Why mice are nature’s jet engines

File photo

File photo  (REUTERS/Daniel Munoz)

Wondering what animal might have the most in common with a jet engine? Prepare to be surprised. Elena Mahrt, author of a study published Monday inCurrent Biology, says mice sing ultrasonic songs using a method “never found before in any animal,” according to a press release.

It has, however, been found in jet engines. Mice use these high-pitched whistles—inaudible to humans—to defend their territory and find mates, but until now scientists had no idea how they made the noises, especially because mice’s vocal cords stay absolutely still while producing the “ultrasound bleeps,” Live Science reports.

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“Mice seem to be doing something very complicated and clever to make ultrasound,” study coauthor Dr. Anurag Agarwal says in the press release. To produce the high-pitched song, a jet of air originating in the mouse’s windpipe bounces off the inner wall of the larynx and doubles back on itself, making a “feedback loop.” This process—discovered in mice using high-speed cameras—has only ever been seen before in jet engines and their ilk.

Coauthor Coen Elemans says it’s likely many rodents use this same method, possibly even accounting for the echolocation of bats, according to theTelegraph. “Even though mice have been studied so intensely, they still have some cool tricks up their sleeves,” he says.

Researchers are studying the vocalizations of mice to better understand stuttering, autism, and other communication disorders. (Scientists makeshrunken, see-through lab mice.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: Why Mice Are Nature’s Jet Engines

Ancient teeth lead researchers to prehistoric shark discovery

Megalolamna paradoxodon had grasping-type front teeth and cutting-type rear teeth likely used to seize and slice medium-sized fish and it lived in the same ancient oceans megatoothed sharks inhabited.

Megalolamna paradoxodon had grasping-type front teeth and cutting-type rear teeth likely used to seize and slice medium-sized fish and it lived in the same ancient oceans megatoothed sharks inhabited.  (Kenshu Shimada)

Researchers have discovered a new species of prehistoric shark, and at about 13 feet long, it was comparable to the size of the great white sharks of today.

The new predator, called Megalolamna paradoxodon, lived about 20 million years ago and is now extinct. The scientists based their discovery on just a handful of teeth from the shark, describing five of the prehistoric chompers (which originated from three different countries) in a new study in the journal Historical Biology. Like great whites, the shark is a member of the lamniformes group, and it lived during the Miocene epoch, which spans about 23 million to five million years in the past.

Kenshu Shimada, the lead author of the new paper and a professor at DePaul University, described the species as “exceptionally rare.”

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“The fact that such a large lamniform shark with such a wide geographic distribution had evaded recognition until now indicates just how little we still know about the Earth’s ancient marine ecosystem,” he told FoxNews.com in an email.

He said that their newly-discovered ancient shark was “distantly related” to great white sharks.

The new shark had teeth in the front meant for grasping, and teeth in the back for cutting, and likely ate “medium-sized fish” according to a statement from DePaul University announcing the discovery. Its teeth measured as much as 1.8 inches long.

Sharks attack 2 different surfers in Florida beach area

new smyrna beach 103

 (Google Street View)

Two surfers are recovering from shark bites off the beaches in central Florida over the weekend.

Authorities say a 32-year-old surfer was bitten on his side in New Smyrna Beach on Saturday evening. The next day, a shark nipped a 21-year-old surfer on the left foot.

Volusia County Beach Safety Ocean Rescue Capt. Andrew Ethridge says neither surfer wanted to be transported to a hospital for treatment.

The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports there have been 14 shark bites in the county so far this year. Officials say that’s an increase from previous years. In 2014 there were 10 unprovoked shark attacks in Volusia County and seven in 2015.

One day last month, officials say three people were bitten by sharks in one day.

Toughie the frog, likely the last of his species, dies

Toughie the frog (Atlanta Botanical Garden).

Toughie the frog (Atlanta Botanical Garden).

A frog named Toughie, likely the last of his species, died quietly in his enclosure at the Atlanta Botanical Garden this week, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“He will be missed by Garden staff and visitors alike,” the Garden posted onFacebook. The Rabbs’ fringe-limbed tree frog wasn’t even discovered until 2005 when scientists were attempting to rescue specimens of any amphibian they could before a deadly chytrid fungal infection hit Panama.

