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Snub-nosed monkeys are so inbred they may struggle to survive

Posted on 16 Sep 2016 in Evolution, Journalism

With a global population below 250, things have been looking bleak for the Tonkin snub-nosed monkey. But the creatures might be in even more trouble than we thought. One section of mitochondrial DNA seems to be identical in all members of the largest known population – a sign of inbreeding that can leave a species vulnerable to extinction. Image: dangnguyenxuan

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Blind people use brain’s visual cortex to help do maths

Posted on 16 Sep 2016 in Journalism, Neuroscience

Subtract 8 from 52. Did you see the calculation in your head? While a leading theory suggests our visual experiences are linked to our understanding of numbers, a study of people who have been blind from birth suggests the opposite. Image: morebyless

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The strange reason why hagfish tie themselves into knots

Posted on 9 Sep 2016 in Animal Behaviour, Evolution, Journalism

Hagfish do not actually have bony vertebrae in their backs: they are literally spineless. They have several hearts, and at least twice as much blood in their bodies as other fish. On top of that, they have only half a jaw, yet they can still tear through tough flesh. And they can tie themselves in knots. Image: kinskarije

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White killer whales were a legend – now they are everywhere

Posted on 8 Sep 2016 in Evolution, Journalism

Call him the tip of the iceberg. Six years ago, on 11 August 2010, whale researchers working in the western North Pacific encountered something very unusual: a white male killer whale, or orca. Two days later the white whale, nicknamed Iceberg, reappeared in a large group of orcas – a group that included a second white whale. Image: Matthew_Allen

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The oldest mass migration known

Posted on 6 Sep 2016 in Earth Science, Journalism, Palaeontology

Is this a real example of the blind leading the blind? A group of geologists think they have found evidence that eyeless “woodlice”, known as trilobites, marched across the ocean floor in prehistoric conga lines. Image: Katrina Koger

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Where will we find the first telltale signs of the Anthropocene?

Posted on 1 Sep 2016 in Earth Science, Featured, Journalism

The idea of the Anthropocene – the period in which human activity profoundly shapes the environment – has taken an important step closer to general acceptance. If it is made official the real work will begin. Somewhere near the top of the to-do list is one burning question: where in the world gives us the best view of the dawn of the Anthropocene? Image: Sara Simmonds

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