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The Ant Is The First Non-Mammal In History To Become A Drug Addict

It is no secret that ants love sugar, but it has recently been discovered that ants may like another substance even more, which, of course, is morphine. Researchers at the University of Scranton conducted an experiment that ended up demonstrating that ants, despite their small brains, are just as capable as humans at developing opiate addictions.

For the past several years opiate related deaths have increased dramatically across the United States. According to statistics, seventy eight people die of opiate related deaths on a daily basis, and that is just in the United States. The researchers are hoping that by observing the social behavior and brain activity of opiate addicted ants, the researchers could better understand how opiate addiction occurs in humans. By understanding how long-term addiction could alter the social behavior of ants, as well as their neural structures, researchers could learn more about the nature of human drug addiction.

Since ants are not even mammals, and are relatively simple creatures compared to humans, could ants serve as a viable model for understanding addiction in humans?

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How Insects Employ Mimicry To Avoid Predators

Recently a playground swarming with striped menacing looking insects caused panic among children and teachers. Eventually, a team of entomologists were called in to identify the flying creatures. It turned out that the children and teachers had all made fools of themselves since the scary looking flying bugs were really just harmless hoverflies. Then again, it may be unfair to call everyone in the playground that day foolish since these hoverflies did not look like ordinary hoverflies.

Large sized hoverflies have evolved black and yellow stripes, which give them the appearance of predator like bees or yellow jackets. This is a pretty lucky mutation that has allowed them to adapt well to their environment. Without the disguise, hoverflies would become prey to just about every kind of bird, but why are only large hoverflies endowed with the striped disguise?

It turns out that birds only consider eating large hoverflies since smaller hoverflies would not be worth the effort for such a small meal. Therefore large hoverflies, which birds love to eat, need some sort of protection from their flying predator enemies, and that is where the bee and yellow jacket mimicry comes in. Birds obviously do not like the feeling of being stung by predators such as bees, yellow jackets and other wasps, so, naturally they avoid eating those types of predatory flying insects and instead go for hoverflies, unless of course they look like bees or wasps. If you sit in front of  garden for a period of time you will likely catch one of these hoverflies fooling birds with their intimidating colors.

Which other types of animals use mimicry to fool predators?

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Snails Think Using Only Two Brain Cells

Many people just assume that a simple tiny snail is dumb, and they would be right, as researchers have recently discovered that snails make decisions with the assistance of only two brain cells.

Researchers determined that one of the two cells communicates hunger to the snail while the other cell communicates the presence of food. The researchers gathered data on the snail’s brain activity while the snail was approaching a piece of lettuce. The research team believes that this discovery could help engineers construct robots that demonstrate artificial intelligence. Since a snail can function using only two brain cells, then researchers learn to create “robot brains” using the fewest amount of components. The researchers were further assisted by their ability to ascertain how much energy the snail consumed when using its two brain cells. The study can also help scientists discover the underlying neural structures responsible for complex tasks in humans.

Do you think that the snails use two brain cells to complete tasks other than seeking food?

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Zika May Not Be Solely To Blame For The Increase In Birth Defects

Earlier this September officials from the World Health Organization announced that Zika is still a global health emergency due to the lack of knowledge many people have regarding the devastating disease.

A group of Zika experts recently held a meeting at the WHO headquarters to further discusses how to combat Zika. The severe birth defect known as microcephaly was perhaps the most discussed issue during the meeting. Experts are now focused on finding possible factors, other than Zika, that could be causing the influx of microcephaly cases around the world.

To a layman who has been keeping up with the news regarding Zika, it would seem obvious that the current epidemic of microcephaly is caused by the Zika virus. However, there are a few problems with blaming Zika for the increase in birth defects. For example, Brazil has reported nearly two thousand cases of microcephaly and other brain abnormalities in newborns, but Colombia, Brazil’s neighbor, has reported 18,000 pregnant women as having Zika since last fall, but fewer than three dozen cases of microcephaly have been reported, indicating that not Zika, but another factor is to blame for the rapid increase in birth defects. On a happier note the WHO reported zero cases of Zika following the Olympic events in Rio de Janiero.

What could possibly be the other factor responsible for the influx of birth defects?