According to National Geographic, Toughie made it out of Panama, but it’s estimated that the chytrid fungus killed up to 85 percent of all amphibians left behind in his natural habitat.

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He had lived in isolation at the Garden since 2008. A cause of death is unknown, but Toughie was believed to be at least 12 years old.

In his final years, Toughie became a “symbol of the extinction crisis.” His photo was projected onto St. Peter’s Basilica, and he was visited by film directors and race car drivers.

“A lot of people were moved to tears when they saw him,” a photographer who worked with Toughie says. “When you have the very last of something it’s a special deal.” While some scientists are holding out hope for the Rabbs’ tree frog, it’s likely Toughie was the last, Scientific American reports. His species hasn’t been seen in the wild since 2007. It’s rare for humans to actually witness an extinction when it happens and not just learn about it years later. (For the first time, bees have been put on the endangered species list.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: Toughie the Frog, Likely the Last of His Species, Dies

Montana hiker survives 2 attacks by the same bear, sheriff says

 (AP Photo/Jim Urquhart, File)

A hiker in Montana managed to survive a “Revenant”-style series of attacks — apparently by the same bear — and even drove himself to the hospital for treatment over the weekend, investigators said.

Todd Orr recorded video of himself after the mauling and posted it online. With gashes on his arms and blood streaming down his face, the 50-year-old survivor told the camera: “Yeah, life sucks in bear country… be safe out there.”

Warning: Video is graphic!

The first attack unfolded Saturday morning not far from the man’s home in Bozeman, Madison County Sheriff Roger Thompson confirmed. Orr said he unleashed bear spray and rolled into a ball to play dead as the bear chewed on him. He said it looked like a grizzly bear protecting two cubs.

The man headed back to the trailhead — but was attacked again. After the second attack, the bear wandered away and the man escaped.

“It’s like being struck by lightning twice in the same day; you don’t get attacked by the same bear in one day,” Thompson said. “I think he should go out and buy a lottery ticket now.”

Bleeding all over, Orr drove himself 17 miles to the Madison Valley Medical Center in Ennis. He called the sheriff’s office to report the attacks.

“He did everything he was supposed to do,” said Thompson. “He got a small fracture in his left forearm when the bear jumped on him.”

Despite the gruesome injuries, doctors say they expect Orr to survive.

The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks will determine what will happen to the bear, the Montana Standard reported.

In the Oscar-winning 2015 movie “The Revenant,” Leonardo DiCaprio’s character barely survives a mauling by a bear in the 19th century American wilderness.

Bozeman is about 90 miles southeast of Helena.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

New pterosaur species with intact skull uncovered in Patagonia

An artist's reconstruction of a new species of pterosaur, Allkaruen koi.

An artist’s reconstruction of a new species of pterosaur, Allkaruen koi.(Gabriel Lío)

A new species of pterosaur named for its “ancient brain” has been found in Patagonia.

The flying reptile lived in the early Jurassic period, between about 199.6 million years ago and 175.6 million years ago. Paleontologists found the new fossil in north central Chubut province in Argentina. To their delight, the fossil included an intact braincase, offering them a new look at pterosaur neuroanatomy.

The researchers named the new species Allkaruen koi. All means “brain,” andkaruen means “ancient,” in Tehuelche, a language indigenous to Patagonia. [Photos of Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs]

“Allkaruen, from the middle lower Jurassic limit, shows an intermediate state in the brain evolution of pterosaurs and their adaptations to the aerial environment,” study researcher Diego Pol, a paleontologist at the Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio in Argentina, said in a statement. “As a result, this research makes an important contribution to the understanding of the evolution of all of pterosaurs.”

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The new pterosaur was found in a bone bed that contains many pterosaur remains. Archaeologists uncovered a vertebra, jaws and a braincase. The braincase was only a few dozen millimeters long, indicating that it was from a small pterosaur species, the researchers said.

