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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Whales and dolphins have rich ‘human-like’ cultures and societies

Whales and dolphins (cetaceans) live in tightly-knit social groups, have complex relationships, talk to each other and even have regional dialects -- much like human societies. A major new study has linked the complexity of Cetacean culture and behavior to the size of their brains.

Giant sea bass worth more alive as undersea wonders than as commercial catch

An investigation of the different economic values of giant sea bass finds they are worth more alive as undersea wonders than as commercial catch.

Gutters teem with inconspicuous life

Scientists have shown that Parisian street gutters are oases of microscopic life, home to microalgae, fungi, sponges, and mollusks. Grouped into communities, these microorganisms may help clean rainwater and urban waste by decomposing solid debris and pollutants. A deeper understanding of the role and composition of these communities could help elucidate the services rendered by gutter ecosystems. The researchers' findings are the first to reveal the unsuspected biodiversity of microscopic life in Paris city streets.

Worms reveal secrets of aging

Investigators have identified a new molecular pathway that controls lifespan and healthspan in worms and mammals. Researchers have shown that worms with excess levels of certain proteins lived longer and healthier than normal worms. In addition, mice with excess levels of these proteins demonstrated a delay in blood vessel dysfunction associated with aging. The study has major implications for our understanding of aging and age-associated disorders.

Atrazine alters the sex ratio in Blanchard’s cricket frogs

A study found that Blanchard's cricket frogs are highly sensitive to atrazine. When exposed, there were up to 55 percent fewer males than females compared with the control group, indicating that atrazine can affect the sex ratio. However, cricket frog populations do persist in areas with widespread atrazine application, despite reports of range contractions for enigmatic reasons.

Melting ice makes the sea around Greenland less saline

For the first time, ocean data from Northeast Greenland reveals the long-term impact of the melting of the Greenland ice sheet. The observed increase in freshwater content will affect the conditions in all Greenland fjords and may ultimately affect the global ocean currents that keep Europe warm.

Usutu virus is back: Not only in blackbirds but also in humans

Usutu virus, a flavivirus of African origin, was first detected in Austria in 2001, when it caused a severe bird die-off, mainly of blackbirds. The virus was active in the eastern part of Austria until 2005, killing many blackbirds, but also other songbirds. During 10 subsequent years no Usutu virus associated bird mortality was observed in Austria -- contrary to neighboring Hungary. Last year Usutu virus was identified again in two blackbirds -- and in 2017 already in sixteen songbirds. In another study Usutu virus was demonstrated in seven human blood donations from eastern Austria, suggesting that human infections seem to be more frequent than previously thought. 

Cell biology: Proteins may prevent dysfunction, disease by relaxing, study shows

A team of researchers used simulations and X-rays to conclude that disordered proteins remain unfolded and expanded as they float loose in the cytoplasm of a cell. The answer affects how we envision the movement of a protein through its life--essential for understanding how proteins fold, what goes wrong during disorders and disease and how to model their behavior.

Contests for female attention turns males into better performers in fruit flies

Giving females an opportunity to choose the male they mate with leads to the evolution of better performing males, according to new research into the behavior of fruit flies.

Wildlife in the ditches need a detox cure

When it's raining on the roads, slops of road dust and contaminants drain into the road trenches. What does it do to wildlife living by the road?

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Toward efficient high-pressure desalination

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Whales and dolphins have rich ‘human-like’ cultures and societies

Whales and dolphins (cetaceans) live in tightly-knit social groups, have complex relationships, talk to each other and even have regional dialects -- much like human societies. A major new study has linked the complexity of Cetacean culture and behavior to the size of their brains.