Breakthrough Science

In review this week vital strides are being made by innovators researching the marvels of science.

New research in Africa offers valuable insight for Australian farmers battling a recent outbreak of the deadly Hendra virus.

The study focused on an isolated colony of straw-coloured fruit bats on islands off the west coast of central Africa. By capturing the bats and collecting blood samples, scientists discovered these animals have antibodies that can neutralise deadly viruses known in Australia and Asia.

In a paper published in the Jan. 12 issue of the journal PLoS ONE, and is a collaboration of the Department of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Cambridge, the Zoological Society of London and the CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratory.

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Secrets from Seashells, reveals evolution of ancient nervous systems.

Determining the evolution of pigmentation patterns on mollusk seashells—which could aid in the understanding of ancient nervous systems—has proved to be a challenging feat for researchers. Now, however, through mathematical equations and simulations, University of Pittsburgh and University of California, Berkeley, researchers have used 19 different species of the predatory sea snail Conus to generate a model of the pigmentation patterns of mollusk shells.

Seashells differ substantially between the closely related Conus species, and the complexity of the patterns makes it difficult to properly characterize their similarities and differences. It also has proven difficult to describe the evolution of pigmentation patterns or to draw inferences about how natural selection might affect them. In a paper published in the Jan. 3 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) Online, Ermentrout and his colleagues attempt to resolve this problem by combining models based on natural evolutionary relationships with a realistic developmental model that can generate pigmentation patterns of the shells of the various Conus species.

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Source: The above story (edited for content and length) is republished from materials provided by the University of Cambridge (first article) and the University of Pittsburg (second article).

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Inga Yandell
Explorer and photo-journalist, passionate about nature, culture and travel. Combining science and conservation with investigative journalism to provide educational resources and a platform for science exploration.
Inga Yandell

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