Fish fossil upends scientists’ view of jaw evolution – Nature

Dinghua Yang

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.

Read the full story in Nature.

Tasmanian devils show signs of resistance to devastating facial cancer – Nature

Jason Reed/Reuters

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.

If you give a mouse a menstrual cycle – Nature

fotandy/Getty

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.

Worker Wasps Sneak Out to Lay Their Eggs in Neighboring Nests

Image credit: Thomas Hinsche/imageBROKER/Corbis

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.

Read the full article in Smithsonian.

Bumblebees adapt to climate change by evolving shorter tongues

Photo by Christine Carson

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.

Read the full article in New Scientist.