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+ - Anonymous peer-review comments may spark legal battle->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "The power of anonymous comments—and the liability of those who make them—is at the heart of a possible legal battle embroiling PubPeer, an online forum launched in October 2012 for anonymous, postpublication peer review. A researcher who claims that comments on PubPeer caused him to lose a tenured faculty job offer now intends to press legal charges against the person or people behind these posts—provided he can uncover their identities, his lawyer says."
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+ - Mystery of the Narwhal's tusk solved? It's a status symbol->

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sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Although the narwhal is well-known throughout popular culture, the purpose of its iconic tusk is not. The appendage—which is actually a single tooth that protrudes from the whale’s upper left jaw—can grow up to 2 to 3 meters in length and is found almost exclusively in males. Many explanations have been offered up, including its potential use in defense, foraging, male competition, and breaking of sea ice; however, support for many of the proposed functions has been limited to isolated observations. Now, new findings provide evidence that the tusk may serve as a visible feature that females use to identify the most fertile males when choosing a mate, much like a stag’s antlers or a peacock’s feathers, that are used to attract females. Tusk length was significantly related to the testes mass—an indicator of fertility—suggesting that males with longer tusks are likely also the most fertile and best mates."
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+ - Ancient campfires led to the rise of storytelling->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "A study of evening campfire conversations by the Ju/’hoan people of Namibia and Botswana suggests that by extending the day, fire allowed people to unleash their imaginations and tell stories, rather than merely focus on mundane topics. As scientists report, whereas daytime talk was focused almost entirely on economic issues, land rights, and complaints about other people, 81% of the firelight conversation was devoted to telling stories, including tales about people from other Ju/’hoan communities. The team suggests that campfires allowed human ancestors to expand their minds in a similar way and also solidified social networks."
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+ - Chimpanzees have evolved to kill each other->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "A major new study of warfare in chimpanzees finds that lethal aggression can be evolutionarily beneficial in that species, rewarding the winners with food, mates, and the opportunity to pass along their genes. The findings run contrary to recent claims that chimps fight only if they are stressed by the impact of nearby human activity—and could help explain the origins of human conflict as well."
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+ - Gene therapy helps weak mice grow strong->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "A virus that shuttles a therapeutic gene into cells has strengthened the muscles, improved the motor skills, and lengthened the lifespan of mice afflicted with two neuromuscular diseases. The approach could one day help people with a range of similar disorders, from muscular dystrophy to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS."
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+ - Artificial sweeteners may contribute to diabetes->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "When it comes to the sweet stuff, science often turns sour. Almost every study that has linked sugar to problems such as tooth decay, diabetes, obesity, or even childhood violence has come under heavy fire. Nonetheless, the World Health Organization released draft guidelines earlier this year that halved the recommended maximum sugar intake. Now, new research is suggesting that synthetic sweeteners like saccharin might not be a great alternative. They could have a negative effect on gut microbes and thus lead to a higher risk of diabetes, researchers say."
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+ - Ant-sized radio runs on radio waves->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Researchers have created a radio so tiny that almost seven would fit on the face of a penny. The device runs without a battery; instead it uses “power harvesting,” a process by which it recovers and uses energy from the same waves that carry signals to its antenna. Even if the radio chip did need a battery, a single AAA battery has enough power to run it for more than a century, researchers report. Many components of the radio had to be scaled down to fit onto the tiny silicon chip; the antenna, for example, is one-tenth the size of a Wi-Fi antenna—and yet, it runs at a fast speed of 24 billion cycles per second. The tiny radios cost only a few cents to manufacture, the researchers say, and such devices are key to the next wave of wireless devices; eventually they could link together gadgets like smart phones with everyday objects, which will then be able to make decisions with minimal human intervention."
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+ - Smartphone study: religious and nonreligious people are same level of immoral->

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sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Benjamin Franklin tracked his prideful, sloppy, and gluttonous acts in a daily journal, marking each moral failing with a black ink dot. Now, scientists have devised a modern update to Franklin’s little book, using smart phones to track the sins and good deeds of more than 1200 people. The new data—among the first to be gathered on moral behavior outside of the lab—confirm what psychologists have long suspected: Religious and nonreligious people are equally prone to immoral acts."
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+ - Scientists discover the only known swimming dinosaur->

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sciencehabit (1205606) writes "In 97-million-year-old freshwater sediments in eastern Morocco, researchers discovered new fossils of a dinosaur known as Spinosaurus, including parts of the skull, vertebral column, pelvis, and limb bones. The researchers were able to see signs of watery adaptation not seen in other dinosaurs: a small nostril located far back on the head, apparently to limit water intake; relatively long forelimbs; big flat feet suitable for paddling as well as walking on muddy ground; and very dense limb bones, which would have allowed Spinosaurus to submerge itself rather than float at the surface. The adaptations resemble those of early whales and today’s hippopotamus, and make Spinosaurus the only dinosaur known to swim, the researchers say."
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+ - Journal published flawed stem cell papers, despite serious misgivings about work->

