Science In the News <fwd>
Gibbs, S Julian
s.julian.gibbs at VANDERBILT.EDU
Thu Jan 4 12:07:24 PST 2001
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Date: Thu, 4 Jan 2001 11:52:21 -0500
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The following roundup of science stories appearing each day in the general
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IN THE NEWS
Today's Headlines - January 4, 2001
STUDY EXAMINES EVOLUTIONARY DEVELOPMENT OF TEETH
from The New York Times
The specialized teeth that enabled ancient, shrew-like creatures to flourish
and gave rise to all modern mammals evolved independently in two animal
groups living continents apart, a study suggests.
Scientists said the finding could dramatically alter theories about the pace
of early mammals' global advance in the waning days of the dinosaurs more
than 65 million years ago.
For the study, three paleontologists analyzed fossilized teeth and bones of
mammals that lived between 65 million and 200 million years ago.
By comparing the teeth's characteristics, they concluded that the advanced
molars that ensured the small creatures' success evolved in two mammal
groups that arose separately on northern and southern continents.
EVEN FRUIT FLIES CATCH THEIR Zs
from The Los Angeles Times
SAN DIEGO--Rats do it, cats do it, birds do it, dolphins and people too. We
sleep--an activity so widespread, so important and so basic, it's usually
taken for granted.
That we mammals need sleep is clear. Deprived of sleep, a rat will die in 17
days. One day without sleep, and humans struggle mightily to stay awake.
Sleep requires time, and even energy. But biologists have no idea why we
need that sleep, or what function it actually serves.
This basic question--why do we sleep?--remains "a huge hole in biological
knowledge," said Allan Rechtschaffen, a pioneering sleep researcher at the
University of Chicago who first proved that sleep deprivation is lethal to
Is sleep for rest? To conserve energy? For development? To cool the brain?
To warm it? To boost the immune system? To learn and memorize? Or to
unlearn, ridding our brains of excess mental baggage? All these ideas have
been proposed, leading to suggestions that insomniacs would do well to count
sleep theories in lieu of sheep.
WHAT'S IN A SCIENTIFIC NAME? MAYBE YOUR OWN
from The Christian Science Monitor
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