What did the first snakes look like?

The original snake ancestor was a nocturnal, stealth-hunting predator that had tiny hindlimbs with ankles and toes, according to research.

The study, led by Yale University, analyzed fossils, genes, and anatomy from 73 snake and lizard species, and suggests that snakes first evolved on land, not in the sea, which contributes to a longstanding debate. They most likely originated in the warm, forested ecosystems of the Southern Hemisphere around 128 million years ago.

Lead author Allison Hsiang said: "While snake origins have been debated for a long time, this is the first time these hypotheses have been tested thoroughly using cutting-edge methods. By analyzing the genes, fossils and anatomy of 73 different snake and lizard species, both living and extinct, we've managed to generate the first comprehensive reconstruction of what the ancestral snake was like."

Warm-blooded fishes swim faster and farther than cold-blooded counterparts

Marine scientists have long known that some species of fish possess a unique physiological characteristic -- a web of arteries and veins lying very close together -- that enables them to raise their internal temperatures higher than that of the water surrounding them.

Now, a new study has demonstrated that species possessing the ability to warm their core -- a process called endothermy -- are able to swim two and a half times faster than those whose body temperature doesn't change. In addition, these species, which include some sharks and tunas, can also swim twice as far -- ranges comparable to those of warm-blooded animals such as penguins and other marine mammals.

Fresh evidence for how water reached Earth found in asteroid debris

Water delivery via asteroids or comets is likely taking place in many other planetary systems, just as it happened on Earth, new research strongly suggests.

Published by the University of Warwick, the research finds evidence for numerous planetary bodies, including asteroids and comets, containing large amounts of water.

The research findings add further support to the possibility water can be delivered to Earth-like planets via such bodies to create a suitable environment for the formation of life.

Researchers closer to being able to change blood types

What do you do when a patient needs a blood transfusion but you don't have their blood type in the blood bank? It's a problem that scientists have been trying to solve for years but haven't been able to find an economic solution -- until now.

Extra sleep fixes memory problems in flies with Alzheimer's-like condition

Many studies have linked more sleep to better memory, but new research in fruit flies demonstrates that extra sleep helps the brain overcome catastrophic neurological defects that otherwise would block memory formation, report scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Studying three groups of flies, the scientists interfered with their ability to remember by disabling a different critical memory gene in each group.