RNA discovery could help boost plant heat, drought tolerance

Scientists have discovered a ribonucleic acid, or RNA, that can increase the thale cress plant's resistance to stress from drought and salt.

The discovery could help illuminate a new pathway to engineering drought- and salt-tolerant plants, including food crops, said Dr. Liming Xiong.

"This is the first finding of a long non-coding RNA, or lncRNA, that regulates plant tolerance to adverse, non-physiological external factors," Xiong said.

The lncRNA his team discovered in thale cress plants existed in low numbers under non-stress conditions, but levels increased when the plants encountered drought or salt stress, he said. Manually increasing the level of the lncRNA showed corresponding increases in drought and salt tolerance compared with plants where the lncRNA level was unaltered according to Science daily.

Ancient amphibian had mouthful of teeth ready to grab you

The idea of being bitten by a nearly toothless modern frog or salamander sounds laughable, but their ancient ancestors had a full array of teeth, large fangs and thousands of tiny hook-like structures called denticles on the roofs of their mouths that would snare prey, according to new research.

In research, Professor Robert Reisz, Distinguished Professor of Paleontology, explains that the presence of such an extensive field of teeth provides clues to how the intriguing feeding mechanism seen in modern amphibians was also likely used by their ancient ancestors according to Science daily.

Individuality drives collective behavior of schooling fish

New research sheds light on how "animal personalities" -- inter-individual differences in animal behaviour -- can drive the collective behaviour and functioning of animal groups such as schools of fish, including their cohesion, leadership, movement dynamics, and group performance. These research findings provide important new insights that could help explain and predict the emergence of complex collective behavioural patterns across social and ecological scales, with implications for conservation and fisheries and potentially creating bio-inspired robot swarms according to Science daily.

For centuries, scientists and non-scientists alike have been fascinated by the beautiful and often complex collective behaviour of animal groups, such as flocks of birds, schools of fish, and herds of wildebeest. Animals often group together and time and coordinate their behaviour as it may provide them with protection against predators and help in finding food. Often, those spectacular collective patterns emerge from individual group members using simple rules in their interactions, as compelling experimental and theoretical work has shown.

New hope for reef fish living in a high CO2 world

Just as when a camera lens comes into focus, the latest research sharpens understanding of the implications of ocean acidification on reef fish behaviour, yielding promising results for their current and near-future survival.

Chemical changes in the ocean, as a result of climate change, are leading to a more acidic environment, referred to as 'ocean acidification' (OA). In a laboratory setting, these changes have been shown to lead to a range of risky behaviours in the affected fish, with some fish unable to flee from their finned foes effectively, according to Science daily.

Largest Ichthyosaurus fossil ever discovered is found to have a foetus still INSIDE the womb

The foetus of an Ichthyosaurus has been discovered still inside the womb 200 million years after its mother died during pregnancy.

The 3.5 metre (11ft) pregnant ichthyosaur lived at the time of the earliest dinosaurs during the early Jurassic period.

Scientists said the incomplete embryo was less than seven centimetres long and consisted of preserved vertebrae, a forefin, ribs and a few other bones according to Daily mail.