Climate change is already causing widespread extinction in plant and animal species

Extinctions related to climate change have already happened in hundreds of plant and animal species around the world. New research, shows that local extinctions have already occurred in 47% of the 976 plant and animal species studied according to Science daily.

Climate change is predicted to threaten many species with extinction, but determining how species will respond in the future is difficult. Dozens of studies have already demonstrated that species are shifting their geographic ranges over time as the climate warms, towards cooler habitats at higher elevations and latitudes. The new study, by Professor John J. Wiens, used these range-shift studies to show that local extinctions have already happened in the warmest parts of the ranges of more than 450 plant and animal species.

How seals sleep with only half their brain at a time

A new study led by an international team of biologists has identified some of the brain chemicals that allow seals to sleep with half of their brain at a time according to Science daily.

The study was headed by scientists. It identified the chemical cues that allow the seal brain to remain half awake and asleep. Findings from this study may explain the biological mechanisms that enable the brain to remain alert during waking hours and go off-line during sleep.

"Seals do something biologically amazing -- they sleep with half their brain at a time. The left side of their brain can sleep while the right side stays awake.

'Diet is global food policy's elephant in the room'

Global food policy needs to shift way from focusing on feeding people calories to nourishing people with healthy diets, say leading experts.

They state that poor diets were responsible for more of the global health burden than sex, drugs, alcohol and tobacco combined.

While almost 800 million people are hungry, they say two billion people are either overweight or obese, according to BBC.

Predation on pollinating insects shaped the evolution of the orchid mantis

A team of scientists discovered that the orchid mantis looks like a flower due to the exploitation of pollinating insects as prey by its praying mantis ancestors according to Science daily.

By studying the evolutionary relationships of the orchid mantis and its distant relatives, the team discovered that females in the orchid mantis lineage increased in size and changed color over their evolutionary history to gain advantage over large pollinating insects, such as bees, as well as the ability to attract them for predation. However, the morphologically dissimilar males are small and camouflaged, enabling them to live a life of predator avoidance and mate finding. The team found that this difference in males and females, termed sexual dimorphism, was likely the result of female predatory success that favored larger and more conspicuously colored individuals.

Light switch in autumn leaves

Before trees lose their leaves in the winter, they offer us a bright autumnal display of reds, oranges, and yellows. This result from the decomposition of the compound that makes leaves green: chlorophyll. Among the decomposition products are yellow phyllobilins that demonstrate unusual chemical properties, these compounds act as four-step molecular "switches" that are triggered by light in different ways depending on the environment according to Science daily.