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New species of tyrannosaur, Daspletosaurus wilsoni, hints at ancestor of T. rex

The new specimen, "Sisyphus", is one of four tyrannosaur skeletons recently collected by Badlands Dinosaur Museum. Here the four tyrannosaurs dispute ownership of the fresh carcass of a Centrosaurus. Image courtesy: Rudolf Hima & Badlands Dinosaur Museum.

DICKINSON, ND.- Tyrannosaurids, the family of dinosaurs that includes T. rex, has been known from North America and Asia for over a century, yet many details of their evolutionary history remain unclear. Since the 1990s, debate has surrounded Daspletosaurus, a large tyrannosaurid known from Montana and Alberta, which has been proposed to be an ancestor of T. rex itself. Reconstructing the evolutionary relationships of Daspletosaurus has been hampered by the rarity of good specimens, and many researchers disagree as to whether these tyrannosaurids represent a single lineage evolving in place, or several closely related species that do not descend from one another. In research published in PeerJ, Elías Warshaw and Denver Fowler report the discovery of a new species of Daspletosaurus from Montana: Daspletosaurus wilsoni, found in rocks intermediate in age between other tyrannosaurs found in the region. The new species displays a mix of features found in more primitive tyrannosaurs from older rocks, like ... More

An ecological rule breaker shows the effects of climate change on body size   Unique features of octopus create 'an entirely new way of designing a nervous system'   Study finds that big rains eventually bring big algae blooms

The Northern Treeshrew defies two of the most widely tested ecological “rules” of body size variation within species, a new study finds. Image courtesy: Cymothoa exigua.

NEW HAVEN, CT.- The Northern Treeshrew, a small, bushy-tailed mammal native to South and Southeast Asia, defies two of the most widely tested ecological “rules” of body size variation within species, according to a new study coauthored by Yale anthropologist Eric J. Sargis. The unexpected finding, researchers say, may be attributable to climate change — the body size rules reversed in Northern Treeshrews as average temperatures climbed — and likely exists in other species. The first-of-its-kind study, published Nov. 29 in the journal Scientific Reports, found that the Northern Treeshrew (Tupaia belangeri) breaks both Bergmann’s rule and the island rule. The former describes a common pattern wherein individuals of a warm-blooded species inhabiting colder climates — generally located at higher latitudes — have larger average body sizes than those in warmer climates, which are usually at lower latitudes. The latter pre ... More

A horizontal a slice at the base of the arms (labeled as A) showing the oral INCs (labeled as O) converging and crossing. Image courtesy: Current Biology (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2022.11.007.

CHICAGO, IL.- Octopuses are not much like humans—they are invertebrates with eight arms, and more closely related to clams and snails. Still, they have evolved complex nervous systems with as many neurons as in the brains of dogs, and are capable of a wide array of complicated behaviors. In the eyes of Melina Hale, Ph.D., and other researchers in the field, this means they provide a great opportunity to explore how alternative nervous system structures can serve the same basic functions of limb sensation and movement. Now, in a new study published on November 28 in Current Biology, Hale, William Rainey Harper Professor of Organismal Biology and Vice Provost at UChicago, and her colleagues have described something new and totally unexpected about the octopus nervous system: a structure by which the intramuscular nerve cords (INCs), which help the animal sense its arm movement, connect arms on the opposite sides of the animal. The startling ... More

Center for Limnology system engineer Mark Gahler, right, co-author of a new study on the relationship between big storms and algae blooms, and colleague Jonathon Thom collect Lake Mendota data from instruments aboard David Buoy.

MADISON, WI.- In the lake-rich regions of the world, algae blooms are a growing problem. Not only are the floating green scums a nuisance for anyone hoping to enjoy the water, they can turn toxic and threaten public health. The main driver behind these blooms is phosphorus, an element used widely in agriculture to fertilize crops, that can run from the land and into lakes—especially during heavy rains. A new study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison shows how soon after a storm phosphorous "loading" sparks algae explosions, but also describes the many other factors that weigh on when and whether the lake reaches a tipping point. "The fact that you just had a big storm doesn't mean now you're going to get a big [algae] bloom. The blooms are much more complicated." says Steve Carpenter, lead author of a report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences. Carpenter, director emeritus at UW-Madison's Center for Limnol ... More

To track disease-carrying mosquitoes, researchers tag them with DNA barcodes   Rock samples from the floor of Jezero Crater show significant contact with water together with possible organic compound   Swimming habits of gelatinous animals could inspire underwater vehicle design

The researchers at a field site in Fort Collins, Colorado collecting mosquitoes for analysis. Image courtesy: Rebekah Kading/Colorado State University.

