Dyslexia is not just about reading, or even language. It’s about something more fundamental: How much can the brain adapt to what it has just observed? People with dyslexia typically have less brain plasticity than those without dyslexia, two recent studies have found.
Under normal light, the South American polka dot tree frog (Hypsiboas punctatus) sports a muted palette of greens, yellows and reds. But dim the lights and switch on ultraviolet illumination, and this little amphibian gives off a bright blue and green glow.
A fossil fish found in Yunnan, China, has filled in a gaping hole in how researchers thought the vertebrate jaw evolved.
The 423-million-year-old specimen, dubbed Qilinyu rostrata, is part of an ancient group of armoured fish called placoderms. The fossil is the oldest ever found with a modern three-part jaw, which includes two bones in the upper jaw and one in the lower jaw. Researchers reported their find on 20 October in Science.
A contagious facial cancer that is almost always fatal has cut a wide swathe through the population of Tasmanian devils since 1996. The disease has reduced the devil population by 80%, and researchers have predicted that the cancer will drive the animals to extinction within decades. But a study published on 30 August in Nature Communications offers hope. Researchers have found that Tasmanian devils have developed some genetic resistance to the disease in just four to six generations.
Mice are a mainstay of biomedical research laboratories. But the rodents are poor models for studying women’s reproductive health, because they don’t menstruate. Now researchers at Monash University in Clayton, Australia, say that they have found a rodent that defies this conventional wisdom: the spiny mouse (Acomys cahirinus). If the finding holds up, the animal could one day be used to research women’s menstruation-related health conditions.
Humans may be members of an advanced species, but we haven’t stopped evolving. Over the past 2,000 years, British people have adapted to become taller and blonder, more likely to have blue eyes and better able to digest milk, according to researchers who have developed a technique to track very recent changes in the human genome.
By cadging a free ride for their offspring, female workers may boost their chances of passing on their genes
Cooperative insects like bees and wasps all pitch in for the good of the hive, raising the queen’s offspring without a thought toward producing their own, right? Not so fast—in the common wasp, about one percent of workers defect from their own hives to lay eggs in a foreign one.
It’s a low-down, dirty cheat. A newly discovered Japanese plant spends most of its life hidden underground and steals nutrients from fungi rather than getting its energy from the sun.
The West Indian fuzzy chiton, a small marine mollusc, lives a sheltered life protected by its tough armoured shell.
Like a knight peering over the battlements of a castle, it can see the world without venturing out of its fortress – using hundreds of tiny rock-hard eyes embedded in its shell.
Two alpine bumblebee species, formerly picky eaters, are expanding their palates – by shortening their tongues.
As the climate warms, their homes near the peaks of the Rocky Mountains have fewer flowers than before. At Pennsylvania Mountain in Colorado, for example, the number of flowers the bees feed on has dropped by 60 per cent since the 1970s.