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A blog about all things science, whether it be about ecology, climate, sustainability, zoology, evolution, environmental science, nutrition, physics, and more.
Earliest Bird Pollinator Found in Germany
According to a paper published in this week’s Biology Letters, a fossilized bird from millions of years ago offers the earliest, most direct evidence to date of bird pollination. The discovery, uncovered in Germany’s fossil-rich Messel Pit, reveals a three-inch-long (eight-centimeter) bird—about the size of a hummingbird you see at a backyard bird feeder—with scraps of iridescent insects and hundreds of grains of flower pollen in its stomach. That last supper would be familiar to today’s avian pollinators, which siphon up large quantities of flower nectar but also eat pollen and insects, says the paper’s lead author, ornithologist Gerald Mayr of the Senckenberg Research Institute of Frankfurt.
Branches of the Avian Tree
The fossilized bird belongs to an extinct species known as Pumiliornis tessellatus. Its feet were built for clinging to branches, and its long, slender beak had the large opening of a hummingbird. Yet it has no close relative among modern species.
Until now, the earliest examples of pollinating birds had been hummingbirds, also described by Mayr, that date back 30 million to 34 million years. But those offer only indirect evidence of bird pollination, because there’s nothing to show that the birds actually visited flowers.
Based on the anatomy of earlier fossilized birds and plants, Mayr suspects that bird pollination began shortly before this new species—which he calls “very weird-looking”—took flight. The pollen found in its stomach is from an unknown plant species, but one that evolution had clearly already equipped to be bird friendly.
The new fossil shows that bird pollination is “older that we had evidence for previously, and [is] also more complicated than we suspected,” says botanist Quentin Cronk of Canada’s University of British Columbia, who was not involved in the new research. “This is clearly a different lineage of birds.”
(via National Geographic)

Earliest Bird Pollinator Found in Germany

According to a paper published in this week’s Biology Letters, a fossilized bird from millions of years ago offers the earliest, most direct evidence to date of bird pollination. The discovery, uncovered in Germany’s fossil-rich Messel Pit, reveals a three-inch-long (eight-centimeter) bird—about the size of a hummingbird you see at a backyard bird feeder—with scraps of iridescent insects and hundreds of grains of flower pollen in its stomach. That last supper would be familiar to today’s avian pollinators, which siphon up large quantities of flower nectar but also eat pollen and insects, says the paper’s lead author, ornithologist Gerald Mayr of the Senckenberg Research Institute of Frankfurt.

Branches of the Avian Tree

The fossilized bird belongs to an extinct species known as Pumiliornis tessellatus. Its feet were built for clinging to branches, and its long, slender beak had the large opening of a hummingbird. Yet it has no close relative among modern species.

Until now, the earliest examples of pollinating birds had been hummingbirds, also described by Mayr, that date back 30 million to 34 million years. But those offer only indirect evidence of bird pollination, because there’s nothing to show that the birds actually visited flowers.

Based on the anatomy of earlier fossilized birds and plants, Mayr suspects that bird pollination began shortly before this new species—which he calls “very weird-looking”—took flight. The pollen found in its stomach is from an unknown plant species, but one that evolution had clearly already equipped to be bird friendly.

The new fossil shows that bird pollination is “older that we had evidence for previously, and [is] also more complicated than we suspected,” says botanist Quentin Cronk of Canada’s University of British Columbia, who was not involved in the new research. “This is clearly a different lineage of birds.”

(via National Geographic)

(via arrowtongue)

3 months ago
179 notes
thatscienceguy:

The space between atoms, and the space within atoms, is so empty that you could fit the entire human race, all 7 billion people, into the size of a sugarcube!
The sugarcube would be as dense as the core of a neutron star, the most dense object known to man. (besides black holes but they’re a different issue) 

thatscienceguy:

The space between atoms, and the space within atoms, is so empty that you could fit the entire human race, all 7 billion people, into the size of a sugarcube!

The sugarcube would be as dense as the core of a neutron star, the most dense object known to man. (besides black holes but they’re a different issue) 

5 months ago
360 notes
It’s a discovery that could change our understanding of early humans. An incredibly well-preserved, 1.8-million-year-old skull from Dmanisi, Georgia suggests the evolutionary tree of the genus Homo may have fewer branches than previously believed.
Read more.

It’s a discovery that could change our understanding of early humans. An incredibly well-preserved, 1.8-million-year-old skull from Dmanisi, Georgia suggests the evolutionary tree of the genus Homo may have fewer branches than previously believed.

Read more.