FORT COLLINS, CO.- West Nile, Zika, dengue and malaria are all diseases spread by bites from infected mosquitoes. To track the threat of such diseases over large populations, scientists need to know where the mosquitoes are, where they've been, and where they might go. But take it from Rebekah Kading, a Colorado State University researcher who studies mosquito-borne arboviruses: tracking mosquitoes is no easy task. The capture, tagging and release of single mosquitoes—as is commonly done with bats and other disease carriers—would be ridiculous, if not impossible. A common mosquito-tracking technique involves dousing the insects in fluorescent powder and letting them fly away, but the practice is error-prone and unreliable. Thanks to a collaboration with CSU engineers, Kading and colleagues are now introducing a better way to perform mosquito-tracking for disease applications. Their new method, which involves getting larval mosquitoes to e ... More

A photo of Jezero Crater on Mars. It was taken by instruments on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), which regularly takes images of potential landing sites for future missions. Image courtesy: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/JHU-APL.

PASADENA, CA.- Analysis of multiple rocks found at the bottom of Jezero Crater on Mars, where the Perseverance rover landed in 2020, reveals significant interaction between the rocks and liquid water, according to a study publishing on November 24 in Science. Those rocks also contain evidence consistent with the presence of organic compounds. The existence of organic compounds (chemical compounds with carbon–hydrogen bonds) is not direct evidence of life, as these compounds can be created through nonbiological processes. Perseverance previously found organic compounds at Jezero's delta. Deltas are fan-shaped geologic formations created at the intersection of a river and a lake at the edge of the crater. Mars 2020 mission scientists had been particularly interested in the Jezero delta because such formations are created when a river transporting fine-grained sediments enter a deeper, slower-moving body of water. As the river water spreads out, it abruptly slows down, depositing the sediments it i ... More

Nanomia bijuga, a marine animal related to jellyfish, swims via jet propulsion. Image courtesy: Sutherland Lab.

EUGENE, OR.- A gelatinous sea creature could teach engineers a lesson or two. Nanomia bijuga, a marine animal related to jellyfish, swims via jet propulsion. A dozen or more squishy structures on its body pump water backwards to push the animal forward. And it can control these jets individually, either syncing them up or pulsing them in sequence. These two different swimming styles let the animal prioritize speed or energy efficiency, depending on its current needs, a team of University of Oregon researchers found. The discovery could inform underwater vehicle design, helping scientists to build more robust vehicles that can perform well under a variety of conditions. The UO team, led by marine biologist Kelly Sutherland and postdoctoral researcher Kevin Du Clos, report their findings in a paper publishing November 28 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "Most animals can either move quickly or in a way that's energetically effi ... More

Bats growl like death metal singers and Mongolian throat singers   Baby star 'burps' tell tales of frantic feeding, NASA data shows   Tropical wildlife follow the same daily patterns worldwide

Bat larynx inside. Image courtesy: University of Southern Denmark.

ODENSE.- Many animals produce sound to communicate with each other, and bats are no exception. But bats are extreme when it comes to sound production. Bats can produce a range of frequencies, also known as the vocal range, that far exceeds vertebrates, including humans. Researchers do not yet know the meaning of all their sounds and songs, but they are learning more and more about how all these sounds are made. Now a new study in the journal PLOS Biology reports that for some sounds, bats use the same technique as human death metal singers and throat singing members of the Tuva people in Siberia and Mongolia. The study comes from a research team at University of Southern Denmark, led by Professor Coen Elemans, Department of Biology. The team has for the first time filmed what goes on in a bat's larynx when it produces sound. "We identified for the first time what physical structures within the larynx oscillate to make their different vocalizat ... More

Space telescope images captured in infrared light reveal otherwise unseen details, as in this image of star-forming regions in the Orion Nebula. Image courtesy: ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech.

