My picks from ScienceDaily

Fossil Is Missing Link In Elephant Lineage:

A pig-sized, tusked creature that roamed the earth some 27 million years ago represents a missing link between the oldest known relatives of elephants and the more recent group from which modern elephants descended, an international team that includes University of Michigan paleontologist William J. Sanders has found.

Saving Threatened Turtles In The Caribbean:

Ecology and conservation experts from the University of Exeter are urging international governments to work together to protect threatened Caribbean sea turtle populations. The Cayman Islands, a UK Overseas Territory, once supported one of the world's largest sea turtle rookeries, which comprised some 6.5 million adult green and loggerhead turtles. These populations were driven into decline from the mid-1600s onwards, when massive harvesting of nesting turtles began. Only a few dozen individuals survive today.

More Human-Neandertal Mixing Evidence Uncovered:

A reexamination of ancient human bones from Romania reveals more evidence that humans and Neandertals interbred. Erik Trinkaus, Ph.D., Washington University Mary Tileston Hemenway Professor in Arts & Sciences, and colleagues radiocarbon-dated and analyzed the shapes of human bones from Romania's Petera Muierii (Cave of the Old Woman). The fossils, discovered in 1952, add to the small number of early modern human remains from Europe known to be more than 28,000 years old.

Insect Wings Used To Pattern Nanoscale Structures:

A team of researchers led by Jin Zhang and Zhongfan Liu (Peking University) have used the wings of cicadas as stamps to pattern polymer films with nanometer-sized structures

Animal Testing Alternative Has Ticks Trembling At The Knees:

Scientists in Switzerland have developed a synthetic cowhide as a replacement for live animals when observing the effects of new anti-tick treatments. Traditional testing methods for these agents involve coating animals in harsh chemicals, and measuring how quickly ticks die. The new animal friendly method is also far more sensitive, and effects can be measured sooner by observing "leg trembling" -- an early symptom of the pesticide blocking the tick's central nervous system.

Novel Experiment Documents Evolution Of Genome In Near-real Time:

UCSD bioengineers report in the November issue of Nature Genetics rapid evolutionary changes in a bacterial genome, observed in near-real time over a few days. Scientists have previously published static "snapshots" of the genome sequences of more than 100 bacterial species, but this new report shows how these genomes are moving targets.

Study Questions Squeaky-clean Reputation Of Service Industries In Climate Change:

Service industries like banking, health care, and telecommunications may have a squeaky-clean reputation when it comes to industrial pollution, but they are responsible for amounts of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that actually are comparable to those of traditional manufacturing industries, a new study has found.

Disappearing Nest Egg: Researcher Studying Declining Numbers Of Macaws:

One of the most colorful birds in the world may have a less-than-colorful future. Macaws, the largest members of the parrot family, have seen their numbers decline in recent decades, and that trend is continuing today.

Tiny Worm Provides Model For The Genetics Of Nicotine Dependence:

The unassuming C. elegans nematode worm, a 1-millimeter workhorse of the genetics lab, is quite similar to human beings in its genetic susceptibility to nicotine dependence, according to University of Michigan researchers.

Lighting The Way Toward Understanding Nitric Oxide's Role Inside Living Cells:

Eavesdropping on the behavior of nitric oxide (NO) in parts of the body ranging from the penis to the brain is important to solving the mysteries of how this small molecule plays such a big role in conditions ranging from male sexual function to communication among nerves.

Biodiversity Controls Ecological 'Services,' Report Scientists In Comprehenisive Analysis:

Accelerating rates of species extinction pose problems for humanity, according to a comprehensive study headed by a biologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara and published in the journal Nature this week. The groundbreaking statistical analysis demonstrates that the preservation of biodiversity -- both the number and type of species -- is needed to maintain ecological balance and "services."


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This week, Science published two papers about the genetics of Neandertals from a team of scientists based at the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology. The first (which is the only one anyone seems to really care about) gives a draft version of the entire Neandertal genome - a whopping…