Penguins can’t fly because their wings have become adapted for swimming. The guillemot, which is very closely related, can only just fly, but like the penguin is excellent at diving.
Researchers have sequenced the coelacanth genome. This deep-sea fish has changed little physically in the last 300 million years, and the genome analysis shows few changes in its protein-coding genes.
The research could tell us more about how animals evolved from fish. Read more in the paper in Nature.
Researchers have added tiny jelly sponges to chocolate, to make something that tastes and feels just the same with half the fat. The science is that the tiny balls of agar agar have to be smaller than 30 millionths of a metre across (about half the width of a human hair) to stay suspended in the chocolate when it is heated and cooled.
Have you got tadpoles in your pond yet? If they lose their tails they can regrow a new one within weeks (but don’t try this at home…)
This seems to be through raised levels of reactive oxygen species, which are usually thought to be harmful, and suggests that antioxidants may not always be helpful to health. The research could be important in understanding how healing happens, and help the development of regenerative medicine. Read the research in Nature Cell Biology.
A sea slug newly discovered in the Pacific Ocean has a disposable penis – it can detach it and regrow it within 24 hours. The penis is also spiny, and the spines may help to remove a competitor’s sperm (ouch).
The sea slug, called Chromodoris reticulata, is both male and female (hermaphrodite) and can use both sets of sexual organs at the same time. Speechless!
Read the original paper in Biology Letters.
People looking at photographs of students thought that those with brown eyes were more trustworthy. However, when the researchers changed the eye colours, it turned out that it wasn’t the eye colour alone that caused the stronger feeling of trustworthiness, but rather the facial features associated with brown eyes. Tell that to Ol’ Blue Eyes… and thanks to Ella Palmer for this guest post.
Read the original paper in PLoS One.