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March 14, 2013
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  • Ancient coin may establish trading link between China, Africa
    Anthropologists say a 600-year-old coin discovered on an island near Kenya may be evidence of a trading network between African countries and China. They are studying the coin to determine whether it's a counterfeit. The rare silver and copper coin called a "Yongle Tongbao" would have been issued during the Ming Dynasty under the rule of Emperor Yongle. "Whether it turns out to be fake it is still extremely exciting. It speaks to the competition going on between merchants, the kind of competition that is still visible today," said Chapurukha Kusimba, a curator at The Field Museum who is studying the coin. Chicago Sun-Times (free registration) (3/13) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
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  • Study: Parrots can show self-restraint to trade up in treats
    Parrots are capable of demonstrating enough self-control to be able to barter until they get what they want, according to a study in the journal Biology Letters. Modeled after a 1970s experiment that used marshmallows to study a child's ability to show self-restraint, scientists presented Goffin's cockatoos with different nuts to determine whether they were capable of waiting -- and trading up -- for better treats. "When exchanging for better qualities, the Goffins acted astonishingly like economic agents, flexibly trading off between immediate and future benefits," said lead researcher Alice Auersperg. Discovery (3/12) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Baleen whales capture food with net-like mesh in their mouths
    The specialized bristles in the mouths of baleen whales form a unique net that helps them capture food as they swim, according to a study published in the The Journal of Experimental Biology. The findings trump previous beliefs that the baleen worked passively as a sieve -- rather, the tissue works dynamically to form a mesh, depending on the specific whale, said biologist and study author Alexander Werth. (3/13) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Study: Lysozyme-rich milk from biotech goats can treat diarrhea
    Milk rich in lysozyme, an antimicrobial protein found in human milk, from biotech goats successfully treated young pigs with diarrhea caused by bacterial infections in the gut, according to a study published in the journal PLOS One. Researchers hope the milk can also benefit children with bacterial diarrhea. "These results provide just one example that, through genetic engineering, we can provide agriculturally relevant animals with novel traits targeted at solving some of the health-related problems facing these developing communities," said James Murray, the study's lead researcher. (3/14) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Could a blood test help doctors monitor cancer?
    Doctors typically perform a tissue biopsy to track cancer treatment progress, but a new study indicates that a blood test to detect DNA from free-floating tumor cells could be a less invasive alternative. Researchers say they still need to perform the study on a larger scale, but are hopeful based on current results. "This is a powerful technology," said Daniel Haber, a cancer researcher who was not involved with the study. "It can be very scalable, inexpensive and useful." Nature (free content) (3/13) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Treatment combo shows type 2 diabetes benefits
    Combining hyperbaric oxygen therapy with stem cell treatment helped four type 2 diabetes patients to discontinue insulin use at one week, according to a study published in Cell Transplantation. Researchers also found that in the year after treatment, 15 patients were able to reduce their insulin requirement, and 10 patients halted or reduced metformin therapy. (U.K.) (3/13) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Astronomers discover galaxies born soon after Big Bang
    Astronomers say they've discovered massive galaxies that may have produced stars as early as 1 billion years after the Big Bang. Scientists used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in Chile to study 26 star-making galaxies, which may be some of the oldest-known in the universe. "These types of galaxies, which are massive dusty galaxies that are forming stars -- these are the most active locations of star formation in the universe," said Joaquin Vieira, who led the study to be published in the journal Nature. "The peak in the massive galaxies' formation was a billion years sooner than thought." Additional findings on the research will be published in the Astrophysical Journal. (3/13) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Study: Plant reproduction is probably a no-go in outer space
    Plant reproduction may be more dependent on gravity than once believed, according to a study published in the journal PLoS ONE. Scientists used simulated antigravity environments to study how plants might reproduce without the force. They discovered that intercellular transport, which is necessary for mating plants and communicating brain cells in humans, was affected by the lack of gravity. "If we ever want to do agriculture in space ... then we have to take this into account. In order to actually do long-term plant cultivation, we have to look for species that can actually reproduce under zero gravity conditions," wrote study researcher Anja Geitmann. (3/13) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
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