This week in science (Feb. 1 – Feb. 8)



Illustration by Claire Roth.

Wildlife – A batty welcome

At the San Diego Zoo, a critically endangered species of bat known as the Rodrigues fruit bat was the first of his species to be brought into the world via cesarean section. The emergency procedure was deemed necessary after the bat pup’s mother experienced complications during her attempt to deliver him naturally. Though the mother did not sustain the cesarean section procedure, Lucas, as the bat pup was named by zoo personnel, is thriving in the careful hands of the San Diego bat keepers and will join the zoo’s resident bat colony when he is old enough. Rodrigues fruit bats are endemic to (only found on) Rodrigues Island, an island near the coast of the country Madagascar.

Sources: BBC, The San Diego Union Tribune

Illustration by Claire Roth.

Genetics – A, T, C, G… X and Y

If you’ve seen the first “Jurassic Park” movie you may remember the cartoon DNA sequence telling park visitors that it makes up all life on earth. Even if you haven’t seen the dino flick, it’s worth knowing that all life on earth contains DNA that is made up of a combination of letters, forming a double helix, and that those letters are A, T, C and G. However, scientists from France, China and the United States recently found a way to add two new letters to that sequence, synthetic letters known as X and Y. The scientists were experimenting with finding new ways to treat nasty diseases such as Escherichia coli and discovered that they were able to add the X and Y letters to the DNA sequences of those diseases. With more research, this could lead to possible treatments or cures for life-threatening diseases.

Sources: BBC, National Academy of Sciences

Illustration by Claire Roth.

Astronomy – Hide and black hole

Scientists from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan discovered the existence of a black hole that had not been spotted before due to its position behind a cosmic cloud in our very own Milky Way galaxy. The cloud was said to have been moving through space rapidly before coming into contact with the black hole; this is the reason the black hole became visible at all. Black holes, as their name suggests, are difficult to spot in the inky expanse of space. However, if they come into proximity with something they can affect or alter, their existence is revealed.

Source: Science Daily

Biology – Carnivorous beginnings

Illustration by Claire Roth.

Scientists from the State University of New York at Buffalo questioned just how carnivorous plants obtained their taste for animals and seem to have gotten closer to an answer. The study focused on three geographically separate types of carnivorous plants: an Australian pitcher plant, an American pitcher plant and an Asian pitcher plant. The researchers found that the genomes of all three carnivorous plants contained traces of the same kind of protein that would later develop into the enzyme responsible for breaking down prey. This protein is thought to have originally been meant to fight off predators and protect the plant. Through many years of evolution and due to the fact that many species of carnivorous plants live in nutrient-poor environments, the protein developed into the enzyme that makes these carnivorous plants what they are today.

Source: Science Daily

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