My picks from ScienceDaily

Teenaged Dome-skulled Dinosaurs Could Really Knock Heads, Virtual Smash-ups Show:

After half a century of debate, a University of Alberta researcher has confirmed that dome-headed dinosaurs called pachycephalosaurs could collide with each other during courtship combat. Eric Snively, an Alberta Ingenuity fellow at the U of A, used computer software to smash the sheep-sized dinosaurs together in a virtual collision and results showed that their bony domes could emerge unscathed.

Squid Beak Is Both Hard And Soft, A Material That Engineers Want To Copy:

How did nature make the squid's beak super hard and sharp ---- allowing it, without harm to its soft body ---- to capture its prey? The question has captivated those interested in creating new materials that mimic biological materials. The results are published in the journal Science.

Sensors For Bat-inspired Spy Plane Under Development:

A six-inch robotic spy plane modeled after a bat would gather data from sights, sounds and smells in urban combat zones and transmit information back to a soldier in real time.

Hormone That Controls Hunger And Appetite Also Linked To Reduced Fertility:

Researchers at Yale School of Medicine have found that in-utero exposure to the hormone grhelin, a molecule that controls appetite and hunger and nutrition, can result in decreased fertility and fewer offspring. Ghrelin, the so-called "hunger hormone," is produced in the stomach and brain, induces food intake, and operates through a brain region that controls cravings for food and other energy sources. Ghrelin decreases the HOXA 10 gene that is involved in developmental programming of the uterus. The HOXA 10 gene determines how the uterus will develop in adulthood.

Small Desert Beetle Found To Engineer Ecosystems:

The catastrophic action a tiny beetle is wreaking on the deteriorating Chihuahuan desert will be revealed in the April edition of the Royal Entomological Society's Ecological Entomology journal.

Armed Beetles Find A Mate, Whatever Their Size:

One species of armed beetle is proving that size doesn't necessarily matter when it comes to finding a mate. The creature uses what might be considered rather persuasive 'pulling techniques.'

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Nice to see something from my alma mater, the University of Alberta! We have a small paleontology museum in the basement of our Earth Sciences Building and there is a fairly complete pachycephalosaur there- maybe the Stegoceras the article mentions. That sounds right.

I disagree, as a native West Texan, about the girdler beetle's effects on the Chihuahuan desert. My opinion, as a beetle observer, is that the extending of the range of the mesquite tree is the culprit. This species (the tree, not the beetle) is insidiously creeping into previously unconquered territories like Colorado and the High Plains.

Whether this is due to adaptation or climate change, I cannot say. But this excessively negative view of the Mesquite Tree borders on speciesism. :)

The ultimate cause is inevitably fire suppression, just as the invasion of cacti becoming the dominant plant in some rangeland is facilitated by fire suppression. Damned humans.

By Old Bogus (not verified) on 31 Mar 2008 #permalink