MI weekly selection #330

Oxygen shifts linked to animal evolution during Cambrian explosion

The rise and fall of atmospheric oxygen levels during the Cambrian explosion have been linked to the evolutionary changes in animal biodiversity at the time. Researchers looked at changes in organic carbon and sulfur during that period to get an idea of the oxygen fluctuations in the oceans, finding correlations with periods of diversification and extinction of animals during the same period.

Quanta Magazine

Deep-sea fish develop ability to see colors in low-light environments

A number of deep-sea fish species have developed the ability to see color in extreme low-light conditions. Researchers studied the DNA of 26 different fish species and found that six carried multiple genes for rod opsin proteins, which help rod cells in the retina find light.

New Scientist

Extreme weather tied to ancient population decline

Erratic climate patterns 8,600 years ago contributed to the decline of hunter-gatherer populations in South America. Those populations rebounded about 6,000 years ago when rainfall became more predictable.

Science News

Mycobacterial infection’s cure may involve genetically modified phages

Three phages derived from soil, two of which were gene-edited, factored into the treatment of a drug-resistant mycobacterial infection acquired by a patient with cystic fibrosis, representing the debut of treatment with genetically modified phages. “The challenge is whether you could ever make phage therapy broad enough so you could have an off-the-shelf set at your disposal,” says University of Pittsburgh researcher Graham Hatfull, explaining the difficulty of extending an isolated success more broadly.

The Atlantic

ESA’s Gaia spacecraft spots unusual asteroids during its star survey

The European Space Agency’s Gaia spacecraft discovered three never-before-seen asteroids as it was surveying stars. The asteroids are unusual because they are on a tilted path as opposed to being on the same plane as the planets and sun in our solar system.

Space.com

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