Top Environment News -- ScienceDaily

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

12/15/2017 02:33 PM
Drinking hot tea every day linked to lower glaucoma risk
Drinking a cup of hot tea at least once a day may be linked to a significantly lower risk of developing the serious eye condition, glaucoma, finds a small study.

12/15/2017 01:51 PM
Nanodiscs catch misfolding proteins red-handed
When proteins misfold, accumulate and clump around insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, they kill cells. Now, researchers have obtained a structural snapshot of these proteins when they are most toxic, detailing them down to the atomic level.

12/15/2017 01:51 PM
Complex, old-growth forests may protect some bird species in a warming climate
Old forests that contain large trees and a diversity of tree sizes and species may offer refuge to some types of birds facing threats in a warming climate, scientists have found.

12/15/2017 12:47 PM
Genetic instructions from mom set the pattern for embryonic development
A new study indicates an essential role for a maternally inherited gene in embryonic development. The study found that zebrafish that failed to inherit specific genetic instructions from mom developed fatal defects earlier in development, even if the fish could make their own version of the gene.

12/15/2017 12:10 PM
How much soil goes down the drain: New data on soil lost due to water
According to a new study, almost 36 billion tons of soil is lost every year due to water, and deforestation and other changes in land use make the problem worse. The study also offers ideas on how agriculture can change to become a part of the solution from being part of the problem.

12/15/2017 12:10 PM
Heavy-petroleum fuels raising vanadium emissions
Human emissions of the potentially harmful trace metal vanadium into Earth's atmosphere have spiked sharply since the start of the 21st century due in large part to industry's growing use of heavy oils, tar sands, bitumen and petroleum coke for energy, a new Duke study finds. These emissions now exceed those from all natural sources combined. Growing evidence suggests exposure to vanadium-rich aerosols can impair respiratory functions and exacerbate conditions such as asthma or COPD.

12/15/2017 11:16 AM
Genetic study uncovers fungal sex secrets, which shed light on candidiasis
A new genetic analysis of fungal yeast infections (candidiasis) from around the world has revealed surprising secrets about how these microbes reproduce and cause disease, according to a new study.

12/15/2017 10:53 AM
Exposure to larger air particles linked to increased risk of asthma in children
Researchers report statistical evidence that children exposed to airborne coarse particulate matter — a mix of dust, sand and non-exhaust tailpipe emissions, such as tire rubber — are more likely to develop asthma and need emergency room or hospital treatment for it than unexposed children.

12/15/2017 10:51 AM
Committed to relatives: Hounds and wolves share their parasites
Grey wolves, as all wild animals, are hosts to a variety of parasites. The presence of grey wolves in German forests has little influence on the parasite burden of hunting dogs, according to a new study.

12/15/2017 10:51 AM
The locomotion of hominins in the Pleistocene was just as efficient as that of current humans
Researchers have analyzed the influence of body proportions on the cost of locomotion by means of an experimental energetic study with 46 subjects of both sexes, whose results indicate that the walk of Pleistocene hominins was no less efficient energetically than that of current humans.

12/15/2017 09:45 AM
Indonesian island found to be unusually rich in cave paintings
A tiny Indonesian island, previously unexplored by archaeologists, has been found to be unusually rich in ancient cave paintings following a study.

12/15/2017 09:44 AM
Nanoparticles as a solution against antibiotic resistance?
Scientists have succeeded in developing an efficient method to treat mucoviscidosis. Crucial are nanoparticles that transport the antibiotics more efficiently to their destination. First of all, the active particles need to have a certain size to be able to reach the deeper airways and not to bounce off somewhere else before. Ultimately, they have to penetrate the thick layer of mucus on the airways as well as the lower layers of the bacteria biofilm.

12/14/2017 06:18 PM
Visitor patterns and emerging activities in Finish national parks revealed by social media posts
Social media data provide a reliable information to support decision-making in national parks.

12/14/2017 06:18 PM
First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control
Researchers successfully constructed a first-of-its-kind chemical oscillator that uses DNA components. DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

12/14/2017 04:40 PM
Horrific mating strategy appears to benefit both male and female redback spiders
A mating strategy among redback spiders where males seek out immature females appears to benefit both sexes, a new study has found.

12/14/2017 03:33 PM
MRSA risk at northeast Ohio beaches
A study conducted in 2015 shows a higher-than-expected prevalence of Staphylococcus aureus and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) at beaches around Lake Erie.

