Health and Medicine

Irradiated Monkeys Showing Fukushima Effects

Photo credit: Fumiharu Konno. This wild Japanese macaque living near Fukushima has probably been affected by radiation from the accident

Monkeys living in forests near Fukushima have levels of radioactive caesium in their muscles that may be dangerous. The monkeys were also found to have lower counts of both red and white blood cells than monkeys living further north, which may indicate health effects to come.

Health and Medicine

Newly Discovered Gut Virus Is In At Least Half of All Humans

Photo credit: Schematic representation of the circular crAssphage genome / B.E. Dutilh et al., Nature Communications 2014

Scientists have discovered a virus that lives in the gut of more than half -- maybe even 75 percent -- of the world’s population. But it probably won’t make you sick. The virus infects and replicates itself inside one of the most common types of gut bacteria, Bacteroidetes, which has been implicated in obesity, diabetes, and other gut-related diseases. 

They call it crAssphage, and it’s described in Nature Communications this week. 

Plants and Animals

Survey Finds 361 New Bird Species - And A Quarter Are Already Threatened

Photo credit: Somali ostrich, Struthio molybdophanes / Steve Garvie CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

A comprehensive review of birds has identified hundreds of new species that have previously been lumped with known ones -- and a quarter of the newly discovered birds are already being listed as threatened. 

BirdLife International assessed the 361 newly recognized bird species on behalf of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). More than 25 percent of them were instantly placed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. About 13 percent of all birds are already listed. 

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