MI weekly selection #367

Photo: David Clode on Unsplash

Why crocodilians weather climate change well

Crocodilians may be uniquely suited to adapt well to climate change because they’ve survived two mass extinction events and have a special kind of reproductive biology, but their diversity has decreased. “[T]he main lesson that crocs can teach us is that extinction really is forever, and really destroys so much,” said study leader Rebecca Lakin.


Beetle larvae appear to have a taste for polystyrene

Researchers fed Zophobas atratus larvae a diet of only polystyrene, and the so-called superworms not only thrived, but they digested the plastic and turned it into carbon dioxide. Researchers wrote that they hoped their study could “open a new way for harnessing mealworms to degrade … other types of [materials], such as polyethylene or rubber.”

The Scientist

Brain decline starts early middle age, but diet can help

Deterioration in brain function can begin when people are in their late 40s, but diet and minimizing consumption of simple carbohydrates can mitigate decline. The brain might gradually lose the ability to metabolize glucose efficiently, starving neurons and destabilizing brain networks, and offering ketones as a fuel source helped stabilize brain networks, researcher Lilianne Mujica-Parodi said.

The Guardian

New minor planets found beyond Neptune

Astronomers have identified 316 minor planets, also known as trans-Neptunian objects, including 139 that are new, by re-examining data from the first four years of the Dark Energy Survey. “The number of TNOs you can find depends on how much of the sky you look at and what’s the faintest thing you can find,” said Gary Bernstein, a study author.


Microbes found in ocean’s lower crust

Fungi, bacteria and one-cell organisms live in the cracks of rocks deep in the ocean’s lower crust. Researchers, who drilled rock cores in the Indian Ocean and recovered samples from 750 meters into the crust, say the microbes’ survival depends on the circulation of fluids carrying organic material from the ocean above.


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