12/14/2017 03:33 PM
Valley fever cases see major spike in November, experts say
An uptick in reported cases of Valley fever indicates a likely sharp increase in infections next year. At the same time, federal clearance for a rapid assay test developed with assistance from the University of Arizona should help reduce delays in diagnosing the respiratory fungal disease caused by spores found in area soils.

12/14/2017 03:33 PM
Northeast farmers weigh warming climate, drenched fields
Farmers in the Northeast are adapting to longer growing seasons and warming climate conditions -- but they may face spring-planting whiplash as they confront fields increasingly saturated with rain, according to a research paper.

12/14/2017 03:33 PM
Conserving the forests
Certification programs are being reevaluated as options for sustaining tropical forests, explain scientists.

12/14/2017 03:33 PM
All politics -- and cannabis marketing -- are local
California's legal cannabis market, opening for business on Jan. 1, is expected to quickly grow to be the largest in the nation and worth more than $5 billion a year. County voting on Proposition 64 that led the state here -- to legalizing sales for recreational use -- can offer insight into how medical marijuana dispensaries will now market themselves.

12/14/2017 03:33 PM
Bioluminescent worm found to have iron superpowers
Researchers have made a discovery with potential human health impacts in a parchment tubeworm, found to have ferritin with the fastest catalytic performance ever described.

12/14/2017 03:33 PM
Mechanism identified of impaired dendritic cell function that weakens response to cancer
The mechanism implicated in the defective function of tumor-associated dendritic cells (DCs), a specialized type of immune cells that expose the antigens on their surface to activate the T cells, has now been revealed by researchers.

12/14/2017 03:33 PM
Hope for one of the world's rarest primates: First census of Zanzibar Red Colobus monkey
A team of scientists recently completed the first-ever range-wide population census of the Zanzibar red colobus monkey (Piliocolobus kirkii) an endangered primate found only on the Zanzibar archipelago off the coast of East Africa.

12/14/2017 03:33 PM
Revealing the best-kept secrets of proteins
A new approach for identifying important undiscovered functions of proteins has been revealed by a team of researchers.

12/14/2017 03:33 PM
Archaeologist finds world's oldest funereal fish hooks
The world's oldest known fish-hooks have been discovered placed in a burial ritual, found on Indonesia's Alor Island, northwest of East Timor.

12/14/2017 03:31 PM
New antbird species discovered in Peru
LSU describes a distinctive new species of antbird from humid montane forest of the Cordillera Azul, Martin Region, Peru.

12/14/2017 03:31 PM
Loose skin and 'slack volume' protect Hagfish from shark bites
New research shows how hagfishes survive an initial attack from predators before they release large volumes of slime to defend themselves. Because the slime is released after they are attacked, this defense strategy is only effective if they survive the initial bite. Results show that hagfish skin is not puncture resistant; it is both unattached and flaccid, which helps avoid internal damage from penetrating teeth.

12/14/2017 02:45 PM
To trade or not to trade? Breaking the ivory deadlock
The debate over whether legal trading of ivory should be allowed to fund elephant conservation, or banned altogether to stop poaching has raged for decades without an end in sight. Now, an international team is working to break the policy stalemate.

12/14/2017 02:45 PM
Effects of climate change could accelerate by mid-century
Environmental models are showing that the effects of climate change could be much stronger by the middle of the 21st century, and a number of ecosystem and weather conditions could consistently decline even more in the future.

12/14/2017 02:44 PM
NASA researchers share perspective on key elements of ozone layer recovery
Each year, ozone-depleting compounds in the upper atmosphere destroy the protective ozone layer, and in particular above Antarctica. While different compounds each release either reactive chlorine or bromine, the two active ozone-destroying ingredients, during a series of chemical reactions, the molecules have a range of different lifetimes in the atmosphere that can affect their ultimate impact on the ozone layer and its future recovery.

12/14/2017 02:21 PM
Newly declassified nuclear test videos released
Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) released 62 newly declassified videos today of atmospheric nuclear tests films that have never before been seen by the public.

12/14/2017 02:19 PM
Engineers program tiny robots to move, think like insects
While engineers have had success building tiny, insect-like robots, programming them to behave autonomously like real insects continues to present technical challenges. Engineers have recently been experimenting with a new type of programming that mimics the way an insect’s brain works, which could soon have people wondering if that fly on the wall is actually a fly.

12/14/2017 02:19 PM
Stressed-out worms hit the snooze button
When you catch a nasty cold, curling up in bed to sleep may be the only activity you can manage. Sleeping in response to stress isn't a uniquely human behavior: many other animals have the same reaction, and it's not clear why. While the circadian sleep that follows the pattern of the clock has been studied extensively, sleep that's triggered by stress is far less understood.

