ScienceDaily: Top Environment News: Studying meteorites may reveal Mars’ secrets of life

Jay Owen Nature/Biomimicry

Studying meteorites may reveal Mars’ secrets of life

Posted: 01 May 2013 04:32 PM PDT

In an effort to determine if conditions were ever right on Mars to sustain life, a team of scientists has examined a meteorite that formed on the Red Planet more than a billion years ago.

Startling survival story at historic Jamestown: Physical evidence of survival cannibalism

Posted: 01 May 2013 04:18 PM PDT

A forensic analysis of 17th-century human remains proves that survival cannibalism took place in historic Jamestown, Virginia. The findings answer a long-standing question among historians about the occurrence of cannibalism at Jamestown during the deadly winter of 1609-1610 known as the “starving time” — a period during which about 80 percent of the colonists died.

Soil may harbor answer to reducing arsenic in rice

Posted: 01 May 2013 12:44 PM PDT

Agricultural researchers are studying whether a naturally occurring soil bacterium, referred to as UD1023, can create an iron barrier in rice roots that reduces arsenic uptake.

Health defects found in fish exposed to Deepwater Horizon oil spill, three years later

Posted: 01 May 2013 11:51 AM PDT

Three years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, crude oil toxicity continues to sicken a sentinel Gulf Coast fish species, according to new findings.

Seahorse’s armor gives engineers insight into robotics designs

Posted: 01 May 2013 10:21 AM PDT

The tail of a seahorse can be compressed to about half its size before permanent damage occurs, engineers have found. The tail’s flexibility is due to its structure, made up of bony, armored plates, which slide past each other. Researchers are hoping to use a similar structure to create a flexible robotic arm, which could be used in medical devices, underwater exploration and unmanned bomb detection and detonation.

Fossil of great ape sheds light on evolution

Posted: 01 May 2013 10:21 AM PDT

An integrative anatomy expert says the shape of an 11.8-million-year-old specimen’s pelvis indicates that it lived near the beginning of the great ape evolution, after the lesser apes had started to develop separately but before the great ape species began to diversify.

Amphibians living close to farm fields are more resistant to common insecticides

Posted: 01 May 2013 10:20 AM PDT

Amphibian populations living close to agricultural fields have become more resistant to a common insecticide and are actually resistant to multiple common insecticides, according to two recent studies.

Substances in honey increase honey bee detox gene expression

Posted: 01 May 2013 10:20 AM PDT

A new study shows that some components of the nectar and pollen grains bees collect to manufacture food increase expression of detoxification genes that help keep honey bees healthy.

New plant protein discoveries could ease global food and fuel demands

Posted: 01 May 2013 10:19 AM PDT

New discoveries of the way plants transport important substances across their biological membranes to resist toxic metals and pests, increase salt and drought tolerance, control water loss and store sugar can have profound implications for increasing the supply of food and energy for our rapidly growing global population.

Scientists retrieve temperature data from Japan Trench observatory

Posted: 01 May 2013 07:13 AM PDT

With the successful retrieval of a string of instruments from deep beneath the seafloor, an international team of scientists has completed an unprecedented series of operations to obtain crucial temperature measurements of the fault that caused the devastating Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

Bizarre bone worms emit acid to feast on whale skeletons: Bone-melting substance drills opening for worms to access nutrients

Posted: 01 May 2013 06:19 AM PDT

Only within the past 12 years have marine biologists come to learn about the eye-opening characteristics of mystifying sea worms that live and thrive on the skeletons of whale carcasses. Now, scientists at describe how Osedax, mouthless and gutless “bone worms,” excrete a bone-melting acid to gain entry to the nutrients within whale bones.

‘Dirty dozen’ invasive species threaten UK

Posted: 01 May 2013 06:18 AM PDT

Parts of the UK are at greater risk of invasion by non-native aquatic species than previously thought, according to new research. The first to include human factors in models used to predict where invasive species will arrive and spread, the study shows the Thames, Anglian and Humber river basins are most vulnerable.

Bird fossil sheds light on how swift and hummingbird flight came to be

Posted: 01 May 2013 06:18 AM PDT

A tiny bird fossil discovered in Wyoming offers clues to the precursors of swift and hummingbird wings. The fossil is unusual in having exceptionally well-preserved feathers, which allowed the researchers to reconstruct the size and shape of the bird’s wings in ways not possible with bones alone.

Consequences of a lifetime of sexual competition revealed

Posted: 01 May 2013 06:07 AM PDT

Males that spend all their time reacting to their rivals die earlier and are less able to mate later in life according to new research. It reveals how fruit flies that are subjected to continual competition from mating rivals, mate for longer and produce more offspring in early life. But they pay a high price – a shorter lifespan and reduced mating ability later in life.

Storm study reveals a sting in the tail

Posted: 01 May 2013 06:06 AM PDT

Meteorologists have gained a better understanding of how storms like the one that battered Britain in 1987 develop, making them easier to predict.

Membrane remodeling: Where yoga meets cell biology

Posted: 30 Apr 2013 06:25 AM PDT

Endocytosis lets cells absorb nutrients, import growth factors, prevent infections and accomplish many other vital tasks. This study suggests that, in contrast to earlier theories, dynamin proteins and membrane lipids work together synergistically. Also, GTP completes the final act of separation (membrane fission) not through brute force, but by encouraging the highly stressed membrane to relax.

Better wheat varieties in the future? Wheat genome shows resistance genes easy to access

Posted: 29 Apr 2013 10:35 AM PDT

Scientists have developed a physical map of wheat’s wild ancestor, Aegilops tauschii, commonly called goatgrass. It’s the first huge step toward sequencing the wheat genome — a complete look at wheat’s genetic matter. The work showed among other things, that most resistance genes seem to lie at the ends of chromosomes and can be easily accessed. The findings can lead to breeding of more productive and sustainable wheat varieties.