Top Environment News -- ScienceDaily

Top stories featured on ScienceDaily's Plants & Animals, Earth & Climate, and Fossils & Ruins sections.

10/19/2017 02:30 PM
New tyrannosaur fossil is most complete found in Southwestern US
A fossilized skeleton of a tyrannosaur discovered in Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument was airlifted by helicopter Oct 15, and delivered to the Natural History Museum of Utah where it will be uncovered, prepared, and studied. The fossil is approximately 76 million years old and is likely an individual of the species Teratophoneus curriei.

10/19/2017 02:30 PM
Flu simulations suggest pandemics more likely in spring, early summer
New statistical simulations suggest that Northern Hemisphere flu pandemics are most likely to emerge in late spring or early summer at the tail end of the normal flu season, according to a new study.

10/19/2017 02:30 PM
Gut bacteria from wild mice boost health in lab mice
Laboratory mice that are given the gut bacteria of wild mice can survive a deadly flu virus infection and fight colorectal cancer dramatically better than laboratory mice with their own gut bacteria, researchers report.

10/19/2017 02:30 PM
Evolution in your back garden: Great tits may be adapting their beaks to birdfeeders
A British enthusiasm for feeding birds may have caused UK great tits to have evolved longer beaks than their European counterparts, according to new research. The findings identify for the first time the genetic differences between UK and Dutch great tits which researchers were then able to link to longer beaks in UK birds.

10/19/2017 02:30 PM
H7N9 influenza is both lethal and transmissible in animal model for flu
In 2013, an influenza virus began circulating among poultry in China. It caused several waves of human infection and as of late July 2017, nearly 1,600 people had tested positive for avian H7N9. Nearly 40 percent of those infected had died. In 2017, a medical researcher received a sample of H7N9 virus isolated from a patient in China who had died of the flu. He and his research team subsequently began work to characterize and understand it.

10/19/2017 02:29 PM
Water striders illustrate evolutionary processes
How do new species arise and diversify in nature? Natural selection offers an explanation, but the genetic and environmental conditions behind this mechanism are still poorly understood. Researchers have just figured out how water striders (family Veliidae) of the genus Rhagovelia developed fan-like structures at the tips of their legs. These structures allow them to move upstream against the current, a feat beyond the abilities of other water striders that don't have fans.

10/19/2017 02:27 PM
Gut bacterium indirectly causes symptoms by altering fruit fly microbiome
CagA, a protein produced by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, can alter the population of microbes living in the fruit fly gut, leading to disease symptoms, according to new research.

10/19/2017 10:10 AM
A mosquito's secret weapon: a light touch and strong wings
How do mosquitoes land and take off without our noticing? Using high-speed video cameras, researchers have found part of the answer: mosquitoes' long legs allow them to slowly and gently push off, but their wings provide the majority of the lift, even when fully laden with a blood meal. For comparison, mosquitoes push off with forces much less than those of an escaping fruit fly.

10/19/2017 10:10 AM
Maintaining fish biomass the key to conserving reef fish biodiversity
A new study has found that conserving fish diversity in Madagascar's coral reef systems may depend on maintaining fish biomass above critical levels.

10/19/2017 10:10 AM
Declining baby songbirds need forests to survive drought
A new study aimed to identify characteristics that promote healthy wood thrush populations on US Department of Defense land.

10/19/2017 10:10 AM
Scientists see order in complex patterns of river deltas
River deltas, with their intricate networks of waterways, coastal barrier islands, wetlands and estuaries, often appear to have been formed by random processes, but scientists see order in the apparent chaos.

10/19/2017 10:10 AM
Researchers watch in real time as fat-encased drug nanoparticles invade skin cells
A new study describes the use of cutting-edge microscopy technology to visualize how liposomes escape from blood vessels into surrounding cells in a living mouse, offering clues that may help researchers design better drug delivery systems.

10/19/2017 10:10 AM
Scientists pinpoint jealousy in the monogamous mind
Scientists find that in male titi monkeys, jealousy is associated with heightened activity in the cingulate cortex, an area of the brain associated with social pain in humans, and the lateral septum, associated with pair bond formation in primates. A better understanding of jealousy may provide important clues on how to approach health and welfare problems such as addiction and domestic violence, as well as autism.

10/19/2017 10:09 AM
Fossil coral reefs show sea level rose in bursts during last warming
Scientists have discovered that Earth's sea level did not rise steadily when the planet's glaciers last melted during a period of global warming; rather, sea level rose sharply in punctuated bursts.