12/14/2017 02:18 PM
The peculiar cranial anatomy of howler monkeys
A new study analyzes the peculiar cranial structure and variability of the best-known species of South American howler monkey, Alouatta seniculus, using geometric models in three dimensions and multivariate statistics.

12/14/2017 02:09 PM
Tracking planned experiments online could spot ways to improve animal testing
An online database of study summaries could be systematically evaluated to uncover new information about animal testing, including potential targets for efforts to minimize harm to lab animals.

12/14/2017 02:09 PM
Researchers develop mouse model to study Pteroptine ortheovirus
In the past decade, the first cases of respiratory tract infection caused by bat-borne Pteropine ortheovirus (PRV) have been reporting in humans. To help shed light on the clinical course of PRV infection, researchers have now used a mouse model of the infection to study its virulence, pathology and pathogenesis.

12/14/2017 02:09 PM
Bioengineers imagine the future of vaccines and immunotherapy
In the not-too-distant future, nanoparticles delivered to a cancer patient's immune cells might teach the cells to destroy tumors. A flu vaccine might look and feel like applying a small, round bandage to your skin. These are examples of how innovative biomaterials could enhance vaccines against HIV and other infectious diseases and immunotherapies for patients with cancer or dampen responses in autoimmune disorders, allergies and transplanted organ recipients.

12/14/2017 02:08 PM
Scientists advance knowledge of plant reproduction
Two groups of plant molecular biologists have long studied how pollen tubes and pistils, the male and female parts of flowers, communicate to achieve fertilization in plants. Now they report that they have identified a pair of receptors essential to these communications as well as molecules that modulate the receptors' activity.

12/14/2017 02:08 PM
Coalition seeks to increase transparency on life science career prospects
Nine U.S. research universities and a major cancer institute today announced plans to give would-be life scientists clear, standardized data on graduate school admissions, education and training opportunities, and career prospects.

12/14/2017 02:07 PM
Allergens widespread in largest study of US homes
Allergens are widespread, but highly variable in U.S. homes, according to the nation's largest indoor allergen study to date. Researchers report that over 90 percent of homes had three or more detectable allergens, and 73 percent of homes had at least one allergen at elevated levels.

12/14/2017 02:07 PM
Clearing the air
A greater understanding of the dynamics of chemical reactions is leading to better models of atmospheric chemistry. Through this work, scientists are gaining insight into a key chemical able to break down some major air pollutants.

12/14/2017 02:04 PM
Sumatran rhinos never recovered from losses during the Pleistocene, genome evidence shows
An international team of researchers has sequenced and analyzed the first Sumatran rhino genome from a sample belonging to a male made famous at the Cincinnati Zoo. This study shows that the trouble for Sumatran rhinoceros populations began a long time ago, around the middle of the Pleistocene, about one million years ago.

12/14/2017 02:04 PM
To sleep or not: Researchers explore complex genetic network behind sleep duration
Scientists have identified differences in a group of genes they say might help explain why some people need a lot more sleep -- and others less -- than most. The study, conducted using fruit fly populations bred to model natural variations in human sleep patterns, provides new clues to how genes for sleep duration are linked to a wide variety of biological processes.

12/14/2017 10:18 AM
Climate scientists study the odds of a U.S. megadrought
To help untangle fact from speculation, scientists have developed a 'robust null hypothesis' to assess the odds of a megadrought -- one that lasts more than 30 years -- occurring in the western and southwestern United States.

12/14/2017 10:16 AM
That Feeling in Your Bones
Rainy weather has long been blamed for achy joints and back pain. Past research has yielded mixed results. New analysis tracking visits to the doctor with daily rainfall found no relationship between the two.

12/14/2017 10:15 AM
Researchers shine a spotlight on illegal wild orchid trade
Large-scale commercial trade of wild orchids is a pressing, but little-recognized conservation problem, according to researchers.

12/14/2017 10:13 AM
DNA: Supercoiling pushes molecular handcuffs along chromatin fibres
As it squeezes down the chromatin fiber, the cohesin protein complex extrudes a growing loop of DNA -- a bit like the quick-lacing system of trail-running shoes. But what is powering the movement of the protein? A team of scientists has found that the driving force could be the supercoiling of upstream DNA. Their research is thereby adding a key piece to the puzzle of gene expression regulation.

12/14/2017 10:12 AM
CT scans of Egyptian mummies reveal oldest known cases of breast cancer and multiple myeloma
An international team has discovered the world’s oldest known cases of breast cancer and multiple myeloma (a type of bone marrow cancer). The discoveries were made by conducting CT scans of two mummies found in the pharaonic necropolis of Qubbet el-Hawa in Aswan, Egypt.

