A sugar called Neu5Gc, present in red meat, some fish and dairy products, is related to the appearance of spontaneous tumors in humans. Researchers at the University of Nevada, Reno, led by Spaniard David Álvarez Ponce, have analyzed the evolutionary history of the CMAH gene - which allows the synthesis of this sugar - and shown which groups of animals have lost the gene and therefore are more suitable for human consumption and for organ transplants.
The fauna of deep seabed tends to be relatively unknown due to the difficulty of collecting samples at great depths. A research team from the A Graña Marine Biology Station in Galicia undertook four oceanographic expeditions in the waters off the northwest coast of the Iberian Peninsula that have led to the discovery of several new species that inhabit the abyssal plains. Now they describe two eyeless species of millimetric proportions.
A recent study, published in the journal ‘Conservation Biology’, reveals that the investments and resources allotted for conservation only partially tally with the levels of biodiversity in the European Union. Thus, countries such as Portugal, Slovakia, Greece and the Czech Republic receive less funding than they would be entitled to as per their biodiversity.
The legume Acacia dealbata, also known as mimosa, is one of the most aggressive invasive tree species in the world. In the northwest of the peninsula its propagation is an increasingly serious problem since it is penetrating unaltered plant communities, according to a study by the University of Vigo and the University of Coimbra (Portugal). Scientists stress the important role of fires in their dispersal and conclude that natural scrubland could be an effective barrier to slowing down rapid invasion.
The children’s well-being is usually one of the biggest concerns when a couple gets a divorce. Scientists at the universities of Santiago de Compostela and Vigo have carried out a study into how divorce affects the children’s health, finding increased risk of genitourinary, gastrointestinal, dermatological and neurological issues.
A necessary part of any animal’s sense of direction is a positioning system, allowing it to have an idea of the relation between where it is and where it wants to go; this is known as odometry. A study from the Autonomous University of Madrid shows that tarantulas use their posterior lateral eyes and anterior lateral eyes (they have a total of four pairs of eyes) to establish the distance they have travelled.
Habituating to predators or fleeing and hiding are tactics that vary between species. Scientists from two research centres in Italy and Spain have observed that adult male common wall lizards sharing their living spaces with humans become accustomed to them and hide less when humans approach them. Yellow lizards were the most “daring”.
A new strain of ranavirus is currently causing mass mortality in several species of amphibian in the Serra da Estrela, the highest mountain range in continental Portugal. This infectious agent is hypervirulent and also affects fish and reptiles, which complicates the situation, according to a study boasting the collaboration of the National Museum of Natural Sciences in Madrid.
As people get older, they experience changes in their foot morphology. If they do not change their shoe size along with these transformations, older people – most of whom choose the wrong shoes – suffer, among other things, anxiety, apathy, loss of balance and falls, according to a study by the University of A Coruña.
Matojo, the nine-month-old Iberian lynx cub found dead in 2015 in Extremadura, did not die from natural causes. His necropsy shows that it was the pseudorabies virus that triggered his sudden demise. Before this case, contagion of this infectious disease was only known in one wild cat in the world, a Florida panther.