Mites that Bite, and Fossils in Sight (Abstract Science: Jan. 28 – Feb. 1)
Genetics may determine your bedtime; microscopy images reveal honeybee killer; and new fossil found in frozen south.
(New York Times, Veronique Greenwood, 1/30/19)
Researchers may have identified the “morning person” gene after matching data from genetic testing company 23andMe and the UK Biobank, which tracks volunteers’ activity with monitors that record their movements. The findings may reveal a genetic component of people’s chronotype, or the behavior aspects of their circadian rhythms. The researchers also found a correlation between early risers and better mental health.
(PNAS, Samual D. Ramsey, et al, 1/29/19)
The USDA Agricultural Research Service and University of Maryland scientists have used transmission electron microscopy to show that the honeybee’s most deadly parasite feeds on their fat body tissue, similar to the mammalian liver, and not on the bee’s “blood.” The microscopy images also confirm that the mites feed on adult bees. Researchers are hoping to use this information to develop strategies to combat the mites, which are a primary destructor of honeybee colonies.
(Live Science, Mindy Weisburger, 1/31/19)
A recently discovered partial lizard skeleton sheds light on the forest ecology of primordial Antarctica. The archosaur, dubbed Antarctanax shackletoni (which roughly translates to “Shackleton, King of Antarctica), lived about 250 million years ago and was about the size of a full-grown iguana. Features of the skeleton suggest that the creature scurried along the warm forest floor of ancient Antarctica.
—Stories compiled by Senior Scientific Writer Mary Parker