Eurasian beavers (Castor fiber), a mother and her kit. Image credit: Ray Scott / CC BY-SA 3.0.

Study: Beavers Could Help Curb Soil Erosion, Clean Up Polluted Rivers

A new study, undertaken by a team of University of Exeter researchers using captive Eurasian beavers (Castor fiber), has demonstrated the significant impact the animals have had on reducing the flow of tons of soil and nutrients from nearby fields into a local river system. Eurasian beavers (Castor fiber), a mother and her kit. Image […]

A spectral tarsier (Tarsius tarsier) feeding on a grasshopper in Tangkoko National Park, Northern Sulawesi, Indonesia. Tarsiers have five chitinase genes to digest the high amount of chitin in their insectivorous diet, which likely represents the ancestral condition of all placental animals, including humans. Image credit: Quentin Martinez / University of California, Berkeley.

Common Ancestor of All Placental Mammals Was Insect-Eater: Study

Humans are known to have one functioning and three non-functioning chitinase genes — those that make an enzyme that digests the insect exoskeletal chitin. According to a new analysis of mammalian genomes, nearly all placental mammals have one of five different chitinase genes, though not all are functioning and some fragmentary; this suggests that the […]

A honeybee (Apis mellifera). Image credit: Vijaya Narasimha.

Study: Honeybees Understand Concept of Zero

The honeybee (Apis mellifera) has joined the ranks of dolphins, parrots, and primates, in demonstrating the ability to understand the concept of zero numerosity. The study appears in the journal Science. A honeybee (Apis mellifera). Image credit: Vijaya Narasimha. While intuitive to modern humans, the full understanding of zero is an advanced numerical concept that’s […]

Grouvellinus leonardodicaprioi. Scale bar - 1 mm. Image credit: Hendrik Freitag / Taxon Expeditions.

Water Beetle Discovered in Borneo Named after Leonardo DiCaprio

A team of entomologists from the Netherlands and Philippines has discovered three new species of aquatic beetles in the remote Maliau Basin, Malaysian Borneo, and named one of them after American actor and producer Leonardo DiCaprio. Grouvellinus leonardodicaprioi. Scale bar – 1 mm. Image credit: Hendrik Freitag / Taxon Expeditions. The three newly-discovered species belong […]

Giant pandas are found in the mountains of central China in dense bamboo and coniferous forests at altitudes of 5,000 to 10,000 feet (1,500-3,000 m). Image credit: Chester Ho.

Mitochondrial DNA of 22,000-Year-Old Giant Panda Reveals Long-Lost Lineage

A research team led by scientists at the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, has analyzed mitochondrial DNA isolated from a 22,000-year-old panda specimen found in southern China and found that the ancient bear separated from present-day giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) around 183,000 years ago, suggesting that it belonged to a […]

Group of dwarf mongooses in which different cooperative acts are exchanged even with a delay in time. Image credit: Shannon Wild.

Mongooses Reward Helpful Groupmates, New Research Finds

Dwarf mongooses (Helogale parvula) provide more grooming to those groupmates who contribute more to sentinel behavior — acting as a raised guard to look out for danger, according to new research from the University of Bristol, UK. Group of dwarf mongooses in which different cooperative acts are exchanged even with a delay in time. Image […]

Prasinohaema prehensicauda, a green-blooded lizard with high concentrations of biliverdin, a toxic green bile pigment. Image credit: Chris Austin, Louisiana State University.

Scientists Find Four Lineages of Green-Blooded Lizards in New Guinea

Several species of skinks (a type of lizard) from the island of New Guinea have lime-green colored blood — which in turn results in bright green muscles, bones, tongue, and mucous membranes, according to a team of researchers from Louisiana State University and the American Museum of Natural History. Prasinohaema prehensicauda, a green-blooded lizard with […]

The European mistletoe (Viscum album). Image credit: Etienne Meyer.

European Mistletoe is Unique among Multicellular Organisms, Biologists Say

The European mistletoe (Viscum album) is a plant steeped in ancient associations with druids and Northern European folklore and since the 18th century, has been synonymous with kissing at Christmas time. This plant is a hemiparasite (a parasitic plant that is capable of some photosynthesis), latching onto trees and extracting water and nutrients from them. […]

Colony of Chroococcidiopsis thermalis cells where the different colors represent photosynthesis driven by chlorophyll-a (magenta) and chlorophyll-f (yellow). Image credit: Dennis Nuernberg.

Scientists Discover New Type of Photosynthesis

The vast majority of life on our planet uses red light (680 to 700 nm) in the process of photosynthesis, but the new type uses near-infrared light (750 nm) instead: it was detected in a wide range of cyanobacteria, one of the largest groups of bacteria on Earth, where they have existed for several billion […]