It’s rare to find an intact pterosaur braincase, according to the researchers, and little has been known about the way pterosaur skulls (and thus brains) evolved over time. The researchers used computed-tomography scans to build digital models of the reptile’s inner ear and the interior of its skull.

This technique, in turn, let the scientists put Allkaruen in its place in the pterosaur family tree. For instance, the researchers learned that some skull features associated with Pterodactylus — one genus of pterosaurs — had evolved by the early to middle Jurassic, even though pterodactyls themselves had not yet evolved.The research appeared Tuesday in the open-access journal PeerJ.

Pterosaurs had a suite of adaptations that made them strong fliers. Their bones were feather-light, and they sported air sacs extending from their lungs to keep their body density down and their air exchange efficient, a 2009 study found. While some pterosaur species were tiny, others grew to be the size of giraffes. These behemoths may have used their limbs to leapfrog into flight, paleontologists say.

In 2015, researchers reported the discovery of a 200-million-year-old pterosaur in Utah that had a wingspan measuring 4.5 feet long, and 110 teeth, including four that were 1 inch long.

Original article on Live Science. Copyright 2016 LiveScience, a Purch company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Watch this stunning close-up of a sixgill shark

NOW PLAYINGRare sixgill shark sighting deep in ocean amazes scientists

This stunning video gives shark aficionados everywhere a rare close-up view of a sixgill shark.

A team working with OceanGate, an organization that provides subsea research and exploration, filmed the shark alongside a posse of dogfish earlier this month. The sixgill was spotted as the team explored the water using OceanGate’s Cyclops 1 submarine near British Columbia’s Desolation Sound.

The shark was spotted at a depth of 490 feet, and is estimated to be about 12 to 15 feet long. Sixgills typically stay at depths below 200 feet and have been known to swim as deep as 8,000 feet, according to OceanGate. Their preference for deep waters makes them difficult to spot.

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OceanGate added that sixgills are the world’s third-largest predatory shark and hail from the period before dinosaurs roamed the earth. The six slits on the shark indicate its age and more commonly found less primitive sharks have five slits.

Large piece of snake skin found near Maine river

Large snake skin found in Maine.

Large snake skin found in Maine. (Westbrook Police Department)

Authorities in Maine have warned the public about snakes after a large snake skin was found near the Presumpscot River on Saturday.

Westbrook police said they have been searching for a 10-foot snake since June after a woman reported seeing it near a playground. There have been several other sightings of the reptile, dubbed “Wessie,” since, according to WMTW-TV.

The snake skin was found near Riverbank Park at around 3 p.m., Police Chief Janine Roberts said.

Police are trying to determine the type of snake.

“Until the type of snake is determined and we can assess the safety risk, we caution people who recreate along the Presumpscot River to remain alert, maintain a safe distance from any wildlife, and report any sightings of the snake to the Westbrook Police Department,” authorities said in a statement.

Googly-eyed purple squid sighting delights scientists

NOW PLAYINGScientists spot adorable squid with googly eyes

A purple squid with eyes so googly it could easily be mistaken for a character in the movie “Finding Nemo” was recently spotted by scientists off the coast of Southern California.

The so-called stubby squid (Rossia pacifica) is a species of bobtail squid native to the northern Pacific Ocean. These adorable sea creatures can be found in waters from Japan to Southern California, and typically dwell along the ocean floor, at depths of around 984 feet, though they have been spotted as deep as 4,260 feet, according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI).

The stubby squid’s giant eyes, that “look painted on,” delighted the scientists aboard the Exploration Vessel (E/V) Nautilus. In a live stream of the Nautlius’ undersea explorations, one researcher said the googly-eyed squid looks “like some little kid dropped their toy.” [Photos: See the World’s Cutest Sea Creatures]

“On that watch it happened to be a lot of geology folks or ecology folks, so a lot of the commentary was of course more like ‘What is this thing, it’s so cute!’ and sometimes we have less of that when we see rocks,” Samantha Wishnak, a science communication fellow aboard the E/V Nautilus, told Live Science.

