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  • Science Ticker

    Petite parrots provide insight into early flight

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    When it comes to hopping between branches, tiny parrots try only as hard as they need to. The finding comes from high-speed video taken to measure how Pacific parrotlets (Forpus coelestis) shift momentum from takeoff to landing.

    Bird flight is though to have started with jumping and gliding. When traveling short distances, parrotlets get most of their oomph from...

    05/24/2017 - 09:00 Animals, Biophysics, Evolution
  • News

    Hybrid protein offers malaria protection

    Dogged genetic detective work has led scientists to a hybrid red blood cell protein that offers some protection against malaria.

    Reporting online May 18 in Science, researchers describe a genetic variant that apparently is responsible for the fusion of two proteins that protrude from the membranes of red blood cells. In its hybrid form, the protein somehow makes it more difficult for the...

    05/18/2017 - 14:19 Genetics, Evolution, Immune Science, Biomedicine
  • It's Alive

    Blennies have a lot of fang for such little fishes

    After a recent flurry of news that fang blennies mix an opioid in their venom, a question lingers: What do they need with fangs anyway? Most eat wimpy stuff that hardly justifies whopper canines.

    Not that fang blennies are meek fishes.

    “When they bite, they bite savagely,” says Bryan Fry of the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. “If these little jobbies were 3 meters...

    05/16/2017 - 10:00 Animals, Evolution
  • News

    Selfish genes hide for decades in plain sight of worm geneticists

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    A strain of wild Hawaiian worms has helped unmask long-studied genes as just plain selfish. The scammers beat the usual odds of inheritance and spread extra fast by making mother worms poison some of their offspring.

    Biologists have for decades discussed how two genes in the familiar lab nematode Caenorhabditis elegans might help embryos build their organs. Working...

    05/11/2017 - 15:13 Genetics, Evolution, Animals
  • News

    Ancient whale tells tale of when baleen whales had teeth

    A 36-million-year-old fossil skeleton is revealing a critical moment in the history of baleen whales: what happened when the ancestors of these modern-day filter feeders first began to distinguish themselves from their toothy, predatory predecessors. The fossil is the oldest known mysticete, a group that includes baleen whales, such as humpbacks, researchers report in the May 22 Current...

    05/11/2017 - 12:10 Paleontology, Animals, Evolution
  • Feature

    Venomous fish have evolved many ways to inflict pain

    Biologist Leo Smith held an unusual job while an undergraduate student in San Diego. Twice a year, he tagged along on a chartered boat with elderly passengers. The group needed him to identify two particular species of rockfish, the chilipepper rockfish and the California shortspine thornyhead. Once he’d found the red-orange creatures, the passengers would stab themselves in the arms with the...

    04/19/2017 - 11:30 Animals, Evolution
  • The Science Life

    Early dinosaur relative sported odd mix of bird, crocodile-like traits

    While researching fossils in a museum in 2007, Sterling Nesbitt noticed one partial skeleton that was hard to place. Though the reptile — at the time, unofficially called Teleocrater rhadinus — was thought to be a dinosaur relative, it was an oddball. At about 2 meters long, it was larger than other close relatives, walked on four feet instead of two, and had an unusually long neck and tail....

    04/17/2017 - 14:22 Paleontology, Evolution, Animals
  • Science Ticker

    Size matters to lizards, but numbers may not

    The quantitative abilities of lizards may have their limits.

    From horses to salamanders, lots of different species display some form of number sense, but the phenomenon hasn’t been investigated in reptiles. So a team of researchers in Italy set up two experiments for 27 ruin lizards (Podarcis sicula) collected from walls on the University of Ferrara’s campus. In the first test, the team ...

    04/14/2017 - 16:00 Animals, Evolution
  • News

    For glass frogs, moms matter after all

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    Glass frogs often start life with some tender care from a source scientists didn’t expect: frog moms.

    Maternal care wouldn’t be news among mammals or birds, but amphibian parenting intrigues biologists because dads are about as likely as moms to evolve as the caregiver sex. And among New World glass frogs (Centrolenidae), what little parental care there is almost...

    03/31/2017 - 07:00 Animals, Evolution
  • News

    Female guppies with bigger brains pick more attractive guys

    When choosing more attractive guys, girl guppies with larger brains have an advantage over their smaller-brained counterparts. But there’s a cost to such brainpower, and that might help explain one of the persistent mysteries of sex appeal, researchers report March 22 in Science Advances.

    One sex often shows a strong preference for some trait in the other, whether it’s a longer fish fin...

    03/22/2017 - 15:54 Animals, Evolution, Neuroscience