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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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ScienceShot: Coloring in Prehistoric Bugs
27 September 2011 7:01 pm
Fans of prehistoric sketches can now color in their favorite ancient bugs with less guesswork. Modern insects from beetles to butterflies are famous for their metallic hues. These intricate and often iridescent color patterns stem from tiny structural tweaks along the critter's outer exoskeletons, such as alternating layers of ultra-thin tissue that bounce light in different directions. Many fossil beetles are similarly colorful, but scientists weren't sure how the fossilization process may have changed their tints. To get at this color conundrum, researchers examined the nanostructures of old bugs, dating from about 15 million to 50 million years ago, under the microscope. Sure enough, many of the beetles had different colors than their exoskeleton structure seemed to indicate, the group reports online this week in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. They conclude that molecular changes during fossilization likely pushed the beetles' coloring toward the red end of the color spectrum, turning a normally yellow beetle more orange, for example.
See more ScienceShots.