The 7-million-year-old jawbone of an ape found in Greece in 1944 may belong to humans' oldest common ancestor with chimpanzees and may be evidence that humans split from apes in Europe, rather than Africa, according to a pair of studies published in PLOS ONE. Researchers say the Graecopithecus freybergi jaw exhibits some similarities to those of human ancestors, following a CT scan analysis of the fossil.
The spine of an ancient Australopithecus afarensis toddler has many similarities to human spines, but it has a different upper and lower back transition that may have helped with bipedal walking, according to research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The 3-million-year-old fossil contains 12 ribs and 12 thoracic vertebrae, the same as in modern human spines.
Meteors may be leaving behind pieces of metal in the Martian sky as they fly through the planet's atmosphere, according to a study published online in Nature Geoscience. Researchers analyzed data collected over two years by NASA's MAVEN space probe.
High-altitude nuclear explosions and very-low-frequency radio communications can affect near-Earth space weather, studies published in Space Science Reviews suggest. Researchers looked at data about nuclear tests conducted by the US and Soviet Union between 1958 and 1962 as well as VLF transmissions between ground stations and submarines observed by the Van Allen Probes.
Genetically modified gut bacteria can produce full-color photocopies of images shone onto their colonies, according to a study published in Nature Chemical Biology. Escherichia coli bacteria have been engineered to sense red, green and blue light that they reproduce in about eight hours.
The diabetes drug metformin may work by altering patients' gut bacteria, encouraging the growth of Akkermansia and Bifidobacterium, which can help regulate blood sugar levels, a study published in Nature Medicine suggests. Metformin is thought to work by lowering the amount of glucose the liver makes, but researchers suggest the drug's effect on gut bacteria may play a role as well.
Researchers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases report in the journal Cell that two antibodies from an Ebola survivor protected ferrets and mice from infection. The antibodies blocked various types of Ebola from causing infection in the animals, and they protected human cells from infection in a laboratory setting.
A University of Auckland researcher has turned to crowdfunding to raise money for antibiotic resistance research. The New Zealand government has turned down five funding requests from microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles, so she's joined with Cure Kids to raise about $176,000 through a crowdfunding effort.
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