PASADENA, CA.- The youngest stars often shine in bright bursts as they consume material from surrounding disks. Newborn stars “feed” at a furious rate and grow through surprisingly frequent feeding frenzies, a recent analysis of data from NASA’s retired Spitzer Space Telescope shows. Outbursts from stellar babies at the earliest stage of development – when they’re about 100,000 years old, or the equivalent of a 7-hour-old infant – occur roughly every 400 years, the analysis found. These eruptions of luminosity are signs of feeding binges as the young, growing stars devour material from the disks of gas and dust that surround them. “When you’re watching star formation, clouds of gas collapse to form a star,” said University of Toledo astronomer Tom Megeath. “It’s literally the process of star creation in real time.” Megeath is a co-author of the study, which was published earlier this year in the Astrophysical Journal Letters and led by Wafa ... More

Lydia Beaudrot. Image courtesy: Jeff Fitlow/Rice University.

HOUSTON, TX.- How do animals in the wild use their time? A researcher at Rice University is part of a new study that shows what motivates the daily ramble of tropical populations. The study by an international team that includes Rice bioscientist Lydia Beaudrot and is led by Andrea Vallejo-Vargas, a graduate student at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences and currently a visiting scholar at Rice, found that communities of mammals across the wet tropics divide their days in similar ways, all generally geared toward finding their next meal. (Or avoiding being the next meal.) Using millions of images from camera trap networks in 16 protected forests around the world, they examined the relationship of mammal activities to body sizes and feeding routines to find common characteristics among diverse populations. Their open-access study in Nature Communications confirms that despite their diversity, similar patterns dominate the days of wildlife in A ... More

Gut microbes influence binge-eating of sweet treats in mice   Novel device detects COVID-19 antibodies in five minutes   Novel sex-determination mechanism revealed in mammals

Sarkis Mazmanian. Image courtesy: Caltech.

PASADENA, CA.- We have all been there. You just meant to have a single Oreo as a snack, but then you find yourself going back for another, and another, and before you know it, you have finished off the entire package even though you were not all that hungry to begin with. But before you start feeling too guilty for your gluttony, consider this: It might not be entirely your fault. Now, new research in mice shows that specific gut bacteria may suppress binge eating behavior. Oreos and other desserts are examples of so-called "palatable foods"—food consumed for hedonistic pleasure, not simply out of hunger or nutritional need. Humans are not alone in enjoying this kind of hedonism: Mice like to eat dessert, too. Even when they have just eaten, they will still consume sugary snacks if available. The new Caltech study shows that the absence of certain gut bacteria causes mice to binge eat palatable foods: Mice with microbiotas disrupted by oral ... More

Illustration of the structure of zinc oxide modified with the spike protein and its interaction with antibodies in the sample. The novel method detects COVID-19 antibodies in five minutes. Image courtesy: Karin Regina Leite de Oliveira/DK design.

SAO PAULO.- Rapid, cheap and accurate tests continue to be essential for epidemiological surveillance and for health services to monitor and contain the spread of SARS-CoV-2. Brazilian scientists have contributed to endeavors in this field by developing an electrochemical immunosensor that detects antibodies against the virus. The innovation is described in an article published recently in the journal ACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering. In search of a novel diagnostic method, the group opted for a material frequently used in metallurgy—zinc oxide—and combined it for the first time with fluorine-doped tin oxide (FTO) glass, a conductive material used in electrodes for photovoltaics and other advanced applications. "With this unusual combination and the addition of a biomolecule, the viral spike protein, we developed a surface capable of detecting antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. The result is displayed as an electrochemical signal captured by this surface," said chemist Wendel Alves, ... More

Amami spiny rat. Image courtesy: Asato Kuroiwa.

SAPPORO.- In mammals, the distinction between male and female at the chromosomal level is due to the X and Y chromosomes. Typically, females have two X chromosomes (XX) while males have an X and a Y chromosome (XY). The Sry gene on the Y chromosome triggers the formation of the testes. However, there exist a handful of rodent species in which the Y chromosome has disappeared, taking with it the Sry gene. The mechanism by which testes development occurs in these species is not fully understood, and is the subject of much research. A team of researchers led by Professor Asato Kuroiwa at Hokkaido University has uncovered the genetic basis for sexual differentiation in the Amami spiny rat, one of the species that lacks a Y chromosome and the Sry gene. Their discoveries were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The Amami spiny rat is an endangered rodent found only on Amami Oshima, Japan. It is one of ... More

