Thursday, January 31, 2019

science news 31.1.2019

Today's round-up of science stories. Links are normally to press releases on EurekAlert (at the bottom end I may also add a couple of newspaper stories). I include quotes from the summary (using quotation marks) in cases where the title alone doesn't reveal what the story is about.


evolution

Baboons provide new insights into the evolution of the genome
"A team of researchers including scientists from Vetmeduni Vienna investigated the process of evolutionary diversification by looking at six baboon species. The results of the study provide exciting new insights into the evolution of the genome - including that of humans."


The 210-million-year-old Smok was crushing bones like a hyena
"Coprolites, or fossil droppings, of the dinosaur-like archosaur Smok wawelski contain lots of chewed-up bone fragments. This led researchers at Uppsala University to conclude that this top predator was exploiting bones for salt and marrow, a behavior often linked to mammals but seldom to archosaurs."



ecology

ARS microscopy research helps unravel the workings of a major honey bee pest

Urban biodiversity: Remarkable diversity of small animals in Basel gardens

Genes behind lager yeast's cold- and sugar-loving success revealed



Patagonian galls such as these harbor a parent of the hybrid yeast used to make lager or cold-brewed beer.
Credit: Diego Libkind, Institute for Biodiversity and Environment Research


humans

Big cities feed on their hinterlands to sustain growth

Difference in brain connectivity may explain autism spectrum disorder
Something or other that "may explain autism spectrum disorder" gets heralded several times every week, so I usually ignore these, but I like the brain connectivity bit.

Babies who hear two languages at home develop advantages in attention

Ancient Mongolian skull is the earliest modern human yet found in the region


technology

MIT robot combines vision and touch to learn the game of Jenga
Sadly, there was no video or picture of the Jenga-playing robot included with the PR.

A step closer to self-aware machines
"Columbia Engineers have created a robot that learns what it is, with zero prior knowledge of physics, geometry, or motor dynamics. Initially the robot has no clue what its shape is. After a brief period of 'babbling,' and within about a day of intensive computing, the robot creates a self-simulation, which it can then use to contemplate and adapt to different situations, handling new tasks as well as detecting and repairing damage in its body."




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