Battling with neighbours could make animals smarter
6 October 2020From ants to primates, ‘Napoleonic’ intelligence has evolved to help animals contend with the myriad cognitive challenges arising from interactions with rival outsiders, suggest researchers at the University of Bristol in a paper published in Nature Communications today [Tuesday 6 October].
Flexible genes establish widespread bacteriophage pan-genomes in cryoconite hole ecosystems29 September 2020Researchers from the University of Innsbruck, Austria, University of Bristol, Reading and Aberystwyth, UK, the University of Minnesota, USA and Aarhus University, Denmark, sequenced the genomes (their total DNA) of viruses which infect microbes found on the surface of glaciers from the Alps, Greenland and Svalbard, to show that they are remarkably stable in the environment.
Discovery of a druggable pocket in the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein could stop virus in its tracks24 September 2020A druggable pocket in the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein that could be used to stop the virus from infecting human cells has been discovered by an international team of scientists led by the University of Bristol. The researchers say their findings, published today [21 September] in the journal Science, are a potential 'game changer' in defeating the current pandemic and add that small molecule anti-viral drugs developed to target the pocket they discovered could help eliminate COVID-19.
True size of prehistoric mega-shark finally revealed3 September 2020To date only the length of the legendary giant shark Megalodon had been estimated but now, a new study led by the University of Bristol and Swansea University has revealed the size of the rest of its body, including fins that are as large as an adult human.
The genetic basis of bats’ superpowers revealed30 July 2020For the first time, the raw genetic material that codes for bats’ unique adaptations and superpowers such as the ability to fly, to use sound to move effortlessly in complete darkness, to survive and tolerate deadly diseases, to resist ageing and cancer - has been fully revealed by an international research team including scientists at Bristol. The findings are published in Nature.
Scientists outline potential of soil-free farming which could see crops grown in the desert23 July 2020A new study has outlined the potential of soil-free, computer-controlled farms as climate change and soil erosion limit our ability to grow crops. The research, published in New Phytologist and led by scientists at the University of Bristol, John Innes Centre and LettUs Grow, describe the growing environmental and economic case for vertical farming methods which could see crops grown in previously unfarmable environments such as the deserts of Dubai to countries with short daylight hours like Iceland.
Shelling out for dinner: dolphins learn foraging skills from peers26 June 2020A new study demonstrates for the first time that dolphins can learn foraging techniques outside the mother-calf bond – showing that they have a similar cultural nature to great apes. The findings, led by an international research team including academics at the University of Bristol, are published in Current Biology.
Insect crunching reptiles on ancient islands of the UK
18 June 2020By analysing the fossilised jaw mechanics of reptiles who lived in the Severn Channel region of the UK 200-million-years ago, researchers from the University of Bristol have shown that they weren’t picky about the types of insects they ate - enjoying both crunchy and less crunchy varieties.
What are the effects of climate change on pollinators and human health?12 June 2020Three quarters of crop species depend on pollinators, but the service they provide is under increasing threat from climate change. An international collaboration, led by the University of Bristol, will investigate the effects of climate change on pollinators and people’s diet thanks to funding of nearly €1 million from The Belmont Forum.
‘Matador’ guppies trick predators12 June 2020Trinidadian guppies behave like matadors, focusing a predator’s point of attack before dodging away at the last moment, new research shows.
When Somerset lay beneath the sea1 June 2020In a new study, University of Bristol geologists show how the Mendip Hills in Somerset were overwhelmed by the ocean more than 200 million years ago.
Evolution of colour vision in sea snakes29 May 2020New research has revealed the evolution of colour vision in elapid snakes following their transition from terrestrial to fully marine environments, and for the first time, provided evidence of where, when and how frequently the species have adapted their ability to see in colour.
Ancient giant armoured fish fed in a similar way to basking sharks20 May 2020Scientists from the University of Bristol and the University of Zurich have shown that the Titanichthys – a giant armoured fish that lived in the seas and oceans of the late Devonian period 380-million-years ago – fed in a similar manner to modern day basking sharks.
Eavesdropping crickets drop from the sky to evade capture from bats18 May 2020Researchers have uncovered the highly efficient strategy used by a group of crickets to distinguish the calls of predatory bats from the incessant noises of the nocturnal jungle. The findings, led by scientists at the Universities of Bristol and Graz in Austria and published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, reveal the crickets eavesdrop on the vocalisations of bats to help them escape their grasp when hunted.
Colin Pennycuick FRS, 1933-20196 May 2020Royal Society Fellow and Bristol Honorary Professor Colin Pennycuick passed away in December 2019. Professor Gareth Jones offers this remembrance.
Plant root hairs key to reducing soil erosion6 April 2020The tiny hairs found on plant roots play a pivotal role in helping reduce soil erosion, a new study has found. The research, led by the University of Bristol and published in Communications Biology, provides compelling evidence that when root hairs interact with the surrounding soil they reduce soil erosion and increase soil cohesion by binding soil particles.
Natural light flicker can help prevent detection2 April 2020Movement breaks camouflage, making it risky for anything trying to hide. New research, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B today [1 April] has shown that dynamic features common in many natural habitats, such as moving light patterns, can reduce being located when moving.
Cooperative male dolphins match the tempo of each other's calls1 April 2020When it comes to working together, male dolphins coordinate their behaviour just like us. New findings, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B by an international team of researchers from the Universities of Western Australia and Bristol, provide insight into the importance of physical and vocal coordination in alliance forming animals.