(via Eccentric Earths: Weird planets where life might lurk - space - 14 March 2014 - New Scientist)
Where will we find new antibiotics?
The above picture is an aprophytic ascomycete Pseudoplectania nigrella. Besides being really cool looking, Chinese researchers believe it might have antibiotic properties. This is just one of the many drug candidates in the fungi phylum Ascomycota that are being investigated for medicinal properties.
Photo attribution: Mushroom Observer
See the original paper here.

Where will we find new antibiotics?

The above picture is an aprophytic ascomycete Pseudoplectania nigrella. Besides being really cool looking, Chinese researchers believe it might have antibiotic properties. This is just one of the many drug candidates in the fungi phylum Ascomycota that are being investigated for medicinal properties.

Photo attribution: Mushroom Observer

See the original paper here.

This was taken from the New Scientist photo of the day column:
“(Image: Sean Lynch/Caters News)
YOU are looking at a colour no one can see. If you visited these grassy fields in Nepal’s Annapurna Himalayan range, as New York-based photographer Sean Lynch did, they would look bright green. Crucially, though, they also reflect near-infrared light, which lies just beyond the range our eyes can sense. The fuchsia colour in Lynch’s photo is created when this invisible light hits a special dye in the photographic film. “None of us will ever actually experience this ‘colour’,” says Paul Lucey, a geophysicist at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu.”

This was taken from the New Scientist photo of the day column:

(Image: Sean Lynch/Caters News)

YOU are looking at a colour no one can see. If you visited these grassy fields in Nepal’s Annapurna Himalayan range, as New York-based photographer Sean Lynch did, they would look bright green. Crucially, though, they also reflect near-infrared light, which lies just beyond the range our eyes can sense. The fuchsia colour in Lynch’s photo is created when this invisible light hits a special dye in the photographic film. “None of us will ever actually experience this ‘colour’,” says Paul Lucey, a geophysicist at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu.”

Jurassic fern fossilized in lava for 180 million years
This fern specimen is 180 million years old and has been exquisitely preserved in lava - an unlikely material. Organelles and even chromosomes were left in tact in this sample, which sat in a drawer for over 40 years in the Swedish Museum of Natural History. Recently, paleontologists dusted it off, did some genomic investigation and discovered that its genome has remained unchanged for the past 180 million years! Its living counterpart, the cinnamon fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum) is what is known as a living fossil.
A rare evolutionary find!
Image: Benjamin Bomfleur
Science article

Jurassic fern fossilized in lava for 180 million years

This fern specimen is 180 million years old and has been exquisitely preserved in lava - an unlikely material. Organelles and even chromosomes were left in tact in this sample, which sat in a drawer for over 40 years in the Swedish Museum of Natural History. Recently, paleontologists dusted it off, did some genomic investigation and discovered that its genome has remained unchanged for the past 180 million years! Its living counterpart, the cinnamon fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum) is what is known as a living fossil.

A rare evolutionary find!

Image: Benjamin Bomfleur

Science article

Diatoms
These unicellular organisms are found everywhere on the planet where it is wet and sunny. They get energy via photosynthesis and probably account for 20% of the global carbon fixation, that is more than all the tropical rainforests combined. 
photo attribution

Diatoms

These unicellular organisms are found everywhere on the planet where it is wet and sunny. They get energy via photosynthesis and probably account for 20% of the global carbon fixation, that is more than all the tropical rainforests combined. 

photo attribution

Pollen

Do you think these pictures are the bees knees!? No? Well you should know that they are likely to be attached to bee’s knees…These little spiky balls of fun are pollen as viewed under an electron microscope.  

Photo source from top:

Dartmouth Electron Microscope Facility, The Naked Scientists, Wolfpaw

 

hangyourheartinlightsaboveme asked: Hey, how are you with recognizing bugs?

Hi sorry not sure when you sent this but just seeing it now… Anyway I am very average at recognizing bugs but have some entomologist twitter followers and planning a trip to the natural history museum tmrw…

Photo source here
Endangered Species Alert
This is the Fijian monkey-faced bat (Mirimiri acrodonta). It hails from the Republic of Fiji, on the island of Tavenui. It has only been spotted in one 100 square kilometer area at elevations about 1000 meters. Read more here.
-MB

Photo source here

Endangered Species Alert

This is the Fijian monkey-faced bat (Mirimiri acrodonta). It hails from the Republic of Fiji, on the island of Tavenui. It has only been spotted in one 100 square kilometer area at elevations about 1000 meters. Read more here.

