Students Explore Oceans, Wetlands with Interactive Games Biology Education Environment 

Students Explore Oceans, Wetlands with Interactive Games

By Shayna Keyles @shaynakeyles One of the best ways for students to learn about biodiversity is through hands-on experience. Of course, teachers can take their kids to the local pond to learn how different aquatic species interact, but what if students could learn about any aquatic environment, such as the oceans, or even the Everglades? That’s where iBiome, an interactive app by our friends at Springbay Studio, comes in handy. The series of downloadable games helps students develop scientific skills by creating observable, virtual biodomes in a variety of environments.…

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New Ebola Vaccine in Development Biology Health 

New Ebola Vaccine in Development

By Michelle Dookwah @mtdookwah Only a few summers ago, “Ebola” became a household word as the worst outbreak of the virus in history ravaged its way across western African nations and threatened health safety worldwide. It became easier to not think about the Ebola virus once the urgency of the crisis passed, and now news media is filled with other medical emergencies such as Zika or measles outbreaks—although there is a vaccine for the latter (cough, cough). However, several research groups haven’t forgotten about the devastation caused by the hemorrhagic…

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How Squids Lost Their Shells Animals Biology Videos 

Squids’ Shells: From Armor, to Vehicle, to Ghost

Shells made their first appearance between 635 and 541 million years ago, especially after the first predators had shown up. How have cephalopods’ shells evolved from armors to means of transportation? How have they adapted to further suit these animals’ needs? Watch this video from the PBS Eons series. The ancestors of modern, squishy cephalopods like the octopus and the squid all had shells. Shells helped mollusks move through water, giving them an advantage over similar animals without a shell. Over time, some cephalopods internalized their shell like a backbone, some…

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Why Are Eggshells So Strong? Animals Biology 

Why Are Eggshells So Strong?

By Kate Stone @GotScienceOrg Anyone who has a tried to squeeze a chicken egg from end to end knows how strong eggshells are. Not much in nature mineralizes as quickly as a bird egg. How is it that fertilized chicken eggs manage to resist fracture from the outside while, at the same time, can be broken open from the inside by a tiny chick? It’s all in the eggshell nanostructure, according to a new study led by McGill University scientists and published in the journal Science Advances. For millions of…

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Plastic Pollution: An Emerging Threat Beneath Our Feet Biology Environment Health 

Plastic Pollution: An Emerging Threat Beneath Our Feet

By Emily Rhode @riseandsci Tiny plastic particles that can barely be seen by the human eye have made their way from our soil into everyday items we know—from earthworms to honey to the beer that we drink—bringing toxic chemicals with them wherever they go. The saying goes that what we can’t see can’t hurt us. Yet, what if these unseen particles are not only hurting us but also changing the entire course of biological evolution? Researchers in Germany have issued a new warning that these human-generated “microplastics” could potentially be…

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Fire Management in California's Chaparal: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District conducted a controlled burn of central marine chaparral at Fort Ord, Calif., Oct. 15, to expose unexploded ordnance at the formerly utilized defense site. The burn, carefully coordinated with local agencies, lasted less than two hours and was timed so that prevailing winds would help blow the smoke away from population centers. The controlled burns are part of a comprehensive ordnance removal program at Fort Ord, which closed in 1994 under recommendation from the Base Realignment and Closure Commission. (U.S. Army photo/Released) Animals Biology Environment 

Fire Management in California’s Chaparral Harms Birds

By Neha Jain @lifesciexplore California suffered its largest and most destructive wildfires in 2017. Victims included hundreds of wild animals. When the blazing fires were finally extinguished, the surviving animals—including birds—were forced to find new homes. Now, for the first time, researchers investigating the effect of fire management practices on birds in California’s chaparral have found that one practice known as mastication, which consists of mechanically crushing vegetation to remove fuel, threatens bird communities. “The best available science tells us that managing chaparral imperils wildlife and increases fire risk,” says…

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Why Do Humans Have Thumbs and Not Fins? Biology Education Paleontology Videos 

Why Do Humans Have Thumbs and Not Fins?

Did you know we can trace the evolution of our hands, and thumbs, back to a 375 million-year-old fish called Tiktaalik? Watch this video with paleontologist and geneticist Dr. Neil Shubin to learn what a fish and a little blue hedgehog can teach us about the evolution of thumbs. This is a video from Dr. Joe Hanson’s It’s Okay To Be Smart series.     Tiktaalik is a 375 years-old fish with fins. When we look under its fin rays and take off the scales, what we find are versions of our…

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How Have Snapping Shrimp Evolved to Snap? Archaeology Biology 

How Have Snapping Shrimp Evolved to Snap?

By Hallie Macdougal By using computer modelling and 3-D printing and mapping evolutionary trees, researchers at the University of Alberta have discovered a possible evolutionary pathway that shows how snapping shrimp have evolved to “snap.” Snapping shrimp, also known as pistol shrimp or alpheid shrimp, compete with whales for the title of loudest animal in the ocean. To make noise, snapping shrimp are able to close their claws incredibly fast, which shoots a stream of water so quickly that new water from above doesn’t have time to replace it, creating…

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Is Climate Change Causing These Moose to Shrink? Biology Environment 

Is Climate Change Causing These Moose to Shrink?

By Emily Rhode @riseandsci The effects of climate change are starting to show themselves in strange and unexpected ways. For the cold-adapted moose of Isle Royale, Michigan, a warming environment could literally be causing them to shrink. According to researchers at Michigan Technological University, the flourishing moose population at the heart of the world’s longest-running predator-prey relationship study is displaying alarming changes that may be most readily explained by environmental pressures. The soon-to-be-released 60-year study of the dynamics between the moose and wolf population of the tiny island in the…

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Bioelectronic “Nose” Sniffs Out Food Spoilage Biology Engineering 

Bioelectronic “Nose” Sniffs Out Food Spoilage

By Emily Rhode @riseandsci One whiff of spoiled meat is usually enough to let us know that we should definitely not eat it. But what about those leftovers that have been in the refrigerator for a few days and still smell ok? We could throw them away out of an abundance of caution, but that becomes an expensive and wasteful practice. Or we could cross our fingers and go ahead and eat them. Something’s rotten According to the EPA, Americans disposed of more than 38 million tons of food waste…

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