Kalligrammatid lacewings looked like butterflies, but lived millions of years before butterflies

New fossils found in Northeastern China have revealed a remarkable evolutionary coincidence: an extinct group of insects known as Kalligrammatid lacewings (Order Neuroptera) share an uncanny resemblance to modern day butterflies (Order Lepidoptera). Even though they vanished some 50 million years before butterflies appeared on earth, they possess the same wing shape and pigment hues, wing spots and eyespots, body scales, long proboscides, and similar feeding styles as butterflies.A photo of the modern owl butterfly (“Caligo Memnon”) shown beside a fossilized Kalligrammatid lacewing (“Oregramma illecebrosa”) shows some of the convergent features independently evolved by the two distantly-related insects, including wing eyespots and wing scales. (Butterfly photo by James Di Loreto/fossil photo by Conrad Labandeira and Jorge Santiago-Blay)In an incredible example of convergent evolution, both butterflies and kalligrammatids evol

Loss of wild flowers matches pollinator decline

The first Britain-wide assessment of the value of wild flowers as food for pollinators shows that decreasing resources mirror the decline of pollinating insects.

Seafood Consumption May Play a Role in Reducing Risk for Alzheimer's

New research published Feb. 2 in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that older adults with a major risk gene for Alzheimer’s disease known as APOEɛ4 who ate at least one seafood serving per week showed fewer signs of Alzheimer’s-related brain changes.  In contrast, this association was not found in the brains of volunteers who ate fish weekly but did not carry the risk gene.   

Air pollution in Europe and the EU lack of action

Air pollution from vehicles is killing tens of thousands of people every year in the UK alone, write Jean Lambert, Molly Scott Cato & Keith Taylor, an outrage set into stark focus by VW's 'test cheating'. The EU's response? To relax tests and allow cars to be more polluting - with the full support of the UK government.Rather than clamping down on the car industry's irresponsible approach to pollution, EU governments and the Commission instead want to rewrite existing law, providing loopholes which will allow cars to legally pollute more.Faced with a public health crisis, responsible for nearly half a million premature deaths in Europe each year, we would expect an emergency response.

How Modular Construction is Keeping Waste Out of U.S. Landfills

When we think about the overflow of our nation’s landfills, we probably picture limiting our food waste; recycling plastics, glass and paper; and keeping out potentially harmful hazardous waste. What we probably don’t consider is one of the largest sources of waste generation, construction and demolition (C&D) waste.  It is estimated that anywhere from 25 to 40 percent of the national solid waste stream is building-related waste, with only 20 percent of C&D waste being recycled.

Olfactory receptors found in Human blood

Human blood cells have olfactory receptors that respond to Sandalore. This could provide a starting point for new leukaemia therapies, as researchers from Bochum report in a current study.Olfactory receptors exist not only in the nose, but also in many other parts of the body, including the liver, the prostate and the intestines. Researchers headed by Prof Dr Dr Dr Hanns Hatt from the Ruhr-Universität Bochum have now demonstrated them in white blood cells in humans.Together with colleagues from the Essen University Hospital, the Bochum-based group identified the receptor OR2AT4 in a cultivated cell line, taken from patients suffering from chronic myelogenous leukaemia. The researchers identified the same receptor in white blood cells isolated from blood freshly obtained from patients suffering from acute myeloid leukaemia. It is activated by Sandalore, a synthetic odorant with a sandalwood note. 

Phases of the moon affect amount of rainfall

When the moon is high in the sky, it creates bulges in the planet’s atmosphere that creates imperceptible changes in the amount of rain that falls below. New University of Washington research to be published in Geophysical Research Letters shows that the lunar forces affect the amount of rain – though very slightly.

Iowa – first in primaries, first in wind power

As presidential contenders gather in Iowa for the beginning of the party selection season, they may have noticed a lot of wind turbines, writes Zachary Davies Boren. And if they have any sense, they will find only nice things to say about them. Wind supplies 30% of the state's power, more than any other US state, and Iowans are all for it. Ted Cruz, mind your words!Today, there are 12 factories in Iowa that build wind-related parts and materials, and wind supports as many as 7,000 jobs. Furthermore, the steady long-term costs of wind power promise to keep Iowa's electricity prices stable for many years to come.All eyes are on Iowa, the midwestern state set to kick-off the US presidential election next week with its folksy first-in-the-nation caucus.

Paris climate agreement seen as turning point by UN

Less than two months after 196 parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) adopted the Paris Agreement, the global community is already seeing signs of it being a decisive turning point, according to a senior UN official dealing with climate issues. A month and a half since 196 parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) adopted the Paris Agreement, the global community is already seeing signs of it being a decisive turning point, according to a senior UN official dealing with climate issues. “Much has been happening since Paris – the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) confirmed that 2015 was the hottest year on record, not just by a little but by a lot,” Janos Pasztor, who was today appointed as Senior Adviser to the Secretary-General on Climate Change, told reporters at a briefing in New York. 

UCLA solves the mystery of how Earth got its moon

The moon was formed by a violent, head-on collision between the early Earth and a “planetary embryo” called Theia approximately 100 million years after the Earth formed, UCLA geochemists and colleagues report.Scientists had already known about this high-speed crash, which occurred almost 4.5 billion years ago, but many thought the Earth collided with Theia (pronounced THAY-eh) at an angle of 45 degrees or more — a powerful side-swipe (simulated in this 2012 YouTube video). New evidence reported Jan. 29 in the journal Science substantially strengthens the case for a head-on assault.The researchers analyzed seven rocks brought to the Earth from the moon by the Apollo 12, 15 and 17 missions, as well as six volcanic rocks from the Earth’s mantle — five from Hawaii and one from Arizona.