10/19/2017 10:09 AM
Dogs are more expressive when someone is looking
Dogs produce more facial expressions when humans are looking at them, according to new research.

10/19/2017 10:09 AM
Superbug's artillery revealed: nanomachine secretes toxins
Researchers have created the first high-resolution structure depicting a crucial part of the 'superbug' Pseudomonas aeruginosa, classified by the WHO as having the highest level threat to human health. The image identifies the 'nanomachine' used by the highly virulent bacteria to secrete toxins, pointing the way for drug design targeting this.

10/19/2017 10:09 AM
Living mulch builds profits, soil
Living mulch functions like mulch on any farm or garden except -- it's alive. No, it's not out of the latest horror movie; living mulch is a system farmers can use to benefit both profits and the soil. While the system has been around for a while, scientists are making it more efficient and sustainable.

10/19/2017 10:09 AM
More than 75 percent decrease in total flying insect biomass over 27 years across Germany
The total flying insect biomass decreased by more than 75 percent over 27 years in protected areas in Germany, according to a new study.

10/19/2017 10:08 AM
Salmon sex linked to geological change
It turns out that sex can move mountains. Researchers have found that the mating habits of salmon can alter the profile of stream beds, affecting the evolution of an entire watershed. The study is one of the first to quantitatively show that salmon can influence the shape of the land.

10/19/2017 10:08 AM
Ice stream retreats under a cold climate
Warmer ocean surface triggered the ice retreat during The Younger Dryas.

10/18/2017 03:18 PM
New light shed on early turquoise mining in Southwest
Researchers are blending archaeology and geochemistry to get a more complete picture of turquoise's mining and distribution in the pre-Hispanic Southwest.

10/18/2017 03:18 PM
Obesity: Engineered proteins lower body weight in mice, rats and primates
Researchers have created engineered proteins that lowered body weight, bloodstream insulin, and cholesterol levels in obese mice, rats, and primates.

10/18/2017 01:32 PM
Duplications of noncoding DNA may have affected evolution of human-specific traits
Duplications of large segments of noncoding DNA in the human genome may have contributed to the emergence of differences between humans and nonhuman primates, according to new results. Identifying these duplications, which include regulatory sequences, and their effect on traits and behavior may help scientists explain genetic contributions to human disease.

10/18/2017 01:32 PM
Understanding the coevolving web of life as a network
Coevolution, which occurs when species interact and adapt to each other, is often studied in the context of pair-wise interactions between mutually beneficial symbiotic partners. But many species have mutualistic interactions with multiple partners, leading to complex networks of interacting species.

10/18/2017 01:29 PM
Nature or nurture? Innate social behaviors in the mouse brain
The brain circuitry that controls innate, or instinctive, behaviors such as mating and fighting was thought to be genetically hardwired. Not so, neuroscientists now say.

10/18/2017 01:28 PM
Petals produce a 'blue halo' that helps bees find flowers
Latest research has found that several common flower species have nanoscale ridges on the surface of their petals that meddle with light when viewed from certain angles.

10/18/2017 12:17 PM
Illinois sportfish recovery a result of 1972 Clean Water Act, scientists report
Populations of largemouth bass, bluegill, catfish and other sportfish are at the highest levels recorded in more than a century in the Illinois River, according to a new report. Their dramatic recovery, from populations close to zero near Chicago throughout much of the 20th century, began just after implementation of the Clean Water Act, the researchers say.

10/18/2017 11:35 AM
DNA tests on albatross excrement reveal secret diet of top predator
A study that used DNA tests to analyse the scats of one of the world's most numerous albatrosses has revealed surprising results about the top predator's diet. DNA analysis of 1460 scats from breeding sites around the Southern Ocean has shown that the diet of black-browed albatrosses contains a much higher proportion of jellyfish than previously thought.

10/18/2017 11:35 AM
Competing forces: How molecules maintain their structure
A double helix twisted around itself: this is the distinctive structure of DNA, which is made up of large molecules. Using synthetically produced molecules, chemists and physicists have investigated the forces which are at work inside the molecule to give it its three-dimensional structure.

10/18/2017 11:35 AM
Ancient, lost, mountains in the Karoo reveals the secrets of massive extinction event
A researcher studied the fossil-rich sediments present in the Karoo, deposited during the tectonic events that created the Gondwanides, and found that the vertebrate animals in the area started to either go extinct or become less common much earlier than what was previously thought.

