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Science Ticker

A roundup of research and breaking news

Science News Staff

Science Ticker


Science Ticker

How domestication changed rabbits’ brains

Study sizes up differences in the ‘fear centers’ of wild and tame bunnies

wild and domesticated rabbits

RABBIT REMODELING Domestication of wild rabbits (left) physically changed the animals over time, including their brains. A domesticated rabbit is shown on the right.

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Domestic rabbits have smaller brains relative to their body size than wild rabbits do, a new study determined. And that’s not the only change getting tamed by humans wrought on bunny brains.

Two “fear centers” are the most altered brain regions between wild and domestic rabbits. Domestic rabbits have smaller amygdalae (emotion-processing centers that play a key role in the fight-or-flight response) and larger medial prefrontal cortices (thought to be involved in social behavior) than wild rabbits, an international group of researchers report online June 25 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Changes to the brain regions may have produced animals less fearful of humans.

Bunny brains

Transparent images of rabbit brains illustrate that a wild rabbit, left, has larger amygdalae (yellow) and a smaller medial prefrontal cortex (blue) than a domestic rabbit, right. Those parts of the brain may have changed during domestication because they are involved in fear.

Neuroscience,, Psychology,, Science & Society

Splitting families may end, but migrant kids’ trauma needs to be studied

By Laura Sanders 5:39pm, June 20, 2018
The long-term effects of separating children from their parents at the U.S. border need to be studied, scientists say.
Physics

The Large Hadron Collider is getting an upgrade

By Emily Conover 2:01pm, June 15, 2018
Revamping the accelerator’s equipment will increase the rate of proton collisions.
Planetary Science

Opportunity rover waits out a huge dust storm on Mars

By Lisa Grossman 5:56pm, June 11, 2018
NASA’s Opportunity rover is in low-power mode to preserve battery life while a vast dust storm blankets part of the Red Planet.
Planetary Science

New Horizons wakes up to begin Kuiper Belt exploration

By Lisa Grossman 10:51am, June 5, 2018
The New Horizons spacecraft just woke up to get ready for its New Year’s Day flyby of the distant space rock Ultima Thule.
Exoplanets,, Astronomy

Take a virtual trip to an alien world

By Lisa Grossman 10:00am, June 4, 2018
NASA’s Exoplanet Travel Bureau website lets you view what alien landscapes might look like.
Pollution,, Ecosystems

Treating roads with oil and gas wastewater may spread harmful pollution

By Laurel Hamers 5:49pm, May 30, 2018
When spread on roads, wastewater from oil and gas production can leach radium and other contaminants into the environment, a new study finds.
Health

Ebola vaccinations begin in Congo

By Helen Thompson 5:58pm, May 21, 2018
A vaccination campaign is up and running to fight the ongoing Ebola outbreak in Congo. It’s the first of its kind.
Planetary Science

China is set to launch a satellite to support a future lunar rover

By Lisa Grossman 10:00am, May 20, 2018
China is set to launch a satellite to support a future lunar rover that will make the first-ever visit to the farside of the moon.
Physics

Despite a new measurement, the neutron’s lifetime is still puzzling

By Emily Conover 5:50pm, May 9, 2018
Two techniques for gauging the subatomic particle’s longevity disagree.
Anthropology

Anthropologists in Peru have unearthed the largest known child sacrifice

By Bruce Bower 5:00pm, April 26, 2018
The largest known mass sacrifice of children occurred around 550 years ago in the Chimú empire in Peru.
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