Seafaring spiders depend on their ‘sails’ and ‘anchors’

Spiders travel across water like ships, using their legs as sails and their silk as an anchor, according to research published in the open access journal BMC Evolutionary Biology. The study helps explain how spiders are able to migrate across vast distances and why they are quick to colonise new areas.

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Seahorse tails could inspire new generation of robots

Inspiration for the next big technological breakthrough in robotics, defense systems and biomedicine could come from a seahorse’s tail, according to a new study reported Thursday in the journal Science.

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First comprehensive analysis of the woolly mammoth genome completed

The first comprehensive analysis of the woolly mammoth genome reveals extensive genetic changes that allowed mammoths to adapt to life in the arctic. Mammoth genes that differed from their counterparts in elephants played roles in skin and hair development, fat metabolism, insulin signaling and numerous other traits. Genes linked to physical traits such as skull shape, small ears and short tails were also identified. As a test of function, a mammoth gene involved in temperature sensation was resurrected in the laboratory and its protein product characterized.

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Human brain study by UCLA and UK researchers sheds light on how new memories are formed

In the first study of its kind, UCLA and United Kingdom researchers found that neurons in a specific brain region play a key role in rapidly forming memories about every day events, a finding that may result in a better understanding of memory loss and new methods to fight it in Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases.

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A tale of 2 (soil) cities

As we walk along a forest path, the soil beneath our feet seems like a uniform substance. However, it is an intricate network of soil particles, pores, minerals, soil microbes, and more. It is awash in variety.

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New study shows South Africans using milk-based paint 49,000 years ago

An international research team led by the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa has discovered a milk-and ochre-based paint dating to 49,000 years ago that inhabitants may have used to adorn themselves with or to decorate stone or wooden slabs.

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Creating a stopwatch for volcanic eruptions

We’ve long known that beneath the scenic landscapes of Yellowstone National Park sleeps a supervolcano with a giant chamber of hot, partly molten rock below it.

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The bizarre mating habits of flatworms

Failing to find a mating partner is a dent to the reproductive prospects of any animal, but in the flatworm species Macrostomum hystrix it might involve a real headache. Zoologists from the Universities of Basel and Bielefeld have discovered the extraordinary lengths to which this animal is willing to go in order to reproduce – including apparently injecting sperm directly into their own heads. The academic journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B has published their findings.

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