 

 

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Researchers Create Mutant Beetle In The Name Of Science

Researchers from Indiana University explored how genes function by switching off orthodenticle genes associated with head development in dung beetles. Once the dung beetles developed along with the absence of their orthodenticle genes, the beetles failed to develop their usual horns, or they were much smaller in size, and most astoundingly, the beetles developed a third eye.

This amazed scientists since all other animals fail to develop a brain if their orthodenticle (OTD) genes are switched off. OTD genes exist in just about every animal from simple invertebrates to complex mammals. In addition to the odd result of the dung beetle experiment, the researchers switched off the same genes in a flour beetle, but the flour beetle did not demonstrate the same results. What is notable about this experiment is that switching off these genes naturally prevents the formation of certain features of the dung beetle’s head, but it also turns on the development of complex structures, like eyes. But why is this?

Scientists believe that this research demonstrates that the genes that are expressed in tissues where they have no function, find a new function by creating entirely new physical traits. It has been noted in the past that genes do indeed find new functions, but the genes need to be activated at the right time and in the right environment. But scientists are at a loss as to why this particular beetle developed a third eye.

Do you think that the dung beetle developed a third eye because the beetle could better adapt to its environment with a new third eye?

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Seth Rollins WWE Rumors: Bret Hart Clarifies Criticisms Of 'The Architect' [VIDEO]

Bret Hart has never been shy about putting Seth Rollins in a verbal Sharpshooter. The WWE Hall of Famer remains critical of ‘The Architect,’ but made it a point to clarify he has respect for him.

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Blood Centers Now Required To Test For Zika

The FDA has demanded that all blood centers located in the United States and its territories must screen donated blood for the Zika virus. Before this new nationwide regulation was announced only Florida and Puerto Rico were required to test blood procured from blood banks. The required testing conducted at blood banks in Puerto Rico and Florida have proven to be effective at preventing the further spread of the Zika virus.

Blood donation sites are already required to test for west nile, HIV, Hepatitis and several other blood-borne diseases, so the addition of mandatory Zika testing will not be inconvenient for blood donation centers. Some states are already voluntarily screening donated blood for the Zika virus. One blood donation site emphasizes the affordability of the equipment needed to test for the Zika virus. Officials at a South Texas blood center claim that testing for the Zika virus only sets the blood center back ten dollars. The mandatory expansion in required Zika testing comes after several vocal concerns made by politicians on Capitol Hill.

Why is mandatory testing for Zika at blood banks a requirement only now?

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Paige WWE Boyfriend Rumors: Superstar's Love For Alberto Del Rio Clear During 'RAW' [VIDEO]

Alberto Del Rio may not be a part of the WWE anymore, but his relationship with WWE Superstar Paige is still strong. Amid reports she was backstage during ‘RAW,’ Paige tweeted some loving advice he gave her.

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Insect Pests Unable To Feed On Transgenic Cotton Plants

It is no secret that insecticides are necessary to avoid insect damage to crops and gardens. However, the use of insecticides is not the only weapon farmers have at their disposal when it comes to keeping insects off their crops. There are also genetically modified crops that are specially constituted to repel insects that would normally feed on crops, such as corn and cotton. In other words genetically modified crops have insecticides genetically engineered into them. There is just one problem facing cotton crops, and that problem is the whitefly.

The whitefly is not your typical crop eating insect. Whiteflies suck sap out of plants, which in turn cause plants to wilt and become ultimately useless. The solution to this whitefly problem seems to lie in a particular gene that is expressed in ferns and mosses (yes, it is “mosses,” not “moss”).

It has been noted that whiteflies avoid feeding on ferns and mosses. When researchers dug deeper into why whiteflies have distaste for these plants they discovered that a particular gene that is expressed in both of these plants repels whiteflies. Naturally scientists began to modify cotton plants to express this same gene. And the results were a success, as whiteflies no longer showed any interest in the modified cotton plants. Despite the success, scientists acknowledge that more research into the anti-whitefly gene needs to be conducted before the modified cotton hits the market.

Do you think scientists could develop something similar that would work on plants other than cotton?

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Bill Goldberg WWE Return Rumors: Potential Wrestling Comeback May Be Put On Hold For Kickboxing Career [VIDEO]

Bill Goldberg’s in-ring return may not prove to be that exciting for WWE fans. The former WWE and WCW World Champion remains open to pursuing a career in kickboxing.

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