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Paleo reconstructions of three Jurassic to Lower Cretaceous snakes: top left, Portugalophis lignites (Upper Jurassic) in a ginko tree, from the coal swamp deposits at Guimarota, Portugal; top right, Diablophis gilmorei (Upper Jurassic), hiding in a ceratosaur skull, from the Morrison Formation, Fruita, Colorado; bottom center, Parviraptor estesi (Upper Jurassic/Lower Cretaceous) swimming in freshwater lake with snails and algae, from the Purbeck Limestone, Swanage, England. (Credit: Julius Csotonyi)

Oldest fossilized snakes ever found

Researchers have found the oldest known snake fossils ever discovered, pushing back the first record of snakes by 70 million years. The authors suggest that the fossils hint that the classic snake head evolved first and was then followed by the evolution of the elongated, limbless body. Studying fossilized skull bones found in England, Portugal […]

New guidelines for weight management

Weight and obesity is a public health issue in Canada as more than 67 per cent of Canadian men, and 54 per cent of women are considered overweight or obese. The Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care has drafted new recommendations for clinicians and policy-makers after reviewing currently existing prevention and treatment literature. The […]

Nocturnal leg cramps more common in summer

Painful nocturnal leg cramps are about twice as common during summer than in winter, a new study has found. The authors found this by looking at the prescribing information in British Columbia between 2001 and 2007, for Quinine sulfate, commonly prescribed to treat the pain, and the volume of internet searches for “leg cramps” from […]

Yellowfin sole currently lives in the northern Pacific, from the Sea of Japan to the Sea of Okhotsk, the Bering Sea and Barkley Sound on the west coast of Canada. It could migrate to the Atlantic ocean in the 100 years according to a new study. (Photo credit: NOAA)

Warming oceans and melting ice mean fish will be able to move across the Arctic

Fish species living in the North Atlantic and Pacific may interchange as sea ice melts and the North West and North East passages open up. This future interchange could impact commercial fishing, as new high-latitude fisheries become more viable, and in local ecosystems as new species move in and old ones are forced out. Using […]

How heritable is autism?

A new study shows how complex it is to understand autism from a genetic point of view. Researchers sequenced the genomes of 85 families with two children who are both affected with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). They found that the majority (around 70%) of affected siblings did not share common mutations. Greater than 100 susceptibility […]

How eating salt reprograms the brain

Researchers have described a mechanism by which high salt intake can lead to higher blood pressure. Using rats, they found that salt causes biochemical changes in neurons that release vasopressin, a hormone that increases arterial blood pressure. Salt disables the natural safety mechanism that prevents vasopressin from being released in the blood, thus allowing blood […]

Shinta, the goshawk that participated in the study, is shown here wearing the helmet camera in flight (Photo credit: Robert Musters)

Turn abruptly if you are hunted by a goshawk

Goshawks hunt by fixing their eyes on their prey. Their method is so effective that the hawks pursuit of their target can be over in seconds. Using cameras mounted on the heads of the birds, researchers analysed the raptors’ pursuit strategy from a birds-eye perspective. They found that Goshawks used different strategies at different stages […]

Synthetic nutrients and GMOs

Researchers have developed genetically modified organisms (GMOs) that depend on synthetic nutrients to survive. Two teams, one from Yale University and another from Harvard, tweaked the genetic code of modified bacteria whose growth is restricted by the expression of multiple essential genes that depend on synthetic amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. When the […]

Language evolves faster in isolated populations

Changes in genetics and language follow similar patterns as human population disperse, however language is able to spontaneously change in isolated populations. Both genetics and language change over time as small mutations in genes or phonemes, like the ‘k’ sound in ‘cat’ or ‘skill’, accumulate or are lost. Additionally both language and genetics change by […]

Rare shared genetic mutation behind Inuit disease

Scientists have found the gene mutations responsible for a rare disease which impairs the function of the liver and muscles in about 1 in 2500 Inuits in northern Quebec. Called glycogen storage disease type IIIa, this sickness causes a buildup of glycogen, a complex sugar, in the body. This in turn produces low blood sugar […]

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