Giraffe Neck Theory Evolves!

For around one hundred and fifty years students have been dogmatically told giraffes have evolved long necks by stretching them to browse from tall trees. Chinese scientists studying a fossil skull and vertebrae of an extinct “giraffoid”, have now come up with the new theory. “Giraffoids” are a group of mammals that includes living giraffes […]

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No Blue Colour in Bluest Berries

The fruits of a shrub named Lantana strigocamara have a distinct blue colour with a metallic sheen.  Scientists at University of Colorado, Boulder, have studied these to find out where the blue colour comes from and found it is not from any blue pigment.  The berry-like fruits have a complex structure of lipid droplets in […]

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Parrots Defy “Forbidden Phenotype”

Because no vertebrate has an odd number of limbs, having three limbs is considered a “forbidden phenotype”, i.e. a body structure that cannot happen.  However, some animals can use other body parts as well as their limbs to help them move around.  Researchers at noted that some parrots use their beaks to help them climb […]

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Skydiving Salamanders

The wandering salamander is tree dwelling amphibian than living the canopy of some of the tallest trees in the world – coastal redwoods.  Like many animals that live in tree canopies it can jump off tree limbs and land safely further down the tree after a controlled glide.  The salamanders are well suited to a […]

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Shark Toothache

Researchers from North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences have studied a deformed tooth from the extinct giant shark Otodus megalodon (used to be Carcharodon megalodon)and compared it with similarly deformed teeth from a shark named Carcharhinus leucas, which still lives today. The teeth all show a “double tooth pathology” […]

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Trilobite Eyes Inspire Bifocal Lenses

Researchers from China and the USA have studied the eyes of a trilobite named Dalmanitina socialis.  These creatures had ‘bifocal’ eyes consisting of two lenses that bent light at different angles, enabling them to see both close up and far away objects at the same time. The researchers were “inspired by the optical structure of […]

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Pterosaurs Had Coloured Feathers 

Palaeontologists in Brazil have studied the head of a pterosaur named Tupandactylus imperator, andclaim to have found “simple and branched feathers” on the back of its crest.  They examined these with an electron microscope and found they contained various shaped melanosomes – tiny vesicles containing the pigment melanin.  Variation in the shape of melanosomes is […]

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Limping Lumping Sore-a-saurs

As more methods are developed for studying the fine detail and internal structure of dinosaur bones scientists are finding abundant evidence of disease and trauma.  Here are some recent examples.  Researchers in Spain analysed a trackway of dinosaur footprints and found some anomalies, described as: “wide-steps, and a set of equally deformed left footprints (with […]

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Pleasant Smells are Multi Cultural

An international team of scientists asked people from 10 widely different cultures to rate how pleasant they found 10 distinctive scents.  The research was carried out in diverse communities across the world, including hunter-gatherer societies, agricultural societies and urban societies. The scents were presented in the form of identical odour dispensers shaped like pens, so […]

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“Without Proteins, DNA is Nothing”

When the human genome was first presented to the world it had many gaps in it, especially from regions where there were lots of repetitive sequences.  These tended to be around the two ends of each chromosome, called telomeres, and around a region called the centromere, where the chromosomes are held together and then separated […]

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