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Nala Rogers

Science Writer

Washington DC

Nala Rogers

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Bacteria may help bats to fight deadly fungus

The bats at Marm Kilpatrick’s two Illinois field sites perished right on schedule. The mines sheltered nearly 30,000 bats before white-nose syndrome, a deadly fungal disease, arrived in late 2012. By March 2015, less than 5% remained. Kilpatrick, a disease ecologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), and his colleagues chose the mines because they lay right in the path of the fungus, which has spread from Europe through 26 US states and 5 Canadian provinces since January 2007.
Nature: International Weekly Journal of Science - New York Bureau Link to Story
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Evolution of Darwin’s finches tracked at genetic level

Researchers are pinpointing the genes that lie behind the varied beaks of Darwin’s finches – the iconic birds whose facial variations have become a classic example of Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection. Last year, researchers identified a gene that helps to determine the shape of the birds’ beaks1.
Nature Link to Story
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Cuckoo finch is a master of mimicry

Some birds use other species' nests to lay eggs that resemble those of the other species, escaping the burdens of parenthood. Now researchers have found a type of finch in Africa that also mimics how another bird looks as an adult.
Nature: International Weekly Journal of Science - New York Bureau Link to Story
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Chimps are not averse to alcohol

Chimpanzees at a site in West Africa drink alcohol-containing sap from raffia trees — the first systematic evidence that non-human apes ingest naturally fermented food in the wild.
Nature: International Weekly Journal of Science - New York Bureau Link to Story
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Migration explains drab female birds

Some female warblers lost their bright colours just as the birds were evolving to become migratory, suggesting that this behavioural change spurred the evolution of sex differences in plumage colour.
Nature: International Weekly Journal of Science - New York Bureau Link to Story
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Crafty crows keep their tools handy

New Caledonian crows (Corvus moneduloides) invest much time and energy turning sticks into hooks to extract food from small cavities. To see what happened to the tools when they were not in use, Barbara Klump and Christian Rutz at the University of St Andrews, UK, and their colleagues offered crows food hidden in holes in a block of wood.
Nature: International Weekly Journal of Science - New York Bureau Link to Story
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Alzheimer’s origins tied to rise of human intelligence

Alzheimer’s disease may have evolved alongside human intelligence, researchers report in a paper posted this month on BioRxiv1. The study finds evidence that 50,000 to 200,000 years ago, natural selection drove changes in six genes involved in brain development. This may have helped to increase the connectivity of neurons, making modern humans smarter as they evolved from their hominin ancestors.
Nature: International Weekly Journal of Science - New York Bureau Link to Story
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Silenced gene keeps malaria out

Researchers have uncovered a possible target for anti-malarial therapies by suppressing gene expression in blood stem cells. Malaria-causing parasites attack mature red blood cells, which lack DNA, making it hard to test which genes make the cells vulnerable to malaria infection. Manoj Duraisingh at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts, and his colleagues have sidestepped this problem by studying the stem cells that develop into red blood cells and contain DNA.
Nature: International Weekly Journal of Science - New York Bureau Link to Story
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Mummies' stature reveals inbreeding

The heights of the mummified pharaohs who ruled ancient Egypt support the belief that they married their siblings. Historical records say that many Egyptian pharaohs married their sisters, but it is hard to prove through genetic testing because of ethical objections to destroying mummies' tissues (pictured is Rameses III, who was Pharaoh in 1186–1155 BC).
Nature: International Weekly Journal of Science - New York Bureau Link to Story
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Genomes reveal mammoth history

Genome sequences from two woolly mammoths provide a rare look at the genetic events leading up to extinction. Nat. Hist. Mus., London/SPL Eleftheria Palkopoulou and Love Dalén at the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm sequenced the genomes of a woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius; artist's impression pictured) that roamed Eurasia roughly 45,000 years ago, and of one that lived on a remote island some 4,000 years ago, just before the animals went extinct.
Nature: International Weekly Journal of Science - New York Bureau Link to Story
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Why illness might leave a bitter taste in the mouth

People who are ill often complain of changes in their sense of taste. Now, researchers report that this sensory shift may be caused by a protein that triggers inflammation. Mice that cannot produce the protein, called tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), are less sensitive to bitter flavours than normal mice, according to a study published on 21 April in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity1.
Nature: International Weekly Journal of Science - New York Bureau Link to Story
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Like a moth to a trumpet flower

Hawk-moths are better at finding nectar in flowers shaped like the bell of a trumpet than in those that resemble a flat disc. Armin Hinterwirth Eric Octavio Campos and his colleagues at the University of Washington in Seattle used a 3D printer to create flowers that were either flat or curved like a trumpet. The team inserted a tube filled with sugar water into the centre of each flower, and allowed hawk-moths (Manduca sexta; pictured) to feed from them. Although the moths visited each type of flower equally, they drained trumpet flowers more often than flat ones. The results suggest that the trumpet shape helps to guide the moth's probing mouthparts to nectar.
Nature: International Weekly Journal of Science - New York Bureau Link to Story

About

Nala Rogers

I am a staff writer at Inside Science, where I cover the Earth and Creature beats. I have written for Science, Nature, Scientific American, the University of Utah, and other outlets. In my free time I like to play with wildlife.

Phone: 801-949-2128
Email: nalarogers42@gmail.com