Posts

August 26, 2014

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9:00 PM | To trust or not to trust, all in the blink of an eye
We’ve known for a while that having certain facial features will lead people to judge you as either trustworthy or untrustworthy. And in fact our brains make those complex judgments much faster than we could have ever imagined. Now scientists have worked out how we do it. It’s all about physiognomy Back in 1772, Swiss […]
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9:00 PM | To trust or not to trust, all in the blink of an eye
We’ve known for a while that having certain facial features will lead people to judge you as either trustworthy or untrustworthy. And in fact our brains make those complex judgments much faster than we could have ever imagined. Now scientists have worked out how we do it. It’s all about physiognomy Back in 1772, Swiss […]
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4:44 PM | Ohio lawmakers want to limit the teaching of the scientific process
Sponsor endorses ID, wants to bar "political... interpretation of scientific facts."
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4:09 PM | For These Bats, the Best Falsetto Wins Over the Ladies
A bat’s voice is its livelihood. Chirping and squeaking at just the right frequencies lets it echolocate food and stay alive. Sounding pretty isn’t the point—except when it is. For the first time, scientists think they’ve found a bat species in which females choose mates based on their voices. Even if a lower-frequency squeak might […]The post For These Bats, the Best Falsetto Wins Over the Ladies appeared first on Inkfish.

Puechmaille, S., Borissov, I., Zsebok, S., Allegrini, B., Hizem, M., Kuenzel, S., Schuchmann, M., Teeling, E. & Siemers, B. (2014). Female Mate Choice Can Drive the Evolution of High Frequency Echolocation in Bats: A Case Study with Rhinolophus mehelyi, PLoS ONE, 9 (7) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0103452

Citation
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4:09 PM | For These Bats, the Best Falsetto Wins Over the Ladies
A bat’s voice is its livelihood. Chirping and squeaking at just the right frequencies lets it echolocate food and stay alive. Sounding pretty isn’t the point—except when it is. For the first time, scientists think they’ve found a bat species in which females choose mates based on their voices. Even if a lower-frequency squeak might […]The post For These Bats, the Best Falsetto Wins Over the Ladies appeared first on Inkfish.

Puechmaille, S., Borissov, I., Zsebok, S., Allegrini, B., Hizem, M., Kuenzel, S., Schuchmann, M., Teeling, E. & Siemers, B. (2014). Female Mate Choice Can Drive the Evolution of High Frequency Echolocation in Bats: A Case Study with Rhinolophus mehelyi, PLoS ONE, 9 (7) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0103452

Citation
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2:33 PM | The Great Alien Debate (Part 1)
This post is one in a series covering, and expanding on, topics in the book The Copernicus Complex (Scientific American/FSG).           The conversation usually goes like... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

August 25, 2014

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10:54 PM | Nuthatch Empire
Today I’d like to focus on passerine birds again, and this time on a group that I don’t think I’ve ever blogged about before: the certhioids. Scrap that. This article ended up being devoted entirely... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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7:33 PM | SciArt Destinations: The Paleolithic Caves of Cantabria, Spain
Think of the last time you were in the presence of something really old. Was it a cherished possession of one of your family members? Was it a used book or antique that spoke to you from a dusty... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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4:00 PM | A Glimpse of LUCA, Life’s Last Universal Common Ancestor
A new study suggests how early life might have survived without some of the cellular machinery that is absolutely required for life today. Turns out that having a fairly leaky membrane may have been the key.
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12:27 PM | These tiny scorpions would like to perform an important inspection of your old book collection, please
Book scorpions are the best/worst thing to happen to books, because book scorpions! But also book scorpions… Properly known as pseudoscorpions, these tiny, tiny creatures have a fondness for old... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

August 24, 2014

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5:00 PM | Attractive faces and good health may not be related
Facial symmetry, which many find attractive, isn't linked to better health.
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5:46 AM | Some exceptions in biology: Poisonous birds
Credit: snakebuddies.net The drawing above is a rather accurate representation of a saying that I read a few months ago: “If you bite it and you die, it’s poisonous. If it bites you and you die, it’s venomous.” -Credit: @SciencePorn Feb 4, 2014 This saying essentially illustrates the practical difference between toxins and venoms.  Definition-wise, …