-MB

Photo courtesy of Jen Tiffan
New research reveals hummingbirds can digest fructose - a feat no mammal can match!
Why is this a big deal? Well, first let’s talk briefly about sugar. Sugar comes in a couple of different forms. Most of the sugar humans eat is called sucrose - which consists of one molecule of fructose bonded to one molecule of glucose. Glucose is digested easily by mammals - it is actually the main energy source for most living things, from bacteria to humans. But fructose on the other hand, whose bad reputation precedes it, is actually considered by some in the scientific community to be a toxin. Yes, that’s right, a toxin, and the reason for this is that fructose is predominately metabolized by the liver - like alcohol. In rats, if fructose hits the liver fast enough and in a high enough concentration it gets converted to fat - and over time could lead to insulin resistance and obesity. 
Hummingbirds have evolved to use fructose as an energy source the same way mammals use glucose. In a new study published in the journal Functional Ecology, authors Chris Chin Wah Chen and Kenneth Collins Welch fed hummingbirds separate solutions of fructose and glucose then collected samples of exhaled breath. They found that the birds were able to burn glucose and fructose equally well. These little sugar burning hyper-athletes need a lot of fuel to flap their wings more than 50 times per second. If they were human sized, it is estimated that they would eat 10 times more than an Olympic marathon runner! They accomplish this by burning only the most recently ingested sugar and avoiding the energy expensive task of converting sugar to fat. 
Unlike humans, who evolved on a diet rich in diversity, hummingbirds evolved on a diet that was rich in sugar - and therefore gained the ability we humans have not yet mastered - but if we could, you have to wonder if some of our obesity and sugar-related issues could be alleviated…
- MB

Photo courtesy of Jen Tiffan

New research reveals hummingbirds can digest fructose - a feat no mammal can match!

Why is this a big deal? Well, first let’s talk briefly about sugar. Sugar comes in a couple of different forms. Most of the sugar humans eat is called sucrose - which consists of one molecule of fructose bonded to one molecule of glucose. Glucose is digested easily by mammals - it is actually the main energy source for most living things, from bacteria to humans. But fructose on the other hand, whose bad reputation precedes it, is actually considered by some in the scientific community to be a toxin. Yes, that’s right, a toxin, and the reason for this is that fructose is predominately metabolized by the liver - like alcohol. In rats, if fructose hits the liver fast enough and in a high enough concentration it gets converted to fat - and over time could lead to insulin resistance and obesity.

Hummingbirds have evolved to use fructose as an energy source the same way mammals use glucose. In a new study published in the journal Functional Ecology, authors Chris Chin Wah Chen and Kenneth Collins Welch fed hummingbirds separate solutions of fructose and glucose then collected samples of exhaled breath. They found that the birds were able to burn glucose and fructose equally well. These little sugar burning hyper-athletes need a lot of fuel to flap their wings more than 50 times per second. If they were human sized, it is estimated that they would eat 10 times more than an Olympic marathon runner! They accomplish this by burning only the most recently ingested sugar and avoiding the energy expensive task of converting sugar to fat.

Unlike humans, who evolved on a diet rich in diversity, hummingbirds evolved on a diet that was rich in sugar - and therefore gained the ability we humans have not yet mastered - but if we could, you have to wonder if some of our obesity and sugar-related issues could be alleviated…

- MB

New Species Alert
Isn’t he cute? Trond Larsen and his crew of researches found this insect and 60 others new species during an expedition to the rain forests of Suriname, situated in a lush tropical swath of land on the northeast coast of South America. It is not clear if this is a nymph or a full grown adult but this unique little critter is certainly a stylish guy with its spiky ’fro.
Photograph by Trond Larsen

New Species Alert

Isn’t he cute? Trond Larsen and his crew of researches found this insect and 60 others new species during an expedition to the rain forests of Suriname, situated in a lush tropical swath of land on the northeast coast of South America. It is not clear if this is a nymph or a full grown adult but this unique little critter is certainly a stylish guy with its spiky ’fro.

Photograph by Trond Larsen