My picks from ScienceDaily

Snooze Button For Body’s Circadian Clock:

We may use the snooze button to fine-tune our sleep cycles, but our cells have a far more meticulous and refined system. Humans, and most other organisms, have 24-hour rhythms that are regulated by a precise molecular clock that ticks inside every cell. After decades of study, researchers are still identifying all the gears involved in running this “circadian” clock and are working to put each of the molecular cogs in its place. A new study by Rockefeller University scientists now shows how two of the key molecules interact to regulate the clock’s cycle and uncovers how that switch can go haywire, identifying one potential cause of heritable sleep disorders.

Stone Age Graveyard Reveals Lifestyles Of A ‘Green Sahara’:

The largest Stone Age graveyard found in the Sahara, which provides an unparalleled record of life when the region was green, has been discovered in Niger by National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence and University of Chicago Professor Paul Sereno, whose team first happened on the site during a dinosaur-hunting expedition.

Big-brained Animals Evolve Faster:

Ever since Darwin, evolutionary biologists have wondered why some lineages have diversified more than others. A classical explanation is that a higher rate of diversification reflects increased ecological opportunities that led to a rapid adaptive radiation of a clade.

Burmese Pythons Will Find Little Suitable Habitat Outside South Florida, Study Suggests:

Burmese Pythons – one of the largest snakes in the world – may have chosen Florida as a vacation destination, but are unlikely to expand further, according to a new study by researchers at the City University of New York (CUNY. Although the United States Geological Survey (USGS) earlier this year released ‘climate maps’ indicating that the pythons could potentially inhabit up to thirty two states in the continental U.S., new research indicates that the snakes are unlikely to expand out of south Florida.

In The Long Run, Exertion Regulation Wins The Day For Marathon Runners:

Long-distance running is widely seen as one of the great physical challenges a human can undertake and as the 2008 Summer Olympics commence in Beijing on August 8, many eager sports fans will await with baited breath the last event of the Games – the men’s marathon, held on August 24.

Timing Of Political Messages Influences Voter Preferences, Researcher Finds:

In political campaigns, timing is almost everything. Candidates communicate with voters over a long period of time before voters actually vote. What candidates say to these voters is, of course, important, but it turns out that when they say it also influences voter preferences. Why Obama’s reliance on lofty rhetoric has succeeded thus far is a puzzle addressed in the paper “It’s Time to Vote: The Effect of Matching Message Orientation and Temporal Frame on Political Persuasion,” forthcoming in the Journal of Consumer Research. The research, co-authored by the University of Minnesota’s Akshay Rao, Hakkyun Kim (Concordia) and Angela Lee (Northwestern), demonstrates that the timing and content of political messages affects voters, particularly swing voters.

Distinguishing Between Two Birds Of A Feather:

The bird enthusiast who chronicled the adventures of a flock of red-headed conures in his book “The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill” knows most of the parrots by name, yet most of us would be hard pressed to tell one bird from another. While it has been known for a long time that we can become acutely attuned to our day-to-day environment, the underlying neural mechanism has been less clear.

Resistant Prions: Can They Be Transmitted By Environment As Well As Direct Contact?:

Prions, the pathogens that cause scrapie in sheep, can survive in the ground for several years, as researchers have discovered. Animals can become infected via contaminated pastures. It is not yet known whether the pathogens that cause BSE and CWD are equally resistant.

New Bird Species Discovered In Gabon, Africa:

Scientists at the Smithsonian Institution have discovered a new species of bird in Gabon, Africa, that was, until now, unknown to the scientific community.

Hybrid ‘Muttsucker’ Has Genes Of Three Species:

If you have driven Wyoming Highway 789 between Creston Junction and Baggs, you’ve seen Muddy Creek. Or maybe you haven’t. “It’s a pretty inconspicuous stream,” says David B. McDonald, an associate professor in the University of Wyoming’s Department of Zoology and Physiology. “In fact, when you look at the creek, a lot of times you have trouble even seeing any water.” What’s happening in the murky waters of the appropriately-named creek also is not readily noticeable: An introduced species of fish is threatening the existence of two native Wyoming fish species — the flannelmouth sucker and the bluehead sucker.

Comments are closed.