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Showing posts from March 16, 2016

What is a Tully Monster? Scientists finally provide an answer

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - For more than half a century, scientists have scratched their heads over the nature of an outlandishly bizarre creature dubbed the Tully Monster that flourished about 307 million years ago in a coastal estuary in what is now northeastern Illinois. "I would rank the Tully Monster just about at the top of the scale of weirdness," said paleontologist Victoria McCoy of Britain's University of Leicester, who conducted the study while at Yale University. "I've always loved detective work, and in paleontology it doesn't get much better than this," said paleontologist James Lamsdell of the American Museum of Natural History in New York.


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What is a Tully Monster? Scientists finally provide an answer

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - For more than half a century, scientists have scratched their heads over the nature of an outlandishly bizarre creature dubbed the Tully Monster that flourished about 307 million years ago in a coastal estuary in what is now northeastern Illinois. "I would rank the Tully Monster just about at the top of the scale of weirdness," said paleontologist Victoria McCoy of Britain's University of Leicester, who conducted the study while at Yale University. "I've always loved detective work, and in paleontology it doesn't get much better than this," said paleontologist James Lamsdell of the American Museum of Natural History in New York.


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Scientists find 'good' cholesterol can sometimes be bad

By Ben Hirschler LONDON (Reuters) - So-called "good" cholesterol may actually increase heart attack risks in some people, researchers said on Thursday, a discovery that casts fresh doubt on drugs designed to raise it. High density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is generally associated with reduced heart risks, since it usually offsets the artery-clogging effects of the low density (LDL) form. "Our results indicate that some causes of raised HDL actually increase risk for heart disease," said lead researcher Daniel Rader of the University of Pennsylvania.

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Trees adapt to higher temperatures, limiting global warming impact

By Alister Doyle OSLO (Reuters) - Trees can adapt to rising temperatures and limit their natural emissions of greenhouse gases, according to a study published on Wednesday that suggests plants may have a smaller than expected role in stoking man-made global warming. As temperatures rise, trees use more energy in respiration and emit more carbon dioxide from their leaves. "Plant respiration results in an annual flux of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere that is six times as large as that due to the emissions from fossil fuel burning, so changes in either will impact future climate," scientists wrote in the journal Nature.


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Scientists develop new human stem cells with half a genome

By Bill Berkrot NEW YORK (Reuters) - Scientists for the first time have generated a type of embryonic stem cell that carries a single copy of the human genome rather than the usual two, a development that could advance research in gene editing, genetic screening and regenerative medicine. Derived from a female egg, the stem cells are the first human cells known to be capable of cell division with just one copy of the parent cell's genome, according to a study appearing on Wednesday in the journal Nature. Human cells are considered diploid because they inherit two sets of chromosomes, 23 from the mother and 23 from the father.

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The Gravitational Wave Crests: Big Discoveries are Worth the Wait (Op-Ed)

Fleming Crim is assistant director for the NSF Directorate of Mathematical and Physical Sciences. Crim leads a staff of nearly 180 and oversees an annual budget of $1.3 billion, with the directorate supproting core research in astronomy, chemistry, physics, material science and mathematics. Late last month, I testified before the U.S. Congress alongside three leading physicists about a topic largely unknown on Capitol Hill: gravitational waves .


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Averting an Acid Apocalypse: The Toxic Legacy of Kawah Ijen (Op-Ed)

Kawah Ijen's crater lake measures more than half a mile in diameter and its volume is more than 40 million cubic yards (i.e., larger than the combined volume of all NFL football stadiums). Though both car batteries and Kawah Ijen's lake are primarily composed of the same sulfuric acid, Kawah Ijen's sulfur is tapped naturally from its volcanic host. The sulfur gases are mostly "scrubbed" by the circulating water of the hydrothermal system, which is linked to the lake above.


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Snowscapes Show Wonder of Animals in Winter (Photos)

Julie Larsen Maher is staff photographer for WCS, the first woman to hold the position since the society's founding in 1895. In addition to documenting her field visits, Maher photographs the animals at WCS's five New York-based wildlife parks: the Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, New York Aquarium, Prospect Park Zoo and Queens Zoo. Dan Rosen is managing editor of digital programming for the Wildlife Conservation Society.


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These Spiders Like Some Greens with Their Insects

Spiders are known as clever predators, trapping and stalking their insect prey. Spiders chow down on everything from nectar to sap to small fruiting bodies, wrote the study's leader, Martin Nyffeler, a research fellow in conservation biology at the University of Basel in Switzerland, and colleagues. "Such a large diversity of plant types, plant taxa and plant materials being used as food by spiders is novel," Nyffeler told Live Science.


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Denmark Is the World's Happiest Country

The happiest country in the world is famous for its butter cookies, Lego bricks and fairy-tale writer Hans Christian Andersen — it's Denmark, according to the 2016 World Happiness Report. The country ranked first in the 2013 World Happiness Report and third in the 2015 report. The new report comes out just before World Happiness Day on March 20, and was released at the Bank of Italy during a conference on happiness and subjective well-being today (March 16).

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T. Rex Was Pregnant, Bone Test Confirms

About 68 million years ago, a pregnant Tyrannosaurus rex died in ancient Montana. The finding is an exciting one — researchers verified that the T. rex was pregnant by looking at the organic components in the dinosaur's bone structure, elements that had survived for tens of millions of years since the predator's death, said study lead researcher Mary Schweitzer, an evolutionary biologist at North Carolina State University. "We need to quit selling fossils short," Schweitzer told Live Science.


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Zika Does Raise Microcephaly Risk, New Study Suggests

A new estimate suggests that one in 100 women who become infected with the Zika virus during the first trimester of pregnancy will give birth to a child with microcephaly, a condition that causes an abnormally small brain and head. The new results support the idea that pregnant women who become infected with the Zika virus in the first trimester of pregnancy may have the highest risk of giving birth to babies with the condition, compared with women who become infected later in their pregnancies, researchers said. "Our analysis strongly supports the hypothesis that Zika virus infection during the first trimester of pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of microcephaly," study co-author Dr. Simon Cauchemez, of the Institut Pasteur in Paris, France, said in a statement.

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Experimental Drug Mixture Protects Monkeys from Ebola Virus

An experimental drug mixture can successfully fight the Ebola virus in monkeys, fully protecting them from lethal infections, according to a new study. The finding may pave the way for a therapy that is broadly protective against Ebola viruses in Africa, researchers say. Unlike a vaccine, the new drug mixture is intended to treat Ebola after a person has been infected with the virus.


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Many US Measles Cases Are in People Who Refuse Vaccines

Many U.S. measles cases occur in children whose parents refuse vaccines for religious or philosophical reasons, a new study suggests. Researchers analyzed 18 previous studies of measles in the U.S. and found that about 1,400 measles cases occurred in the United States from 2000 to 2015. More than half of these cases (57 percent) occurred in people who were definitely not vaccinated against measles, and another third of the cases were in people who had an "unknown history" of vaccination.

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Drone meets blimp for crowd-friendly UAV

By Matthew Stock A new breed of unmanned aerial vehicle that is safe to fly at close proximity to crowds has been developed by a spin-off team from Swiss university ETH Zurich. The helium-filled flying machine, known as Skye, combines the manoeuvrability of a traditional quadcopter with the energy efficiency of a blimp. The makers say their safe and 'friendly' drone offers a new and innovative way for brands to interact with their audiences in public settings.

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