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Current Collections News and Events, Collections News Articles.
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Advances in genetic, geospatial techniques aid efforts to fend off invasive insects
In the fight to protect native ecosystems from invasive insects and related arthropod species, promising new tools are arising from rapid advances on a pair of research fronts: genetic analysis and geospatial technology. Both cutting-edge technologies and practical implications for improved invasive-species management are showcased in a pair of new special collections in the Annals of the Entomological Society of America, published in a partnership between ESA and the National Invasive Species Council. (2020-03-19)

Mysterious ancient sea-worm pegged as new genus after half-century in 'wastebasket'
Fifty years ago, researchers placed a mystery worm in a 'wastebasket' genus and interest in the lowly critter waned -- until now. (2020-03-17)

A new use for museum fish specimens
This paper suggests using museum specimens to estimate the length-weight relationships of fish that are hard to find alive in their natural environment. (2020-03-12)

Size matters! What drives zoo attendance and how does footfall impact conservation?
Conserving species in the wild remains the gold standard but there is an increasing relevance and importance to the role played by the thousands of zoos and aquariums across the globe in supporting conservation in the wild. This study provides global evidence to suggest that zoos don't need to compromise their economic viability and entertainment value in order to have a significant value to conservation. (2020-02-04)

Extinction is difficult to prove for Earth's ultra-rare species
A recent study by the University of Kent has called for an increase in scientific surveys and collection of specimens to confirm the extinction of ultra-rare species. Dr. David Roberts, a conservation scientist at Kent's Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, concluded from research that there is currently insufficient scientific surveys to determine whether many of the Earth's rarest species, those known only from a single specimen, still exist. (2020-02-03)

Birds and bats have strange gut microbiomes -- probably because they can fly
Gut bacteria help us fight disease and digest food, but not all animals rely on their microbiomes the way we do. A new study comparing the guts of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians shows that birds and bats have unusual microbiomes -- probably because they both can fly. (2020-01-07)

SLAS Discovery releases first issue of 2020
January's edition of SLAS Discovery features an analysis of two plated sets of synthetic compounds available from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and the author's positive and negative results of using this type of collection in his lab's research. (2019-12-20)

Even resilient common species are not immune to environmental crisis
A team of researchers from the National University of Singapore has found that the effective population size and genetic diversity of Singapore's Cynopterus brachyotis, believed to remain widely unaffected by urbanisation, has shrunk significantly over the last 90 years - revealing that the current biodiversity crisis may be much broader than widely assumed, affecting even species thought to be common and tolerant of fragmentation and habitat loss. (2019-12-17)

Birds are shrinking as the climate warms
After 40 years of collecting birds that ran into Chicago buildings, scientists have been able to show that the birds have been shrinking as the climate's warmed up. (2019-12-04)

How to improve water quality in Europe
Toxic substances from agriculture, industry and households endanger water quality in Europe -- and by extension, ecosystems and human health. As part of the SOLUTIONS project, over 100 international scientists have developed methods and practical solutions for identifying pollutants and assessing the risks posed by chemical cocktails. This is intended to help reduce pollution in water resources. Researchers have described how politicians can implement these scientific results in 15 policy briefs. (2019-12-03)

Oyster deaths: American slipper limpet is innocent
Researchers from Kiel University (CAU), in cooperation with the NORe museum association for the North and Baltic Sea region and the Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum in Frankfurt, have managed to shine some light on the decline in numbers of the European oyster. They have concluded that the occurrence of the invasive American slipper limpet (Crepidula fornicata) is not one of the main causes for the European oyster dying out -- unlike previously assumed. (2019-11-27)

Ostrich eggshell beads reveal 10,000 years of cultural interaction across Africa
In a new study published in PLOS ONE, researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History's Department of Archaeology present an expanded analysis of African ostrich eggshell beads, testing the hypothesis that larger beads signal the arrival of herders. The data reveals a more nuanced interpretation that provides greater insight into the history of economic change and cultural contact. (2019-11-27)

Music is universal
Exactly what about music is universal, and what varies? Harvard researchers have demonstrated that across cultures, people share psychological mechanisms that make certain songs sound 'right' in specific social and emotional contexts. (2019-11-21)

