Will's Feed
Jul 31, 2014

How do you make a bird? Shrink a dinosaur for 50 million years

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Large flesh-eating dinosaurs evolved into small flying birds, but it did not happen overnight.

An international team of scientists on Thursday described an extraordinary evolutionary process that unfolded over a period of 50 million years in which a lineage of carnivorous dinosaurs shrank steadily and acquired numerous traits that led to the first appearance of birds.

Jul 30, 2014

Octopus mom protects her eggs for an astonishing 4-1/2 years

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – If someone were to create an award for “mother of the year” in the animal kingdom, a remarkably dedicated eight-limbed mom from the dark and frigid depths of the Pacific Ocean might be a strong contender.

Scientists on Wednesday described how the female of an octopus species that dwells almost a mile below the sea surface spends about 4-1/2 years brooding her eggs, protecting them vigilantly until they hatch while forgoing any food for herself.

Jul 17, 2014

Genetic blueprint unveiled for vital food crop wheat

WASHINGTON, July 17 (Reuters) – As far as agricultural
genome research goes, this may be the best thing since sliced
bread – wheat bread, that is.

An international team of scientists on Thursday unveiled a
genetic blueprint of wheat in an accomplishment that may help
guide the breeding of varieties of the vitally important food
crop that are more productive and more hardy.

Jul 16, 2014

Fossils show strange sea creature’s half-billion-year-old brain

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Researchers on Wednesday described fossilized remains unearthed in China showing in fine detail the brain structures of a bizarre group of sea creatures that were the top predators more than half a billion years ago.

The fossils show an animal called Lyrarapax unguispinus that lived during the Cambrian Period, a pivotal juncture in the history of life on Earth when many major animal groups first appeared. It was a member of a group known as anomalocaridids – primitive relatives of arthropods, which include crustaceans, insects and spiders – that hunted prey with a pair of claw-like grasping appendages in front of the eyes.

Jul 16, 2014

Gene therapy creates ‘biological pacemaker’ cells for the heart

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Researchers have succeeded in turning ordinary cardiac muscle cells into specialized ones that deliver a steady heartbeat using a gene therapy procedure they predict could become an alternative to implanted electronic pacemakers.

    A study published on Wednesday involved pigs with a condition called heart block that makes their hearts beat too slowly. By injecting a human gene into a tiny region of the heart’s pumping chambers roughly the size of a peppercorn, the researchers reprogrammed heart muscle cells into a type of cell that emits electrical impulses to drive the beating heart.

Jul 15, 2014

Plumage aplenty: fossil found of ‘four-winged’ feathered dinosaur

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – It was built sort of like a biplane but probably did not fly as well, if at all.

Scientists on Tuesday described a fossil of a strange dinosaur that lived in China 125 million years ago which was covered in feathers, looked like it had two sets of wings and may have been able to glide.

Jul 8, 2014

Fossil of world’s smallest hedgehog unearthed in Canada

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – You’ve heard of Sonic the Hedgehog, the video game character. But how about the half-pint hedgehog, the tiniest one that ever lived?

Scientists on Tuesday described fossils from Canada of a hedgehog the size of a shrew about 2 inches (5 cm) long – that lived 52 million years ago in a rainforest in northern British Columbia during an especially warm time on Earth.

Jul 7, 2014

Feathered feat: ancient bird had largest wingspan ever

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The wandering albatross, a magnificent seabird that navigates the ocean winds and can glide almost endlessly over the water, boasts the biggest wingspan of any bird alive today, extending almost 12 feet (3.5 meters).

    But it is a mere pigeon compared to an astonishing extinct bird called Pelagornis sanders, identified by scientists on Monday from fossils unearthed in South Carolina, that lived 25 to 28 million years ago and boasted the largest-known avian wingspan in history, about 20 to 24 feet (6.1 to 7.4 meters).

Jul 3, 2014

Would you rather sit and think or get shocked? You’d be surprised

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – So you say all you want to do is to take a few minutes to sit down and think without anyone or anything bugging you? Maybe that is true. But you might be in the minority.

A U.S. study published on Thursday showed that most volunteers who were asked to spend no more than 15 minutes alone in a room doing nothing but sitting and thinking found the task onerous.

Jul 3, 2014

New fossil reveals amazing details about Earth’s true early bird

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Since its first fossil was unearthed in Bavarian limestone in 1961, Archaeopteryx – the original early bird – has been a paleontological rock star.

Not only is it considered Earth’s oldest-known bird but its blend of primitive dinosaur traits with characteristics seen in modern birds has long fascinated scientists. However, none of the specimens found over the years had given a comprehensive view of its plumage, leading some experts to question whether Archaeopteryx was a capable flier – or could even fly at all.