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'Green' Energy From Garden Grass, Mars Rover's Laser Can Now Target Rocks All by Itself, World's Most Sensitive Dark Matter Detector Completes Search, and More in the Physics News Source Sponsored by AIP

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Putting the Sloth in Sloths: Arboreal Lifestyle Drives Slow Motion Pace

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University of Wisconsin-Madison scientists set out to measure the energetics of wild two- and three-toed sloths at a field site in in northeastern Costa Rica. The purpose of the study was to help explain why arboreal folivores are indeed so rare and why more animals have not evolved to take advantage of a widespread ecological niche.

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EMBARGOED

A reporter's PressPass is required to access this story until the embargo expires on 25-Jul-2016 3:00 PM EDT

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EMBARGOED

A reporter's PressPass is required to access this story until the embargo expires on 26-Jul-2016 6:30 PM EDT

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After the Age of Dinosaurs Came the Age of Ant Farmers

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A group of South American ants has farmed fungi since shortly after the dinosaurs died out, according to an international research team including Smithsonian scientists. The genes of the ant farmers and their fungal crops reveal a surprisingly ancient history of mutual adaptations. This evolutionary give-and-take has led to some species--the leafcutter ants--developing industrial-scale farming that surpasses human agriculture in its efficiency.

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Queen's Researcher Examines the Evolution of Flight

Research by post-doctoral fellow Alexander Dececchi challenges long-held hypotheses about how flight first developed in birds. Furthermore, his findings raise the question of why certain species developed wings long before they could fly.

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40-Year-Old Chorus Frog Tissues Vital to Louisiana Hybrid Zone Study

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LSU researchers Jeremy M. Brown and Eric N. Rittmeyer, in collaboration with colleagues at Florida State University, are shedding light on how often and where species hybridize through time, thanks to the rediscovery of 40-year-old tissue samples preserved at the LSU Museum of Natural Science, or LSUMNS. In a recent study published in Ecology and Evolution, they show that two species of chorus frogs now form hybrids across a much wider area of Louisiana and Mississippi than they did just 30-40 years earlier. A widening area of hybridization has important implications for the future of these species and suggests that recent alterations to their environment have affected their fitness or dispersal ability.

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How Are Beaches Restored? The Benefits of Calcification; Aggressive Behavior in City Birds, and More in the Environment News Source

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Researchers Find Exceptional Species Diversity on Island in Philippines

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The largest island in the Philippines may be home to the greatest concentration of mammal diversity in the world, according to a research team that has been exploring the island for the past 15 years.

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Butterflies' Diet Impacts Evolution of Traits

Why do some organisms within a single species have many offspring, while others have relatively few? A new study led by University of Minnesota researcher Emilie Snell-Rood finds that access to some nutrients may be a star player in shaping traits related to fitness such as fecundity and eye size over the long term. Given drastic increases in the availability of many nutrients due to the widespread use of fertilizers and road salts, the finding has important implications for agriculture and ecology.

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Mantis Shrimp Roll Their Eyes to Improve Their Vision

Imagine rolling your eyes to help you see more clearly. Although it wouldn't work for humans, new research published today in Nature Communications has shown mantis shrimp use eye rotations to enhance their polarization vision.

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To the Breaking Point: Testing Ideas About the Evolution of Long-Necked Sauropod Dinosaurs

Sauropod dinosaurs were the largest land-dwelling animals of all time, with highly elongated necks and tails that were held suspended above the ground.

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At the Insect Singles Bar, Cicadas Provide the Soundtrack

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Summer days resonate with the sound of cicadas trying to make a love connection. But like a lot of singles, male cicadas don’t always attract the kind of mates they’re hoping for.

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Weathering of Rocks by Mosses May Explain Climate Effects During the Late Ordovician

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During the Ordovician period, the concentration of CO2 in the earth's atmosphere was about eight times higher than today. It has been hard to explain why the climate cooled and why the Ordovician glaciations took place. A new study, published in Nature Communications, shows that the weathering of rock caused by early non-vascular plants had the potential to cause such a global cooling effect.

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Evolution May Have Moved at a Furious Pace on a Much Warmer Earth

Researchers found that the rate of a certain chemical change in DNA – a key driver of spontaneous mutation and thus of evolution’s pace – increases rapidly with temperature. The scientists concluded that the rate of spontaneous mutation was at least 4,000 times higher than it is today.

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ORNL Scientists Isolate, Culture Elusive Yellowstone Microbe

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A microbial partnership thriving in an acidic hot spring in Yellowstone National Park has surrendered some of its lifestyle secrets to researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

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Mammals Diversified Only After Dinosaur Extinction Left Space

QUT evolutionary biologist Dr Matthew Phillips used molecular dating from DNA sequences to challenge the dominant scientific theory that placental mammals diversified 20 million years before dinosaurs became extinct.

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Warming Pulses in Ancient Climate Record Link Volcanoes, Asteroid Impact and Dinosaur-Killing Mass Extinction

A new reconstruction of Antarctic ocean temperatures around the time the dinosaurs disappeared 66 million years ago supports the idea that one of the planet's biggest mass extinctions was due to the combined effects of volcanic eruptions and an asteroid impact.

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Analysis of Anatomy and Diet Finds Evolution Follows Least Resistant Path

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Evolution follows the path of least resistance, which can result in suboptimal physical traits that don’t ideally match the functional need, according to a new analysis by University of Arkansas anthropologist Peter Ungar.

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Ancient “Deep Skull” From Borneo Full of Surprises

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A new study of the 37,000-year old remains of the “Deep Skull” – the oldest modern human discovered in island South-East Asia – has revealed this ancient person was not related to Indigenous Australians, as had been originally thought.