Earth

It is one of the most unusual primates on the planet - famed for its large eyes, big ears and thin, bony finger used for probing.

Often persecuted as a harbinger of evil, the aye-aye has fascinated scientists, in particular how and why it evolved such unusual features.

But now a new study has, for the first time, measured the extent to which the endangered aye-aye has evolved similar features to squirrels, despite being more closely related to monkeys, chimps, and humans.

Up until quite recently, the animal phylum Placozoa enjoyed a unique position in animal systematics. It was the only phylum to which only a single species had ever been assigned: Trichoplax adhaerens. Now, however, at team led by Professor Gert Wörheide of LMU's Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and GeoBio-Center has discovered that placozoan specimens collected from coastal waters off Hong Kong clearly differ from T. adhaerens in their genetic make-up.

A stalled weather pattern led to persistent showers and thunderstorms moving up the eastern seaboard during the week of July 22, resulting in significant rainfall amounts and numerous flood warnings. NASA utilized satellite data to analyze and tally the rainfall from the storms.

Scientists recently discovered the aptly named peacock jumping spiders have the color vision needed to appreciate the male's gaudy display.

Now biologists at the University of Cincinnati are studying whether that ability translates to the more humdrum-looking wolf spiders that are muted browns and tans instead of electric blue, fiery orange and stoplight red.

UC biology professor George Uetz and his students presented their work in June at the American Arachnological Society meeting at the University of Michigan.

Carolyn Elya discovered the puppet-master on the balcony of her Berkeley apartment. It was a fungus that infects fruit flies, invading their nervous system and eating them from the inside out.

In their death throes, the infected flies - like puppets on a string - obligingly climb to a high point and spread their wings, exposing their abdomen and allowing the fungus to shoot its spores as widely as possible to infect new flies.

Like many chronic infections, visceral leishmaniasis thwarts the immune system's defenses so it can settle comfortably into its host. Responsible for tens of thousands of deaths around the world every year, visceral leishmaniasis holds the unfortunate distinction of being the second leading cause of death by parasitic infection, after malaria. But how does it slip through the host's defenses? Professor Simona Stäger's team at INRS has discovered a mechanism that Leishmania donovani takes advantage of to sustain the infection.

Pioneering new research into the way in which cells communicate with each other could hold the key to unlocking new, improved treatment for life-threatening diseases, including cancer.

Various mechanisms exist for cells to communicate with each other, and many are essential for development. A team of international researchers looked at how one important family of signalling molecules - Wnt proteins, which orchestrate and control many cell development processes - are transported between cells.

Despite high hopes and high investment in CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing, scientists still have a lot to learn about how it works in humans.

In the latest example, University of California, Berkeley, scientists found that people's assumptions about how cells repair the genome after the Cas9 enzyme snips DNA are wrong.

Scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed an algorithm that could provide meaningful answers to condensed matter physicists in their searches for novel and emergent properties in materials. The algorithm, invented by physics professor Bryan Clark and his graduate student Eli Chertkov, inverts the typical mathematical process condensed matter physicists use to search for interesting physics.

The Eastern Pacific Ocean's Tropical Depression 8E formed on July 26 and strengthened into a tropical storm by 5 a.m. EDT on July 27. At that time the storm was renamed Gilma. NASA's Terra satellite provided forecasters with an early look at the eighth depression as it was developing.