Biology


From BBC Future: The discovery that some animals have found ways to feed off the Sun’s energy has led to the intriguing idea that humans could one day create solar-powered nourishment. Humans have to…








How long before someone starts marketing pure polar algae? Pete Spotts reports for the Christian Science Monitor:

Scientists have discovered a vast pea-soup-green bloom of tiny plant-like marine organisms under Arctic Ocean ice. The bloom represents an enormous, and until now, unknown reservoir of food for marine life in frigid waters at the top of the world.

These waters, in sum, appear to be far more biologically productive than previously believed.

“This wasn’t just any phytoplankton bloom,” says Kevin Arrigo, a Stanford University marine scientist and lead author of the study. “It was literally the most intense phytoplankton bloom I’ve ever seen in my 25 years of doing this type of research” in oceans around the world.

The scientists sampled only a relatively small section of ice above…



Writes Jacqueline Howard on the Huffington Post:

Did the 20th century make us big-headed? Maybe so, since forensic anthropologists at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville found that white Americans’ heads are getting bigger and bigger … in size, that is.

The researchers studied about 1,500 skulls that dated from the mid-1800s through the 1980s. They noticed that the skulls gradually became larger, taller, and narrower. As a result, faces have become longer.

“The surprising thing is the skull size increase has not been documented in modern Americans,” researcher Dr. Richard Jantz told the Huffington Post. “We might have suspected that that was happening but this documents it … The shape of the skull has also changed rather dramatically. In fact, shape change has been more dramatic than size change.”…



We are all going to Hell for this. Via Science Daily:

New findings from the Monell Center reveal that humans can identify the age of other humans based on differences in body odor. Much of this ability is based on the capacity to identify odors of elderly individuals, and contrary to popular supposition, the so-called ‘old-person smell’ is rated as less intense and less unpleasant than body odors of middle-aged and young individuals.


Can plants, bacteria, and even yogurt identify with your pain? How wide is the gulf between man and plant, if there is a gulf at all? If you’re going to have an argument with your significant other, consider avoiding doing so in front of your potted fern:

“As the races of man speak in different languages so do the varieties of plants manifest their voices in different ways. They seem to be able to hear and understand us. For the time being, however, we must listen to them through our machines. One day, those machines may be unnecessary.”



Suzan Mazur interviews James Shapiro, author of Evolution: A View from the 21st Century, for Counterpunch: Suzan Mazur: I went through the book over the weekend. It’s very thoughtful the way you’ve put…


I remember reading long ago an article about how man’s own psychological and sociological biases can shape how they view scientific phenomenon. (Sadly, as this was in the pre-Internet days, I can’t…



monsterKing of the jellyfish? Or a giant, living, underwater doormat? Whatever your worst nightmare is, this ancient sea-bound entity could be it. LiveScience reports:

A mysterious fossil that has evoked images of a sea monster roaming the shallow waters of prehistoric Ohio [has] scientists stumped as to what kind of creature it was. One thing is sure: The enigmatic “blob” — discovered in elliptical pieces that, when fitted together, extended about 7 feet long, was once alive.

The team, along with the fossil hunter who discovered the 450-million-year-old specimen, suggest a range of possibilities: a type of huge algae or microbial mat, or even a member of the cnidarian family, which includes jellyfish (though scientists concede the jellyfish idea is highly unlikely).


Two years later, scientists say they have never seen anything like the creatures swimming in the Gulf of Mexico, Al Jazeera reports: “I’ve never seen this,” he said, a statement Al Jazeera…


Fantastic Adventures 1940 Oct coverOkaaaay, Dr. Breslow, let’s hear your theory… (via TG Daily):

It sounds like the plot to a science fiction story, but new scientific research hypothesizes that “advanced dinosaurs” may have evolved on other planets in the universe.

According to Dr. Ronald Breslow, the advanced versions of T. rex and other dinosaurs would likely be monstrous creatures with the intelligence and cunning of humans.

“We would be better off not meeting them,” Breslow concludes in a study that appears in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

In his report, Breslow discusses the age-old mystery of why the building blocks of terrestrial amino acids (which make up proteins), sugars, and the genetic materials DNA and RNA exist mainly in one orientation or shape…