How mammals' brains evolved to distinguish odors is nothing to sniff at

The world is filled with millions upon millions of distinct smells, but how mammals' brains evolved to tell them apart is something of a mystery.

Now, two neuroscientists from the Salk Institute and UC San Diego have discovered that at least six types of mammals -- from mice to cats -- distinguish odors in roughly the same way, using circuitry in the brain that's evolutionarily preserved across species, according to Science Daily.

"The study yields insights into organizational principles underpinning brain circuitry for olfaction in mammals that may be applied to other parts of the brain and other species," says Charles Stevens, distinguished professor emeritus in Salk's Neurobiology Laboratory and coauthor of the research.

Do these baby baboons undermine trendy gender-neutral theories about toys?

The gender-neutral toys movement may have been thwarted by a group of baboons after a new BBC documentary showed females playing with dolls and males playing with trucks.

An interest in gender-neutral toys has been steadily on the rise for years amid fears of reinforcing a societal male-female divide, according to Daily Mail.

But a new BBC 2 documentary, Animals at Play, has revealed how differently the minds of the genders work, at least in baboons.

Scientists discover how plants breathe -- and how humans shaped their 'lungs'

Scientists have discovered how plants create networks of air channels -- the lungs of the leaf -- to transport carbon dioxide (CO2) to their cells.

Botanists have known since the 19th century that leaves have pores -- called stomata -- and contain an intricate internal network of air channels. But until now it wasn't understood how those channels form in the right places in order to provide a steady flow of CO2 to every plant cell, according to Science Daily.

The new study, led by scientists at the University of Sheffield's Institute for Sustainable Food used genetic manipulation techniques to reveal that the more stomata a leaf has, the more airspace it forms.

Some extinct crocs were vegetarians

Based on careful study of fossilized teeth, scientists Keegan Melstom and Randall Irmis at the Natural History Museum of Utah at the University of Utah have found that multiple ancient groups of crocodyli forms -- the group including living and extinct relatives of crocodiles and alligators -- were not the carnivores we know today. In fact. the evidence suggests that a veggie diet arose in the distant cousins of modern crocodylians at least three times, according to Science Daily.

"The most interesting thing we discovered was how frequently it seems extinct crocodyliforms ate plants," said Keegan Melstrom, a doctoral student at the University of Utah. "Our study indicates that complexly-shaped teeth, which we infer to indicate herbivory, appear in the extinct relatives of crocodiles at least three times and maybe as many as six."

Conceptual model can explain how thunderstorm clouds bunch together

Understanding how the weather and climate change is one of the most important challenges in science today. A new theoretical study from associate professor, Jan Härter, at the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, presents a new mechanism for the self-aggregation of storm clouds, a phenomenon, by which storm clouds bunch together in dense clusters. The researcher used methods from complexity science, and applied them to formerly established research in meteorology on the behavior of thunderstorm clouds, according to Science Daily.