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  • March 23, 2015
  • 10:34 AM
  • 1,059 views

Komodo Dragons: Their Bite is Worse than Their Bark

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

By Shelly Sonsalla Komodo Dragon. Image by Arturo de Frias Marques on Wikimedia. Komodo dragons are the world’s largest living lizard and can be found only on select islands in the Indonesian archipelago. These massive lizards can grow to be 10 feet in length and up to 150 pounds! Their natural prey includes wild boars, deer, and water buffalo—animals which may outweigh them by several hundred pounds. So how does a lizard, even such a large one, manage to take down prey so much larger tha........ Read more »

Fry, B., Wroe, S., Teeuwisse, W., van Osch, M., Moreno, K., Ingle, J., McHenry, C., Ferrara, T., Clausen, P., Scheib, H.... (2009) A central role for venom in predation by Varanus komodoensis (Komodo Dragon) and the extinct giant Varanus (Megalania) priscus. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(22), 8969-8974. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0810883106  

Merchant, M., Henry, D., Falconi, R., Muscher, B., & Bryja, J. (2013) Antibacterial activities of serum from the Komodo Dragon (Varanus komodoensis). Microbiology Research, 4(1), 4. DOI: 10.4081/mr.2013.e4  

Montgomery JM, Gillespie D, Sastrawan P, Fredeking TM, & Stewart GL. (2002) Aerobic salivary bacteria in wild and captive Komodo dragons. Journal of wildlife diseases, 38(3), 545-51. PMID: 12238371  

  • March 22, 2015
  • 12:01 PM
  • 571 views

Special microbes make anti-obesity molecule in the gut

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

You’ve probably heard of all sorts of diets, paleo, low-fat, low-carb, atkins, but now microbes may just be the next diet craze. Researchers have programmed bacteria to generate a molecule that, through normal metabolism, becomes a hunger-suppressing lipid (fat). Mice that drank water laced with the programmed bacteria ate less, had lower body fat and staved off diabetes — even when fed a high-fat diet — offering a potential weight-loss strategy for humans.... Read more »

Zhongyi Chen, Lilu Guo, Yongqin Zhang, Rosemary L. Walzem, Julie S. Pendergast, Richard L. Printz, Lindsey C. Morris, Elena Matafonova, Xavier Stien, Li Kang.... (2014) Incorporation of Therapeutic Bacteria into the Gut Microbiome for Treatment of Obesity. The Journal of clinical investigation . info:/10.1172/JCI72517.

  • March 20, 2015
  • 03:55 AM
  • 1,175 views

How chemistry affects the evolution of life

by GrrlScientist in Maniraptora

SUMMARY: In this fascinating video, Professor Ros Rickaby from Oxford chats with Professor Simon Conway-Morris at Cambridge about how Earth’s changing chemistry has affected evolution, and how this can sometimes lead to evolutionary convergence... Read more »

  • March 17, 2015
  • 10:53 AM
  • 946 views

The Palm Tree That Waters and Fertilizes Itself

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



Even the most dismal gardener wouldn't mind taking charge of a plot of Lodoicea maldivica. This palm tree knows how to water itself. It even adds fertilizer. As a result, it rules the forest, turning a bad soil situation into seeds the size of a four-year-old human.

Lodoicea maldivica is commonly called the coco de mer palm. "Commonly" might be the wrong word, though, since the tree grows on exactly two islands in the world, in the Seychelles. It roots itself in soil made from weathered g........ Read more »

  • March 13, 2015
  • 02:20 AM
  • 1,192 views

How photosynthesis is inspiring solar power research

by GrrlScientist in Maniraptora

SUMMARY: To meet humanity’s growing energy demands, scientists are taking lessons from plants, which perfected the process of capturing the sun’s rays and transforming that into starch. Might scientists be able to adapt the photosynthetic process pioneered by plants and adapt it to meet human demands? ... Read more »

Barber James. (2007) Biological solar energy. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, 1007-1023. DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2006.1962  

Porter G. (1966) Studies of Triplet Chlorophyll by Microbeam Flash Photolysis. Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 295(1440), 1-12. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspa.1966.0222  

Porter G. (1978) The Bakerian Lecture, 1977: In Vitro Models for Photosynthesis. Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 362(1710), 281-303. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspa.1978.0134  

