Tardigrades, or water bears, can survive temperatures as low as −273 °C (−459 °F)and as high as 151 °C (304 °F). They can withstand extreme pressure, the vacuum of space, and 1,000 times more radiation than other animals. They can go without water for close to ten years.
Originally discovered in 2005, Mount Mabu was placed on the conservation map in 2008 when Kew’s Jonathan Timberlake, and colleagues from partner organisations visited the area for the very first time. Watch this video and discover why Mount Mabu is so special, find out more about the plants and animals we found and gain an insight into what it’s like to be on expedition.
Surrounded by technology and urbanity though we may be, the human brain remains profoundly hard-wired to respond to animals.
When people are shown pictures of animals, specific parts of the amygdala — a structure central to pleasure and pain, fear and reward — react almost instantly.
Put another way, glimpsing a bird at the feeder or a shark on Animal Planet, or even a plankitten, could invoke cognitive tricks inherited from ancestors who walked on four legs in shallow water.
The effect is large and consistent, and “may reflect the importance that animals held throughout our evolutionary past,” wrote researchers led by California Institute of Technology neurobiologist Florian Mormann in an Aug. 29 Nature Neuroscience
Online gamers use Foldit to unfold the structure of HIV/Aids virus that has eluded scientists for decades, revealing its fundamental structure for potential targeting by drugs.
"The ingenuity of game players is a formidable force that, if properly directed, can be used to solve a wide range of scientific problems," said Firas Khatib of the University of Washington’s biochemistry lab said in a press release. "Games provide a framework for bringing together the strengths of computers and humans. The results in this week’s paper show that gaming, science and computation can be combined to make advances that were not possible before."
There’s new evidence that dinosaurs, once thought to resemble scaly lizards, were in fact fluffy, colorful animals. Curator Mark Norell, who is chair of the Museum’s Division of Paleontology and studies important feathered dinosaurs from Liaoning, China, shares his thoughts on the significance of two new studies about fossilized feathers reported in the current issue of Science magazine.
Though our perception of time can be stunningly precise — given a beat to keep, professional drummers are accurate within milliseconds — it can also be curiously plastic. Some moments seem to last longer than others, and scientists don’t know why.
Unlike our other senses, our perception of time has no defined location in our brain, making it difficult to understand and study. But now researchers have found hints that our sense of time stems from specialized units in our brain, channels of neurons tuned to signals of certain time lengths.
“We know keeping track of time is incredibly important, it allows us to coordinate movements, interpret body language,” said optometrist James Heron of the University of Bradford in the UK, lead author of the study in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Aug. 10. “We know the brain does this routinely and accurately, but we’re not sure how. Our evidence strongly suggests the presence of neural units in the brain that are tuned to different durations.”
When neuroscientist Jim Pfaus wants to study monogamous animals, he turns to prairie voles, due to their tendency to form life bonds. Similarly, he studies rats for their polygamous tendencies. But when studying the effects of oxytocin—a chemical commonly attributed to bonding—in these supposedly polygamous lab rats, Pfaus found that the brain may not settle on having it one way over the other.
Image courtesy of Steve Jurvetson; Recorded June 2011; Posted September 2011
All clownfish are born male. When they become adults, the largest, most dominant fish becomes a female, and the second largest becomes the breeding male. If the breeding female disappears, the breeding male (now the largest of the group) will become a female, and so on. In other species of tropical fish, when the ratio between males and females becomes imbalanced, dominant females may become males.
Scientists mine databases to find old drugs a new purpose
For all the testing we do, drugs are still mysterious things—they can activate pathways we never connected with them or twiddle the dials in some far-off part of the body. To see if drugs already FDA-approved for certain diseases could be used to treat other conditions, scientists lined up two online databases and discovered two drugs that, when tested in mice, worked against diseases they’d never been meant for, suggesting that mining of such information could be a fertile strategy for finding new treatments.
The two new drug candidates were an epilepsy drug used to treat irritable bowel syndrome, and a heartburn drug that shows promise against lung cancer. These seem like unlikely pairings, but the approach is ingenious, cost-effective, and hopefully very fruitful.