A Special Place for Blog Lovers with a Touch of Science!

Enjoy our special posts in the fields of Earth & Planetary Sciences (EPS Blog) and Social Sciences & Arts (SSA Blog)

A Special Place for Blog Lovers with a Touch of Science!

Blind cave creatures light the way with DNA

Researchers studying the European olm, and other cave dwellers, believe these strange creatures can provide important answers about evolution and even human eye diseases. © Javier Ábalos Alvarez from Madrid, España, CC BY-SA 2.0

Underground caves fauna could cast light on longevity, surviving starvation, and eye diseases in humans

In watery underground caverns, there are creatures that live in eternal midnight. Over the course of generations, these animals have adapted to their isolated and unique environments, and scientists believe their pasty skin and blind eyes may hold secrets to evolution –– and to genetic adaptations that could cast light on longevity, surviving starvation, and eye diseases in humans.

'These caves are isolated worlds,' said Professor Peter Trontelj, a zoologist at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia. 'If you go a couple of metres (below the surface), you enter a new world with totally different ecological conditions.'

Certain animals are able to adapt to these dark habitats where no plants grow, and lightless caves, like those found in Slovenia, are natural laboratories of evolutionary biology.

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Marine species can cling together to buy time during climate warming

Credit: Laura Jurgens

Mussel beds protect other species during hot days

Some marine species can help protect others from climate change by shielding them from heat, according to a new study by Texas A&M University at Galveston and other scientists.

Laura Jurgens and colleagues at the University of Vermont and the University of California, Davis detail the findings in the journal Ecology.

The team studied how tiny crabs and isopods -- marine versions of pill bugs -- that live on rocky shores react to warming of their habitats. The researchers found that the mussel beds these animals live in protect them from temperature swings and keep them from drying out on hot, sunny days.

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