The scientists on watch during the squid sighting also initially misidentified the stubby squid as a cuttlefish, which the squid is closely related to. Wishnak said the E/V Nautilus team was able to rule out cuttlefish, as the species is not found in the eastern Pacific Ocean. With a few other ideas for what the species might be, the researchers on board collaborated with scientists ashore and at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and MBARI, to identify the stubby squid.

Stubby squids are nocturnal hunters, so Wishnak said it was exciting to see the animal in its “somewhat natural behavior” rather than hidden in the sea floor.

“They actually have this pretty awesome superpower, they can turn on a little sticky mucus jacket over their body and sort of collect bits of sand or pebbles or whatever they’re burrowing into and make a really nice camouflage jacket,” Wishnak said. “When they go to ambush something and prey on something, they’re able to sort of turn off that mucus jacket.”

Other stubby squid sightings by divers have resulted in the same “deer in the headlights” kind of reaction, Wishnak said. The animals are used to being in darker waters, camouflaged from view.

“I think what we encountered was a squid who was not expecting to see us in any way,” Wishnak said.

The E/V Nautilus is currently on a four-month expedition to explore the eastern Pacific Ocean. Next, the ship will move from the coast of Southern California to the San Francisco Bay. The vessel’s mission is to explore the oceans and seek out the unknown, and is operated by the Ocean Exploration Trust, a nonprofit organization founded by oceanographer Robert Ballard.

Recent discoveries on this expedition have included a mysterious purple sea orband a sighting of the world’s largest bony fish, the Mola mola.

Original article on Live Science.

Copyright 2016 LiveScience, a Purch company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Newfound glow-in-the-dark fish identified

Two species of a bioluminescent deep-sea fish nicknamed "barreleyes" have been identified.

Two species of a bioluminescent deep-sea fish nicknamed “barreleyes” have been identified. (Poulsen et al. (2016))

With distinct tubular eyes and a natural glow, two species of bioluminescent deep-sea fish nicknamed “barreleyes” have been identified.

The newly described species are part of the family Opisthoproctidae. Barreleye fish are not well-described, due to the rareness and fragility of specimens, the researchers said.

These fish are “one of the most peculiar and unknown fish groups in the deep-sea pelagic realm, with only 19 morphologically disparate species,” the scientists wrote in their new study. [Bioluminescent: A Glow in the Dark Gallery]

However, the scientists were able to determine the two newfound species through comparisons of pigment patterns on the fish’s “sole.” This organ, found along the belly of some bioluminescent species, controls the light emitted from a different, internal organ. These two organs give the fish their glowing properties.

“The entire external surface of the sole is covered with large, thin scales showing gradually increasing pigmentation toward the distal parts, thereby functioning as a light screen when the reflector is contracted (no light emission) or expanded (light passes through the thin, transparent parts of the scales),” the researchers wrote in the study.

The fish scales’ pigment patterns show variation among species. The researchers took four specimens of a sole-bearing barreleye caught during recent research cruises near American Samoa and New Zealand and compared them to long-preserved specimens caught near the mid-Atlantic ridge and Australia. In doing so, the scientists found three different pigment patterns, suggesting three distinct species.

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Differences in mitochondrial DNA, the genetic material of the structure within cells that generates energy, supported this conclusion. This revealed that two of the specimen were, in fact, two previously unknown species in the resurrected genus Monacoa — a formerly removed genus name because only two sole-bearing fish were known, rendering the distinction trivial. The newfound species, M. niger and M. griseus, are found only in the Pacific, whereas the previously known species can be found only in the Atlantic, according to the study.

The researchers suggested that the light emitted via the sole may be used as a communication system, as well as for camouflage when the fish are in waters where sunlight penetrates.

“This new study on the deep sea has shown unknown biodiversity in a group of fishes previously considered teratological [abnormal] variations of other species,” Jan Poulsen, lead author of the study, said in a statement. “The different species of mirrorbelly-tube eyes can only be distinguished on pigmentation patterns that also constitute a newly discovered communication system in deep-sea fishes.”

The new findings were published Aug. 10 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.

Original article on Live Science. Copyright 2016 LiveScience, a Purch company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.