Climate change responsible for the great diversity in horses

Changing environments and ecosystems were driving the evolution of horses over the past 20 million years. This is the main conclusion of a new study by a team of paleontologists. The team analysed 140 species of horses, most of them extinct, synthesizing decades of research on the fossil history of this popular group of mammals according to Science daily.

Their conclusions challenge a classic theory, which links the evolutionary success of horses to several novel adaptations in response to the spread of grasslands around 18 million years ago. "According to the classic view, horses would have evolved faster in when grasslands appeared, developing teeth that were more resistant to the stronger wear that comes with a grass-dominated diet.

Oxygen content increased when Earth was covered in ice

In the beginning, planet Earth was a very inhospitable place with no oxygen and only single-celled bacteria as inhabitants. According to a new study, the oxygen content in the air began to increase about 2.4 billion years ago, at the same time as the global glaciation and when all continents were gathered in a single huge landmass, or supercontinent. How to explain the exact connection between these events, however, is a question that baffles the researchers according to Science daily.

"Our results also show that oxidation coincided in time with an event of global glaciation of Earth and extensive volcanism," says Ulf Söderlund, Professor of Geology.

In the recent international study, researchers, among others, have pinpointed the timing of this so-called Great Oxidation Event -- a crucial starting point in the development of life.

Research Journey to the Center of the Earth

Researchers say they may be one step closer to solving the mystery at the core of Earth according to Science daily.

It has long been established that approximately 85 percent of Earth's core is made of iron, while nickel makes up an additional 10 percent. Details of the final 5 percent -- believed to be some amount of light elements -- has, until now, eluded scientists.

According to the research team, which includes Dr. Tatsuya Sakamaki and Prof. Eiji Ohtani, new experiments show that possible candidates for the light elements are hydrogen, silicon and sulfur?

Scientists find some thrive in acid seas

Researchers have found that ocean acidification may not be all bad news for one important sea-dwelling plant according to Science daily.

A team led by Dr Catherine Collier studied seagrass growing near underwater volcanic vents. Carbon dioxide from the vents increases the acidity of nearby water.

The researchers found that the more acidic the water was, the more the plant grew.

"The increased growth has nothing to do with the acidified water as such, but increased acidification means more carbon, which means the seagrass photosynthesises quicker," said Dr Collier.

How insects decide to grow up

Like humans, insects go through puberty. The process is known as metamorphosis. Examples include caterpillars turning into butterflies and maggots turning into flies according to Science daily.

But, it has been a long-standing mystery as to what internal mechanisms control how insects go through metamorphosis and why it is irreversible.

Now, a team of scientists, has solved the mystery. They also believe the findings, could be applied to mammals, including humans.