Plants may be ripping a page right from bucks’ playbooks, developing hornlike weapons to improve their chances of reproduction.Insects, birds and other animals spread plants' sex cells by picking up pollen and dropping it on other plants. South American milkweed appear to have developed hornlike extensions on their pollen sacs that may keep one plant’s pollen sacs from getting tangled and...
03/20/2014 - 17:27
News in Brief
After 180 million years buried in volcanic rock in the southern tip of Sweden, a recently discovered fern fossil looks almost as good as new.The matchbox-sized fossil is among the best ever preserved: Thin slices viewed under a microscope reveal rounded cells jam-packed in the stem, like water balloons stuffed in a barrel. And inside the cells, within tiny dots of nuclei, the shadowy squiggles of...
03/20/2014 - 14:00
Plants, Evolution, Paleontology
Slices of moss frozen for nearly 1,500 years have begun to grow again after a bit of time in an incubator.Researchers have seen microbes survive extremely cold conditions for tens of thousands of years. But the Chorisodontium aciphyllum moss, taken from a core sample of Antarctic permafrost, is the first plant or multicellular organism to show signs of natural regrowth after such a long...
03/17/2014 - 15:43
Australia is a bird lover’s delight. Even those of us who haven’t taken up birding as an obsession can’t help but be delighted by the wealth of brightly colored, charismatic species.One large and diverse group of birds commonly found in Australia is the...
03/06/2014 - 19:07
While meadow grass and rock pigeons take the title of most cosmopolitan among plant and bird species, concrete jungles have caused big drops in species diversity overall.Only 25 percent of native plant species and 8 percent of native bird species exist in city habitats compared with density counts of non-urban species. Land availability and cities' ages, along with other human-induced factors,...
02/12/2014 - 16:00
Conservation, Animals, Plants
For want of mums woolly mammoths were lost.A genetic analysis of ancient permafrost suggests that after the last Ice Age the Arctic shifted from a landscape dominated by nutritious flowering plants known as forbs to one dominated by hard-to-digest grasses and woody plants. Evolutionary geneticist Eske Willerslev of the University of Copenhagen and his colleagues report...
02/06/2014 - 18:04
Genetics, Paleontology, Plants
An optical illusion may explain why Amazon forests appear greener during dry seasons. Satellites observing the forests’ canopies have picked up signs that leaf production cranks up when moisture is scarce. But the trick of light means that Amazon forests might be more vulnerable to drought than scientists suspected. The new analysis of satellite...
02/05/2014 - 13:01
Ecosystems, Climate, Plants
News in Brief
Male bee flies fooled into trying to copulate with a daisy may learn from the awkward incident.Certain orchids and several forms of South Africa’s Gorteria diffusa daisy lure pollinators by mimicking female insects. The most effective daisy seducers row a dark, somewhat fly-shaped bump on one of their otherwise yellow-to-orange petals. Males of small, dark Megapalpus capensis...
01/29/2014 - 11:51
Plants, Animals, Evolution
The molecule that pulls ATP — a universal compound used for energy inside and signaling outside of cells — into plant cells has finally been found.ATP increases calcium inside plant cells, but how the compound is brought into a cell was unclear. Working with the flowering plant Arabidopsis thaliana, scientists identified two genes, dorn1-1 and dorn1-2, for molecules, or...
01/16/2014 - 16:41
Under a microscope, the tiny trap of a carnivorous plant becomes an impressive gaping maw. Rootless and adrift in its wetland habitat, the humped bladderwort (Utricularia gibba) preys on water fleas and other small invertebrates. Organisms that trip the plant’s sensory hairs are sucked inside bladderlike traps to be digested.Neurobiologist Igor Siwanowicz of the Howard Hughes Medical...
01/12/2014 - 11:45