Melanin-producing Streptomyces are more likely to colonize plants
Recent research published in Phytobiomes Journal demonstrates that melanin-producing Streptomyces are more likely to colonize plants, which has been shown to be protective for many different organisms. (2019-11-20)

Skull dimensions of Dominicans and Haitians differ despite close physical proximity
Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have conducted a craniometric study (measuring the main part of the skull) on understudied and marginalized groups and found that skull dimensions of Dominicans and Haitians, who occupy a relatively small island of Hispaniola, are different from each other. (2019-10-31)

Ancient rhinos roamed the Yukon
Paleontologists have used modern tools to identify the origins of a few fragments of teeth found more than four decades ago by a schoolteacher in the Yukon. (2019-10-31)

Genetics reveal pacific subspecies of fin whale
New genetic research has identified fin whales in the northern Pacific Ocean as a separate subspecies, reflecting a revolution in marine mammal taxonomy as scientists unravel the genetics of enormous animals otherwise too large to fit into laboratories. (2019-10-28)

Young universities in Asia are strongly represented in rankings for high-quality research output
The first Nature Index Young universities tables and supplement, which rank universities aged 50 and under have just been published. The tables reveal that young universities in China, South Korea and Singapore are performing particularly well in terms of producing high-quality research. (2019-10-23)

BU researchers accurately estimate the sex of skeletons based on elbow features
An elbow can help determine the sex of a skeleton. In an effort to help identify skeletal remains of Thai descent, researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have found that examining the distal humerus (elbow) bone is superior to previous techniques that were developed for identifying sex in a non-Asian population. (2019-10-23)

Museums put ancient DNA to work for wildlife
Scientists who are trying to save species at the brink of extinction are finding help in an unexpected place. Researchers increasingly are embracing the power of ancient DNA from old museum specimens to answer questions about climate change, habitat loss and other stresses on surviving populations. (2019-10-17)

New species of crocodile discovered in museum collections
By looking at 90-year-old crocodile skulls in museum collections and double-checking with live specimens at a zoological park in Florida, researchers have just discovered a new species of ten-foot-long croc. The new species, Crocodylus halli, is from the southern part of New Guinea, and until now, scientists had thought it was the same species that lived on the northern part of the island. (2019-09-25)

Traditional fisherfolk help uncover ancient fish preservation methods
Archaeologists have little insight into the methods used for the long-term processing and preservation of fish in the past. A study of traditional fish preparation employed by fisherfolk in Panama and Egypt, revealed patterns of modifications to the fishes' skeletons which are comparable to those found among fish remains recovered in archaeological sites (2019-09-24)

Coral reefs and squat lobsters flourished 150 million years ago
An amazing trove of 150 million-year-old coral reef fossils from eastern Austria -- at the time a shallow sea -- provides a snapshot of a diverse and thriving community of creatures, including 53 species of squat lobsters. Neither lobster nor crab, they are a key part of today's coral reefs, but are likely to decline as coral dies, as happened to this reef 50 million years later with the drying up of the Tethys Sea. (2019-09-18)

Digital records of preserved plants and animals change how scientists explore the world
There's a whole world behind the scenes at natural history museums that most people never see -- millions upon millions of dinosaur bones, pickled sharks, dried leaves, and every other part of the natural world.These specimens are used in research by scientists trying to understand how different kinds of life evolved and how we can protect them. A study in PLOS ONE shows how scientists are using digital records of all these specimens in their research. (2019-09-11)

There are way more species of horseshoe bats than scientists thought
Horseshoe bats are bizarre-looking animals with giant ears and elaborate flaps of skin on their noses that they use like satellite dishes. There are about a hundred different species of horseshoe bats -- and that number is only going to grow. By studying the DNA of horseshoe bat specimens in museum collections, scientists have discovered that there are probably a dozen new species of horseshoe bat that haven't been officially described yet. (2019-08-21)

Bloodsucker discovered: First North American medicinal leech described in over 40 years
Freshwater wetlands from Georgia to New York are home to a previously unrecognized species of medicinal leech, according to scientists at the Smithsonian's National Museum of National History. The new species was first identified from specimens collected in southern Maryland less than 50 miles from Washington, D.C., prompting a search through marshes and museum collections that revealed that the leech has long occupied a range that stretches throughout the eastern United States. (2019-08-15)

