Bearded Dragons Share Sleep Patterns with Mammals, Study Reveals

A new study led by Dr. Gilles Laurent from the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt, Germany, reveals slow-wave (SW) and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep patterns — the sleep patterns previously thought exclusive to mammals and birds — in a reptile, the central bearded dragon ( Pogona vitticeps ), suggesting that the sleep states may have evolved in a common ancestor of all amniotes, more than 300 million years ago.

The central bearded dragon ( Pogona vitticeps ). Image credit: George Chernilevsky.
Amniotes are a group of tetrapod vertebrates comprising reptiles, birds and mammals.
They appeared 320 million years ago, and quickly bifurcated into a group that led to the mammals, including humans, and another that led to the reptiles and the birds.
Beard… Read more

Pseudouroctonus maidu: New Scorpion Species Discovered in California

A team of entomologists has described a new species of scorpion — Pseudouroctonus maidu — from the foothills of the Sierra Nevada in northeastern California.

Adult female Pseudouroctonus maidu in life, dorsal view. Image credit: Savary W.E. & Bryson Jr. R.W.
The newfound species belongs to the vaejovid scorpion genus Pseudouroctonus .
According to Dr. Warren Savary from the California Academy of Sciences and Dr. Robert Bryson from the University of Washington, it is only the fourth new species of scorpion to be described from California in the past two decades.
The authors named the new species Pseudouroctonus maidu after the Maidu people of northern California, in whose historic lands the species occurs.
It is known only from the type locality near the confluenc… Read more

Researchers Identify Genetic Cause of Epithelial Recurrent Erosion Dystrophy

An international team of scientists from New Zealand, Australia and the UK — including Prof. Colin Willoughby from the University of Liverpool — has identified a specific gene that plays a key role in epithelial recurrent erosion dystrophy (ERED), a genetic corneal dystrophy disorder that causes abnormality of the outer layer of the eye. The discovery solves a 20-year-old puzzle for a family in Liverpool, UK, who all developed ERED.

Normal anatomy of the human eye and orbit, anterior view. Image credit: Patrick J. Lynch / CC BY 2.5.
The Liverpool family, Ridland and Kadiri, first met Prof. Willoughby in 1996. They had a type of corneal dystrophy, as yet unidentified, which caused spontaneous, recurrent, painful scratches on the cornea from early life.
In discussion with his colleague, Dr. Andrea Vin… Read more

Researchers Identify Genetic Cause of Epithelial Recurrent Erosion Dystrophy

An international team of scientists from New Zealand, Australia and the UK — including Prof. Colin Willoughby from the University of Liverpool — has identified a specific gene that plays a key role in epithelial recurrent erosion dystrophy (ERED), a genetic corneal dystrophy disorder that causes abnormality of the outer layer of the eye. The discovery solves a 20-year-old puzzle for a family in Liverpool, UK, who all developed ERED.

Normal anatomy of the human eye and orbit, anterior view. Image credit: Patrick J. Lynch / CC BY 2.5.
The Liverpool family, Ridland and Kadiri, first met Prof. Willoughby in 1996. They had a type of corneal dystrophy, as yet unidentified, which caused spontaneous, recurrent, painful scratches on the cornea from early life.
In discussio… Read more

Biofluorescent Catsharks Increase Light Contrast Deep Underwater, Study Reveals

Marine scientists have found that biofluorescent catsharks, such as the swell shark from the eastern Pacific and the chain catshark from the western Atlantic, are not only able to see the bright green biofluorescence they produce, but that they increase contrast of their glowing pattern when deep underwater.

Fluorescent and white light images of a 21.3 inch (54 cm) long female swell shark ( Cephaloscyllium ventriosum ). Image credit: David F. Gruber et al.
“We’ve already shown that catsharks are brightly fluorescent, and this work takes that research a step further, making the case that biofluorescence makes them easier to see by members of the same species,” said team member Dr. John Sparks from the American Museum of Natural History, who is a co-author on a study p… Read more

Massive New Reef System Found at Amazon River Mouth

A new reef system has been found at the mouth of the Amazon River by an international group of researchers from Brazil and the United States.

The Amazon River meets the Atlantic Ocean and creates a plume where freshwater and salt water mix. Image credit: Lance Willis.
The team, led by Dr. Rodrigo Moura from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, reported their discovery on April 22 in the journal Science Advances .
“As large rivers empty into the world’s oceans in areas known as plumes, they typically create gaps in the reef distribution along the tropical shelves — something that makes finding a reef in the Amazon plume an unexpected discovery,” the scientists explained.
The Amazon River plume is an area where freshwater from the river mixes with the salty Atlantic Oce… Read more

Camera Study Reveals Wildlife Abundance in Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

New research published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment documents animal species prevalent in the human-free Chernobyl Exclusion Zone — a 1,620-square-mile area of contamination around the Chernobyl nuclear plant — and supports the findings of a 2015 study that animal distribution is not influenced by radiation levels.

A pack of gray wolves visits a scent station in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. The photograph was taken by one of the remote camera stations and was triggered by the wolves’ movement. Image credit: Sarah Webster / Jim Beasley / National Geographic.
Following the 1986 Chernobyl accident in Ukraine, more than a hundred thousand people were permanently evacuated from the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.
There is continuing scienti… Read more

Japanese Researchers Develop Ultraflexible ‘E-Skin’

Professor Takao Someya’s research group at the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Engineering has developed an ultraflexible ‘e-skin’ film and demonstrated its use by creating an organic light-emitting diode display.

System outline of a blood oxygen level monitor: red and green PLEDs are directed to shine into the finger; reflected light from inside the finger is caught by an ultraflexible organic photodetector; this reflected light provides a measure of blood oxygen and pulse rate; the output of the sensor can be shown on a PLED display. Image credit: Tomoyuki Yokota et al. / Someya Laboratory, University of Tokyo.
Integrating electronic devices with the human body to enhance or restore body function for biomedical applications is the goal of researchers around the world.
In particular,… Read more

Asiagomphus reinhardti: New Species of Dragonfly Discovered

An international team of entomologists has described a new species of dragonfly from Annamense Mountains in eastern Cambodia and southern Laos.

Asiagomphus reinhardti . Image credit: Oleg E. Kosterin / Naoto Yokoi / TU Dresden.
The newfound species, named Asiagomphus reinhardti , is about 2.4 inches (6 cm) long.
It lives close to mountain streams in a remote border region between Cambodia and Laos.
“So far, only male specimens are known: a black body with yellow spots and green eyes,” the scientists said.
“As a larva they live for numerous year dug in the mud bottom.”
The species is named in honor of Prof. Klaus Reinhardt, a biologist at the Technische Universität Dresden, Germany.
“Having a newly discovered animal or plant species named after oneself is one of the mo… Read more

Researchers Explain Why Binturongs Smell Like Popcorn

A team of scientists led by Prof. Christine Drea of Duke University has identified a chemical compound that gives binturongs ( Arctictis binturong ) their characteristic scent.

The binturong ( Arctictis binturong ). Image credit: Carolina Tiger Rescue.
The binturong, also known as bearcat, is a heavily built, robust civet with a fearsome appearance and is one of only two carnivores with a prehensile tail.
It is the largest species in the family Viverridae. It forms a distinct genus, with nine described subspecies which vary little in appearance.
Binturongs are widespread in south and Southeast Asia occurring in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, China (Yunnan province), India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Nepal, Philippines (Palawan), Thailand, and Viet Nam. Re… Read more

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