Evolution just got turned upside down. Sorry sponges.

Stems cells have always been pretty amazing.

Image source: Piotr Kuczek/Lotus_studio/Shutterstock/Big Think
  • New research indicates animals' oldest ancestor was not sponges' single-celled choanocyte bacteria as previously thought.
  • It appears our earliest predecessors were something like modern stem cells.
  • Our lineage just lost its founding member. The search for our true first predecessor is on!
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Surprising Science

After Hurricane Maria, these lizards got a serious grip

In response to devastating hurricanes, Dominican anoles have developed a grip that's 10 times stronger. Are we witnessing evolution in real time?

  • After Hurricane Maria, anole species on the island of Dominica developed super strong grips.
  • This development may be one of the fasted rates of evolutionary change ever recorded.
  • Climate change will likely to result in more intense hurricanes, but not all species will adapt so quickly.
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Surprising Science
Image source: tristan tan/Shutterstock
  • Asian elephants often leave protected areas to feed and come into conflict with humans.
  • The elephants, it turns out, can recognize the largest quantities of food by smell.
  • This insight could lead to keeping Asian elephants out of harm's way via redirection using olfactory cues.
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Surprising Science

Dogs mirror stress levels of their owners

The owner's personality was the most important factor in examining the stress-hormone relationship between pet and owner.

Photo credit: Xan Griffin on Unsplash
  • A new study found that dogs and their owners show similar levels of the stress hormone cortisol over time.
  • The dog-owner cortisol relationship seems to be related to the owner's personality, as measured by the Big 5 model.
  • Ultimately, dog owners needn't worry that they're stressing out their pet; not all cortisol indicates "bad" stress."
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Surprising Science

German circus uses 3D holograms instead of real animals

Is it time we outlaw circus animals altogether?

Optoma
  • The German performance group Circus Roncalli has been phasing out animals for decades.
  • Now, the circus uses a set of laser projectors and sophisticated lenses to produce a hologram show displayed in a traditional circus ring.
  • Internationally, it seems there's a trend toward phasing out the rather cruel practice of forcing circus animals to perform.
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Technology & Innovation