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Nanoengineers develop a predictive database for materials
SAN DIEGO, CA.- Nanoengineers at the University of California San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering have developed an AI algorithm that predicts the structure and dynamic properties of any material—whether existing or new—almost instantaneously. Known as M3GNet, the algorithm was used to develop, a database of more than 31 million yet-to-be-synthesized materials with properties predicted by machine learning algorithms. facilitates the discovery of new technological materials with exceptional properties. The team behind M3GNet, led by UC San Diego nanoengineering professor Shyue Ping Ong, uses and the new capabilities of M3GNet in their search for safer and more energy-dense electrodes and electrolytes for rechargeable lithium-ion ... More

How to fire projectiles through materials without breaking anything
VIENNA.- When charged particles are shot through ultra-thin layers of material, sometimes spectacular micro-explosions occur, and sometimes the material remains almost intact. The reasons for this have now been explained by researchers at the TU Wien. It sounds a bit like a magic trick: Some materials can be shot through with fast, electrically charged ions without exhibiting holes afterwards. What would be impossible at the macroscopic level is allowed at the level of individual particles. However, not all materials behave the same in such situations—in recent years, different research groups have conducted experiments with very different results. At the TU Wien (Vienna, Austria), it has now been possible to find a detailed explanation of why some materials are perforated and others are not. This is int ... More

A life-inspired system that dynamically adjusts to its environment
ESPOO.- Researchers have developed a synthetic system that responds to environmental changes in the same way as living organisms, using a feedback loop to maintain its internal conditions. This not only keeps the material's conditions stable but also makes it possible to build mechanisms that react dynamically to their environment, an important trait for interactive materials and soft robotics. Living systems, from individual cells up to organisms, use feedback systems to maintain their conditions. For example, we sweat to cool down when we're too warm, and a variety of systems work to keep our blood pressure and chemistry in the right range. These homeostatic systems make living organisms robust by enabling them to cope with changes in their environment. While feedback is important in some a ... More

AI facilitates breakthrough in sinonasal cancer diagnostics
MUNICH.- Although tumors in the nasal cavity and the paranasal sinus are confined to a small space, they encompass a very broad spectrum with many tumor types. As they often do not exhibit any specific pattern or appearance, they are difficult to diagnose. This applies especially to so-called sinonasal undifferentiated carcinomas (SNUCs). Now a team led by Dr. Philipp Jurmeister and Prof. Frederick Klauschen from the Institute of Pathology at LMU and Prof. David Capper from Charité University Hospital as well as the German Cancer Consortium (DKTK) ), partner sites Munich and Berlin, has achieved a decisive improvement in diagnostics. The team developed an AI tool that reliably distinguishes tumors on the basis of chemical DNA modifications and assigns the SNUCs, which the methods available befo ... More

Astronomers see stellar self-control in action
WASHINGTON, DC.- Many factors can limit the size of a group, including external ones that members have no control over. Astronomers have found that groups of stars in certain environments, however, can regulate themselves. A new study has revealed stars in a cluster having "self-control," meaning that they allow only a limited number of stars to grow before the biggest and brightest members expel most of the gas from the system. This process should drastically slow down the birth of new stars, which would better align with astronomers' predictions for how quickly stars form in clusters. A paper describing these results appeared in the Aug. 20 issue of The Astrophysical Journal and is available online. This study combines data from several telescopes including NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, NASA ... More

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On a day like today, Nobel Prize laureate Gustaf Dalén was born
December 30, 1869. Nils Gustaf Dalén (30 November 1869 - 9 December 1937) was a Swedish Nobel Laureate and industrialist, engineer, inventor and long-term CEO of the AGA company and inventor of the AGA cooker and the Dalén light. In 1912 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his "invention of automatic regulators for use in conjunction with gas accumulators for illuminating lighthouses and buoys". Initially Dalén worked with acetylene (IUPAC: ethyne), a flammable and sometimes explosive hydrocarbon gas. Dalén invented Agamassan (Aga), a substrate used to absorb the gas allowing safe storage and hence commercial exploitation. Acetylene produced an ultra-bright white light which superseded the less bright LPG as the fuel of choice for lighthouse illumination. Dalén exploited the new fuel, developing the Dalén light which incorporated another invention, the sun valve.


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