12/14/2017 10:08 AM
Lizards of Oz take toll on turtle eggs
Goannas have overtaken foxes as the number one predator of the endangered loggerhead turtle at its second largest Queensland nesting beach. A new study has found that since feral red foxes were controlled in the 1980s, there has been an increase in the number goanna raids on loggerhead turtle nests at Wreck Rock beach, south of Agnes Waters.

12/14/2017 10:08 AM
Skye high impact: Geologists in Scotland discover a 60-million-year-old meteorite strike
Geologists exploring volcanic rocks on Scotland's Isle of Skye found something out-of-this-world instead: ejecta from a previously unknown, 60 million-year-old meteorite impact. The discovery, the first meteorite impact described within the British Paleogene Igneous Province (BPIP), opens questions about the impact and its possible connection to Paleogene volcanic activity across the North Atlantic.

12/14/2017 10:08 AM
Forty years after first Ebola outbreak, survivors show signs they can stave off new infection
Survivors of the first known Ebola outbreak, which occurred in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1976, may be key to development of vaccines and therapeutic drugs to treat future outbreaks. Researchers located the 14 Ebola survivors of the 1976 outbreak who, in January 2016, were still living in the same small, remote villages in the forests of the Équateur Province of northwestern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

12/14/2017 10:08 AM
Brittle Stars inspire new generation of robots able to adapt to physical damage
The invention of a robot made to adapt to unexpected physical damage is a significant breakthrough for machines made to function in tough environments.

12/14/2017 10:08 AM
Ancient genetic mutation helps explain origin of some human organs
A genetic mutation that occurred over 700 million years ago may have contributed to the development of certain organs in human beings and other vertebrates. This change, a random error in the evolutionary process, facilitated the connection of the gene networks involved in animal embryogenesis.

12/14/2017 10:07 AM
Tracing a plant's steps: Following seed dispersal using chloroplast DNA
Researchers have developed a new tool to sequence chloroplast DNA from hundreds of plants at once, to learn more about how plant populations move. This tool, CallHap, makes it cheaper and easier to sequence the chloroplast genomes of large numbers of plants and accurately track seed dispersal across landscapes.

12/14/2017 09:23 AM
Scientists develop new, rapid pipeline for antimicrobials
Antibodies are proteins produced by the human immune system to ward off foreign invaders. Our bodies mount this defense rapidly, especially if they have seen the invader before, producing the needed antibody within days of infection. But to make them in the lab, antibodies specific for just one invader can take months, and be an expensive proposition. New research looks at mimicking nature's approach while dramatically reducing the antimicrobial discovery and production time.

12/14/2017 09:23 AM
Synthetic protein packages its own genetic material and evolves
Scientists have created computationally designed protein assemblies, that display some functions normally associated with living things, in the search for ways to transport therapeutic cargo into specific types of cells without using viruses as vehicles. These encapsulate their own RNA genomes and evolve new traits in complex environments. They are synthetic versions of the protein shells that viruses use to protect and deliver materials. The synthetic proteins evolved better RNA packaging, resistance against degrading enzymes in blood and longer circulation time.

12/13/2017 10:01 PM
Mistletoe and (a large) wine: Seven-fold increase in wine glass size over 300 years
Our Georgian and Victorian ancestors probably celebrated Christmas with more modest wine consumption than we do today -- if the size of their wine glasses are anything to go by. Researchers have found that the capacity of wine glasses has increased seven-fold over the past 300 years, and most steeply in the last two decades as wine consumption rose.

12/13/2017 10:01 PM
Mapping the evolutionary history of a sugar gene
The gene CMAH, that allows for the synthesis of a sugar called Neu5Gc, is missing from humans. This sugar is present in red meats, some fish and dairy products. When humans consume an animal with that gene, the body has an immune reaction to the foreign sugar, which can cause inflammation, arthritis, and cancer. Researchers have analyzed 322 animal genome sequences looking for animals with the presence of active CMAH genes.

12/13/2017 10:01 PM
Scientists call for improved technologies to save imperiled California salmon
Scientists working to protect California's most endangered salmon say that key improvements in tracking Sacramento River winter-run Chinook through California's complex water delivery system would help recover the species while the water continues to flow.

12/13/2017 04:11 PM
Monkeys infected by mosquito bites further Zika virus research
Monkeys who catch Zika virus through bites from infected mosquitoes develop infections that look like human Zika cases, and may help researchers understand the many ways Zika can be transmitted.