Trilobites: New Clues to How the Biggest Dinosaurs Got So Big

nytimes.com – A fossil found in Argentina that is more than 200 million years old suggests the most giant of dinosaurs existed earlier than paleontologists believed.

Source: Cecilia Apaldetti, Ricardo N. Martínez, Ignacio A. Cerda, Diego Pol, Oscar Alcober. An early trend towards gigantism in Triassic sauropodomorph dinosaurs. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 2018.

Science helps police close in on ivory cartels

cbc.ca – Genetic analysis has helped to identify three major ivory cartels operating out of Africa responsible for 70 per cent of the $4-billion US global ivory trade.

Source: Samuel K. Wasser, et al. Combating transnational organized crime by linking multiple large ivory seizures to the same dealer. Science Advances, 2018.

Gambling monkeys help scientists find brain area linked to high-risk behavior

sciencedaily.com – Monkeys who learned how to gamble have helped researchers pinpoint an area of the brain key to one's willingness to make risky decisions.

Source: Xiaomo Chen, Veit Stuphorn. Inactivation of Medial Frontal Cortex Changes Risk Preference. Current Biology, 2018.

Removing faulty brain cells staves off dementia in mice

theguardian.com – Researchers say that when they swept away the senescent brain cells in mice, the outwards symptoms of their dementia vanished

Source: Tyler J. Bussian, et al. Clearance of senescent glial cells prevents tau-dependent pathology and cognitive decline. Nature, 2018.

Gene-Edited Skin Patch Prevents Cocaine Overdose in Mice

the-scientist.com – With a built-in supply of a powerful cocaine-chomping enzyme, the transplant might also curb addiction.

Source: Yuanyuan Li, et al. Genome-edited skin epidermal stem cells protect mice from cocaine-seeking behaviour and cocaine overdose. Nature Biomedical Engineering, 2018.

The way hunter-gatherers share food shows how cooperation evolved

sciencenews.org – Camp customs override selfishness and generosity when foragers divvy up food, a study of East Africa’s Hazda hunter-gatherers shows.

Source: Kristopher M. Smith, Tomás Larroucau, Ibrahim A. Mabulla, Coren L. Apicella. Hunter-Gatherers Maintain Assortativity in Cooperation despite High Levels of Residential Change and Mixing. Current Biology, 2018.

Physicists train robotic gliders to soar like birds

sciencedaily.com – Scientists know that upward currents of warm air assist birds in flight. To understand how birds find and navigate these thermal plumes, researchers used reinforcement learning to train gliders to autonomously navigate atmospheric thermals. The research highlights the role of vertical wind accelerations and roll-wise torques as viable biological cues for soaring birds. The findings also provide a navigational strategy that directly applies to the development of UAVs.

Source: Gautam Reddy, Jerome Wong-Ng, Antonio Celani, Terrence J. Sejnowski, Massimo Vergassola. Glider soaring via reinforcement learning in the field. Nature, 2018.

Image of the Day: The Imitation Game

the-scientist.com – A bioinspired robot helps researchers study insect flight.

Source: Matěj Karásek, Florian T. Muijres, Christophe De Wagter, Bart D. W. Remes, Guido C. H. E. de Croon. A tailless aerial robotic flapper reveals that flies use torque coupling in rapid banked turns. Science, 2018.