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Attack on juvenile is thought to be first known time a lone orca has hunted down a great white

It is a smash and grab that has stunned scientists: in less than two minutes, a killer whale attacked and consumed a great white shark before swimming off with the victim’s liver in its mouth.

Experts say the event off the coast of Mossel Bay in South Africa offers new insights into the predatory behaviour of orcas.

While orcas have previously been documented hunting sharks, dolphins and even whales solo, the newly reported event is thought to be the first known time a lone orca has hunted down the world’s largest predatory fish.

“Killer whales, or orcas, usually team up when they hunt, although they can hunt solitarily,” said Dr Alison Towner, of Rhodes University, who led research into the discovery. “The unusual aspect was witnessing Starboard, the killer whale, hunting a white shark alone and in a remarkably rapid timeframe.”

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In the study, scientists put the three plastic compounds into ‘hard water’ — a common type of U.S. freshwater that contains high levels of calcium carbonate and magnesium

When the plastic-containing water was boiled, these calcium carbonates formed tiny clumps around most of the microscopic plastics, trapping them within and rendering them harmless.

The report comes with significant caveats, however.

Scientists only looked at three of the most common — and in the case of polyethylene and polypropylenes, the safest — plastic polymers. They didn’t look at vinyl chloride, for example, a compound of serious concern last month’s study found in bottled water.

Boiling also didn’t manage to remove all of the polymers.

Month in Science (lemmy.world)
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Sources and relevant Wikipedia articles are in 2023 in science.

This is the latest summary and last one for 2023. I'm making these summaries so you can stay up to date even if you only have little time while updating Wikipedia articles. Monthly mail notification here. A few more items are in the Wiki article. Non-included items and criteria can be found here.

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It was thought that there was only one species of green anaconda in the wild, the Eunectes murinus, but the scientific journal Diversity this month revealed that the new "northern green anaconda" belongs to a different, new species, Eunectes akiyama.

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Astronomers in Armagh have discovered a sign that a star feasted on nearby planets and asteroids.

A metal scar found on the dead star's surface had never been seen before, said astronomer John Landstreet.

It was discovered at the astronomical research centre in Armagh Observatory and Planetarium. The scar, believed to be 500km (310 miles) long, was on an Earth-sized remnant of a star from a nearby solar system.

The system no longer creates energy at its core, so the star is dead.

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This research indicates that in neurodegenerative conditions ongoing stress caused by protein aggregation is leading to the death of brain cells. This reports a ubiquitin-dependent mechanism that silences the cellular response to stress. Stress response silencing was found to sustain cell survival even if stress resolution failed.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-023-06985-7 (open access)

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This study shows links between Long COVID’s neurological effects, including brain fog and cognitive decline, and brain blood vessel integrity, offering hope for new treatments and diagnostic methods.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41593-024-01576-9 (open access)

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The 2006 United Nations report “Livestock’s Long Shadow” provided the first global estimate of the livestock sector’s contribution to anthropogenic climate change and warned of dire environmental consequences if business as usual continued. In the subsequent 17 years, numerous studies have attributed significant climate change impacts to livestock. In the USA, one of the largest consumers and producers of meat and dairy products, livestock greenhouse gas emissions remain effectively unregulated. What might explain this? Similar to fossil fuel companies, US animal agriculture companies responded to evidence that their products cause climate change by minimizing their role in the climate crisis and shaping policymaking in their favor. Here, we show that the industry has done so with the help of university experts. The beef industry awarded funding to Dr. Frank Mitloehner from the University of California, Davis, to assess “Livestock’s Long Shadow,” and his work was used to claim that cows should not be blamed for climate change. The animal agriculture industry is now involved in multiple multi-million-dollar efforts with universities to obstruct unfavorable policies as well as influence climate change policy and discourse. Here, we traced how these efforts have downplayed the livestock sector’s contributions to the climate crisis, minimized the need for emission regulations and other policies aimed at internalizing the costs of the industry’s emissions, and promoted industry-led climate “solutions” that maintain production. We studied this phenomenon by examining the origins, funding sources, activities, and political significance of two prominent academic centers, the CLEAR Center at UC Davis, established in 2018, and AgNext at Colorado State University, established in 2020, as well as the influence and industry ties of the programs’ directors, Dr. Mitloehner and Dr. Kimberly Stackhouse-Lawson. We developed 20 questions to evaluate the nature, extent, and societal impacts of the relationship between individual researchers and industry groups. Using publicly available evidence, we documented how the ties between these professors, centers, and the animal agriculture industry have helped maintain the livestock industry’s social license to operate not only by generating industry-supported research, but also by supporting public relations and policy advocacy.

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Scientists discover how Danionella cerebrum, measuring width of adult human fingernail, can create noises exceeding 140 decibels

One of the world’s smallest fish, measuring about the width of an adult human fingernail, can make a sound as loud as a gunshot, scientists have said.

The male Danionella cerebrum, a fish of about 12mm found in the streams of Myanmar, produces sounds that exceed 140 decibels, according to the study published in the PNAS journal, equal to an ambulance siren or jackhammer.

The most common mechanism in fishes to produce sound involved vibrations of their swim bladder – a gas-filled organ used to control buoyancy – driven by rhythmic contractions of specialised “drumming” muscles, the paper said.

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Researchers have uncovered new insights into the way brain cells, or neurons, interact when making a decision, and how the links between these neurons could reinforce a decision.


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The glucocorticoids released during chronic stress cause neutrophil extracellular trap (NET) formation and establish a metastasis-promoting microenvironment. Therefore, NETs could be targets for preventing metastatic recurrence in cancer patients.


