Tag Archives | Biology

‘Aquatic Osteoporosis’ Jellifying Lakes

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A handful of Holopedium capsules which are replacing the water flea Daphnia due to declining calcium levels in many lakes. Credit: Image courtesy of Queen’s University

Via ScienceDaily:

A plague of “aquatic osteoporosis” is spreading throughout many North American soft-water lakes due to declining calcium levels in the water and hindering the survival of some organisms, says new research from Queen’s University.

Researchers from Queen’s, working with colleagues from York University and the University of Cambridge, as well as other collaborators, have identified a biological shift in many temperate, soft-water lakes in response to declining calcium levels after prolonged periods of acid rain and timber harvesting. The reduced calcium availability is hindering the survival of aquatic organisms with high calcium requirements and promoting the growth of nutrient-poor, jelly-clad animals.

In the study, researchers looked at the microscopic organisms (~1 mm) Daphnia and Holopedium — the latter whose size is greatly increased by its jelly capsule.

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Seals Having Sex With Penguins (Video)

Depending on your preferences, you might consider this video somewhat disturbing and possibly NSFW. There’s no doubt what the seal is trying to do to the penguin!

BBC Earth explains what biologists make of the horny seals going cross-species:

Things are heating up in the cold climes of the sub-Antarctic. On a remote, and mostly desolate island, seals have been caught engaging in an extreme form of sexual behaviour.

Specifically, they have been trying to have sex with penguins.

More than one fur seal has been caught in the act, on more than one occasion.

And it’s all been captured on film, with details being published in the journal Polar Biology.

The sexual behaviour of the fur seals hasn’t come as a complete shock to the scientists that recorded it.

In 2006, they saw, for the first time, a fur seal attempting to copulate with a king penguin, on Marion Island, a sub-Antarctic island that is home to both species.

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God Is the Machine

Vancouver Film School (cc by 2.0)

Vancouver Film School (cc by 2.0)

via Wired (from 2002):

“A Mind Bending Meditation on the Transcendent Power of Digital Computation.” By Kevin Kelly

At today’s rates of compression, you could download the entire 3 billion digits of your DNA onto about four CDs. That 3-gigabyte genome sequence represents the prime coding information of a human body — your life as numbers. Biology, that pulsating mass of plant and animal flesh, is conceived by science today as an information process. As computers keep shrinking, we can imagine our complex bodies being numerically condensed to the size of two tiny cells. These micro-memory devices are called the egg and sperm. They are packed with information.

That life might be information, as biologists propose, is far more intuitive than the corresponding idea that hard matter is information as well. When we bang a knee against a table leg, it sure doesn’t feel like we knocked into information.

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You’re powered by quantum mechanics. No, really…

"Schrödinger's cat" by El Alvi (cc by-sa 2.0)

“Schrödinger’s cat” by El Alvi (cc by-sa 2.0)

via The Guardian:

For years biologists have been wary of applying the strange world of quantum mechanics, where particles can be in two places at once or connected over huge distances, to their own field. But it can help to explain some amazing natural phenomena we take for granted.

Every year, around about this time, thousands of European robins escape the oncoming harsh Scandinavian winter and head south to the warmer Mediterranean coasts. How they find their way unerringly on this 2,000-mile journey is one of the true wonders of the natural world. For unlike many other species of migratory birds, marine animals and even insects, they do not rely on landmarks, ocean currents, the position of the sun or a built-in star map. Instead, they are among a select group of animals that use a remarkable navigation sense – remarkable for two reasons.

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Evolutionary Biologist Divulges The Secret To Human Coexisting

Luke Rudkowski in Majorca, Spain talks with Evolutionary Biologist and Futurist Elisabet Sahtouris about her life’s work. She studied algae which covered Earth in its first 2 billion years to find that there’s a maturation cycle of all life, and is trying use this information as a blueprint for how humans should live.

Learn more about Elisabet Sahtouris: http://www.sahtouris.com/

Via We Are Change

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Fish Found To Equal Chimpanzees In Intelligence Test

Who knew that trout were so smart? A new study finds that coral trout actively seek hunting help from moray eels and collaborate to catch their prey, reports Wired:

Certain forms of collaboration are supposed to be so sophisticated that only the smartest creatures—namely humans and perhaps a few close relatives—are capable of them. Yet this exclusive club has a new and unexpected member: a species of fish, a class of animals seldom associated with high-level intelligence.

