My picks from ScienceDaily

Number Of Published Science And Engineering Articles Flattens, But US Influence Remains Strong:

A new National Science Foundation (NSF) report finds the number of U.S. science and engineering (S&E) articles in major peer-reviewed journals flattened in the 1990s, after more than two decades of growth, but U.S. influence in world science and technology remains strong.

Art And Music For The Birds:

Nature is a valued source of inspiration for artists. But what have artists offered the natural world? Would a bird even like rock and roll? Conceptual sculptor Elizabeth Demaray, an assistant professor of fine arts at Rutgers University--Camden, is testing the musical tastes of our fine feathered friends with an exhibition featuring four 10-foot red perches offering what are considered to be the best in classical, rock, country, and jazz for local birds.

Genetic Diversity In Honeybee Colonies Boosts Productivity:

Why do queen honeybees mate with dozens of males? Does their extreme promiscuity, perhaps, serve a purpose? An answer to this age-old mystery is proposed in the July 20 issue of Science magazine by Cornell scientists: Promiscuous queens, they suggest, produce genetically diverse colonies that are far more productive and hardy than genetically uniform colonies produced by monogamous queens.

Proteins' Internal Motion Found To Affect Their Function: Implications For Drug Design:

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine are the first to observe and measure the internal motion inside proteins, or its "dark energy." This research, appearing in the current issue of Nature, has revealed how the internal motion of proteins affects their function and overturns the standard view of protein structure-function relationships, suggesting why rational drug design has been so difficult.

Species Detectives Track Unseen Evolution:

New species are evading detection using a foolproof disguise -- their own unchanged appearance. Research published in the journal, BMC Evolutionary Biology, suggests that the phenomenon of different animal species not being visually distinct despite other significant genetic differences is widespread in the animal kingdom.

Ice Age Survivors Found In Iceland:

Many scientists believe that the ice ages exterminated all life on land and in freshwater in large parts of the Northern Hemisphere, especially on ocean islands such as Iceland. Scientists at Holar University College and the University of Iceland have challenged that belief, at least when looking at groundwater animals. They have discovered two species of groundwater amphipods in Iceland that are the only animals species found solely in Iceland.

Rise Of Dinosaurs In Late Triassic More Gradual Than Once Thought:

Fossils discovered in the oft-painted arroyos of northern New Mexico show for the first time that dinosaurs and their non-dinosaur ancestors lived side by side for tens of millions of years, disproving the notion that dinosaurs rapidly replaced their supposedly outmoded predecessors.

Why Humans Walk On Two Legs:

A team of anthropologists that studied chimpanzees trained to use treadmills has gathered new evidence suggesting that our earliest apelike ancestors started walking on two legs because it required less energy than getting around on all fours.

Penguin Remains Being Used To Measure Antarctic Ice Movement:

Climate change is nothing new. For thousands, perhaps millions of years, Antarctica's massive ice sheet - 5.5 million square miles - has advanced and retreated as the earth's atmosphere cooled and warmed. Yet, until recently, there was no precise way to measure the shifting interface between ice and open water.

Butterfly Back From The Brink Of Extinction:

Once relegated to a few small and fragile reserves, the nearly extinct butterfly with electric blue wings has expanded its territory to take up residence along the bluffs of a popular beach south of the Los Angeles International Airport, says University of Southern California research assistant professor Travis Longcore.

Scientists Are Aiding Timber Rattlesnakes:

The much-maligned and endangered timber rattlesnake may have a future in Indiana, thanks to Purdue veterinary medicine, forestry and natural resources researchers working with the state's Department of Natural Resources on a project to track the snakes.

Killer Whales Metabolize Contaminants, Yet Still Show Record-High Contamination Levels:

Killer whales hold the gloomy record of being the most-polluted European arctic mammal, says a new study published in the latest issue of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. Levels of contaminants measured in whales near Norway were among the highest ever measured in marine mammals, exceeding levels found in harbor seals, polar bears, and white whales.

Male Stickleback Fish Masquerading In Murky Waters:

Where humans lower water quality, poor quality stickleback male fish trick unsuspecting females. Finding a decent, honest mate is challenging enough without the added problem of reduced visibility caused by human-induced changes to the aquatic environment. Yet this is precisely the sort of dilemma female stickleback fish are facing in the Baltic Sea, according to a recent study published in the August issue of the American Naturalist by Dr. Bob Wong, an Australian researcher from Monash University, and his Scandinavian colleagues, Dr. Ulrika Candolin from the University of Uppsala and Dr. Kai Linstrom from the Ãbo Akademi in Finland.

Undergrad Publishes Mormon Cricket Genome:

A Brigham Young University junior molecular biology major has sequenced the mitochondrial genome of the "Mormon cricket," the insect said to have scourged Utah's early settlers' crops until the miraculous intervention of California gulls.

One Species, Many Genomes:

Adaptation to the environment has a stronger effect on the genome than anticipated. Faster growth, darker leaves, a different way of branching - wild varieties of the plant Arabidopsis thaliana are often substantially different from the laboratory strain of this small mustard plant, a favorite of many plant biologists.

Charting Ever-changing Genomes:

Instead of immutable proprietary software, any species' genetic information resembles open source code that is constantly tweaked and optimized to meet the users' specific needs. But which parts of the code have withstood the test of time and which parts have undergone rapid evolutionary change has been difficult to assess.

Removing Predators Could Offset Seabird 'Bycatch' Losses:

Removing invasive predators from island breeding colonies could save more seabirds for less cost than reductions in fishing, a study of Australia's Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery (ETBF) has found. According to one of the authors of a paper on the findings in the August edition of Frontiers in Ecology and Environment, CSIRO scientist Dr Chris Wilcox, a major challenge for fisheries worldwide is to reduce their impact on 'bycatch' species such as seabirds.

Probing The Microbial Universe The Easy Way:

A typical human mouth teems with as many as 700 different species of microbes. A handful of these have been specifically implicated in promoting gum disease, dental cavities, and bad breath, but for the most part, the make-up of this complex ecosystem and its impact on human health remain largely unexplored. A new device created by Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) researchers, however, may make some of the most reclusive members of this and other microscopic communities much more accessible for laboratory study.


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