MI weekly selection #337
Fungus induces nonstop mating in cicadas
Substances made by a fungus infecting cicadas, Massospora, are causing the insects to mate incessantly. The study discovered several firsts, including the first psilocybin to be produced by a fungus that was not a mushroom and the first nonplant organism to generate an amphetamine, cathinone.
New EEG analysis may detect brain activity in unresponsive patients
A new kind of analysis of EEG recordings may detect neural activity that may be otherwise undetectable in unresponsive brain injury patients. Researchers recorded EEG activity of 104 unresponsive patients while giving them simple commands, then entered the data into an algorithm that looked for hidden brain activity.
Fast radio burst detected from distant galaxy
A single, non-repeating fast radio burst originated from a galaxy about 3.6 billion light-years from Earth. “[W]e identified the burst’s home galaxy and even its exact starting point, 13,000 light-years out from the galaxy’s center in the galactic suburbs,” says study co-author Adam Deller.
Huge flightless bird lived with early hominins around 2M years ago
A giant flightless bird more than triple the size of its modern relative, the ostrich, lived alongside early human relatives who may have used it as a food source about 2 million years ago. The bird’s fossilized femur was found in Taurida Cave in Crimea.
Arms of octopuses act independently from brains
Octopus arms appear to be able to make decisions without any input from the brain, partially because they have around 350 million of the cephalopods’ 500 million neurons. “The octopus’ arms have a neural ring that bypasses the brain, and so the arms can send information to each other without the brain being aware of it,” says researcher Dominic Sivitilli.