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Jumping conchs triumph at overheated athletics

Despite ‘simple’ circulatory system, snails do well at oxygenating foot feats

hunchbacked conch

GREAT JUMPING GASTROPODS  Small conchs that jump away from danger oxygenate their athletics surprisingly well under stressful conditions.

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Conchs famed for one-footed jumping can beat many fishes at oxygenating athletic performance at high temperatures.

Hunchbacked conchs (Gibberulus gibberulus gibbosus) can jump away if they sniff a predatory cone snail creeping near. But signs are mixed on how climate change will affect conch athletics. In the lab, conchs collected from the Great Barrier Reef could still increase oxygen delivery in their circulatory systems during epic jumping when researchers heated aquariums to 38° Celsius, Sjannie Lefevre of the University of Oslo in Norway and her colleagues report October 7 in the Journal of Experimental Biology. At those temperatures, many reef fish are dead, Lefevre says.

At the high temperature, the conchs’ oxygenation still had about the same margin of safety as it does at water temperatures today. That margin didn’t decrease much when researchers mimicked seawater pH expected when carbon dioxide hits 450 to 1,000 parts per million, predicted for 2100. What did decline was the share of conchs that started doing any jumping.

SEE CONCHS JUMP Shown in slow-motion, a humpbacked conch throws itself up and forward. In a prolonged crisis, a conch can keep jumping for five minutes. Royal Society journal supplements/YouTube

Oceans,, Animals,, Ecosystems

Widespread coral bleaching threatens world’s reefs

By Teresa Shipley Feldhausen 4:57pm, October 8, 2015
The world’s corals are experiencing their third major bleaching event in 17 years.
Planetary Science

Ancient Mars had long-lasting lakes of liquid water

By Thomas Sumner 2:00pm, October 8, 2015
New evidence gathered by NASA’s Curiosity rover suggests Gale Crater once contained a stable lake of liquid water.
Animals,, Evolution

Fish have had telescoping jaws for 100 million years

By Sarah Schwartz 12:45pm, October 8, 2015
Around 100 million years ago, fish developed a knack for extending their jaws to snare prey, and they’ve been perfecting this hunting technique ever since.
Health,, Neuroscience

Weight and sun exposure linked to onset of multiple sclerosis

By Sarah Schwartz 4:20pm, October 7, 2015
Among people with multiple sclerosis, those with higher body mass and lower adolescent sun exposure tended to be diagnosed with the disease at an earlier age, a new study suggests.
Genetics,, Chemistry,, Cancer

Chemistry Nobel honors studies of DNA repair mechanisms

By Sarah Schwartz 7:14am, October 7, 2015
Studies of DNA’s repair mechanisms have won Tomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich and Aziz Sancar the 2015 Nobel Prize in chemistry.
Particle Physics,, Cosmology

Discovery of neutrino mass earns 2015 physics Nobel

By Andrew Grant 6:41am, October 6, 2015
The discovery that subatomic particles called neutrinos have mass has won Takaaki Kajita of the University of Tokyo and Arthur McDonald of Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada, the 2015 Nobel Prize in physics.
Plants,, Animals,, Biophysics

Raindrops help pitcher plants trap dinner

By Sarah Schwartz 3:00pm, October 5, 2015
Pitcher plants use the force of falling raindrops to fling prey into their traps.
Plants,, Animals

Stinky seeds dupe dung beetles

By Sarah Schwartz 11:00am, October 5, 2015
Seeds that look and smell like animal poop can trick dung beetles into spreading and burying the seeds.
Health,, Biomedicine

Therapies against roundworm, malaria parasites win medicine Nobel

By Tina Hesman Saey 6:16am, October 5, 2015
The 2015 Nobel Prize in medicine or physiology was awarded to Youyou Tu for her work in counteracting malaria, and to William Campbell and Satoshi Omura for work on treatments against roundworm parasites.
Biomedicine,, Health

Sperm protein may offer target for male contraceptive

By Meghan Rosen 5:24pm, October 1, 2015
With the identification of a new sperm protein that helps sperm penetrate eggs, researchers may be closer to developing birth control pills for men.
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