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Latest scientists news and updates

Money Matters - Simplified


Endangered frogs bred in captivity

Washington -- Researchers say they've successfully bred an endangered Panamanian tree frog, notoriously difficult to care for in captivity, in an effort to save the species.

Scientists with the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project say they've successfully bred the critically endangered La Loma tree frog, Hyloscirtus colymba, ScienceDaily.con reported.

"We are some of the first researchers to attempt to breed these animals into captivity and we have very little information about how to care for them," said Brian Gratwicke, coordinator for the project and a research biologist at the Smithsonian's National Zoo.

Study: Sharks 'wandered' to Mediterranean

Aberdeen, Scotland -- Great white sharks may have arrived in the Mediterranean from Australian seas 450,000 years ago after a migratory "wrong turn," researchers say.

Once there, the species -- Carcharodon carcharias -- would have remained in the Mediterranean Sea because great white sharks return to spawn where they were born.

It was previously believed great whites in the Mediterranean were most closely related to their nearby cousins in the Atlantic Ocean, but a study of their DNA showed they were very different from the Atlantic group and more like sharks from Australia and New Zealand.
The time the sharks arrived in the Mediterranean, 450,000 years ago, was between ice ages and would have seen many effects of a changing climate, researchers say.

Whales found suffering from sunburn

London -- Whales have been observed with skin damage similar to acute sunburn in humans, and the problem is getting worse with time, British researchers say.

Scientists from the United Kingdom studied blue whales, fin whales and sperm whales in the Gulf of California to measure the effect of rising levels of ultraviolet radiation on their health, ScienceDaily.com reported Wednesday.

Blisters on the skin of whales have been observed for a number of years, and now researchers using high-definition photos to give accurate counts of the blisters and analyzing areas of damage in skin samples say they've found the three species of whale exhibit skin damage commonly associated with acute sunburn in humans.

Study: Language molds likes, dislikes

Cambridge, Mass. -- The language we speak may influence not only our thoughts, but also our perceptions or preferences about other ethnic groups, U.S. researchers say.

Scientists at Harvard University say implicit attitudes people may be unaware they possess can predict behavior towards members of social groups and can be molded by the language they speak, ScienceDaily.com reported.

"Can we shift something as fundamental as what we like and dislike by changing the language in which our preferences are elicited?" Mahzarin R. Banaji, a professor of social ethics, asks.

"If the answer is yes, that gives more support to the idea that language is an important shaper of attitudes," he says.

Early primates lived fast, died young

Cambridge, Mass. -- Modern humans are slower to reach full maturity than our early ancestors were, and that may have given us an evolutionary advantage, U.S. researchers say.

Scientists at Harvard University say our characteristically slow development and long childhood are recent and unique to our species, and may have provided an evolutionary boost past earlier humans like Neanderthals, ScienceDaily.com reported.

The findings are based on sophisticated new analysis of teeth from 11 Neanderthal and early human fossils, researchers say.

"Teeth are remarkable time recorders, capturing each day of growth much like rings in trees reveal yearly progress," Tanya M. Smith, assistant professor of human evolutionary biology, says.

Tiny new bat species found in Ecuador

Washington -- U.S. and Brazilian scientists say they've discovered a species of tiny bat on the western slopes of the Andes in Ecuador, where its habitat is under threat.

The first specimen of Myotis diminutus was collected more than 30 years ago but the researchers have only now confirmed that the little creature, which weighs just a few grams, is a distinct species, the BBC reported.

The researchers, writing in the journal Mammalian Biology, said, "As with many other newly described species, we know nothing about the natural history of this bat.

"Unfortunately, the prospects for learning more about it are bleak," they wrote.

Cosmonauts finish ISS spacewalk

Washington -- Two Russian cosmonauts took a spacewalk from the International Space Station Monday to accomplish a number of maintenance tasks, officials said.

Veteran space walker Fyodor Yurchikhin and first-timer Oleg Skripochka worked about 6 1/2 hours while floating outside the space station, SPACE.com reported.

They installed a new staging ground for future spacewalks and finished off some routine maintenance tasks, kept from completing the list of intended projects only by a balky television camera that could not be secured in its new location, mission controllers said.

Russian space officials decided to postpone that job for a subsequent spacewalk as the cosmonauts were running out of time.

Paraguay suspends British expedition into ‘Gran Chaco'

In the wake of protests against British Natural History Museum’s (NHM) expedition into a remote region in Paraguay, as the contact might disturb the 'un-contacted' aboriginal people’s lifestyle and health, the Paraguayan government Monday suspended the expedition.

Study: Stranded dolphins often deaf

Washington -- U.S. researchers say dolphins found weakened or dead near shore often have one thing in common -- they are nearly deaf.

University of South Florida scientists say in a marine world where hearing is as vital as sight dolphins unable to use sound to locate food or find family members often wind up weak and disoriented, The Washington Post reported Monday.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says 1,200 to 1,600 whales and dolphins are found stranded off the U.S. coast each year.
Without the ability to hear sounds, researchers say, dolphins can be helpless.

Crows can distinguish male, female faces

Tokyo -- Researchers in Japan say they have found that crows can tell the difference between men and women

Scientists studied four jungle crows, considered a pest in Japanese cities, The Daily Telegraph reported.

They showed the birds color photographs of humans with their hair hidden. One pair was trained to pick men's faces and the other pair women's. They were rewarded with cheese for the correct answer.

When the faces of other men and women were added and the faces shuffled, three of the four crows picked the correct faces every time, and the fourth was right seven times out of 10.