IRS budget cuts result in $34.3 billion in lost tax revenue from large firms
Budget cuts at the Internal Revenue Service threaten the agency's effectiveness and have led to billions of dollars in lost tax revenue, new research from the Indiana University Kelley School of Business shows. (2019-08-15)

New water-beetle species show biodiversity still undiscovered in at-risk South American habitats
Researchers from the University of Kansas have described three genera and 17 new species of water scavenger beetles from the Guiana and Brazilian Shield regions of South America. (2019-08-13)

Wits University PhD student discovers new species of early dinosaur
The team of scientists, led by PhD Student Kimberley Chapelle, recognised that the dinosaur was not only a new species of sauropodomorph, but an entirely new genus. The specimen has now been named Ngwevu intloko which means 'grey skull' in the Xhosa language. (2019-08-06)

Embracing bioinformatics in gene banks
Scientists from the IPK have explored, within a perspective paper, the upcoming challenges and possibilities of the future of gene banks. They emphasise that the advancement of gene banks into bio-digital resource centres, which collate the germplasm as well as the molecular data of the samples, would be beneficial to scientists, plant breeders and society alike. (2019-06-28)

Danish researchers confirm that narwhals and belugas can interbreed
A team of University of Copenhagen researchers has compiled the first and only evidence that narwhals and beluga whales can breed successfully. DNA and stable isotope analysis of an anomalous skull from the Natural History Museum of Denmark has allowed researchers to confirm the existence of a narwhal-beluga hybrid. (2019-06-20)

Coelacanth reveals new insights into skull evolution
An international team of researchers presents the first observations of the development of the skull and brain in the living coelacanth Latimeria chalumnae. Their study, published in Nature, provides new insights into the biology of this iconic animal and the evolution of the vertebrate skull. (2019-04-17)

Ancient 'Texas Serengeti' had elephant-like animals, rhinos, alligators and more
During the Great Depression, Texans were put to work as fossil hunters. The workers retrieved tens of thousands of specimens that have been studied in small bits and pieces while stored in the state collections of The University of Texas at Austin for the past 80 years. Now, decades after they were first collected, a UT researcher has studied and identified an extensive collection of fossils from dig sites near Beeville, Texas, and found that the fauna make up a veritable 'Texas Serengeti.' (2019-04-11)

'Cthulhu' fossil reconstruction reveals monstrous relative of modern sea cucumbers
An exceptionally preserved fossil from Herefordshire in the UK has given new insights into the early evolution of sea cucumbers, according to an article published today in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Paleontologists from the UK and USA created a 3D computer reconstruction of the 430-million-year-old fossil and identified it as a new species. They named it Sollasina cthulhu due to its resemblance to monsters from the Cthulhu universe created by author H.P. Lovecraft. (2019-04-09)

Scientists call for national science agenda for biodiversity collections
The Biodiversity Collections Network (BCoN) has developed a national agenda that leverages digital data in biodiversity collections for new uses. Informed by a series of workshops and stakeholder discussions, Extending US Biodiversity Collections to Promote Research and Education will stimulate new research endeavors, particularly in areas where biology intersects with other fields and engages students and the public. (2019-04-04)

Jurassic crocodile discovery sheds light on reptiles' family tree
A 150 million-year-old fossil has been identified as a previously unseen species of ancient crocodile that developed a tail fin and paddle-like limbs for life in the sea. (2019-04-04)

Mosses -- Dynamic and built to last
New UConn research dives deep into the genetic history of mosses. The researchers use DNA from multiple moss organelles and reveal how dynamic these heretofore evolutionary 'dead ends' are. (2019-04-02)

A social bacterium with versatile habits
Related individuals of a soil bacterial species live in cooperative groups and exhibit astonishing genetic and behavioral diversity. ETH researchers recently published these findings in Science. (2019-03-22)

PLOS Special Collection launch: Shaping novel TB treatments
To commemorate World TB Day, a Special Collection has been released by PLOS Medicine containing a series of articles that articulate the essential new steps in clinical research that will pave the way for the development of tomorrow's optimal treatment for all forms of tuberculosis. (2019-03-22)

A new treasure trove of Cambrian secrets unearthed
Researchers have discovered an early Cambrian fossil assemblage located along the bank of the Danshui River in China. (2019-03-21)

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