MI weekly selection #379
Urban foxes in UK becoming more doglike
Urban red foxes in the UK appear to be evolving to better adapt to urban life, with a shorter, more powerful snout and a smaller brain than their country cousins. They’re also becoming less afraid of humans, and “adapting to life around humans actually primes some animals for domestication,” said Andrew Kitchener, co-author of the study.
Human cells created with ability to become transparent
Researchers have engineered human cells to have the ability to become transparent, using reflectin proteins from the opalescent inshore squid, which can make parts of their bodies appear invisible. Human kidney cells were engineered to produce reflectins, and “the cells not only expressed reflectin but also packaged the protein in spheroidal nanostructures and distributed them throughout the cells’ bodies,” changing the way light scattered and making the cells more opaque, says study author Alon Gorodetsky.
Ancient Milky Way blast lit gas in nearby galaxies
Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, released a burst of energy about 3.5 million years ago that it lit up gas associated with the Large Magellanic Cloud and the Small Magellanic Cloud. “This shows us that different regions of the galaxy are linked — what happens in the galactic center makes a difference to what happens out in the Magellanic Stream,” says study author Andrew Fox.
A massive “lava lamp blob” existed off New Zealand coast
A massive blob of lava came from the Earth’s core about 120 million years ago and a part of it may still be hiding somewhere off the coast of New Zealand. Remnants of this superplume are helping scientists learn more about Hikurangi Plateau, which may have once been part of an enormous volcanic mountain.
Statin treatment tied to higher insulin resistance
Adults who took statins had higher levels of insulin resistance, compared with those who didn’t take statins. The researchers, who based the findings on data from 609 older adults, noted that “consideration for choosing non-lipophilic statins and avoidance of rosuvastatin and lipophilic statins may provide the intended cardiovascular protection without the increased incidence of insulin resistance” among those at risk of diabetes.