My picks from ScienceDaily

As always, see how well the press release matches the actual paper:

Distinct Bison Herds Roam Yellowstone:

So what’s the scoop on bison poop? First, Gardipee has found a gentle, noninvasive way to study the DNA of the animals in the park. Secondly, the genetic material she and her team extracted suggests the roughly 4,000 bison in Yellowstone are divided into at least two distinct breeding groups, which could have implications for how they are managed.

Genes May Tell A Lot About The Secret Lives Of Bees:

Despite the fact that bees are one of the most beneficial insects in the world, much of their behavior remains a mystery — even to the apiculturists who tend them. To better understand such fundamental processes as reproduction, and cope with problems such as bee mites and diseases, scientists are at work on a state-of-the-art genomics resource. Agricultural Research Service (ARS) entomologist Jay Evans and colleagues at ARS’ Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Md., are working with National Institutes of Health (NIH) collaborators on what’s called the Honey Bee Genome Project. Since the unveiling of the bee’s entire genome in early 2005, the project has proved to be a significant new source of information about genes suspected of involvement with various honey bee traits.

Does Evolution Select For Faster Evolvers? Horizontal Gene Transfer Adds To Complexity, Speed Of Evolution:

It’s a mystery why the speed and complexity of evolution appear to increase with time. For example, the fossil record indicates that single-celled life first appeared about 3.5 billion years ago, and it then took about 2.5 billion more years for multi-cellular life to evolve. That leaves just a billion years or so for the evolution of the diverse menagerie of plants, mammals, insects, birds and other species that populate the earth. New studies by Rice University scientists suggest a possible answer; the speed of evolution has increased over time because bacteria and viruses constantly exchange transposable chunks of DNA between species, thus making it possible for life forms to evolve faster than they would if they relied only on sexual selection or random genetic mutations.

Anthropologist Confirms ‘Hobbit’ Indeed A Separate Species:

After the skeletal remains of an 18,000-year-old, Hobbit-sized human were discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2003, some scientists thought that the specimen must have been a pygmy or a microcephalic — a human with an abnormally small skull. Not so, said Dean Falk, a world-renowned paleoneurologist and chair of Florida State University’s anthropology department, who along with an international team of experts created detailed maps of imprints left on the ancient hominid’s braincase and concluded that the so-called Hobbit was actually a new species closely related to Homo sapiens.

Major Link In Brain-obesity Puzzle Found:

A single protein in brain cells may act as a linchpin in the body’s weight-regulating system, playing a key role in the flurry of signals that govern fat storage, sugar use, energy balance and weight, University of Michigan Medical School researchers report. And although it’s far too early to say how this protein could be useful in new strategies to fight the world’s epidemic of obesity, the finding gives scientists an important system to target in future research and the development of anti-obesity medications.

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