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Unexpectedly, Prions Can Move Between Species and Target Organs Other Than the Brain

A recent post noted that viruses from bush meat can jump from one species to the next, and that as such bush meat poses a major health threat. The mobility of prions has also been underestimated. (For a general description of prions, see Prion .) Researchers have shown that engineered mice can be infected...

What Makes a Mammal? The Boundaries May Be Getting a Tad Fuzzy

What makes an animal a mammal? Well, in school we all learned the characteristics that determine what is a mammal: "warm blooded" (endothermy), body hair, three middle ear bones, live birth, and functional mammary glands in mothers with young. Most mammals also have sweat glands and specialised...

What is the genetic mechanism that drives evolution? Perhaps we have been looking in the wrong place.

Prior posts have noted how in the recent past the perceived wisdom was the 1% of the human genome was responsible for what happens (the making of proteins), and the balance (99%) was "junk." Over time the amount deemed relevant has grown and the junk portion has shrunk. Recently the ENCODE...

Mistletoe can be a keystone species for birds in a wooded environment

A keystone species is one that "influences the ecological composition, structure, or functioning of its community far more than its abundance would suggest." (See http://glossary.eea.europa.eu/terminology/concept_html?term=keystone%20species .) Although the term is often thrown about, demonstrating...

Northern Long Eared Bat To Be Designated as Threatened, not Endangered – Litigation Immediately Begins

On April 2, 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced that it would be listing the northern long-eared bat as threatened , rather than endangered, as it had originally proposed in October of 2013. The listing gives the bat new protections but does not impose all of the requirements that...

Red Tuna Crabs Overrun CA Beaches

Masses of small red tuna crabs have been washing up along San Diego, California area beaches from Ocean Beach to La Jolla. The species, Pleuroncodes planipes, is unique in that it can live its entire life cycle, from larva to adulthood, in the water column from surface to seafloor. Accordingly, it can...