Photokina 2014 highlights

Evolution

The team used the Magellen Telescopes at Las Campanas Observatory, Chile, to take readings...

A team of researchers, including scientists from MIT and the Carnegie Institution of Science, has analyzed the chemical composition of stars in the fossil galaxy known as Segue 1. The dwarf galaxy, containing roughly 1,000 stars, sits 75,000 light years away from Earth, and is host to a set of unusual features that are allowing astronomers to observe the composition of stars from the early universe.  Read More

The study used robots known as Cyber Rodents to study mating behaviour over more than 1,00...

A study has used rodent-like robots to look at the evolutionary development of different mating strategies over an extended period of time. In contrast to direct studies of nature, the observation of robots allows researchers to avoid inherent time-based difficulties of studying evolution, with the results suggesting something a little more complex than the classic one-beats-all natural selection hypothesis.  Read More

Gear teeth of a juvenile Issus coleaptratus (Photo: University of Cambridge)

Among the mechanical components not found in nature is the spur gear. That is, until now. Zoologists of the University of Cambridge have discovered that the juvenile form of the leaf-hopper Issus coleoptratus has a set of gear-like linkages between the two jumping legs to synchronize the legs during a jump.  Read More

Did life as we know it originate on Mars? (Image: Shutterstock)

New evidence presented by Prof. Steven Benner at The Westheimer Institute for Science and Technology in Florida suggests that, billions of years ago, Mars was a much better place for the first cells to have formed compared to Earth. This gives more weight to the theory that life may have started on the Red Planet and then found its way to Earth aboard a meteorite.  Read More

American cliff swallows building nests under a bridge

The American cliff swallow is best known for its yearly migration between North and South America, traditionally resulting in the annual return of the swallows to Mission San Juan Capistrano in Southern California on March 19. Now it seems they also provide a lesson in the workings of natural selection. A three-decade long study carried out by a husband and wife ornithological team in western Nebraska has, thanks to long years of carefully recording all available data, shown that roadkill has exerted a selective advantage on swallows with shorter wingspans.  Read More

David’s myotis, a tiny insectivorous bat native to China, was one of two bat species selec...

Scientists believe the genes of virus-resistant and long-living wild bats might hold clues to treating cancer and infectious diseases in humans. The theory is that when bats started flying millions of years ago, something changed in their DNA that provides resistance to viruses and helps give them a relatively long life. The researchers hope a better understanding of bat evolution could lead to new treatments for disease and aging in humans.  Read More

Sugar molecules in the gas surrounding a young Sun-like star (Image: ALMA/L. Calçada & NAS...

Using the latest-generation Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA), which is an advanced system of 64 radio-telescope antennas in northern Chile, scientists at the European Southern Observatory have discovered a simple form of sugar orbiting a small binary star. Known as 16293-2422, that star is only 400 light-years away, and has about the same mass as the Sun. The finding could shed light on how the building blocks of life can originate spontaneously in deep space, even without a planet to support them.  Read More

Researchers from Imperial College London have built a music creation engine where popular ...

Researchers from Imperial College London have built a music creation engine where popular sounds are paired and mated with other successful tunes to create new offspring that inherit features from both parents. Audio loops that fail to please become extinct, parents die off and children get the same rating treatment given to their ancestors. Over time, some rather pleasant electronica has formed without so much as one human composer in sight.  Read More

Researchers in North America are developing a novel way to study the 'evolutionary arms ra...

A duck pond may seem like the ideal place to spend a peaceful spring afternoon, but during mating season it can look like the scene of a gang attack. Though ducks as a species are famously monogamous, unattached drakes can be extremely aggressive. They attack any female in sight in a mating frenzy that often ends in the injury or death of the victim. This has resulted in the ducks developing ways to prevent unwanted matings and the drakes ways to overcome their defenses. Researchers in North America are developing a novel way to study this "evolutionary arms race" that uses high-speed cameras, force transducers and model duck oviducts made of glass.  Read More

Two thirds of the world's population now carries a mobile phone but this was state-of-the-...

In his book The Artificial Ape, Dr Timothy Taylor convincingly argues that humans are biologically a product of technology. If Taylor is correct, then the ground edge stone tool pictured is of enormous significance. Stone tool-use among our earliest hominid ancestors dates to 3.4 million years ago, but the use of grinding to sharpen stone tool edges is very recent. This is the oldest ground-edge stone tool ever found and represents bleeding edge technology 35,000 years ago.  Read More

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