Plants and Animals

Fossil Clue Found To Epic Ancient Battle Between Huge Predators

Photo credit: A 3D printed replica (blue) and teeth from ancient crocodile relatives found to have preyed on other huge predators

A buried tooth has rewritten our thinking about how the apex predators of the Triassic interacted. Modern clashes between crocodiles and lions have nothing on what occurred where land met sea more than 200 million years ago. This discovery could help explain a mystery of the era's ecology.


Mysterious Object Spotted On Saturn's Moon

Photo credit: Mysterious Changing Feature in Ligeia Mare / NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASI/Cornell

Last July, radar images from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft captured a mysterious feature in a large hydrocarbon sea on Saturn’s moon Titan. Astronomers on the radar team has suggested a wide range of ideas -- surface waves, rising bubbles, floating solids, solids suspended just below the surface, or perhaps something more exotic -- though it’s still anyone’s guess. 

Plants and Animals

Bats Mistaken Wind Turbines For Trees

Photo credit: A temperature-imaging camera reveals a bat flying near a wind turbine at night / Paul Cryan

Bats who evolved to roost in trees suffer peak fatalities when it’s less windy during the late summer and in the fall. Using thermal cameras, researchers may have finally figured out what puts these high-flying nocturnal critters at risk: Air currents surrounding the turbines mimic those that surround the tall trees where they like to roost. The findings, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week, offers ideas for adjusting turbines to cut down risks to tree bats.

Health and Medicine

Branched Chain Amino Acids Levels Spike Years Before Pancreatic Cancer Diagnosis

Photo credit: Christine Daniloff/MIT

Pancreatic cancer is aggressive and hard to spot early, which has contributed to it being the number four cause of cancer death in the United States. Those who have been diagnosed with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) typically do not last longer than a year. A team of researchers led by Matthew Vander Heiden of MIT looked back at previous blood plasma samples in patients who had been diagnosed with PDAC in order to find any early warning signs, and discovered that certain amino acids increased several years prior to the pancreatic cancer diagnosis.

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