Cogdell R. J., P. I. Molina, & L. Cronin. (2013) The use and misuse of photosynthesis in the quest for novel methods to harness solar energy to make fuel. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 371(1996), 20110603-20110603. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsta.2011.0603  

  • March 11, 2015
  • 04:57 PM
  • 1,263 views

Why do we remember bad memories easier than good ones?

by Crystals and Catalysts in Crystals and Catalysts

How many times have you found yourself recollecting a bad memory?It doesn't even have to be a very bad memory,  it could be a sad moment, a moment which angered you or even an embarrassing moment. But it is definitely prominent in your mind.All of these things could have happened years ago and you don't want to remember them but they still come back and haunt you from time to time.But the question is why do we remember  these bad memories more than good ones? Time to think ou........ Read more »

Ritchie TD, Batteson TJ, Bohn A, Crawford MT, Ferguson GV, Schrauf RW, Vogl RJ, & Walker WR. (2015) A pancultural perspective on the fading affect bias in autobiographical memory. Memory (Hove, England), 23(2), 278-90. PMID: 24524255  

  • March 9, 2015
  • 03:44 AM
  • 761 views

Mercury, autism and mitochondrial dysfunction?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Appreciating that to mention the words 'mercury and autism' in the same sentence can lead to furrowed brows and invoke eye-rolling in some quarters, I don't want to shy away from the results reported by Shannon Rose and colleagues [1] (open-access here) and their suggestion that: "the epidemiological link between environmental mercury exposure and an increased risk of developing autism may be mediated through mitochondrial dysfunction". Further that their result: "support the notion that a subse........ Read more »

  • March 2, 2015
  • 02:05 PM
  • 880 views

You are what you eat

by naturallyspeakingpodcast in Naturally Speaking Podcast

Ecologists have long tried to understand what animals get up to when they’re not being observed. GPS technologies have enabled unprecedented remote-tracking, but some behaviours – such as diet – are a little more tricky to track. In this post James Grecian (@JamesGrecian), a marine ecologist at the Institute, discusses a technique he uses to track the diet of marine seabirds across some of the world’s […]

... Read more »

  • February 25, 2015
  • 03:38 PM
  • 626 views

The food additive that may be promoting obesity and metabolic syndrome

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

People say to avoid processed foods, while I don’t agree with that fully, a new study suggests that a common food additive may be causing problems. Emulsifiers, which are added to most processed foods to aid texture and extend shelf life, can alter the gut microbiota composition and localization to induce intestinal inflammation that promotes the development of inflammatory bowel disease and metabolic syndrome.... Read more »

  • February 24, 2015
  • 04:38 PM
  • 724 views

Move over oil, new pretreatment could cut biofuel costs by 30 percent or more

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Alternative fuels have a few large problems making them horrible options over oil (which is already a horrible choice). However, researchers may have finally eliminated one of those problems, cost. The team has invented a novel pretreatment technology that could cut the cost of biofuels production by about 30 percent or more by dramatically reducing the amount of enzymes needed to breakdown the raw materials that form biofuels.... Read more »

  • February 22, 2015
  • 11:13 AM
  • 832 views

Of tree rings and rain: drought predicted to worsen in southwestern United States

by Jonathan Trinastic in Goodnight Earth

Droughts have been severe in California and surrounding states, but will they be any worse than previous droughts in Earth's history? A combination of climate models and tree ring analysis provides an answer.... Read more »

Benjamin I. Cook, Toby R. Ault, Jason E. Smerdon. (2015) Unprecedented 21st century drought risk in the American Southwest and Central Plains. Science Advances. info:/

  • February 20, 2015
  • 11:08 PM
  • 721 views

Getting your tonsils removed: A (sometimes) cure for bedwetting

by Megan Cartwright in Science-Based Writing

Kids who snore are more likely to wet the bed than kids who don’t. Strangely enough, the reason may be their too-big tonsils, which can cause the snoring and sleep apnea affecting 1 in 10 kids. In 2013, Michigan scientists … Continue reading →... Read more »

Kovacevic L, Wolfe-Christensen C, Lu H, Toton M, Mirkovic J, Thottam PJ, Abdulhamid I, Madgy D, & Lakshmanan Y. (2014) Why does adenotonsillectomy not correct enuresis in all children with sleep disordered breathing?. The Journal of urology, 191(5 Suppl), 1592-6. PMID: 24679871  

