The origins of avian flight, thermostat battles heating up, and other PLOS research making headlines in May!
New research from PLOS Computational Biology uses robots, reconstructed model dinosaur feathered forelimbs, and juvenile ostriches to simulate the first potential avian flight stroke in dinosaurs. This study shows that running on the ground naturally stimulates a flapping motion in feathered forelimbs, and suggests that this flap may be the origin of avian flight.
Author Zhao explains: “Our work shows that the motion of flapping feathered wings was developed passively and naturally as the dinosaur ran on the ground…although this flapping motion could not lift the dinosaur into the air at that time, the motion of flapping wings may have developed earlier than gliding.”
See videos of the robots and young ostriches strutting their stuff, and read more on CNN and Gizmodo.
A new study from PLOS ONE found that that in a test room set to temperatures ranging from 16.19 C/61.14 F -32.57 C/90.63 F, female study participants performed best on math and verbal tests at the higher end of the temperature range, while male participants performed most strongly on the same tests at lower temperatures. This is the first experimental research supporting anecdotal and survey responses indicating women tend to prefer warmer room temperatures than men, by showing that temperatures can affect both comfort and performance.
Authors Kajackaite and Chang summarize: “In a large laboratory experiment, over 500 individuals performed a set of cognitive tasks at randomly manipulated indoor temperatures. Consistent with their preferences for temperature, for both math and verbal tasks, women perform better at higher temperatures while men perform better at lower temperatures.”
Check out more of this hot topic as featured on the Guardian, the New York Times, Fox 5 News (with a video featuring author Tom Chang), and the Atlantic.
Along a similar vein(!), new research from PLOS Medicine shows that the medical care received by heart failure patients in the UK may have important gaps around diagnoses, insufficient follow-up after hospitalisation, and improperly-prescribed dosages, among other issues; these problems significantly affected women and older people.
Read more on the Daily Mail and the Telegraph.
A 2016 mass die-off of puffins and other seabirds in the Bering Sea is reported in a new PLOS ONE study by Timothy Jones of the citizen science program COASST at University of Washington, Lauren Divine from the Aleut Community of St Paul Island Ecosystem Conservation Office, and colleagues. Up to 8,500 puffins and auklets may have died in this event, which appeared to be due to starvation; the authors suggest that climate shifts may have resulted in a lack of prey. Read more about this story on Vice, Discover Magazine, and Scientific American.
Finally, in lighter news, a new study from PLOS ONE showed that wolves behave more prosocially towards their fellow pack mates than do pack dogs during a touchscreen-based task that allowed individual animals to provide food to others–though the study did not look at the behavior of pet dogs.
Author Rachel Dale notes: “This study shows that domestication did not necessarily make dogs more prosocial. Rather, it seems that tolerance and generosity towards group members help to produce high levels of cooperation, as seen in wolves.”
Check out further coverage on PBS News and Motherboard by Vice.
Image captions and credits
- Seven-rigid-body system of Caudipteryx. The simplified rigid body system illustrates the mechanism of moving parts, main body, wings, legs, neck and head, and the tail of the Caudipteryx. The masses of all parts are represented by lumped mass points and the muscles at the joints are replaced with springs (As damping coefficient does not significantly affect the natural frequency, we simplified the joints which are composed of tendons, muscles, ligaments and soft tissues as purely elastic springs with no damping). Different effective masses of these seven primary modes of the simplified Caudipteryx show different possibilities to be excited. (Talori et al, 2019, PLOS Computational Biology)
- Video: Observation on the juvenile ostrich. The forced vibrations of the wings of the young ostriches are easily found when they run on the ground. (Talori et al, 2019, PLOS Computational Biology)
- Carcasses of tufted puffins, October 2016. (Aleut Community of St Paul Island Ecosystem Conservation Office)
- Touchscreen test (Dale et al., 2019, PLOS ONE)
Thanks for the Info.