A number of simple organisms that don't have brains can still exhibit intelligent behavior. Among those are slime molds, which can solve mazes; jellyfish, which appear to sleep; and various plants such as the Cornish mallow, which anticipates the morning sun by turning its leaves toward the sunrise the night before.
Wild Chinese giant salamanders, which are considered living fossils because they haven't changed in 170 million years, are near extinction in their natural habitat because they are being caught to serve as a delicacy in restaurants. "The overexploitation of these incredible animals for human consumption has had a catastrophic effect on their numbers in the wild over an amazingly short time span," said Samuel Turvey, who participated in field surveys of the creatures' habitats.
More than 2,000 human bones found in Denmark are providing researchers with clues about barbarian warfare that took place in northern Europe about 2,000 years ago, according to findings published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The bones belonged to at least 82 people, most of whom were young males who died during a single incident, and archaeologists estimate there could have been over 380 people buried at the site because of how the bones were distributed.
Scientists at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have demonstrated they can trap radioactivity for a long period of time by mixing radioactive waste with liquid glass, which then solidifies. "The radioactive elements are chemically bound as part of the glass material, and the glass material is a durable waste form that isolates the radioactivity from the environment for a very long time," lead researcher Will Eaton said.
Massive Rossby waves have been observed on the sun for the first time. Researchers examined the movements of granules on the sun's surface, which indicated the presence of the Rossby waves, according to findings published in Nature Astronomy.
The first real-world vaccinations for the Ebola virus are being administered in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where an outbreak of the deadly disease continues. The experimental vaccine, rVSV-ZEBOV, is being given to health care workers and people who have had contact with those who've contracted Ebola.
A genetic study has revealed how malaria became such a deadly disease over the course of 50,000 years. "Our study has pieced together the sequential series of steps that set up the critical storm, allowing the parasites to not only enter humans but to stay, divide and be transferred by mosquitoes," said Matt Berriman, an author of the study published in Nature Microbiology.
Every 10 parts per billion increase in ozone exposure at birth was linked to 82% higher odds of asthma in childhood, Canadian researchers reported at the American Thoracic Society meeting. However, the findings, based on data involving 1,881 Canadian youths followed from birth until age 17 on average, didn't associate nitrogen dioxide or particulate matter PM2.5 exposure at birth with increased pediatric asthma risk.
Virginia Commonwealth University's C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research has been awarded a $21.5 million grant from the NIH. The funds will go toward finding ways to give patients with cardiac and pulmonary issues or those dealing with addictions better access to treatment.
Connecticut has provided $400,000 in funding to Bactana, a startup focused on producing probiotics for livestock that will be part of the University of Connecticut Technology Incubation Program. The funding comes through the state's Connecticut Innovations program and will go toward designing probiotic bacteria that can be used instead of hormones and antibiotics to spur growth.
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