  • February 18, 2015
  • 06:17 PM
  • 710 views

The biofuel controversy

by Jonathan Trinastic in Goodnight Earth

Many countries are adding biofuels to their mandates for carbon-free, renewable energy? But does biofuel truly fit the bill? Not so much, contrary to what popular culture hopes to believe. Find out the details here.... Read more »

  • February 4, 2015
  • 07:04 PM
  • 601 views

How to keep the lights on when the fossil fuels are gone

by Jonathan Trinastic in Goodnight Earth

My second guest post at the Eyes on Environment blog at Nature's Scitable network. Check out how policy and technology will help integrate renewables into the electrical grid.... Read more »

  • February 3, 2015
  • 11:54 AM
  • 982 views

How to Unboil an Egg

by Viputheshwar Sitaraman in Draw Science

How to unboil an egg...and why it matters: Scientists have discovered how to refold proteins easily; this could change the face of protein synthesis!... Read more »

Yuan, T., Ormonde, C., Kudlacek, S., Kunche, S., Smith, J., Brown, W., Pugliese, K., Olsen, T., Iftikhar, M., Raston, C.... (2015) Shear-Stress-Mediated Refolding of Proteins from Aggregates and Inclusion Bodies. ChemBioChem. DOI: 10.1002/cbic.201402427  

  • February 2, 2015
  • 07:19 PM
  • 867 views

We can predict the chaos in climate change only so well

by Jonathan Trinastic in Goodnight Earth

New analysis in Nature shows that differences in actual and modeled temperature trends are due to natural variability in Earth's climate over short timescales. Read the details here!... Read more »

  • January 28, 2015
  • 03:08 PM
  • 788 views

Everyday chemical exposure leads to early menopause

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Seems like everything is killing us these days. Well ladies, you have one more thing that is causing you problems. New research has shown that women whose bodies have high levels of chemicals found in plastics, personal-care products, common household items and the environment experience menopause two to four years earlier than women with lower levels of these chemicals.... Read more »

Grindler, N., Allsworth, J., Macones, G., Kannan, K., Roehl, K., & Cooper, A. (2015) Persistent Organic Pollutants and Early Menopause in U.S. Women. PLOS ONE, 10(1). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0116057  

  • January 27, 2015
  • 10:12 AM
  • 723 views

The importance of protecting aquifers from contaminated plumes

by Ruth Garcia de la Calle in ADVOCATE Marie Curie Network

This post shows us an overview how Permeable Reactive Barriers (PRBs) for in situ sustainable groundwater remediation might be used as low cost alternative to clean up the groundwater... Read more »

  • January 26, 2015
  • 05:36 PM
  • 680 views

You can’t unboil an egg? Well… now you can

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

There is a saying, “you can’t unboil an egg.” Usually this is just illustrating cause and effect; you can’t turn back time, or what’s done is done. Well now scientists have successfully unboiled an egg, so suck it thermodynamics. An international team of chemists have accomplished this feat – an innovation that could dramatically reduce costs for cancer treatments, food production and other segments of the $160 billion global biotechnology industry, according to the findings.... Read more »

Yuan, T., Ormonde, C., Kudlacek, S., Kunche, S., Smith, J., Brown, W., Pugliese, K., Olsen, T., Iftikhar, M., Raston, C.... (2015) Shear-Stress-Mediated Refolding of Proteins from Aggregates and Inclusion Bodies. ChemBioChem. DOI: 10.1002/cbic.201402427  

  • January 25, 2015
  • 03:36 PM
  • 1,154 views

Will the ocean follow the land? Marine ecosystems at a tipping point to follow terrestrial defaunation

by Jonathan Trinastic in Goodnight Earth

Data suggests that marine life may soon follow the mass extinctions seen in terrestrial ecosystems - similarities and differences discussed here!... Read more »

McCauley, D., Pinsky, M., Palumbi, S., Estes, J., Joyce, F., & Warner, R. (2015) Marine defaunation: Animal loss in the global ocean. Science, 347(6219), 1255641-1255641. DOI: 10.1126/science.1255641  

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