Science News Update: September 6th

science news Sept6th

Ricochet Science News

You may of noticed that our site is changing. We are adding new features every week. We recently redesigned our media page to provide previews of some of the animations from our YouTube Channel.

media pageIn addition, we have launched a new page dedicated to our Vimeo channel. Here you will find longer length features that are used in our classes. In the next few weeks are are planning on launching a series of mini-lectures. These tutorials are designed to help you understand the science behind the news!


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Decapitated Heads can Still Talk – For a Few Seconds

Can a decapitated head still talk? They do in all of the horror movies, but how about in real life? Scientists tried to answer this question by using the decapitated heads of mice. The studies showed that the brain of a mouse could still operate 4 seconds after decapitation! If this is possible for humans, 4 seconds is plenty of time to blink or turn the head!



By Doyen, Eugène-Louis, 1859-1916. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Migrating Whales Need Sunscreen

When whales, such as the sperm whale here, migrate to warmer climates, they get suntans just like humans. The increased level of pigmentation in their skin is believed to protect them from the damaging effects of the Sun’s UV rays


The Bite of a Recluse Spider is Unique

There are many poisonous animals, but the brown recluse spider seems to be unique. It seems that the brown recluse has a protein in its venom that is not present in any other poisonous animal, and this may account for the reason why it is potentially dangerous to humans.

Now that the protein has been identified, it may be possible to develop treatments to prevent tissue damage in humans.


Editors’ Picks

Great Example of Convergent Evolution

What do bats and dolphins have in common? While both use echolocation to find prey, they come from very different genetic backgrounds. But researchers have now determined that these species are an excellent example of convergent evolution – the process by which unrelated species evolve similar traits.

The genetic basis of this convergence has been worked out, and scientists have identified about 200 regions associated with hearing that are are similar in the genomes of these species. The sheer number of similar genes in this convergence is what interests evolutionary scientists, and these findings may play an important role in understanding how genomes evolve.


New Twists in the Story of Human Evolution

The “Out of Africa” model has often been used to describe the early migrations of Homo sapiens out of Africa. However, other studies, mostly archeological, have suggested that there was a reverse migration back into Africa.

By analyzing over 1 million points of the genome, researchers were able to isolate, and then track, the movement of non-African chromosomes back into Africa. They discovered two interesting events. First was a migration of non-Africans back onto the continent about 3,000 years ago, followed by a second migration into South Africa.

A great article for any discussions of human evolution!


Picture of the Week

The pic of the week goes out to our media partner, 5Blue Media. Their photo of a Japanese beetle was selected as the 2014 Life on Terra’s wall calendar.


5Blue Media – used by permission


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    1. Karl Leif Bates September 6, 2013
      • mwindelspecht September 6, 2013

    What do you think??

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