10/18/2017 11:35 AM
Hardy corals make their moves to build new reefs from scratch
Resilient species of coral can move to inhospitable areas and lay the foundations for new reefs, a study shows.

10/18/2017 11:35 AM
Death by a thousand cuts? Not for small populations
New research provides a look at how certain species survive by evolving a greater ability to weed out harmful mutations -- a new concept called 'drift robustness'.

10/18/2017 11:35 AM
Stiff fibers spun from slime
Nanoparticles from the secretion of velvet worms form recyclable polymer fibers.

10/18/2017 11:35 AM
Turning brain cells into skin cells
A new study reveals that it is possible to repurpose the function of different mature cells across the body and harvest new tissue and organs from these cells.

10/18/2017 11:35 AM
Life in the city: Living near a forest keeps your amygdala healthier
A new study examined the relationship between the availability of nature near city dwellers' homes and their brain health. Its findings are relevant for urban planners among others.

10/18/2017 11:35 AM
Reducing power plants' freshwater consumption with new silica filter
Power plants draw more freshwater than any other consumer in the United States, accounting for more than 50 percent of the nation's freshwater use at about 500 billion gallons daily. To help save this water, researchers have developed a new silica filter for power plant cooling waters that decreases the amount of freshwater power plants consume by increasing the number of times cooling tower water can be reused and recycled.

10/18/2017 09:16 AM
The puzzle to plugging the worst natural gas release in history
By the time scientists visited the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility in December 2015, the SS-25 well blowout had been leaking natural gas into the air for more than six weeks. The notoriously strong winds at Aliso Canyon carried the natural gas and its added odorant to the nearby Porter Ranch neighborhood, leading to thousands of families evacuating their homes.

10/18/2017 09:12 AM
Ancient preen oil: Researchers discover 48-million-year-old lipids in a fossil bird
As a rule, soft parts do not withstand the ravages of time; hence, the majority of vertebrate fossils consist only of bones. Under these circumstances, a new discovery from the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Messel Pit” near Darmstadt in Germany comes as an even bigger surprise: a 48-million-year old skin gland from a bird, containing lipids of the same age. The oldest lipids ever recorded in a fossil vertebrate were used by the bird to preen its plumage.

10/18/2017 09:11 AM
Gene therapy can cure lameness in horses, research finds
Injecting DNA into injured horse tendons and ligaments can cure lameness, new research has found.

10/18/2017 09:11 AM
Space greens beat the blues
Where people will go in the cosmos, plants will go, say researchers. Plants may also play a key role in maintaining the psychological well-being of space crews. The next frontier of space plant experimentation is to examine the psychological impact of plant life on astronauts.

10/18/2017 09:02 AM
Yeast spotlights genetic variation's link to drug resistance
Researchers have shown that genetic diversity plays a key role in enabling drug resistance to evolve. Scientists show that high genetic diversity can prime new mutations that cause drug resistance. The study has implications for our understanding of the evolution of resistance to antimicrobial and anticancer drugs.

10/18/2017 09:02 AM
Arsenic in domestic well water could affect 2 million people in the US
Clean drinking water can be easy to take for granted if your home taps into treated water sources. But more than 44 million people in the U.S. get their water from private domestic wells, which are largely unregulated. Of those, a new report estimates that about 2 million people could be exposed to high levels of naturally occurring arsenic in their water.

10/18/2017 09:02 AM
New Amazon threat? Deforestation from mining
Sprawling mining operations in Brazil have caused roughly 10 percent of all Amazon rainforest deforestation between 2005 and 2015 -- much higher than previous estimates -- says the first comprehensive study of mining deforestation in the iconic tropical rainforest. Surprisingly, the majority of mining deforestation (a full 90%) occurred outside the mining leases granted by Brazil's government, the new study finds.

10/18/2017 09:02 AM
Healthy coral populations produce a surprising number of offspring
Healthy coral populations can produce up to 200 times more juvenile corals than degraded coral populations nearby, according to a new study.

10/18/2017 08:56 AM
Nice ice, maybe: Study finds water-repelling surfaces ease ice removal
A new study has discovered that ice grows differently on water-absorbent vs. water-repellent surfaces. The research suggests that applying water-repellent coatings to windshields before winter storms -- or engineering surfaces that inherently repel water -- could enable a strong breeze to handle the burden of ice removal.

10/17/2017 04:37 PM
'Wasabi receptor' for pain discovered in flatworms
A research team has discovered how scalding heat and tissue injury activate an ancient 'pain' receptor in simple animals. The findings, from a study of flatworms, could lead to new strategies for analgesic drug design for the treatment of humans. That planarian flatworms use the same molecular receptor as flies, mice and humans to detect potentially damaging or noxious stimuli from the environment shows a remarkable level of evolutionary conservation, the researchers say.

10/17/2017 04:36 PM
Chocolate production linked to increased deforestation in poor nations
Newly published research focuses on the link between cocoa exports and deforestation in developing nations.

10/17/2017 03:31 PM
Amazonian hunters deplete wildlife but don't empty forests
Conservationists can be 'cautiously optimistic' about the prospect of sustainable subsistence hunting by Amazonian communities, according to new research. The research team spent over a year working with 60 Amazonian communities and hiked for miles through trackless forests to deploy nearly 400 motion-activated camera traps -- in a bid to understand which species are depleted by hunting and where.

10/17/2017 03:29 PM
Fighting fires before they spark
With warm, dry summers comes a deadly caveat for the western United States: wildfires. Scientists say the hot, dry climates found west of the Mississippi, along with decades of fire suppression efforts, are creating a devastating and destructive combination -- leading to fires like the ones currently burning in California. Now, new research is giving forest and fire management teams across the country the upper hand in reducing the severity of these events.

10/17/2017 12:43 PM
Study reshapes understanding of climate change's impact on early societies
A new study linking paleoclimatology -- the reconstruction of past global climates -- with historical analysis shows a link between environmental stress and its impact on the economy, political stability, and war-fighting capacity of ancient Egypt.

10/17/2017 12:42 PM
Assessment shows metagenomics software has much room for improvement
A recent critical assessment of software tools represents a key step toward taming the 'Wild West' nature of the burgeoning field of metagenomics.

10/17/2017 11:43 AM
Scientists determine source of world's largest mud eruption
More than 11 years after the Lusi mud volcano first erupted on the Indonesian island of Java, researchers may have figured out why the mudflows haven't stopped: deep underground, Lusi is connected to a nearby volcanic system.

10/17/2017 11:43 AM
Study shows how water could have flowed on 'cold and icy' ancient Mars
Research by planetary scientists finds that periodic melting of ice sheets on a cold early Mars would have created enough water to carve the ancient valleys and lakebeds seen on the planet today.

10/17/2017 11:43 AM
Tropical beetles face extinction threat
Climate change is putting many tropical high altitude beetles at risk of extinction, warn an international team of scientists.

10/17/2017 11:43 AM
A new way to harness wasted methane
Scientists have identified a process that could be used to harness methane that is now wasted by being burned off at wellheads.

10/17/2017 11:01 AM
Single cell level sorting technology uses sound waves
Researchers have developed a highly accurate single cell sorting technology using focused sound waves. This new technology enables rapid and accurate isolation of single cells from complex biological samples, which will facilitate the broad application of single cell analysis toward precision medicine.

10/17/2017 11:01 AM
Scientists create most powerful micro-scale bio-solar cell yet
Researchers have created a micro-scale biological solar cell that generates a higher power density for longer than any existing cell of its kind.

10/17/2017 11:01 AM
Domestication has not made dogs cooperate more with each other compared to wolves
Following domestication, dogs should be more tolerant and cooperative with conspecifics and humans compared to wolves. But looking at both in more naturalistic living conditions, however, speaks for more cooperative behavior of wolves. Researchers now show that the wild ancestors are excelling their domesticated relatives in teamwork. In an experimental approach dogs but not wolves failed to cooperatively pull the two ends of a rope to obtain a piece of food.

10/17/2017 11:01 AM
Looking for microbe 'fingerprints' on simulated Martian rocks
Scientists are searching for unique bio-signatures left on synthetic extraterrestrial minerals by microbial activity. A new paper describes investigations into these signatures at a miniaturized 'Mars farm' where researchers can observe interactions between the archaeon Metallosphaera sedula and Mars-like rocks. These microbes are capable of oxidizing and integrating metals into their metabolism.

10/17/2017 11:00 AM
Electroplating: The birth of a single nucleus caught in camera
Electroplating, or electrodeposition, is one of the most important processes in chemistry, in which a metal cation in solution can be reduced to its elemental form by applying an electrical potential to an electrode.