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This study sought to assess the effects of a salt substitute (62.5% NaCl, 25% KCl, and 12.5% flavorings) on incidence of hypertension and hypotension among older adults with normal blood pressure.


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A private lunar lander is expected to cease operations Tuesday, its mission cut short after landing sideways near the south pole of the moon.

Intuitive Machines, the Houston company that built and flew the spacecraft, said Monday it will continue to collect data until sunlight no longer shines on the solar panels. Based on the position of Earth and the moon, officials expect that to happen Tuesday morning. That’s two to three days short of what NASA and other customers had been counting on.

The lander, named Odysseus, is the first U.S. spacecraft to land on the moon in more than 50 years, carrying experiments for NASA, the main sponsor. But it came in too fast last Thursday and the foot of one of its six legs caught on the surface, causing it to tumble over, according to company officials.

Based on photos from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter flying overhead, Odysseus landed within a mile or so (1.5 kilometers) of its intended target near the Malapert A crater, just 185 miles or so (300 kilometers) from the moon’s south pole.

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Studies suggest the BCG jab discovered a century ago could provide a cheap and effective way of boosting the immune system to protect people from developing the condition

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As the Jorō spider continues to spread across the southeastern United States, its spindly homes can be spotted almost anywhere — even on power lines and stoplights hovering over busy roads.

Typical spiders — and most creatures — tend to find the noise and wind disturbance from nearby busy roads to be too stressful, but the Jorō spider doesn’t seem to mind much, according to a new study published in Arthropoda on February 13. This research could explain why the spiders are regularly spotted in urban areas that native spiders don’t inhabit and suggests the creatures are well-suited to thrive and spread in similar locations throughout the United States.

“If you ever look at a spiderweb next to a road, they’re jiggling and shaking, and it’s a cacophony of stimuli. … Roadsides are a really harsh place for an animal to live. But Jorōs seem to be able to live next to them,” said lead study author Andy Davis, a research scientist at the University of Georgia’s Odum School of Ecology.

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An embryo is one of the earliest stages of development of a multicellular organism. But according to the Supreme Court of Alabama, it is a person, too — an unborn child, entitled to the same legal protections as any minor.

The court ruled on Feb. 16 that a fertility clinic patient who accidentally destroyed other patients’ frozen embryos could be liable in a wrongful death lawsuit, writing in its opinion that “the Wrongful Death of a Minor Act applies to all unborn children, regardless of their location,” and that this includes “unborn children who are located outside of a biological uterus at the time they are killed.”

This has had immediate and profound consequences on the practice of in vitro fertilization in the state, with many fertility clinics already deciding to interrupt their services for fear of legal repercussions, including the University of Alabama at Birmingham, which has paused its IVF treatments, as has Alabama Fertility Services.

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The findings challenge the conventional view of Parkinson’s disease pathology, which typically focuses on the protein alpha-synuclein as the classic diagnostic hallmark of the disease. The new study illustrates how tau pathology could be actively involved in the degeneration of dopamine-producing neurons in the brain, independent of alpha-synuclein.


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The discovery may help shed light on how prehistoric societies treated children with rare conditions.

Scientists have diagnosed Down syndrome from DNA in the ancient bones of seven infants, one as old as 5,500 years. Their method, published in the journal Nature Communications, may help researchers learn more about how prehistoric societies treated people with Down syndrome and other rare conditions.

Down syndrome, which occurs in 1 in 700 babies today, is caused by an extra copy of chromosome 21. The extra chromosome makes extra proteins, which can cause a host of changes, including heart defects and learning disabilities.

Scientists have struggled to work out the history of the condition. Today, older mothers are most likely to have a child with the condition. In the past, however, women would have been more likely to die young, which might have made Down syndrome rarer, and the children born with it would have been less likely to survive without the heart surgery and other treatments that extend their lives today.

Archaeologists can identify some rare conditions, such as dwarfism, from bones alone. But Down syndrome — also known as trisomy 21 — is a remarkably variable condition.

Non-paywall link

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Every time I try to understand how forces which hold atoms and molecules together work, I find myself wanting to ask this question: why not the other way around? Could there be an atom which has electrons and neutrons inside, and protons outside?

It feels like a silly question, but is there something we know about the universe we live in that implies that this is not possible?

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Odysseus, the first US-built spacecraft to touchdown on the moon in more than half a century, is tipped over on its side, according to an update from Nasa and Intuitive Machines, the company that built and operated the lander.

The robotic lander descended on to the south polar region of the moon on Thursday at 6.23pm ET. But several minutes passed before flight controllers were able to pick up a signal from the lander’s communication systems.

As it landed, Odysseus “caught a foot in the surface and tipped” said Intuitive Machines CEO Steve Altemus, ending up on its side.

Still, the lander is “near or at our intended landing site”, he said. Nasa and Intuitive Machines said they have been receiving data from the lander and believe that most of the scientific instruments that it is carrying are in a position to work.

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Astronomers have found three previously unknown moons in our solar system — two additional moons circling Neptune and one around Uranus.

The distant tiny moons were spotted using powerful land-based telescopes in Hawaii and Chile, and announced Friday by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center.

The latest tally puts Neptune at 16 known moons and Uranus at 28.

One of Neptune’s new moons has the longest known orbital journey yet. It takes around 27 years for the small outer moon to complete one lap around Neptune, the vast icy planet farthest from the sun, said Scott Sheppard, an astronomer at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington who helped make the discovery.

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found from here

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