Articles about biology

Forget Sesame Street, scientists pretty much watched Big Bird evolve on Galápagos island

New research has documented a species of finch evolving on the Galápagos island of Daphne Major, 1,000km off the west coast of Ecuador, in just two generations. It's called the "Big Bird" lineage because, um, as finches go, the birds are relatively large. The work, led by Uppsala University's Sangeet Lamichaney with Princeton …
Andrew Silver, 24 Nov 2017

Scientists think they've found primordial goop whence life first sprang

A speculative new study suggests that nucleic acids, proteins and cell membranes – precursors to life Earth – first grew from a single kickstarting molecule named diamidophosphate. Its previous claim to fame was a 2008 barley fertilisation experiment, published in Biologia Plantarum, which found ammonium diamidophosphate …
Andrew Silver, 7 Nov 2017
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Watch this nanochip reprogram cells to fix damaged body tissue

Video Researchers at Ohio State University have developed a nanochip contact patch that can reprogram nearby cells, to help repair damaged or aging organs, blood vessels, or nerve cells. The bio-boffins have successfully used the device, which is about the size of a smartwatch screen, to turn skin cells into vascular cells in a …

Microbe drives tropical butterfly species to a male-killing frenzy

Spiroplasma, a small helical-shaped microbe, is responsible for bringing out a ‘male-killing’ instinct in African Queen butterflies, according to research published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. A team of entomologists collected African Queens (Danaus chrysippus) - a medium-sized butterfly …
Katyanna Quach, 20 Jul 2016
Sulawesi Slender Root-Rat

Aussie boffin turns up REAL root-rat

If the newly-documented forest-dwelling rat happens to be an omnivore whose diet includes roots and it's described by an Australian-led team, of course it will get called a “root rat”. The “discovery” (I put it in scare-quotes because locals already knew about the creature – they led the biologists to it) was made by Museum …
Tree of Life

Boffins crowdsource web for TREE of LIFE. What could possibly go wrong with that?!

A "tree of life", which depicts the relationships of 2.3 million named species on Earth, has been created by biologists. Duke University's Karen Cranston, principal investigator on the project, said: “This is the first real attempt to connect the dots and put it all together. Think of it as Version 1.0.” Researchers from …
Team Register, 20 Sep 2015
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'Edward Snowden' discovered hiding in Indonesian river by boffins

‪A German biologist has decided to name a new species of crayfish he helped describe in honour of international whistleblower Edward Snowden.‬ The Cherax snowden hails from the freshwater tributary creeks of West Papua, Indonesia. Parallels between the crustacean and the former NSA contractor are tricky to discern. The only …
John Leyden, 26 Aug 2015

Cell division: The engine of life – and of CANCER. Now some of its secrets are revealed

We each begin our existence as a single cell, which divides into new cells which divide into new cells. Old tissues are replaced, wounds heal, our ears – not especially useful – keep on growing even once they're quite big enough, thank you*. Cell division is pretty much the miracle of life – and yet we still don't understand …
Lewis Page, 14 Jul 2015
Mosquito by Enrique Dans on Flickr, CC2 License

Viagra makes it HARD for malaria, bug-boffins discover

The Bill & Melinda Gates foundation has been buying Viagra, in a good cause: it seems to help beat one of the common malaria parasites, Plasmodium falciparum. The mechanism is even analogous to Viagra's better-known effect: it makes infected red blood cells stiffer, which marks them down to be cleaned out by the spleen. As …
Riftia tubeworms are concentrated around a hydrothermal vent at the bottom of the eastern Pacific Ocean.

Weird ARCHAEAN LIFE FORM found at 'Loki's Castle' DEEP beneath Arctic Circle

A team of Swedish bioboffins has, on Wednesday, presented its discovery of a new microbe which represents a missing link in the evolution of complex life. The research provides more information about the development of Eukaryotic cells, the complicated unit that allows larger biomasses (such as ameobas, plants and human bodies) …

Love rats show sex while drunk will sober you up, say boffins

Sydney University boffins reckon there just might be such a thing as a sobering drug – and that it's something the body makes naturally. In joint research with the University of Regensburg in Germany, the researchers found that in drunk rats, the so-called “cuddle hormone” oxytocin ameliorated alcohol's effect on the drunken …
Total Recall

Cranial RAM cram plan aims to restore memory

Brain implant chips – beloved of conspiracy theorists and science fiction writers alike for decades – have finally made it onto the US government's research list, courtesy of DARPA. The Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency, home to research into humanoid robots, guided bullets, Spider-Man-style climbing pads, suspended …
Placoderm mating

Wedding tackle started out as PROTO-SHARKS' LEGS, boffins say

Researchers from Australia and the UK have taken a look back over the fossil records of placoderms - an early type of armoured fish - and come up with a startling suggestion: some of the earliest male genital organs known to palaeontology started out as a kind of “legs”. Well, not quite legs, since placoderms were aquatic: …
Drosophilia under a laser

Linux app lets you control fruit fly brains - with frikkin' LASERS

Video I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords … a collaboration between researchers in Vienna and the US has produced high-resolution laser-control over fruit flies. If you have access to the necessary kit (cameras and a galvanometer) to track the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster in their experiment), plus a 635nm and a 808nm …
International Space Station

Twin GEEKS: NASA studies identical brothers – one on Earth, one IN SPAAAACE

NASA on Friday announced a set of ten experiments designed to study the effects of spaceflight on the human body by comparing identical twins – one being up in space and the other down on Earth. Back in November 2012, astronaut Scott Kelly – a veteran of three previous space voyages – was chosen to join Russian cosmonaut …
bees

Robo-drones learn to land by going bug-eyed

Landing a flying object can't be that hard: even bees can manage it. That's why researchers from Sweden, Germany and Australia have looked at what bees could teach about landing strategies for unmanned aircraft. Of course, if your UAV is a quad-copter with a human operator or good automation, landing isn't so hard: return it …
Close up of elephant's face. Photo by Shutterstock

Who here needs to explain things to ELEPHANTS?

Next time you're trying to convey an idea to an elephant, it may well help to simply point to things, according to a new study. This won't always work with other species - including our close relatives the great apes - but the brainy pachyderm will, erm, get the point straight away. "By showing that African elephants …
Lewis Page, 10 Oct 2013

German guardsmen growing mono-boobs from drilling with Nazi-era rifles

Tits & Guns Guardsmen serving in Germany's ceremonial display unit - the only formation which still parades with the Nazi-era service rifle - are much more likely than other soldiers to grow a single breast on the left side of their bodies, according to a medical study. Boffins looking into the matter believe that the undesired …
Lewis Page, 31 Jul 2013

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