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A team of scientists has uncovered how some sea snakes have developed 'shrunken heads' - literally smaller physical features than their related species.

A large head would seem to be a welcome trait for sea snakes, which typically have to swallow large spiny fish. However, there are some circumstances where it wouldn't be very useful: sea snakes that feed by probing their front ends into narrow, sand eel burrows have evolved comically small heads. 

Hunting in Africa has halved the number of primates, according to estimates, but that is not the extend of the problem. Primates help with dispersal of seed and the reduction in primates has led to a reduction in the numbers of fruit trees, say biologists from Lund University in Sweden.

Felling and clear-cutting is not the only problem in Africa; the researchers studied rainforests in Nigeria, where the local population hunts for food, and found that the animals that are hunted include almost all mammals, including gorillas and chimpanzees and some small species of monkey.

Thanks to a supersensitive space telescope and some sophisticated supercomputing, scientists from the international Planck collaboration have made the closest reading yet of the most ancient story in our universe: the cosmic microwave background (CMB).

Today, the team released preliminary results based on the Planck observatory's first 15 months of data. They show that the universe is 100 million years older than we thought with more matter and less dark energy.  

Decoding the Cosmos

The mission of the ESA Planck satellite is to observe the Universe of the past, seeing back in time, right after the Big Bang.

The image that the Planck scientists revealed today is that of the Universe as a child, dating back to about 380,000 years after the Big Bang, when its temperature was similar to that of the most external layer of a star today.

Mandates and subsidies have created an artificial green energy industry. In the case of ethanol, that has led to escalating corn prices. Higher prices have encouraged some farmers to switch to growing corn continuously and they are seeing unusually high yield reductions.

 A six-year study has identified three key factors affecting yield in continuous corn (CC) systems.

The handling of "incidental findings" in clinical genome and exome sequencing has been addressed by the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG). 

Incidental findings are health-related interpretations of a patient's genetic code that are unrelated to the primary reason for ordering the genetic testing. For example, if a clinician orders exome or genome sequencing to analyze genes related to a patient's cardiac condition, the laboratory will already have information about all the other genes in hand and could examine genes for something like cancer predisposition with relative ease.