7 months ago
1,117 notes
Earthandman:
Anti-aging formula slated to begin human trials


A regular metabolic coenzyme known as nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) was administered to mice in hopes that it would slow the aging of skeletal muscle. The researchers were shocked to find that it didn’t slow aging; it dramatically reversed it. In under a week, the mice who had previously been suffering from a variety of age-related impairments experienced an increase in muscle tone, as if they had been exercising and following a healthy diet. In some regards, the compound acted like the proverbial fountain of youth.
The secret to reversing aging, as it turns out, is hidden in the mitochondria. In humans and most other species, mitochondrial DNA is passed down only by the mother. These genes are responsible for becoming the cellular powerhouse and generating ATP, which cells use for energy. The team discovered that, over time, genes from the mitochondrial genome stop interacting with genes from the nuclear genome. Administering NAD+ reverses this trend and encourages communication.  
NAD+ is involved in redox reactions, which regulate electron transfer in metabolic processes. As the mice grew older and less active, their levels of NAD+ had basically been cut in half. By replenishing this critical compound in the mice, their muscles had been rejuvenated. The natural process that deteriorates skeletal muscle is the same one that affects the heart.
Human trials of NAD+ treatments will begin in 2014. If the results are anything like what was experienced by the mice, it will be the equivalent of a 60 year old having the fitness of a 20 year old. However, the treatments will not be cheap. In order to gather enough patients to do the study properly, millions of dollars will need to be raised. Though there is no telling how long it will be before this treatment hits the market, Dr. Sinclair has established a company to expedite the process if and when it is granted approval.
source / photo

Earthandman:

Anti-aging formula slated to begin human trials

A regular metabolic coenzyme known as nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) was administered to mice in hopes that it would slow the aging of skeletal muscle. The researchers were shocked to find that it didn’t slow aging; it dramatically reversed it. In under a week, the mice who had previously been suffering from a variety of age-related impairments experienced an increase in muscle tone, as if they had been exercising and following a healthy diet. In some regards, the compound acted like the proverbial fountain of youth.

The secret to reversing aging, as it turns out, is hidden in the mitochondria. In humans and most other species, mitochondrial DNA is passed down only by the mother. These genes are responsible for becoming the cellular powerhouse and generating ATP, which cells use for energy. The team discovered that, over time, genes from the mitochondrial genome stop interacting with genes from the nuclear genome. Administering NAD+ reverses this trend and encourages communication.  

NAD+ is involved in redox reactions, which regulate electron transfer in metabolic processes. As the mice grew older and less active, their levels of NAD+ had basically been cut in half. By replenishing this critical compound in the mice, their muscles had been rejuvenated. The natural process that deteriorates skeletal muscle is the same one that affects the heart.

Human trials of NAD+ treatments will begin in 2014. If the results are anything like what was experienced by the mice, it will be the equivalent of a 60 year old having the fitness of a 20 year old. However, the treatments will not be cheap. In order to gather enough patients to do the study properly, millions of dollars will need to be raised. Though there is no telling how long it will be before this treatment hits the market, Dr. Sinclair has established a company to expedite the process if and when it is granted approval.

source / photo

8 months ago
8 notes
wildcat2030:

Phobias may be memories passed down in genes from ancestors
Memories may be passed down through generations in DNA in a process that may be the underlying cause of phobias 
Memories can be passed down to later generations through genetic switches that allow offspring to inherit the experience of their ancestors, according to new research that may explain how phobias can develop. Scientists have long assumed that memories and learned experiences built up during a lifetime must be passed on by teaching later generations or through personal experience. However, new research has shown that it is possible for some information to be inherited biologically through chemical changes that occur in DNA. Researchers at the Emory University School of Medicine, in Atlanta, found that mice can pass on learned information about traumatic or stressful experiences – in this case a fear of the smell of cherry blossom – to subsequent generations. The results may help to explain why people suffer from seemingly irrational phobias – it may be based on the inherited experiences of their ancestors.
(via Phobias may be memories passed down in genes from ancestors - Telegraph)

wildcat2030:

Phobias may be memories passed down in genes from ancestors

Memories may be passed down through generations in DNA in a process that may be the underlying cause of phobias

Memories can be passed down to later generations through genetic switches that allow offspring to inherit the experience of their ancestors, according to new research that may explain how phobias can develop. Scientists have long assumed that memories and learned experiences built up during a lifetime must be passed on by teaching later generations or through personal experience. However, new research has shown that it is possible for some information to be inherited biologically through chemical changes that occur in DNA. Researchers at the Emory University School of Medicine, in Atlanta, found that mice can pass on learned information about traumatic or stressful experiences – in this case a fear of the smell of cherry blossom – to subsequent generations. The results may help to explain why people suffer from seemingly irrational phobias – it may be based on the inherited experiences of their ancestors.

