Deep-sea fish reveals twilight trick

A new type of cell has been found in the eye of a deep-sea fish, and scientists say the discovery opens a new world of understanding about vision in a variety of light conditions, according to Science Daily.

Scientists found the new cell type in the deep-sea pearlside fish (Maurolicus spp.), which have an unusual visual system adapted for twilight conditions.

Dr Fanny de Busserolles said the retina of most vertebrate animals -- including humans -- contained two photoreceptor types: rods for vision in dim light, and cones for daytime vision. Each had different light-sensitive proteins.

"Deep-sea fish, which live at ocean depths below 200m, are generally only active in the dark, so most species have lost all their cones in favour of light-sensitive rods," Dr de Busserolles said.

The secret lives of ancient land plants

The clues to our evolutionary ancestors? They're in our genes.

All organisms carry patterns in their DNA that scientists can analyze to decipher where and when a species diverged on the evolutionary tree. These studies can reveal how a particular species evolved to become the organism we know today, according to Science Daily.

In collaboration with over 40 universities and research institutes worldwide, Takayuki Kohchi and colleagues have unraveled the genome of the common liverwort gaining new insight into how the modest land plants evolved.

"All land plants, from moss on rocks to trees that flower, evolved from a common ancestral algal species that colonized land about 500 million years ago," explains Kohchi. "The liverwort diverged from other land plants at the earliest stage of evolution, and therefore still possess ancestral characteristics of plant species that followed."

Pumpkin genomes sequenced, revealing uncommon evolutionary history

For some, pumpkins conjure carved Halloween decorations, but for many people around the world, these gourds provide nutrition. Scientists have sequenced the genomes of two important pumpkin species, Cucurbita maxima and Cucurbita moschata according to Science daily.

"Pumpkins are used as a staple food in many countries and are cultivated all over the world for their culinary and ornamental uses," said Zhangjun Fei, associate professor Cornell adjunct associate professor of plant pathology and a senior author of the paper. Over two-thirds of the world's pumpkins, squash and gourds are produced in Asia alone.

The researchers sequenced the two different pumpkin species to better understand their contrasting desirable traits: Cucurbita moschata is known for its resistance to disease and other stresses, such as extreme temperatures, while C. maxima is better known for its fruit quality and nutrition.

Fossils from the world's oldest trees reveal complex anatomy never seen before

The first trees to have ever grown on Earth were also the most complex, new research has revealed.

Fossils from a 374-million-year-old tree have revealed an interconnected web of woody strands within the trunk of the tree that is much more intricate than that of the trees we see around us today.

The strands, known as xylem, are responsible for conducting water from a tree's roots to its branches and leaves. In the most familiar trees the xylem forms a single cylinder to which new growth is added in rings year by year just under the bark.

Whales and dolphins have rich 'human-like' societies

Whales and dolphins live in tightly-knit social groups, have complex relationships, and talk to each other - much like human societies, new research has revealed.

These intelligent creatures are even more sophisticated than we thought and have regional group dialects, look after friends' children and teach each other how to use tools, the study found.

Researchers found dolphins sometimes use a call associated with an individual when they're not there - suggesting they gossip about each other too.