Emergence of black-colored wolves is the direct result of humans raising dogs as pets and beasts of burden, according to new research by a University of Calgary biologist in Science. The dark coloring may also aid the survival of the species as wolf habitat is affected by climate change in the future, the study suggests.
A missing link in the evolution of the front claw of living scorpions and horseshoe crabs was identified with the discovery of a 390 million-year-old fossil by researchers at Yale and the University of Bonn, Germany.
Excavations in Colombia co-organized by Carlos Jaramillo, staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama and Jonathan Bloch, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the University of Florida's Florida Museum of Natural History, have unearthed fossil remains of a new snake species they named Titanoboa cerrejonensis.
Surrounded by huge trucks extracting coal from Cerrejon, one of the world's largest open-pit mines, researchers discovered fossilized bones of super-sized snakes and their prey, crocodiles and turtles, in the Cerrejon Formation, along with fossilized plant material from the oldest known rainforest in the Americas, which flourished at the site 58-60 million years ago.
As many as 2.4 million Americans have schizophrenia so a late or incorrect diagnosis and the lack of effective treatment options can destroy a sufferer's quality of life. Schizophrenia usually emerges between the ages of 18 and 30 but diagnosis before the disease manifests itself could be the key to developing more successful treatments, says Prof. Talma Hendler, of Tel Aviv University's Department of Psychology.
Until now, detecting mental illness before symptoms appear has been nearly impossible. Building on her groundbreaking work on facial recognition and brain imaging, Prof. Hendler is hoping to make early diagnosis a reality by identifying the physical markers of mental illness — particularly schizophrenia — inside the brain.
Influenza is and remains a disease to reckon with. Seasonal epidemics around the world kill several hundred thousand people every year. In the light of looming pandemics if bird flu strains develop the ability to infect humans easily, new drugs and vaccines are desperately sought. Researchers at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) and the joint Unit of Virus Host-Cell Interaction (UVHCI) of EMBL, the University Joseph Fourier (UJF) and the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), in Grenoble, France, have now precisely defined an important drug target in influenza. In this week's Nature they publish a high-resolution image of a crucial protein domain that allows the virus to hijack human cells and multiply in them.
University of Minnesota researchers say they have identified the "master gene" behind blood vessel development. Using genetically engineered mice, researchers with the University of Minnesota Medical School's Lillehei Heart Institute were able to identify a protein, Nkx2-5, which activates a certain gene, and in turn, determines the fate of a group of cells in a developing embryo.
Better understanding of how this gene operates in the early stages of development may help researchers find better treatments for heart disease and cancer.