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Ancient flying reptile from China fills evolutionary gap
The newly identified Jurassic period creature, a species named Kryptodrakon progenitor that was unearthed in the Gobi desert in northwestern China, was modest in size, with a wingspan of perhaps 4-1/2 feet. But later members of its branch of the flying reptiles known as pterosaurs were truly colossal, including Quetzalcoatlus, whose wingspan of about 35 feet was roughly the same as that of an F-16 fighter. Roughly 220 million years ago, pterosaurs became the first flying vertebrates to appear on Earth, with birds - first appearing about 150 million years ago - and bats - appearing about 50 million years ago - coming much later. Pterosaurs arose during the Triassic period not long after their cousins, the dinosaurs, also made their debut.
Thu, 24 Apr 2014 17:15:26 -0400
NASA tries space kits to engage kids in science and space
By Sarah McBride NEW YORK (Reuters) - Making mini satellite dishes that collect signals or building remote-controlled mini Rovers such as the kind NASA has used on Mars are the types of activities that could interest kids in science, but their complexity can derail all but the most enthusiastic hobbyist. Now, NASA, the U.S. space agency, hopes it has found a workaround through new space kits and a collaboration with a New York-based startup called LittleBits. NASA, through its Aura mission to study the Earth's ozone layer and climate, is working with LittleBits to develop activities around a new $189 space kit, announced on Thursday. Using electronic modules such as motors and dimmers that snap together, the creations will perform functions that normally might require hours of tedious tinkering or piles of electronics components.
Thu, 24 Apr 2014 12:00:05 -0400
Utah sperm swap 'unacceptable' but still unexplained -university docs
A University of Utah committee investigating reports that a Salt Lake City fertility clinic worker artificially inseminated a patient with his own sperm called the action "unacceptable" on Thursday, but said it could not determine whether the switch was intentional. Practices at two now-closed Salt Lake-area clinics came into question last year when Pamela Branum, who was artificially inseminated at Reproductive Medical Technologies Inc, claimed genetic testing revealed that, instead of her husband, a lab technician had fathered their daughter in the early 1990s. The technician, Tom Lippert, has since died. He was also a registered sperm donor at the clinics and frequently supplied samples.
Thu, 24 Apr 2014 18:23:35 -0400
Scientists discover new rare genetic brain disorder
By Julie Steenhuysen CHICAGO (Reuters) - International teams of researchers using advanced gene sequencing technology have uncovered a single genetic mutation responsible for a rare brain disorder that may have stricken families in Turkey for some 400 years. The discovery of this genetic disorder, reported in two papers in the journal Cell, demonstrates the growing power of new tools to uncover the causes of diseases that previously stumped doctors. Besides bringing relief to affected families, who can now go through prenatal genetic testing in order to have children without the disorder, the discovery helps lend insight into more common neurodegenerative disorders, such as ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, the researchers said. The reports come from two independent teams of scientists, one led by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and the Austrian Academy of Sciences, and the other by Yale University, the University of California, San Diego, and the Academic Medical Center in the Netherlands.
Thu, 24 Apr 2014 14:36:28 -0400
With genome deciphered, experts aim to swat dreaded tsetse fly
By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An international team of scientists has deciphered the genetic code of the tsetse fly, the bloodsucking insect that spreads deadly African sleeping sickness, with the hope that its biological secrets can be exploited to eradicate this malady. The findings announced on Thursday were the culmination of a multimillion dollar, decade-long effort involving more than 140 scientists from 78 research institutions in 18 countries. The fly's bite carries a parasitic microorganism that causes sleeping sickness in people in sub-Saharan Africa and a form of the disease in animals that can devastate livestock herds. Sequencing the tsetse fly's genome exposed the molecular underpinnings of its weird biology: it gives live birth to young rather than laying eggs like other insects;
Thu, 24 Apr 2014 14:17:50 -0400
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