As demonstrated in a series of experiments published today in Current Biology, coral trout not only solicit the help of moray eels when they hunt, but also pick their hunting partners wisely. They know when they need help, and quickly learn which eels best provide it. It’s a seemingly simple yet surprisingly sophisticated cognitive trick.

Plectropomus leopardus 1

“Prior to our study, chimpanzees and humans were the only species known to possess both of these abilities,” said zoologist Alex Vail of England’s University of Cambridge.

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Magic Mushrooms and Natural Intelligence

Simon G. PowellIn a time when Artificial Intelligence is getting all the headlines, English author and film-maker Simon G. Powell is making the case for Natural Intelligence – the idea that life itself is intelligent and nature has solutions to problems we have yet to even understand. And it was a series of mushroom trips – “like insights into the essence of existence” – which initiated and propelled his work.

Powell describes these first revelatory experiences in the latest podcast from The Eternities: “I had a mystical experience, what felt like divine energy [was] pulsing through me. It was like I tasted something that most people don’t taste and it was absolutely astonishing. ”

Powell went on to write The Psilocybin Solution: The Role of Sacred Mushrooms in the Quest for Meaning (2011), which traced the history of the sacred psilocybin mushroom and discussed its visionary effects, also examining the current science and lasting spirituality that surround it.… Read the rest

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The Light That Burns: Night-Time Illumination and Melatonin Suppression

File:U.S. Atlantic Seaboard at Night.JPG

NASA Earth Observatory (CC)

Some interesting studies are cited that indicate meditation, yoga, fruit, and darkness all increase our melatonin (a pineal gland metabolite; often referred to as a miracle hormone). We know that artificial lighting and bad diet have left us chronically deficient in this hormone – a fact with vast implications for neurodegenerative diseases -but just how far back does the deficiency go if, at one time, we were eating a high percentage of fruit biochemistry for millions of years in the African tropics?

Via The Nexian:

Darkness is good for us; it is an ally that heals us. It is something to be embraced, not feared. From Palaeolithic times, up until very recently, the only major sources of light we would have experienced once the sun went down would have been starlight, moonlight and firelight. Life on this planet has evolved for three and a half billion years with a regular and dependable day-night schedule.… Read the rest

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More Evidence That Plants Get Their Energy Through Quantum Entanglement

fern plantAs top human scientists dream of someday creating a quantum computer, are we lagging far behind plants? io9 reports:

Biophysicists theorize that plants tap into the eerie world of quantum entanglement during photosynthesis. Evidence to date has been purely circumstantial, but now, scientists have discovered a feature of plants that cannot be explained by classical physics.

In a way, they’re like mini-quantum computers capable of scanning all possible options in order to choose the most efficient paths or solutions. For plants, this means the ability to make the most of the energy they receive and then deliver that energy from leaves with near perfect efficiency.

The going theory is that plants have light-gathering macromolecules in their cells that can transfer energy via molecular vibrations — vibrations that have no equivalents in classical physics.

In the new study, UCL researchers identified a specific feature in biological systems that can only be predicted by quantum physics.

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Could Living Dinosaurs Be Bred From The DNA Of Birds?

dinosaursAre the species of the ancient past lying in wait, encoded in plain sight? The Telegraph writes:

Oxford biochemist Dr Alison Woollard said it would be theoretically possible to recreate ancient animals, through the DNA of birds. By identifying and altering certain genes found in the DNA of modern birds, she believes scientists may be able to “design” genomes of the prehistoric creatures.

“We know that birds are the direct descendants of dinosaurs, as proven by an unbroken line of fossils which tracks the evolution of the lineage from creatures such as the velociraptor or T-Rex through to the birds flying around today,” said Dr Woollard. “This evolution implies that buried deep within the DNA of today’s birds are switched-off genes that control dinosaur-like traits.”

The difficulty, claims Dr Woollard is finding and understanding the full length of a dinosaur’s genome in order to know which edits to make to a bird’s genome.

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