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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Ancestor of arthropods had the mouth of a penis worm

Imagine a meter long worm with 12 stubby legs and matching sets of flaps running down the body. On the head is a large pair of spiny appendages used for grasping prey that transport victims into a circular mouth with several rows of teeth. For years, scientists have disagreed over whether this mouth belonged to the Anomalocaris, the largest sea predator from the Cambrian Period, or was comparable to the penis worm, a subset of priapulids, a category of marine worms that were diverse in the Cambrian.

Shape-shifters found in the Belt Supergroup: Revelations about Tappania plana

The rise of eukaryotic organisms (organisms with complex cells, or a single cell with a complex structure) is still a mystery, but researchers have compelling evidence that Tappania plana may represent one of the earliest eukaryotic fossils. Well-preserved Tappania plana fossils from a Montana field site could be a crown-group eukaryote, providing one of the first links from this period in the fossil record to extant eukaryotes.

Acidity in atmosphere minimized to preindustrial levels

New research shows that human pollution of the atmosphere with acid is now almost back to the level that it was before the pollution started with industrialization in the 1930s. The results come from studies of the Greenland ice sheet.

How natural selection acted on one penguin species over the past quarter century

Biologists combed through 28 years' worth of data on Magellanic penguins to search for signs that natural selection -- one of the main drivers of evolution -- may be acting on certain penguin traits.

In bird feathers, scientists find hints about color of extinct animals

In order to discover the true colors of ancient animals, scientists are using X-rays to closely examine the chemical details of modern bird feathers. The researchers were able to map elements that make up pigments responsible for red and black colors in feathers. They hope to use this information to find traces of the same pigments in fossil specimens of extinct animals, such as dinosaurs. This latest discovery means that scientists may be able to go beyond monochrome in their depictions of fossilized creatures, and make steps towards portraying their colors more accurately.

Ice Man, Ötzi: A treacherous murder with links to Central Italy

The copper used to make Ötzi's axe blade did not come from the Alpine region as had previously been supposed, but from ore mined in southern Tuscany. Ötzi was probably not involved in working the metal himself, as the high levels of arsenic and copper found in his hair had, until now, led us to assume. His murder over 5,000 years ago seems to have been brought about due to a personal conflict a few days before his demise, and the man from the ice, despite his normal weight and active life-style, suffered from extensive vascular calcification.

Greenland rising as ice melts

A new study on the Greenland Ice Sheet provides valuable insight on climate change, using unique research methods to establish new estimates of ice loss for both modern and ancient times, says geologists.

Melatonin, biological clock keep singing fish on time

In the 1980s, people living on houseboats in the San Francisco Bay were puzzled by a droning hum of unknown origin that started abruptly in the late evening and stopped suddenly in the morning. A lengthy investigation revealed the culprit: male plainfin midshipman fish (Porichthys notatus) that sing at night to attract mates. The fish, which can grow to 15 inches in length, live along the Pacific coast from Alaska to Baja, California.

Stronger turbine blades with molybdenum silicides

Molybdenum silicides can improve the efficiency of turbine blades in ultrahigh-temperature combustion systems, researchers have discovered.

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