In a study published in the journal Nature, researchers at McGill University studied Polypterus senegalus (the Senegal bichir or "dinosaur eel"), fish with "functional lungs and strong fins" that can pull themselves out of the water.
The scientists raised 111 juvenile bichir on land for eight months and monitored changes compared to a control group of fish remaining in water.
"Fish raised on land walk with a more effective gait," lead author Emily Standen told The Verge. "They plant their legs closer to the body’s midline, they lift their heads higher, and they slip less during that walking cycle."
Scientists found major differences between land-raised and aquatic-raised bichir, NBC News reports:
"They found that the land-raised fish lifted their heads higher, held their fins closer to their bodies, took faster steps, undulated their tails less frequently and had fins that slipped less often than bichir raised in water. The land-raised fish also underwent changes in their skeletons and musculature that probably paved the way for their changes in behavior. All in all, these alterations helped bichir move more effectively on land."
So, what does it all mean for the study of evolution?
"This is the first example we know of that demonstrates developmental plasticity may have facilitated a large-scale evolutionary transition," Hans Larsson of McGill University said in a statement, "by first accessing new anatomies and behaviours that could later be genetically fixed by natural selection."
For more, learn how another species of fish also evolved a unique method for getting a meal:
What caused a giant crack to suddenly appear in the ground in Mexico, alarming locals and puzzling scientists?
According to The Weather Channel:
"Martin Moreno Valencia, Chief Regional Station of the Institute of Geology at UNAM in Hermosillo, told Excelsior it's unlikely the crack was created by an earthquake because both sides of the fissure are on equal planes. Usually, he added, an earthquake will elevate one side or the other, and drone footage shows people and automobiles on both sides of the crack with neither side elevated or shrunk. Valencia says that makes the underground stream theory more likely, but experts are still investigating."
A drone shot this footage of the giant crack:
For more mysteries from Mexico, tune in to The Unexplained Files TONIGHT at 10/9c for an investigation into the legendary chupacabra. Here's a sneak peek:
The National Park Service turns 98 today. To celebrate, all national parks are FREE today.
Officially established on August 25, 1916, the National Park Service now oversees "401 areas covering more than 84 million acres in every state, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands."
America's oldest national park actually outdates the NPS: Yellowstone National Park was created by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872.
Yellowstone's "supervolcano" frequently makes headlines over rumblings that it's getting ready to erupt; one rumor earlier this year claimed bison were fleeing the park ahead of an eruption (a story Yellowstone officials debunked).
So, what are the odds a volcano will erupt in Yellowstone National Park this century?
While it may sound like a statement from Dracula himself, it's actually Stanford professor Tony Wyss-Coray, who's leading a trial in which blood donated by people under 30 will be injected into older Alzheimer's patients as an experimental treatment for the disease.
According to New Scientist:
"The scientists behind the experiment have evidence on their side. Work in animals has shown that a transfusion of young mouse blood can improve cognition and the health of several organs in older mice. It could even make those animals look younger. The ramifications for the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries could be huge if the same thing happens in people."
The trial starts in early October in California.
Learn more about how blood donations work:
Stephen Hawking believes it was the egg. A team of researchers in 2010 concluded that "the chicken must have come first as the formation of eggs is only possible thanks to a protein found in the chicken’s ovaries."
What does astrophysicist/author/science rock star Neil deGrasse Tyson have to say?
On Wednesday, Tyson Tweeted:
Just to settle it once and for all: Which came first the Chicken or the Egg? The Egg -- laid by a bird that was not a Chicken— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) August 20, 2014
Mind = blown? Does this settle it for good? This is actually not the first time Tyson has answered the chicken-egg query, so expect the debate to rage on.
Now here's another fowl question: How much weight can 64 eggs handle? Physics solves the problem:
Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev completed a 5-hour, 11-minute spacewalk Monday, launching a Peruvian nanosatellite and installing and retrieving various science experiments from the International Space Station's exterior.
The tiny Chasqui-1 satellite measures just 4 inches by 4 inches by 4 inches and weighs only 2.2 pounds. According to NASA,
"Shortly after the spacewalk began at 10:02 a.m., Artemyev manually deployed Chasqui 1, a Peruvian nanosatellite designed to take pictures of the Earth with a pair of cameras and transmit the images to a ground station. The project is part of an effort by the National University of Engineering in Peru to gain experience in satellite technology and emerging information and communication technologies."
While spacewalks may seem routine these days, an extra-vehicular activity is still the most dangerous activity an astronaut can do in space... and spacewalks of the future could get even more menacing. Tonight on "Man vs. the Universe" (10/9c), learn about scientists' efforts to stop an asteroid from crashing into Earth. One method calls for catching an impending asteroid in a giant bag, then sending astronauts on the most dangerous spacewalk ever.
When you live in a city, it can be hard to remember that the brightest lights aren't downtown -- they're right above you.
Photographer Randy Halverson breathtaking timelapse video, shot in some of the most remote parts of America, reveal the incredible astral show happening in the sky, from the glorious Milky Way to the rumbling of thunderstorms.
Wednesday night on How the Universe Works, dive deep inside the Milky Way for a closer look at the galaxy we call home. Here's a sneak peek at tomorrow night's episode: "Did a black hole create the Milky Way?"
We get this question a lot when we share astronauts' pictures on social media: "Why can't you see any stars in the photos astronauts take from space?"
The fact that there are no visible stars in photos and videos from the moon landing has also fueled some conspiracy theorists' suspicions, though NASA scientists explain that "the camera was unable to capture the light emitted from the stars because the bright sunlight hitting the moon's surface washes out the light from the stars."
That same bright light is the reason many astronauts' photos from the International Space Station appear to show space as pitch black and void of stars, write experts at PhysLink.com:
"The reason why no or very little stars can be seen is because of the Earth. The Earth, when lit by the Sun, is many thousands times brighter than the stars around it. As a result the Earth is so bright that it swamps out most if not all of the stars."
"The reason that the stars do not show up on the film is that the stars are so dim that the camera cannot gather enough of their light in a short exposure. Our eyes are a lot more sensitive to light than photographic film."
So American astronaut Reid Wiseman's latest space snapshot, taken with a longer exposure, shows that, yes, of course there are stars in space:
Question: Why aren't stars extinct?
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