Discovered: A fish that fishes for mates; coma patients respond well to familiar music; fat that fights fat; and a turtle too round to eat.
The swordtail characin's bait and switch mating strategy. The human male has been known to use corny pick-up lines when trying to attract human females. In contrast, the male swordtail characin uses an actual line to pick up mates. Biologists Niclas Kolm and Göran Arnqvist have been studying a thin thread-like appendage attached to the characin's gill flaps. They've discovered that female characins often mistake the bean-shaped growth at the end of this line for food. When they chomp down on the bait, the sneaky male characins quickly lure them in and impregnate them. Men! [Discover]
Coma patients pick up on familiar frequencies. As we learned when a young girl recently emerged from a coma when one of her favorite Adele songs came on a nearby radio science is backing up the notion that coma patients register and respond positively to familiar music. By studying the brain activity of comatose patients listening to familiar music, Fabien Perrin and his colleagues have determined that music can boost the P300 brain wave pattern, which is linked to the recognition of meaningful stimuli. This doesn't mean all coma patients will suddenly leap out of bed upon hearing favorite tune, but it does point to an interesting area for further research. [The Guardian]
Fat cells that ... burn fat? Researchers led by Harvard med school professor Bruce Spiegelman have isolated a new fat cell—the energy burning "beige fat" cell. Spiegelman hypothesized about the existence of beige fat four years ago, but now he's confirmed its existence. It differs from "white fat" cells because they burn calories instead of storing them. Going forward, Spiegelman says he wants to investigate ways of using "beige fat" to treat obesity and diabetes. [Harvard University]
Ginormous turtle discovered. Edwin Cadena and his colleagues from North Carolina State University recently unearthed a five-foot long ancient turtle on a dig in Colombia. The species they discovered, Puentemys mushaisaensis, is thought to have existed 60 million years ago. Cadena believes its unusually large size gave it an evolutionary advantage over predators—it was simply to big to eat. Its rotund shell also helped the turtle catch plenty of rays. "Its circular, low-domed shape would have increased the area of the body exposed to the sun, helping the cold-blooded turtle warm to a temperature at which it was more active," writes Cadena. The fossil was found in a location filled with remnants of the oversized reptiles that wandered Earth shortly after dinosaurs went extinct. [New Scientist]
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