  • 06:20 AM
  • 147 views

Birdsong Babel: Different birds use different grammar rules

by gdw in FictionalFieldwork

Zizou listens carefully. She ignores her confines and tries to focus on the intruder’s song. There’s something odd about it. Something she can’t quite put her feather on. It’s familiar, yet… not familiar. The intruder is strong. He or she keeps signing incessantly. There’s no sight of him or her, though. She has to make a […]... Read more »

Olkowicz S, Kocourek M, Lučan RK, Porteš M, Fitch WT, Herculano-Houzel S, & Němec P. (2016) Birds have primate-like numbers of neurons in the forebrain. PNAS, 113(26), 7255-60. PMID: 27298365  

  • June 20, 2016
  • 09:12 AM
  • 98 views

Mosquitoes Don’t Like Parasites Either (A Guest Post)

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

By Maranda CardielA photograph of Culex pipiens, the species of mosquito that the researchers used in their experiment. Source: David Barillet-Portal at Wikimedia Commons.Everybody hates mosquitoes. They are annoying, persistent, and make us itch like crazy. Sometimes there are so many of them that we are afraid to go outside unless we want to risk getting covered in spots and scratching ourselves all over for the next week. And if that wasn’t enough, they can also carry dangerous diseases wi........ Read more »

Lalubin, F., Bize, P., van Rooyen, J., Christe, P., & Glaizot, O. (2012) Potential evidence of parasite avoidance in an avian malarial vector. Animal Behaviour, 84(3), 539-545. DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2012.06.004  

  • June 13, 2016
  • 01:43 PM
  • 188 views

Experimental antibiotic treats deadly MRSA infection

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

The antibiotic arms race is on, while we are rushing to find new antibiotics, bacteria are working on finding ways around them. With that in mind, a new experimental antibiotic developed by a team of scientists successfully treats the deadly MRSA infection and restores the efficacy of a commonly prescribed antibiotic that has become ineffective against MRSA.

... Read more »

  • June 9, 2016
  • 11:21 AM
  • 92 views

Back to life – Resurrection plants and the future of food

by Alice Breda in la-Plumeria

Life on Earth was born in water. Then, about half a billion years ago, the first organisms stare colonizing lands that offered new spaces, less predators and, in time, abundant oxygen and nutrients. Still, the indissoluble bond that living organisms had with water remained, and in order to survive in this new environment plants and animals had to develop anatomical, physiological and behavioral adaptations to better obtain, manage and save water. Plant bodies, as well as ours, are mostly made of........ Read more »

Moore, J., Le, N., Brandt, W., Driouich, A., & Farrant, J. (2009) Towards a systems-based understanding of plant desiccation tolerance. Trends in Plant Science, 14(2), 110-117. DOI: 10.1016/j.tplants.2008.11.007  

  • June 8, 2016
  • 04:08 PM
  • 266 views

Air pollution affects young people's psychiatric health

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Smog has been a part of modern life since the industrial revolution, unfortunately all that pollution isn't just hurting the environment -- but come on, you saw this coming... right? New research from Sweden indicates that dispensed medication for psychiatric diagnosis can be related to air pollution concentrations. More and more studies show that the brain and human cognitive development are affected by pollution.

... Read more »

  • June 6, 2016
  • 12:36 PM
  • 216 views

Love, War and Genital Shape

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

The size and shape of your junk may depend on how much sex your ancestors had… that is, at least, if you are a burying beetle. Buring beetles caught in the act. Photo by Jena Johnson. Burying beetles are unusual among insects in that they provide parental care and are often monogamous. When burying beetle pairs find a small dead bird or rodent, they pluck it bald, coat it in antibacterial and antifungal body secretions, and dig a hole around it. The female lays her eggs around the carcass-ba........ Read more »

  • June 6, 2016
  • 11:30 AM
  • 192 views

The Pantanal Diaries IV: Not Ready To Leave

by Chiara Civardi in United Academics

Venture into the Brazilian swamp with Chiara and the Wildlife Conservation Society.... Read more »

Barros, E., Pashanasi, B., Constantino, R., & Lavelle, P. (2002) Effects of land-use system on the soil macrofauna in western Brazilian Amazonia. Biology and Fertility of Soils, 35(5), 338-347. DOI: 10.1007/s00374-002-0479-z  

  • June 1, 2016
  • 09:38 AM
  • 235 views

All hail our eight-limbed overlords

by gdw in FictionalFieldwork

(This is my first attempt to blend science and fiction in a single post. The idea is to write about a recent study or studies but explore it through small snippets of original fiction as well. Hope you like it. Feedback is always greatly appreciated…) # A carefully orchestrated dance of chromatophores flashed Octa’s agreement. […]... Read more »

Doubleday ZA, Prowse TA, Arkhipkin A, Pierce GJ, Semmens J, Steer M, Leporati SC, Lourenço S, Quetglas A, Sauer W.... (2016) Global proliferation of cephalopods. Current biology : CB, 26(10). PMID: 27218844  

  • May 30, 2016
  • 03:54 PM
  • 210 views

The Harm of Verbal Promiscuity

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

Eastern chimpanzees don't want to be judged. Image by Ikiwaner at Wikimedia.com.Whether they have one true love for life, multiple partners, or are free-loving, animals have many different mating systems. We have different scientific terms for these different mating systems, and most of these terms have very specific meanings. An animal is socially monogamous when it has one exclusive mating relationship, but maybe has sex with others outside of that relationship. It is sexually monogamous when ........ Read more »

Elgar, M., Jones, T., & McNamara, K. (2013) Promiscuous words. Frontiers in Zoology, 10(1), 66. DOI: 10.1186/1742-9994-10-66  

  • May 24, 2016
  • 02:31 PM
  • 248 views

Hatching Sea Turtles Get a Hand from Their Siblings

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



Smashing out of its egg is only the first step in a baby sea turtle's grueling early days. The turtle fights free of its eggshell only to find itself buried underground. It has to intuit which way is up, then dig out of the packed sand. As soon as it breaks onto the surface of the beach, it begins a mad sprint to the ocean. All around are its brothers and sisters, flailing toward the water as fast as their own flippers will carry them. In the sea they'll keep swimming frantically, trying ........ Read more »

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