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Frogs illustrate the creative destruction of mass extinctions
Using the largest set of frog genetic data ever evaluated for evolutionary relationships, researchers discover not one but three explosions of new frog species, all concentrated in the aftermath of the mass die-off of most dinosaurs and many other species about 66 million years ago. (2017-07-03)

Extinction event that wiped out dinosaurs cleared way for frogs
The mass extinction that obliterated three-fourths of life on Earth, including non-avian dinosaurs, set the stage for the swift rise of frogs, a new study shows. (2017-07-03)

Beech trees native to Scotland after all, scientists discover
Beech trees should be considered native to Scotland -- despite a long-running debate over their national identity, researchers at the University of Stirling and Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture report. (2017-07-03)

Size of animals dating back 100-350 million years ago inferred from resurrected proteins
The Ikerbasque researcher Raúl Pérez-Jiménez of nanoGUNE's Nanobiomechanics group has led a piece of research in which, starting from the sequences of the titin protein of a selection of modern day animals, they inferred the phylogenetic tree of tetrapods (all animals with four limbs including mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians), and reconstructed the sequence that this protein would have had in the common ancestors of these animal groups. (2017-07-03)

The black forest and climate change
Silver and Douglas firs could replace Norway spruce in the long run due to their greater resistance to droughts. (2017-06-30)

Size not important for fish in the largest mass extinction of all time
Understanding modern biodiversity and extinction threats is important. It is commonly assumed that being large contributes to vulnerability during extinction crises. However, researchers from the University of Bristol and the Chengdu Center of the China Geological Survey, have found that size played no role in the extinction of fish during the largest mass extinction of all time. (2017-06-30)

Is this the long-sought answer to the question of tropical biodiversity?
The question of 'Why so many species of tropical trees and other organisms' has challenged biologists for centuries. A group of 50 scientists from 12 countries think they have the answer. (2017-06-29)

UM tesearch: Slow-growing ponderosas survive mountain pine beetle outbreaks
Slow-growing ponderosa pines may have a better chance of surviving mountain pine beetle outbreaks in western Montana as climate change increases the frequency of drought and insect pests, according to new research published by a team of University of Montana scientists. (2017-06-28)

Remote sensing technologies key to the future of the oil palm industry
Remote sensing technologies, using satellite and aerial data, could revolutionize the management of the oil palm industry, bringing both business and environmental benefits, say environmental experts writing in the journal Geo-spatial Information Science. (2017-06-27)

Predicting future outcomes in the natural world
When pesticides and intentional fires fail to eradicate an invasive plant species, declaring biological war may be the best option. (2017-06-26)

Australian origin likely for iconic New Zealand tree
Ancestors of the iconic New Zealand Christmas Tree, P?hutukawa, may have originated in Australia, new fossil research from the University of Adelaide suggests. (2017-06-22)

The 'Star dust' wasp is a new extinct species named after David Bowie's alter ego
During her study on fossil insects at China's Capitol Normal University, student Longfeng Li visited the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, USA, carrying two unidentified wasp specimens that were exceptionally well-preserved and 100 million years old. Close examination revealed that both were species new to science. Furthermore, one of them was found to belong to a genus of modern wasps. The study is published in the open access Journal of Hymenoptera Research. (2017-06-22)

Sea sponges stay put with anchors that bend but don't break
The anchors that hold Venus' flower basket sea sponges to the ocean floor have an internal architecture that increases their ability to bend, according to a new study. Understanding that natural architecture could inform future human-made materials. (2017-06-22)

Fossil holds new insights into how fish evolved onto land
The fossil of an early snake-like animal -- called Lethiscus stocki -- has kept its evolutionary secrets for the last 340-million years. Now, an international team of researchers, led by the University of Calgary, has revealed new insights into the ancient Scottish fossil that dramatically challenge our understanding of the early evolution of tetrapods, or four-limbed animals with backbones. (2017-06-21)

Villous tree model with active contractions for estimating blood flow conditions
Perfusion in the human placenta is an important physiological phenomenon which shows the placental conditions. The magnitude of placental perfusion can be evaluated by 3-D power Doppler and contrast-enhanced MR images, but the direction has been hardly indicated. The computational model of the villous tree developed in this study will help to indicate the direction and the mechanical properties of the villous tree. (2017-06-20)

