Did some big discovery just happen recently? Write up a quick description (1 or 2 lines) and link to a larger story elsewhere.
Courtesy Chris PederickSensory organs dotting the heads of members of the crocodilian family show evidence of being more sensitive to touch than even human finger tips. Some of the literally thousands of minute pigmented bumps, called Integumentary sensory organs ( ISOs) covering the reptiles' tough, armored skin are used to detect surface ripples or water movement for determining prey location. But many of the remaining receptors can detect the slightest touch from potential prey, and cause a croc's or gator's jaws to snap shut with lightning speed. The study was done by researcher Duncan Leitch and biologist Kenneth Catania, and appears in the Journal of Experimental Biology.
Story at ScienceDaily.com.
Courtesy Mark RyanDinosaur expert, Jack Horner, was in the Twin Cities this week for a very interesting talk at Macalester College on his investigations into creating a dinosaur through manipulation of the chicken genome. His research involves switching on evolutionary carryover genes that lay dormant in the chicken's gene sequence, such as teeth or a long reptilian tail. He's had some success but is still a long way off from unleashing a Chickenosaurus on the world. When asked why chickens when a bigger bird like an ostrich would make for a cooler and much larger dinosaur, the Museum of the Rockies paleontologist answered that the chicken genome already exists, chickens are cheap, and there are simply just more of them. Afterwards, Horner signed copies of his book, How to Build a Dinosaur for students and the public.
Paleontologists from the University of Calgary and the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology have announced the discovery of the first ever evidence of feathered dinosaurs discovered in the Western Hemisphere. Until now, all previous feathered dinosaur evidence has come from fine silt lagoon and lake deposits found in Germany and China. The remarkable Canadian fossils come from 75 million year-old river deposits found in the badlands of Alberta. The feathered remains belong to a type of dinosaur known as ornithomimid, or bird-mimic (apropos - yes?). News of the discovery is reported at the online journal Phys.org.
Astronomers have found a new planet, and it's the closet planet to our solar system. But don't get your hopes on going to visit there. It would take 40,000 years to get there and once you arrive, you'll find the planet is mostly lava. And it's much closer to its star than Mercury is to our sun. Its quick orbits on that short track take just 3.2 Earth days to make a year.
Here's some good news for a cheery day. A new report says that that the Mississippi River around the Twin Cities is as clean as it's ever been in the time frame that river water quality has been measured.
Courtesy Victor van WerkhoovenWhat are the most popular PIN numbers people use? What are the least? How can you best ensure that your PIN is something crooks would have a lesser chance of figuring out? This is a pretty neat report that talks about what works, and what doesn't, when selecting a personal identification number to use with some financial or electronic devices. You'd be surprised how often people commonly make mistakes that lead to easy uncovering of their PINs.
They had to, right, to keep repopulating the Earth. In case you've ever wondered, here's everything you wanted to know about dinosaur sex, but were afraid to ask.
*Content suitable for those 65 million years old and over.
Courtesy colm.mcmullan via FlickrResearchers at NYU's School of Medicine have announced in a new study that a gene known as AUF1, long known for its role in controlling inflammation has now been determined to also aid in the suppression of accelerated aging and cancer growth. The study appears today on the online version of the journal Molecular Cell and was funded by the National Institutes of Health. Go here for more about the discovery.
Courtesy South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology via WikipediaOtzi, the five-thousand year-old corpse found frozen in a glacier in the Alps in 1991 has given up more secrets. Using a nano-sized probe, scientists at The Institute for Mummies and the Iceman in Bolzano, Italy have successfully extracted from the 5300 year-old "Iceman" the oldest samples of human blood known. The find surpasses that of Egyptian mummies by 2000 or so years, the previous record holder. What's more, the researchers have determined that Otzi died fairly quickly after taking an arrow in the back. Fibrin, a blood clotting protein that appears in fresh wounds then disappears as healing progresses, was present in the samples. This means the healing process stopped soon after Otzi was shot.
Courtesy ProLithic 3D via FlickrUsing a synthetic polymer known as xeno-nucleic acid (XNA) researchers at the UK Medical Research Council's Laboratory of Molecular Biology report that, "genetic information can be stored in and recovered from six alternative genetic polymers based on simple nucleic acid architectures". In other words, the XNAs displayed the same ability to evolve and pass on hereditary information as natural nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) do. This is pretty wild. Besides being a big step forward in the field of synthetic genetics, it also gives a big boost to the idea that life (in some form other than DNA) could conceivably develop elsewhere in the universe. The study appears in the journal Science