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When the dinosaurs died, lichens thrived

Lichens on rock (stock image). Credit: © ROMAN_P / Adobe Stock When an asteroid smacked into the Earth 66 million years ago, it triggered mass extinctions all over the planet. The most famous victims were the dinosaurs, but early birds, insects, and other life forms took a hit too. The collision caused clouds of ash…

Honeybees infect wild bumblebees through shared flowers

Honeybee on flower (stock image). Credit: © Antony Cooper / Adobe Stock Many species of wild bumblebees are in decline -- and new research shows that diseases spread by domestic honeybees may be a major culprit. Several of the viruses associated with bumblebees' trouble are moving from managed bees in apiaries to nearby populations of…

Some corals can survive in acidified ocean conditions, but have lower...

Coral reef (stock image). Credit: © mychadre77 / Adobe Stock Coral reefs face many challenges to their survival, including the global acidification of seawater as a result of rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. A new study led by scientists at UC Santa Cruz shows that at least three Caribbean coral species can survive…

Some extinct crocs were vegetarians

American alligator (stock image). Credit: © Mark Kostich / Adobe Stock Based on careful study of fossilized teeth, scientists Keegan Melstom and Randall Irmis at the Natural History Museum of Utah at the University of Utah have found that multiple ancient groups of crocodyliforms -- the group including living and extinct relatives of crocodiles and…

New therapy targets gut bacteria to prevent and reverse food allergies

Bacteria illustration (stock image). Credit: © Maksym Yemelyanov / Adobe Stock A new study identifies the species of bacteria in the human infant gut that protect against food allergies, finding changes associated with the development of food allergies and an altered immune response. Every three minutes, a food-related allergic reaction sends someone to the emergency…

Dark centers of chromosomes reveal ancient DNA

Illustration of chromosomes (stock image). Credit: © peterschreiber.media / Adobe Stock Geneticists exploring the dark heart of the human genome have discovered big chunks of Neanderthal and other ancient DNA. The results open new ways to study both how chromosomes behave during cell division and how they have changed during human evolution. Centromeres sit in…

How octopus arms make decisions

Octopus (stock image). Credit: © Michal Adamczyk / Adobe Stock Researchers studying the behavior and neuroscience of octopuses have long suspected that the animals' arms may have minds of their own. A new model being presented in Bellevue, Washington State, is the first attempt at a comprehensive representation of information flow between the octopus's suckers,…

Human migration in Oceania recreated through paper mulberry genetics

Paper mulberry leaves (stock image). Credit: © uckyo / Adobe Stock The migration and interaction routes of prehistoric humans throughout the islands of Oceania can be retraced using genetic differences between paper mulberry plants, a tree native to Asia cultivated for fibers to make paper and introduced into the Pacific in prehistoric times to make…

Finding ‘Nemo’s’ family tree of anemones

Clownfish in anemone (stock image). Credit: © crisod / Adobe Stock Thanks in part to the popular film Finding Nemo, clownfishes are well known to the public and well represented in scientific literature. But the same can't be said for the equally colorful sea anemones -- venomous, tentacled animals -- that protect clownfishes and that…

Fresh look at mysterious Nasca lines in Peru

Nazca drawing in desert plain, Peru (stock image). Credit: © Jgz / Adobe Stock A scientific approach has been used to re-identify huge birds etched into the desert plains of southern Peru around 2,000 years ago. The birds appear to be exotic to the region and further studies could help explain their significance. The study…

Risky business: New data show how manatees use shipping channels

Manatee with a white scar, one of the lucky ones to survive an incident with a boat. Credit: Copyright Michele Hogan A new publication in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science tracks West Indian manatee movements through nearshore and offshore ship channels in the north-central Gulf of Mexico. The publication, "Linking Use of Ship Channels…

Sea otters have low genetic diversity like other threatened species, biologists...

Sea otters (stock image). Credit: © Dene' Miles / Adobe Stock Sea otters have low genetic diversity, which could endanger their health as a species, a UCLA-led team of life scientists has discovered. The findings have implications for the conservation of rare and endangered species, in which low genetic diversity could increase the odds of…

Origin of life: A prebiotic route to DNA

How were the building-blocks of life first formed on the early Earth? Credit: Copyright Michele Hogan DNA, the hereditary material, may have appeared on Earth earlier than has been assumed hitherto. Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich chemists led by Oliver Trapp show that a simple reaction pathway could have given rise to DNA subunits on the…

Hidden brain signals behind working memory

Rats in maze (stock image). Credit: © Artem Marfin / Adobe Stock Making a specific type of brain pattern last longer improves short-term memory in rats, a new study finds. Published online by the journal Science on June 14, the study addressed "working memory," the temporary activation of brain cells that happens as we tour…

Hidden brain signals behind working memory

Rats in maze (stock image). Credit: © Artem Marfin / Adobe Stock Making a specific type of brain pattern last longer improves short-term memory in rats, a new study finds. Published online by the journal Science on June 14, the study addressed "working memory," the temporary activation of brain cells that happens as we tour…

It’s not easy being green

Arabidopsis (stock image). Credit: © Vasiliy Koval / Adobe Stock Despite how essential plants are for life on Earth, little is known about how parts of plant cells orchestrate growth and greening. By creating mutant plants, UC Riverside researchers have uncovered a cellular communication pathway sought by scientists for decades. Both plants and humans have…

Virus genes help determine if pea aphids get their wings

Aphids on a leaf (stock image). Credit: © corlaffra / Adobe Stock Many of an organism's traits are influenced by cues from the organism's environment. These features are known as phenotypically plastic traits and are important in allowing an organism to cope with unpredictable environments. But what are the genetic mechanisms underlying these traits? Jennifer…

A shady spot may protect species against rapid climate warming

Southern rock agama lizard (stock image). Credit: © hpbfotos / Adobe Stock Finding a shady refuge to cool off on a hot day could be more than a lifesaver in a warming world. It might save several species that would otherwise go extinct due to global warming, according to an analysis by ecologists at a…

The surprising reason why some lemurs may be more sensitive to...

Lemur (stock image). Credit: © mirecca / Adobe Stock Duke University scientists have given us another way to tell which endangered lemur species are most at risk from deforestation -- based on the trillions of bacteria that inhabit their guts. In a new study, researchers compared the gut microbes of 12 lemur species across the…

Origins of cannabis smoking

Cannabis plant (stock image). Credit: © EpicStockMedia / Adobe Stock Cannabis has been cultivated as an oil-seed and fibre crop for millennia in East Asia. Little is known, however, about the early use and eventual cultivation of the plant for its psychoactive and medicinal properties. Despite being one of the most widely used psychoactive drugs…

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