African plant extract offers new hope for Alzheimer's
A plant extract used for centuries in traditional medicine in Nigeria could form the basis of a new drug to treat Alzheimer's disease, researchers at The University of Nottingham have found. (2017-06-20)

New perspective: Vegetation phenology variability based on tibetan plateau tree-ring data
Recently, a research group headed by Prof. YANG Bao from the Key Laboratory of Desert and Desertification, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, together with coauthors from Russia, Germany, Canada and Sweden, has reconciled these conflicting results based on a 55-year series of vegetation phenology for the TP derived from well-validated process-based Vaganov-Shashkin model (V-S) simulations of tree-ring growth data. (2017-06-20)

150-year records gap on Sulawesi ends with 5 new species in the world's largest tree genus
Coming 150 years after the last description from Sulawesi, five new species from the world's largest genus of trees, Syzygium, highlight the extent of unexplored botanical diversity on the Indonesian island. The study was published in the open access journal PhytoKeys. (2017-06-19)

Mixed conifer and beech forests grow more as they complement each other
Complementarity between Scots pine and broad-leafed species in the use of the available resources, such as water, may increase the growth of mixed forests comprising both species compared with pure forests, those comprising only one. However, the lack of rainwater would reduce this advantage in those species that, like the Scots pine, do not tolerate shade, because the increased competition for water would not allow them to take advantage of the lesser rivalry for light. (2017-06-19)

Is it sometimes ok to cheat?
When both partners benefit from a relationship -- husband and wife or pollinator and flower -- the relationship is known as a mutualism. Sometimes partners do not deliver their side of the bargain while still reaping the rewards. Research done at the Smithsonian in Panama published shows that unless unfaithful partners are severely punished by the other member of the relationship cheaters may become more common. (2017-06-19)

The newly discovered Russian dinosaur named after Mongolian spirit
Being a member of the international scientific team, a student from the Faculty of Geology of the Lomonosov Moscow State University has taken part in study and description of a new genus and species of the ancient marine reptile, called pliosaur. (2017-06-15)

Tracking the build-up to volcanic eruptions
ASU scientists discover that sub-millimeter zircon crystals record the flash heating of molten rock leading up to an explosive eruption 700 years ago. (2017-06-15)

Uncovered: 1,000 new microbial genomes
US Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute scientists have taken a decisive step forward in uncovering the planet's microbial diversity. In Nature Biotechnology, they report the release of 1,003 phylogenetically diverse bacterial and archaeal reference genomes -- the single largest release to date. The DOE is interested in learning more about this biodiversity because microbes play important roles in regulating Earth's biogeochemical cycles and uncovering gene functions and metabolic pathways has wide applications. (2017-06-12)

Lianas stifle tree fruit and seed production in tropical forests
Vines compete intensely with trees. Their numbers are on the rise in many tropical forests around the world. A new study at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama shows that lianas prevent canopy trees from producing fruit, with potentially far-reaching consequences for rainforest animals. (2017-06-11)

Unraveling the mysteries of Nipponosaurus
Nipponosaurus sachalinensis -- a controversial hadrosaurid dinosaur whose fossilized skeleton was unearthed in southern Sakhalin in 1934 -- is found to be a valid taxon and a juvenile that had not reached sexual maturity. (2017-06-09)

Scientists find world's oldest fossil mushroom
Roughly 115 million years ago, when the ancient supercontinent Gondwana was breaking apart, a mushroom fell into a river and began an improbable journey. Its ultimate fate as a mineralized fossil preserved in limestone in northeast Brazil makes it a scientific wonder, scientists report in the journal PLOS ONE. (2017-06-07)

Reshaping Darwin's tree of life
In 1859, Charles Darwin included a novel tree of life in his trailblazing book on the theory of evolution, On the Origin of Species. Now, scientists from Rutgers University-New Brunswick and their international collaborators want to reshape Darwin's tree. (2017-06-07)

Acacias are invading unaltered areas in the northwest of the peninsula
The legume Acacia dealbata, also known as mimosa, is one of the most aggressive invasive tree species in the world. In the northwest of the peninsula its propagation is an increasingly serious problem since it is penetrating unaltered plant communities, according to a study by the University of Vigo and the University of Coimbra (Portugal). Scientists stress the important role of fires in their dispersal and conclude that natural scrubland could be an effective barrier to slowing down rapid invasion. (2017-06-07)

