Category Archives: News & Archives

Bedbugs evolved more than 100 million years ago

Bedbugs -- some of the most unwanted human bed-mates -- have been parasitic companions with other species aside from humans for more than 100 million years, walking the earth at the same time as dinosaurs. Work by an international team of scientists, including the University of Sheffield, compared the DNA of dozens of bedbug species…
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Nearly a quarter of West Antarctic ice is now unstable

By combining 25 years of European Space Agency satellite altimeter measurements and a model of the regional climate, the UK Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling (CPOM) have tracked changes in snow and ice cover across the continent. A team of researchers, led by Professor Andy Shepherd from the University of Leeds, found that Antarctica's…
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Neanderthals and modern humans diverged at least 800,000 years ago, new research shows

Neanderthals and modern humans diverged at least 800,000 years ago, substantially earlier than indicated by most DNA-based estimates, according to new research by a UCL academic. The research, published in Science Advances, analysed dental evolutionary rates across different hominin species, focusing on early Neanderthals. It shows that the teeth of hominins from Sima de los Huesos,…
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Free-floating DNA to reveal the health of river and lake ecosystems

The mix of DNA floating in rivers and lakes will finally be used to monitor the state of aquatic ecosystems, after years of tests to show that the technique works. Conventionally, aquatic life is monitored by capturing organisms, either by using nets or scraping under boulders, for examination. These techniques are time-consuming, can harm species and require skilled ecologists. Monitoring fish typically involves using…
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Flu virus’ best friend: Low humidity

Yale researchers have pinpointed a key reason why people are more likely to get sick and even die from flu during winter months: low humidity. While experts know that cold temperatures and low humidity promote transmission of the flu virus, less is understood about the effect of decreased humidity on the immune system's defenses against…
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How whales defy the cancer odds: Good genes

Scientists know that age and weight are risk factors in the development of cancer. That should mean that whales, which include some of the largest and longest-lived animals on Earth, have an outsized risk of developing cancer. But they don't. Instead, they are less likely to develop or die of this enigmatic disease. The same…
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Monarch butterfly populations are on the rise

The latest survey of monarch butterfly habitat in Mexico is a testament to the power of conservation. The area of forest occupied by hibernating monarch butterflies in Mexico has increased by 144% in relation to last year’s survey—the biggest growth in the past 12 years. A new colony of monarchs was also found in the…
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CRISPR gene-editing creates wave of exotic model organisms

Joseph Parker has wanted to know what makes rove beetles tick since he was seven years old. The entomologist has spent decades collecting and observing the insects, some of which live among ants and feed on their larvae. But without tools for studying the genetic and brain mechanisms behind the beetles’ behaviour, Parker focused his…
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Researchers identify largest carnivorous mammals ever to live on land

Twenty-three million years ago, a giant carnivore larger than any modern-day lion or polar bear stalked sub-Saharan Africa, according to the fossils of a previously undiscovered species that spent decades in a museum drawer. Portions of the animal's jaw, skull and skeleton, including enormous teeth, were discovered in a drawer at the National Museums of…
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