Wednesday, May 20, 2020

science news 20.5.2020

Today's selection of science news. 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 in italics in cases where the title alone doesn't reveal what the story is about. My own thoughts appear without italics if I have any.


NASA's Curiosity rover finds clues to chilly ancient Mars buried in rocks


Ribs evolved for movement first, then co-opted for breathing
A major transformation in vertebrate evolution took place when breathing shifted from being driven by head and throat muscles -- like in fish and frogs -- to the torso -- like in reptiles and mammals. But what caused the shift? A new study posits that the intermediate step was locomotion. When lizards walk, they bend side-to-side. The ribs and vertebrae are crucial to this movement, and the mechanics follow the same pattern as when they inhale and exhale.

Ancient giant armored fish fed in a similar way to basking sharks

Fishing rod 'selfie stick' and scientific sleuthing turn up clues to extinct sea reptile
London's Natural History Museum let him walk in with a fishing rod and mess around with it? Shocking.

An artistic life reconstruction of Nannopterygius.
Credit: Andrey Atuchin


Scientists dissect the complex choices of animals
specifically: shell-dwelling cichlid fish

Researchers go cuckoo: Antarctic penguins release an extreme amount of laughing gas
penguins in Antarctica emit copious amounts of nitrous oxide via their feces. So much so, that the researchers went "cuckoo" from being surrounded by penguin poop.


Migratory secrets of recovering whale species

light and life

Feisty squid and fish fight back by dazzling attacking elephant seals
... with a bioluminescent flash, which disorientates the predator and could buy time for their escape.


Emerging viral diseases causing serious issues in west Africa

Children not immune to coronavirus; new study from pandemic epicenter describes severe COVID-19 response in children

Rolling 50/30 day cycle of lockdown and relaxation could help manage COVID-19


Walking or cycling to work associated with reduced risk of early death and illness

dystopian futures

Comedy club performances provide insights on how robots, humans connect via humor


From the news media:

Parts of Antarctica are turning green, the Guardian reports.

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