Forensic chemical analysis of wood could stop illegal logging
Researchers at the USDA Forest Service have developed a technique to tackle illegal logging by pinpointing the wood's origin to a smaller area than ever before (<100 km). Using chemical fingerprinting techniques (DART-TOFMS), they measured compounds in Douglas-fir samples from two Oregon mountain ranges. The screening requires a tiny wood sample, can be prepared in 15 seconds, and showed 70-76 percent accuracy. (2017-06-02)

Paleobiologists make intriguing new discoveries about dinosaurs' ancestors
Dinosaurs' closest ancestors were at the base of the bird branch. Many scientists have pictured them in a somewhat chicken-like shape, bipedal, quite quick and agile in comparison with crocodiles. By slowly evolving their forelimbs into wings they finally became birds. However, this logical construct was recently upended by the international group which found a new candidate for an early dinosaurs' predecessor. It was Teleocrater rhadinus whose bone fragments were discovered in Tanzania in the 1930s. (2017-05-31)

Giant ringed planet likely cause of mysterious eclipses
A giant gas planet -- up to fifty times the mass of Jupiter, encircled by a ring of dust -- is likely hurtling around a star more than a thousand light years away from Earth, according to new research by an international team of astronomers, led by the University of Warwick. (2017-05-31)

PNG expedition discovers largest trees at extreme altitudes
The first field campaign surveying Papua New Guinea's lush primary forests from the coast to clouds has revealed the high mountain tops may house the largest trees recorded globally at such extreme altitudes. The study -- which involved the University of Queensland's Dr. John Dwyer and James Cook University's Professor Michael Bird -- was led by Dr. Michelle Venter, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Northern British Columbia, Canada. (2017-05-30)

The next enchanted ring?
Using genomics, a chemistry lab has worked out the biosynthetic machinery that makes a new class of antibiotic compounds called the beta-lactones. Like the beta-lactams, they have an unstable four-member ring. The key to their kill mechanism it is also difficult to synthesize. (2017-05-30)

Just how old are animals?
Researchers from the University of Bristol and Queen Mary University of London have examined recent approaches to dating the 'tree of life', i.e. use of the molecular clock, RelTime, and found it failed to relax the clock. Their findings are published today in the journal Genome Biology and Evolution. (2017-05-30)

Climate change can alter the impact of forest pathogens in trees
New research on projected climate changes from the University of Helsinki indicates that climate change has an alarming potential to increase the damage caused to Norway spruce trees by a naturally circulating disease spreading fungus. (2017-05-29)

New insights into the ancestors of all complex life
A team of scientists led by the University of Bristol has provided new insights into the origins of the Archaea, the group of simple cellular organisms that are the ancestors of all complex life. (2017-05-26)

Changing climate could have devastating impact on forest carbon storage
New research from a multi-university team of biologists shows what could be a startling drop in the amount of carbon stored in the Sierra Nevada mountains due to projected climate change and wildfire events. (2017-05-25)

Tree-climbing goats disperse seeds by spitting
Spanish ecologists have observed an unusual way in which treetop-grazing goats may be benefiting the trees: the goats spit out the trees' seeds. Miguel Delibes, Irene Castañeda, and José M Fedriani reported their discovery in the latest Natural History Note in the May issue of the Ecological Society of America's journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. (2017-05-24)

L.A. lawns lose lots of water: 70 billion gallons a year
In summer 2010, Los Angeles was losing about 100 gallons of water per person per day to the atmosphere through the evaporation and plant uptake of lawns and trees. Lawns accounted for 70 percent of the water loss, while trees accounted for 30 percent, according to a University of Utah study published in Water Resources Research. (2017-05-24)

Microhabitats enhance butterfly diversity in nature's imitation game
The spectacular range of colors and patterns that butterflies use to deter predators appears to result in part from very specific environmental conditions in so-called 'microhabitats,' researchers have found. This study helps to answer a paradoxical question in science; since species mimic each other's characteristics to ward off predators, theoretically they should all eventually develop the same pattern. Instead, there is a remarkable diversity of patterns which achieve this common goal. (2017-05-23)

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