Science News Update: February 1st


Science News for the Science Classroom

From cancer to new dolphin species to the super-vision of shrimp, here is our list of interesting science articles from the past week.

Oldest Known Cancer Traced to Initial Canine Host

Cancer doesn’t just jump from person to person- it typically originates, lives, and then dies within its host, be that a bird, fish, or human. A  genital transmissible cancer in doges  is one of the only two exceptions to this rule. Transferred from dog to dog during sexual intercourse, this cancer variant is the world’s oldest continuously surviving cancer, having existed for over 10,000 years.

By investigating the genome of this cancer, scientists have not only determined the vast length of time the cancer has survived, but also have traced the cancer back to its initial host- a Husky-like dog that lived 11,000 years ago.



New Species of River Dolphin Discovered

Inia araguaiaensis, also known as the  “Araguaian Boto”, is the first new species of River Dolphin discovered in nearly a hundred years. Found by scientists investigating the Araguaia River Basin in central Brazil, the Araguaian Boto was most likely isolated by neighboring river dolphin species Inia geoffrensis and Inia boliviensis approximately 2 million years ago. Over time, its isolation allowed it to evolve into a different species.

The last river dolphin species discovered was the Yangtze River Dolphin in 1918, which was declared “functionally extinct” in 2006. The Araguaian River dolphin’s 600 individuals are threatened by the damming of nearby rivers and by local fishermen, and may already warrant a “Vulnerable” conservation status.


Mantis Shrimp Have Incredibly Complex Vision

Humans have only three photoreceptors in their eyes, allowing us to see the colors green, red, and blue. Dogs, meanwhile, can only see in two colors- blue and green, while most birds can see in Ultraviolet light in addition to visible light.

Mantis Shrimp, however, have everyone beat. With sixteen photoreceptors in their eyes, Mantis Shrimp can see in visible light, polarized light, and in ultraviolet. In addition, Mantis Shrimp need only one eye to maintain depth perception, allowing them to rotate their other sixteen photoreceptor eye independently of the first, giving them a remarkably wide field of view.

These findings come in addition to many already known “superpowers” of the Mantis Shrimp, including the ability to impact objects with the force of a bullet- fast enough to make water boil.



New African Virus Comes to Americas

The chikungunya virus is the latest disease to cross the Pacific from Africa to the Americas. Originating in Tanzania during the 1950s, the disease has since jumped to many islands in the Caribbean, including Stain Martin, Matinique, and the British Virgin Islands. The virus has inflected over 700 people since December, 500 of which were infected within the last week.

Luckily, the virus isn’t deadly, with a fatality of only one in a thousand, but it is nasty. Headaches, fatigue, and muscle pain are all symptoms, as well as crippling joint pain that can least weeks or, in rare cases, months or years.


Looking for more on viruses – check out the virus resources on our Biology 101 page.

Humans Are Not Made for Space

For the past fifty years, since the beginning of the space race, scientists have been studying how the effects of zero gravity and radiation affect humans when in space. While some effects, such as the development of brittle bones, have been addressed and solved by NASA and Russian Scientists, other risks, including eyeballs being slightly squashed, cardiovascular problems, potential brain damage and radiation exposure are much less well documented and have no known solution.

For the proposed manned mission to Mars, which may launch as soon as 2030, scientists will have to address these problems and more, including psychological disorders and conflicts that may occur during the 17-month round trip to Mars.

Read more:


Can we one day record what we are dreaming? It may seem like science fiction, but such a fantastical future may be closer than we think. In fact, modern technology is beginning to develop the first images and videos of the movies that occur in our sleeping minds.

For more science news, follow us on FaceBook , Twitter and our new RicochetScience magazine on FlipBoard

%d bloggers like this: