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Environmental oxygen triggers loss of webbed digits

African clawed frog (stock image). Credit: © Nathan / Adobe Stock Free fingers have many obvious advantages on land, such as in locomotion and grasping, while webbed fingers are typical of aquatic or gliding animals. But both amphibians and amniotes -- which include mammals, reptiles, and birds -- can have webbed digits. In new research…

Bacteria on the International Space Station no more dangerous than earthbound strains

Illustration of International Space Station orbiting Earth (stock image). Credit: © 3dsculptor / Adobe Stock Two particularly tenacious species of bacteria have colonized the potable water dispenser aboard the International Space Station (ISS), but a new study suggests that they are no more dangerous than closely related strains on Earth. Aubrie O'Rourke of the J.…

Methane emitted by humans vastly underestimated

Methane molecules illustration (stock image). Credit: © vchalup / Adobe Stock Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas and large contributor to global warming. Methane emissions to the atmosphere have increased by approximately 150 percent over the past three centuries, but it has been difficult for researchers to determine exactly where these emissions originate; heat-trapping gases…

Reproductive genome from the laboratory

DNA illustration (stock image). Credit: © / Adobe Stock The field of synthetic biology does not only observe and describe processes of life but also mimics them. A key characteristic of life is the ability to ability for replication, which means the maintenance of a chemical system. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute of…

New technologies, strategies expanding search for extraterrestrial life

Radio telescope array (stock image). Credit: © Zack Frank / Adobe Stock Emerging technologies and new strategies are opening a revitalized era in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). New discovery capabilities, along with the rapidly-expanding number of known planets orbiting stars other than the Sun, are spurring innovative approaches by both government and private…

ESO telescope sees surface of dim Betelgeuse

This comparison image shows the star Betelgeuse before and after its unprecedented dimming. The observations, taken with the SPHERE instrument on ESO's Very Large Telescope in January and December 2019, show how much the star has faded and how its apparent shape has changed. Credit: © ESO/M. Montargès et al. / Adobe Stock Using ESO's…

Seeding oceans with iron may not impact climate change

Phytoplankton (stock image). Credit: © tonaquatic / Adobe Stock Historically, the oceans have done much of the planet's heavy lifting when it comes to sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Microscopic organisms known collectively as phytoplankton, which grow throughout the sunlit surface oceans and absorb carbon dioxide through photosynthesis, are a key player. To help…

Researchers Were Not Right About Left Brains, Study Suggests

Left and right sides of brain illustration (stock image). Credit: © nerthuz / Adobe Stock The left and right side of the brain are involved in different tasks. This functional lateralization and associated brain asymmetry are well documented in humans, but little is known about brain asymmetry in our closest living relatives, the great apes.…

Discovery at ‘flower burial’ site could unravel mystery of Neanderthal death rites

Illustration of primitive man in cave (stock image). Credit: © Kovalenko I / Adobe Stock The first articulated Neanderthal skeleton to come out of the ground for over 20 years has been unearthed at one of the most important sites of mid-20th century archaeology: Shanidar Cave, in the foothills of Iraqi Kurdistan. Researchers say the…

Disappearing snakes and the biodiversity crisis

Tropical snake (eyelash viper) (stock image). Credit: © ondrejprosicky / Adobe Stock A Michigan State University- and University of Maryland-led study should sound alarm bells regarding the "biodiversity crisis" or the loss of wildlife around the world. The loss of any species is devastating. However, the decline or extinction of one species can trigger an…

Scientists find ally in fight against brain tumors: Ebola

Brain scan (stock image). Credit: © sudok1 / Adobe Stock Glioblastomas are relentless, hard-to-treat, and often lethal brain tumors. Yale scientists have enlisted a most unlikely ally in efforts to treat this form of cancer -- elements of the Ebola virus. "The irony is that one of the world's deadliest viruses may be useful in…

Huge bacteria-eating viruses close gap between life and non-life

Illustration of bacteriophages infecting bacterial cell (stock image). Credit: © evve79 / Adobe Stock Scientists have discovered hundreds of unusually large, bacteria-killing viruses with capabilities normally associated with living organisms, blurring the line between living microbes and viral machines. These phages -- short for bacteriophages, so-called because they "eat" bacteria -- are of a size…

Mars: Simulations of early impacts produce a mixed Mars mantle

Mars (stock image; elements furnished by NASA). Credit: © grejak / Adobe Stock The early solar system was a chaotic place, with evidence indicating that Mars was likely struck by planetesimals, small protoplanets up to 1,200 miles in diameter, early in its history. Southwest Research Institute scientists modeled the mixing of materials associated with these…

Antibiotics discovered that kill bacteria in a new way

Lab technician holding a Petri dish (stock image). Credit: © angellodeco / Adobe Stock A new group of antibiotics with a unique approach to attacking bacteria has been discovered, making it a promising clinical candidate in the fight against antimicrobial resistance. The newly-found corbomycin and the lesser-known complestatin have a never-before-seen way to kill bacteria,…

New study shows Deepwater Horizon oil spill larger than previously thought

Oil spill (stock image). Credit: © sakhorn38 / Adobe Stock Toxic and invisible oil spread well beyond the known satellite footprint of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, according to a new study led by scientists at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel school of Marine and Atmospheric Science. These new findings have important implications for…

New Horizons team uncovers a critical piece of the planetary formation puzzle

Illustration of planets forming in early solar system (stock image). Credit: © Mopic / Adobe Stock Data from NASA's New Horizons mission are providing new insights into how planets and planetesimals -- the building blocks of the planets -- were formed. The New Horizons spacecraft flew past the ancient Kuiper Belt object Arrokoth (2014 MU69)…

Babies mimic songs, study finds

Baby with microphone (stock image). Credit: © Africa Studio / Adobe Stock Researchers -- and parents -- have long known that babies learn to speak by mimicking the words they hear. But a new study shows that babies also might try to imitate the singing they hear in songs. As part of the study, scientists…

Algae team rosters could help ID ‘super corals’

Coral reef (stock image). Credit: © ver0nicka / Adobe Stock U.S. and Australian researchers have found a potential tool for identifying "super corals" that can tolerate a limited amount of climate change. "We may be able to use algae team characteristics to identify coral colonies to focus on for conservation or restoration,'" said veteran reef…

Pollinating opossums confirm decades-long theory

Opossum (stock image). Credit: © Riverwalker / Adobe Stock In Brazil there is a plant so strange that researchers predicted -- and 27 years later, proved -- that opossums are key to its pollination. The findings are published in the Ecological Society of America's journal Ecology. The plant Scybalium fungiforme, a little-known fungus-like species of…

Using sound and light to generate ultra-fast data transfer

High-speed data concept (stock image). Credit: © Sergii / Adobe Stock Researchers have made a breakthrough in the control of terahertz quantum cascade lasers, which could lead to the transmission of data at the rate of 100 gigabits per second -- around one thousand times quicker than a fast Ethernet operating at 100 megabits a…

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