Biology

Did Hunter-Gatherers Intentionally Domesticate Wild Plants?

New research from the University of Sheffield, UK, has shed light on how hunter-gatherers adopted agriculture and how crops were domesticated to depend on people. Ploughing with a yoke of horned cattle in Ancient Egypt. Domesticated crops have been transformed almost beyond recognition in comparison with their wild relatives — …

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New Species of Butterfly Discovered in Israel: Acentria’s Fritillary

A new species of the butterfly genus Melitaea has been discovered in northern Israel, according to a paper published in the journal Comparative Cytogenetics. The Acentria’s fritillary (Melitaea acentria), female, Mt. Hermon (1,800 m), Israel, May 7, 2016. Image credit: V. Lukhtanov, doi: 10.3897/CompCytogen.v11i2.12370. Butterflies of the genus Melitaea are …

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Three Subspecies of Snow Leopard Revealed

There are three different subspecies of the snow leopard (Panthera uncia), the world’s most elusive large big cat, according to a new study published in the Journal of Heredity. According to Janecka et al, the snow leopard (Panthera uncia) is actually three different subspecies. Image credit: Dingopup / The Cat …

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Two New Species of Tarsiers Discovered in Indonesia

Two new tarsier species have been discovered in the forests of the northern peninsula of Sulawesi, Indonesia. The Gursky’s spectral tarsier (Tarsius spectrumgurskyae) from Tangkoko Nature Reserve, Sulawesi, Indonesia. Image credit: Alfrets Masala / Shekelle et al / Primate Conservation. Tarsiers are small, nocturnal, predaceous primates of the 45-million-year-old family …

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Gut Bacteria ‘Speak’ to Brain to Control Food Choices in Animals

In a study published recently in the journal PLOS Biology, neuroscientists identified three gut bacteria species — Acetobacter pomorum, Lactobacillus plantarum and L. brevis — that have an impact on animal dietary decisions. According to Leitao-Goncalves et al, gut bacteria control food choice and egg laying in Drosophila melanogaster. Image …

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Two New Species of African Mole-Rats Discovered in Tanzania

Scientists working in Tanzania have discovered and named two new species of the mole-rat genus Fukomys. The research was published in the journal PeerJ. The Hanang mole-rat (Fukomys hanangensis). Image credit: Chris Faulkes. African mole-rats of the family Bathyergidae are burrowing rodents that occur throughout sub-Saharan Africa, with much of …

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Three New Species of Fungus-Farming Ants Discovered in South America

Three new species of the ant genus Sericomyrmex have been discovered in Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Sericomyrmex radioheadi, worker. Image credit: A. Ješovnik T.R. Schultz, doi: 10.3897/zookeys.670.11839. The genus Sericomyrmex belongs to the fungus-farming ants (tribe Attini), a New World group of over 250 species, all of which …

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Wax Moth Caterpillars Found to Eat Polyethylene

An international team of researchers from Spain and the United Kingdom has found that a caterpillar of the greater wax moth (Galleria mellonella) — commonly known as a wax worm — has the ability to biodegrade polyethylene. Polyethylene degradation by wax worms. Left: plastic bag after exposure to about 100 …

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