August 23, 2014

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10:47 PM | Morsels For The Mind – 22/08/2014
Every day we provide you with Six Incredible Things Before Breakfast to nibble away at. Here you can fill your brain with the most intellectually stimulating “amuse bouches” from the past week – a veritable smorgasbord for the cranium. They’re all here for you to load up your plate – this week’s “Morsels for the mind”. Enjoy! If you do nothing else, make sure to check out the “Reads / views / listens of the week”. **** Feather, fur […]
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10:47 PM | Morsels For The Mind – 22/08/2014
Every day we provide you with Six Incredible Things Before Breakfast to nibble away at. Here you can fill your brain with the most intellectually stimulating “amuse bouches” from the past week – a veritable smorgasbord for the cranium. They’re all here for you to load up your plate – this week’s “Morsels for the mind”. Enjoy! If you do nothing else, make sure to check out the “Reads / views / listens of the week”. **** Feather, fur […]
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10:14 PM | the intelligent-life lottery
In a theme connected with one argument in Dawkins’ The God Delusion, The New York Time just published a piece on the 20th anniversary of the debate between Carl Sagan and Ernst Mayr about the likelihood of the apparition of intelligent life. While 20 years ago, there was very little evidence if any of the […]
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8:00 PM | No Saccharine: How Hummingbirds Evolved To Detect Sugar
If you capture a hummingbird on high-speed video and slow it down, their wings thrum like helicopter blades as they hover near food. Their hearts beat 20 times a second and their tongues dart 17 times a second to slurp from a feeding station.read more
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3:05 PM | A Hangout IN Air–Off a Cliff Face–for Science
When I last did a Google Science Fair Hangout On Air with Jason Osborne and Aaron Alford, founders of Paleo Quest, they were diving in a swamp looking for fossils. Yesterday, they took their fossil... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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1:00 PM | Extreme Life, Half A Mile Beneath The Antarctic Ice Sheet
Humans don't want to live above the West Antarctic ice sheet but microbes can certainly live below it, according to a new study. Even half a mile below it. The waters and sediments of a lake 2,600 feet beneath the surface of the West Antarctic ice sheet support "viable microbial ecosystems", according to recent results. Given that more than 400 subglacial lakes and numerous rivers and streams are thought to exist beneath the Antarctic ice sheet, such ecosystems may be widespread and may […]
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9:39 AM | True facts about anglerfish
SUMMARY: To the female anglerfish, the human male is a very loud, annoying and unnecessarily complicated pair of gonads. Antennarius commerson (Latreille), 111 mm SL, UW 20983. Photograph: D. B. Grobecker [doi:10.1186/1471-2148-10-58] Caturday has arrived once again, so it is time to watch some animals doing stuff! Today's caturday animal is the anglerfish, an ancient taxonomic order of bony fishes that arose sometime between 100 and 130 million years ago. (In contrast, humans are mere […]
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9:39 AM | True facts about anglerfish
SUMMARY: To the female anglerfish, the human male is a very loud, annoying and unnecessarily complicated pair of gonads. Antennarius commerson (Latreille), 111 mm SL, UW 20983. Photograph: D. B. Grobecker [doi:10.1186/1471-2148-10-58] Caturday has arrived once again, so it is time to watch some animals doing stuff! Today's caturday animal is the anglerfish, an ancient taxonomic order of bony fishes that arose sometime between 100 and 130 million years ago. (In contrast, humans are mere […]
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9:39 AM | True facts about anglerfish
SUMMARY: To the female anglerfish, the human male is a very loud, annoying and unnecessarily complicated pair of gonads. Antennarius commerson (Latreille), 111 mm SL, UW 20983. Photograph: D. B. Grobecker [doi:10.1186/1471-2148-10-58] Caturday has arrived once again, so it is time to watch some animals doing stuff! Today's caturday animal is the anglerfish, an ancient taxonomic order of bony fishes that arose sometime between 100 and 130 million years ago. (In contrast, humans are mere […]
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4:00 AM | Paleofantasy: What Evolution Really Tells Us about Sex, Diet, and How We Live
By Marlene Zuk Synopsis: An exposé of pseudoscientific myths about our evolutionary past and how we should live today. We evolved to eat berries rather than bagels, to live in mud huts rather than condos, to […]

August 22, 2014

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6:37 PM | The Woodpecker's Guide to Avoiding Head Injuries
How do woodpeckers repeatedly hammer their heads into tree trunks without suffering brain damage? Their skull superpowers are made possible by everything from their unique brains, to their hammering techniques. And a new study of these birds could help humans avoid head injuries, too. Read more...
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3:11 PM | What Rosetta can tell us about life on Earth
On August 6th, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft reached the end of its 10-year journey: 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, a comet currently hovering in the distance between Mars and Jupiter. While Rosetta’s mission will naturally help scientists understand more about the nature of comets- how they form, what they’re made of, and how old they really are- several of the questions scientists are hoping to answer will actually have the most impact on how we understand how […]
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3:11 PM | What Rosetta can tell us about life on Earth
On August 6th, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft reached the end of its 10-year journey: 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, a comet currently hovering in the distance between Mars and Jupiter. While Rosetta’s mission will naturally help scientists understand more about the nature of comets- how they form, what they’re made of, and how old they really are- several of the questions scientists are hoping to answer will actually have the most impact on how we understand how […]
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10:49 AM | Neanderthals ‘overlapped’ with modern humans for up to 5,400 years
Neanderthals and modern humans were both living in Europe for between 2,600 and 5,400 years, according to a new article. For the first time, scientists have constructed a robust timeline showing when the last Neanderthals died out. Significantly, the research paper says there is strong evidence to suggest that Neanderthals disappeared at different times across …
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10:44 AM | A week of links
Links this week: Side effect warnings increase sales by building trust. Similar effects for disclosing conflicts of interest (ungated pdf). Absorbing information on paper versus kindle. Even without digital search, I often find it easier to find favourite passages in the physical form. Humans aren’t the only ones fighting wars. I pointed out a couple […]
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8:24 AM | Jurassic mammals were picky eaters, new study finds
New analyses of tiny fossil mammals from Glamorgan, South Wales are shedding light on the function and diets of our earliest ancestors, a team reports. Mammals and their immediate ancestors from the Jurassic period (201-145 million years ago) developed new characteristics – such as better hearing and teeth capable of precise chewing. By analysing jaw …
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7:36 AM | Evolution of marine crocodilians constrained by ocean temperatures
The ancestors of today’s crocodiles colonized the seas during warm phases and became extinct during cold phases, according to a new Anglo-French study which establishes a link between marine crocodilian diversity and the evolution of sea temperature over a period of more than 140 million years. Today, crocodiles are ‘cold-blooded’ animals that mainly live in …
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7:33 AM | 500-million-year reset for immune system
A single factor can reset the immune system of mice to a state likely similar to what it was 500 million years ago, when the first vertebrates emerged. The model, researchers report, could provide an explanation of how the immune system had developed in the course of evolution. The adaptive immune response is unique to …
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