(via Phobias may be memories passed down in genes from ancestors - Telegraph)

(via pipdepop)

9 months ago
95,489 notes
fossilporn:

'World's largest dinosaur' discovered in Argentina
New species of titanosaur thought to be as heavy as 14 African elephants unearthed after chance discovery by farm worker in Patagonia.  
Read more

fossilporn:

'World's largest dinosaur' discovered in Argentina

New species of titanosaur thought to be as heavy as 14 African elephants unearthed after chance discovery by farm worker in Patagonia.  

Read more

(via amysaurus)

3 months ago
730 notes
biocanvas:

Crystallized tartrazine
Also known as FD&C Yellow 5 or E102, tartrazine is a yellow dye commonly used in processed goods like ice cream, soft drinks, moisturizers, pet foods, and crayons. Of all azo dyes, tartrazine frequently causes allergic and intolerant reactions, though the mechanism of sensitivity is not clear. While conflicting studies have been published regarding its role in promoting hyperactive behaviors in children, tartrazine is being voluntarily phased out in many countries in Europe. In the United States, foods or drugs containing tartrazine must declare the chemical on their ingredients list; the Food and Drug Administration frequently seizes imported products containing undeclared tartrazine.
Image by Frederic Labaune.

biocanvas:

Crystallized tartrazine

Also known as FD&C Yellow 5 or E102, tartrazine is a yellow dye commonly used in processed goods like ice cream, soft drinks, moisturizers, pet foods, and crayons. Of all azo dyes, tartrazine frequently causes allergic and intolerant reactions, though the mechanism of sensitivity is not clear. While conflicting studies have been published regarding its role in promoting hyperactive behaviors in children, tartrazine is being voluntarily phased out in many countries in Europe. In the United States, foods or drugs containing tartrazine must declare the chemical on their ingredients list; the Food and Drug Administration frequently seizes imported products containing undeclared tartrazine.

Image by Frederic Labaune.

(Source: microscopyu.com)

6 months ago
2,003 notes
sci-universe:

Happy Perihelion! (January 4)
Today the Earth is at perihelion, the point in its oval orbit when it’s closest to the Sun. At that time, Earth passes 1.7% closer than average.Therefore the Sun today looks a tiny bit bigger than usual, as you can see in this telescopic view comparing it at 2010/2011’s perihelion and aphelion. By eye, though, you’d never notice the difference. (Image source)

sci-universe:

Happy Perihelion! (January 4)

Today the Earth is at perihelion, the point in its oval orbit when it’s closest to the Sun. At that time, Earth passes 1.7% closer than average.
Therefore the Sun today looks a tiny bit bigger than usual, as you can see in this telescopic view comparing it at 2010/2011’s perihelion and aphelion. By eye, though, you’d never notice the difference. (Image source)

7 months ago
516 notes

Ross Nanotechnology’s NeverWet superhydrophobic spray-on coating

Nearly two years ago, the developer of NeverWet was deluged with interest in the spray-on coating that repels water, mud, ice and other liquids.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/861483_Magical-NeverWet-arrives-in-stores.html#ixzz2mf3AkhVO

9 months ago
1 note
trynottodrown:

The Sea Wasp.
This small species of box jellyfish holds the dubious distinction of being the single most venomous creature known to man. The venom is contained within its 15 tentacles, which average nearly 10 feet (3 ms) in length, and is delivered through millions of cnidocytes, which release microscopic darts into the victim. In most encounters with humans, the creatures rarely inject more than a minute percentage of these darts. Such “glancing” stings produce intense pain and a burning sensation, but are treatable. However, a single mature specimen contains enough extremely toxic venom within its tentacles to kill sixty grown humans with a single dose! A large injection of venom is fatal within 3 minutes if not treated immediately. The bell of this creature is approximately the size of a basketball. They are primarily found in a range extending from the coastal waters of Australia, to New Guinea, the Philippines and Vietnam. They are virtually transparent and thus, are almost invisible to swimmers.
by OurBreathingPlanet

trynottodrown:

The Sea Wasp.

This small species of box jellyfish holds the dubious distinction of being the single most venomous creature known to man. The venom is contained within its 15 tentacles, which average nearly 10 feet (3 ms) in length, and is delivered through millions of cnidocytes, which release microscopic darts into the victim. In most encounters with humans, the creatures rarely inject more than a minute percentage of these darts. Such “glancing” stings produce intense pain and a burning sensation, but are treatable. However, a single mature specimen contains enough extremely toxic venom within its tentacles to kill sixty grown humans with a single dose! A large injection of venom is fatal within 3 minutes if not treated immediately. The bell of this creature is approximately the size of a basketball. They are primarily found in a range extending from the coastal waters of Australia, to New Guinea, the Philippines and Vietnam. They are virtually transparent and thus, are almost invisible to swimmers.

by OurBreathingPlanet

(via earthandanimals)

9 months ago
749 notes