Fresh analysis of a reptile fossil is helping scientists solve an evolutionary puzzle -- how snakes lost their limbs. The findings show snakes did not lose their limbs in order to live in the sea, as was previously suggested.
The 90 million-year-old skull is giving researchers vital clues about how snakes evolved. Comparisons between CT scans of the fossil and modern reptiles indicate that snakes lost their legs when their ancestors evolved to live and hunt in burrows, which many snakes still do today.
The findings show snakes did not lose their limbs in order to live in the sea, as was previously suggested.
Scientists used CT scans to examine the bony inner ear of Dinilysia patagonica, a 2-meter long reptile closely linked to modern snakes. These bony canals and cavities, like those in the ears of modern burrowing snakes, controlled its hearing and balance. They built 3D virtual models to compare the inner ears of the fossils with those of modern lizards and snakes. Researchers found a distinctive structure within the inner ear of animals that actively burrow, which may help them detect prey and predators. This shape was not present in modern snakes that live in water or above ground.
The findings help scientists fill gaps in the story of snake evolution, and confirm Dinilysia patagonica as the largest burrowing snake ever known. They also offer clues about a hypothetical ancestral species from which all modern snakes descended, which was likely a burrower.
H. Yi, M. A. Norell. The burrowing origin of modern snakes. Science Advances, 2015; 1 (10): e1500743 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1500743
"That's according to a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The large research team, led by Christopher A. Kennedy of the University of Toronto, examined how 27 "megacities" (metropolitan areas with more than 10 million people) metabolize resources and create waste. Together these monster cities consume 9.3 percent of the world's electricity and produce 12.6 percent of the world's waste—even though they contain only 6.7 percent of the world's population."
Lurking in the deep sea is a marine creature thought to be one of the world's largest sea anemones. But the animal, which has tentacles measuring more than 6 feet (2 meters) long, isn't an anemone but rather the first known organism in a new order of animals, according to new research. In doing so, they examined the DNA of Boloceroides daphneae — discovered in 2006 in the deep Pacific Ocean — and found the creature stood out as not fitting on the sea anemone tree of life at all. Researchers have now renamed the species Relicanthus daphneae, placing it into a new order (the equivalent of Carnivoria for mammals, Crocodilia for reptiles or Actiniaria for sea anemones) within the subclass Hexacorallia, which also includes anemones, black corals and stony corals.
For a class project, budding photographer Annalisa Hartlaub imagined herself as a teenager in every decade since the 1920's. In one photo she is mainstream and beside it she emulates the counter-culture of the time. And for all the photos, she filtered...
Most people who think they have the flu, don’t. And some people who think they have a cold, really have the flu. So what is the difference between a cold and the flu? And does it matter? A cold is a mild…
Short answer for the overwhelmed readers with little time on their hands: Yes, some do.
The process of stinging and dying is called autotomizing and only various honey bees are susceptible, not honey wasps or yellowjackets or the Honey Nut Cheerios bee. Here’s how it works: When the bee stings you, its stinging apparatus screws into your skin like a corkscrew. The bee is too weak to pull it out without tearing its abdomen apart. Interestingly, when the bee stings an animal or
"Virtually every family in the country, the research indicates, has been subject to overtesting and overtreatment in one form or another. The costs appear to take thousands of dollars out of the paychecks of every household each year. Researchers have come to refer to financial as well as physical “toxicities” of inappropriate care—including reduced spending on food, clothing, education, and shelter. Millions of people are receiving drugs that aren’t helping them, operations that aren’t going to make them better, and scans and tests that do nothing beneficial for them, and often cause harm."
Researchers have developed a new type of solar concentrator that when placed over a window creates solar energy while allowing people to actually see through the window. It is called a transparent luminescent solar concentrator and can be used on buildings, cell phones and any other device that has a flat, clear surface.
Research in the production of energy from solar cells placed around luminescent plastic-like materials is not new. These past efforts, however, have yielded poor results -- the energy production was inefficient and the materials were highly colored.
"No one wants to sit behind colored glass," said Lunt, an assistant professor of chemical engineering and materials science. "It makes for a very colorful environment, like working in a disco. We take an approach where we actually make the luminescent active layer itself transparent."
The solar harvesting system uses small organic molecules developed by Lunt and his team to absorb specific nonvisible wavelengths of sunlight. "We can tune these materials to pick up just the ultraviolet and the near infrared wavelengths that then 'glow' at another wavelength in the infrared," he said.
The "glowing" infrared light is guided to the edge of the plastic where it is converted to electricity by thin strips of photovoltaic solar cells. "Because the materials do not absorb or emit light in the visible spectrum, they look exceptionally transparent to the human eye," Lunt said.
Trevor Baker: It's the latest bonkers trend to come out of the viticulture industry – and although, yes, it's almost certainly nonsense, it's no stranger than a lot of ideas kicking around in the wine world,
A mysterious duck-like sound recorded in the ocean around Antarctica has baffled scientists for decades, but the source of the sound has finally been found, researchers say. "In the beginning, no one really knew what it was," said Denise Risch, a marine biologist at NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole, Mass. Because the sound was so repetitive, scientists first thought it might be human-made, possibly coming from submarines. The noises also occur seasonally, and have been heard simultaneously in the Eastern Weddell Sea off Antarctica and Western Australia. In February 2013, during the Southern Hemisphere's summer, Risch's colleagues tagged two Antarctic minke whales (Balaenoptera bonaerensis) off of Western Antarctica with suction-cup tags.
Talented Ukrainian nature photographer Vyacheslav Mishchenko has an eye for taking photos that bring small natural worlds up to our level, showing us how the world might look if we could see it through the eyes of an ant, snail or lizard. Mishchenko's interest with the miniature natural world ...
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