SciNews June 9, 2016

Ancient DNA, electric eels and renewable energy- just a few of the themes in today’s eclectic collection of SciNews.  Share these stories with your students and get them excited about science.

SciNews is published twice weekly. Stay tuned for more.

7308778_s from 123rfBiology

Ancient DNA tells of two origins for dogs. Science News for Students

Genetic analyses of a 4,800-year-old Irish dog and 59 other ancient dogs suggest that canines and humans became pals in both Europe and East Asia long before the advent of farming, researchers report June 3 in Science. Later, dogs from East Asia accompanied their human companions to Europe, where their genetic legacy trumped that of dogs already living there, the team also concludes. Read more…


Zika virus directly infects brain cells and evades immune system detection, study shows. Science Daily

The mosquito-borne Zika virus linked to microcephaly and other neurological problems in newborns of affected mothers directly infects the brain progenitor cells destined to become neurons, researchers report in a new study. Read more…


Scientists reveal proposal to build human genome from scratch. Science

Last year, researchers working to synthesize the genome of a strain of yeast began to eye a much bigger prize: assembling from scratch the 3 billion base pairs of DNA that drive a human cell. The idea caught the attention of other prominent scientists, and inspired a proposal published online in Science today. The so-called Human Genome Project–Write (HGP-write) aims to synthesize entire genomes—of humans and other species—from their chemical components, and get them to function in living cells. Read more…



13698187_s from 123rf

Investment in renewable energy exploding — but not in Canada: Bob McDonald. CBC

A new report by the Renewable Energy Policy Network has found that, for the first time, worldwide investments in alternative energy have exceeded investments in new fossil fuel projects. It’s a sign that the world is taking positive steps toward a clean energy future. But Canada is still behind the major players. Read more…



18685938_s from 123rf

The shocking electric eel! Science News for Students

Philip Stoddard once had a pet named Sparky. Sparky was an electric eel, a snake-like fish that can deliver incredibly strong electric shocks. It was sleek and dark gray, about 1.5 meters (5 feet) long, with tiny black eyes. Stoddard, a zoologist at Florida International University in Miami, kept Sparky in a tank in his lab.

One day, he felt tempted to touch the fish. “It was so beautiful, I had to pet it,” he says. Stoddard knew these eels produced intense electrical bursts when threatened. But he figured he and Sparky were friends. So he reached into the water and stroked the animal. Read more…



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