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sciencehabit (1205606) writes "As two discredited, and now retracted, stem cell papers have produced an almost unimaginable fallout—a national hero accused of scientific fraud, the revamping of one of Japan’s major research institutes, and the suicide of a respected cell biologist—researchers have privately and publicly asked how Nature could have published work that, in retrospect, seems so obviously flawed. Another piece of the puzzle has now come to light. The Science news team received a copy of email correspondence between a Nature editor and Haruko Obokata, the lead author of the papers, that indicates the work initially received as rocky a reception there as at two other journals, Cell and Science, that had rejected the work previously. The email, dated 4 April 2013, includes detailed separate criticisms of the two papers and suggestions for new data to support the authors’ claims of a simple and novel way to make stem cells that could form the myriad cell types within a body. The Nature editor rejected the papers, but left open a window, writing, “Should further experimental data allow you to address these criticisms, we would be happy to look at a revised manuscript ” The two papers were published 10 months later."
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+ - Ancient flying reptile was cross between a dragon and a pelican 1

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "An ancient flying reptile represents a cross between a dragon and a pelican. The front portion of the creature’s lower jaw had a deep, thin, crescent-shaped keel that may have been covered with keratin, akin to the beaks of modern birds. At the end of that bony keel, researchers noted a peculiar hook-shaped projection—a feature not seen in any other vertebrate, living or extinct—that might have served as an anchor for soft tissue. That distinctive bony projection suggests the creature's most distinct feature may have been a pelicanlike throat pouch that could hold fish gleaned from lakes and rivers. In a nod to flying creatures of our modern age, the new species has been dubbed Ikrandraco avatar—draco is Latin for “dragon,” and Ikran are the flying beasts depicted in the 2009 blockbuster Avatar. It’s difficult to estimate how much I. avatar weighed, the researchers say, but the fossils recovered so far hint that adults may have had a wingspan of about 1.5 meters."

+ - Researcher loses job at NSF after government questions her role as 1980s activis->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Valerie Barr was a tenured professor of computer science at Union College in Schenectady, New York, with a national reputation for her work improving computing education and attracting more women and minorities into the field. But federal investigators say that Barr lied during a routine background check about her affiliations with a domestic terrorist group that had ties to the two organizations to which she had belonged in the early 1980s. On 27 August, NSF said that her “dishonest conduct” compelled them to cancel her temporary assignment immediately, at the end of the first of what was expected to be a 2-year stint. Colleagues who decry Barr’s fate worry that the incident could make other scientists think twice about coming to work for NSF. In addition, Barr’s case offers a rare glimpse into the practices of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), an obscure agency within the White House that wields vast power over the entire federal bureaucracy through its authority to vet recently hired workers."
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+ - Reanalysis of clinical trials finds misleading findings ->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Clinical trials rarely get a second look—and when they do, their findings are not always what the authors originally reported. That’s the conclusion of a new study, which compared how 37 studies that had been reanalyzed measured up to the original. In 13 cases, the reanalysis came to a different outcome—a finding that suggests many clinical trials may not be accurately reporting the effect of a new drug or intervention."
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+ - Barred from dumps, Yellowstone grizzly bears now dine on dandelions-and dirt->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Barred from the dumps where they once chowed on trash, the grizzly bears of Yellowstone National Park and surrounding areas have substantially cleaned up their diets over the past few decades, a new study shows. Hundreds of field observations of the bears feeding and analyses of grizzly scat reveal that the animals’ garbage consumption peaked in the early 1970s, as the number of visitors to the park increased, but declined to practically zero when trashcans were converted to a bear-proof design and municipal dumps in and around the park were shut down. Today, grasses, ants, and flowering plants such as dandelions dominate the grizzly diet, followed by berries, trout, and mammals such as elk, bison, and gophers. The 266-item list of foods documented in the new study—including moths, algae, and even dirt—illustrates the bear’s ability to adapt to rapid changes in the abundance of their favorite foods, the researchers say."
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+ - Clues to animal extinctions found on the walls of Egyptian tombs->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Six thousand years ago, Egyptian lions hunted wildebeests and zebras in a landscape that resembled the Serengeti more than the Sahara. Since then, the number of large mammal species has decreased from 37 to eight, says quantitative ecologist Justin Yeakel of the Santa Fe Institute. New research using ancient animal depictions tracks the collapse of Egypt’s ecological networks one extinction at a time, offering a glimpse into how climate change and human impacts have altered the structure and stability of ecosystems over millennia."
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