Shark-bait tourism

Three hours off the coast of South Australia, in the remote and rugged Neptune Islands, white sharks gather. These apex predators are drawn to these offshore islands near Port Lincoln by fur seals, thousands of which form breeding colonies in the islands’ rocky coves. And, in turn, humans are drawn to the Neptunes to dive … Continue reading Shark-bait tourism

Watching proteins dance

Proteins are so small that visualising them working in a cell has long been elusive, but a new study, published in Cell, has found a way to ‘film’ how they move. These tiny molecules, which include insulin, haemoglobin and collagen, do all sorts of things to run our bodies, carrying out work in our cells … Continue reading Watching proteins dance

World first: Watch a deadly tortoise murdering a baby bird

Filmed in the woodlands of Frégate Island in the Seychelles, in the Indian Ocean, this is the first documented evidence of a giant tortoise hunting a baby bird. Credit: Anna Zora. The word ‘predator’ usually conjures an image of a lion running down a gazelle, or a pod of orcas tearing apart a seal. But … Continue reading World first: Watch a deadly tortoise murdering a baby bird

Vale Roger Short, 1930–2021

Daniel Stefanski was a third-year medical student in 1994 when he attended a lecture that changed his life. The lecturer strode purposefully into the room, a seemingly innocuous presence. But the moment Roger Short unleashed his sonorous English voice and impaled the students with his sharp, insightful blue eyes, he captured his audience as masterfully … Continue reading Vale Roger Short, 1930–2021

Why it took 20 years to ‘finish’ the human genome

By Melissa Southey, Monash University and Tu Nguyen-Dumont, Monash University The release of the draft human genome sequence in 2001 was a seismic moment in our understanding of the human genome, and paved the way for advances in our understanding of the genomic basis of human biology and disease. But sections were left unsequenced, and … Continue reading Why it took 20 years to ‘finish’ the human genome

Interactive dreaming

Scientists say they’ve achieved an “outlandish” phenomenon, showing that it’s possible to have two-way dialogue with people in real time while they’re dreaming. Their goal was “akin to finding a way to talk with an astronaut who is on another world,” write Karen Konkoly from Northwestern University, US, and colleagues, “but in this case the … Continue reading Interactive dreaming

Tau tangles brains

As if Alzheimer’s wasn’t vicious enough, researchers have found the wrong type of breakthrough – a brutal process where toxic proteins break through membranes and leak into neurons. A team led by Jürgen Götz and Juan Polanco from the University of Queensland found that entanglements in neurons – a common sign of dementia – are … Continue reading Tau tangles brains

You may have missed…

Last week featured a wide range of stories that either made us smile or have a little giggle. We’ve rounded a few of them up for your Monday morning.  Naked mole-rats speak in dialect It’s not only humans who can be identified by the diversity of their languages: it turns out naked mole-rats (Heterocephalus glaber) … Continue reading You may have missed…

Not-so-identical twins

Identical twins have long been touted as an incredible resource for genetics because they’re “genetically identical”. But new research suggests that might not be quite true. Identical twins are called monozygotic because they come from a single zygote that has formed from a single sperm and egg. As the cells multiply, they can split into … Continue reading Not-so-identical twins

Friedrich Miescher gets ahead of the double helix

In just over 75 years, DNA – deoxyribonucleic acid – has risen in public and scientific status from being “an obscure molecule with presumed accessory or structural functions inside the nucleus, to the icon of modern bioscience”. So wrote Ralf Dahm, Director of Scientific Management at Germany’s Institute of Molecular Biology, in the journal Developmental … Continue reading Friedrich Miescher gets ahead of the double helix

Taking a look at RNA’s structure

This image, created by Australia’s Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI), shows how the key genetic molecule RNA, in yellow, has a “structure”.  WEHI researchers and colleagues in the US and Australia say they have made a breakthrough in understanding that structure and the way it can influence how cells function. Writing in the journal Nature, they … Continue reading Taking a look at RNA’s structure