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.
About 95 million years ago, a river turtle adapted to marine environments and made an extraordinary migration from the ancient continent of Gondwana, which grouped what is now Africa and South America, to Laurasia, the Northern continental mass of which Europe, Asia and North America were part. Its remains, found in the town of Algora in Guadalajara (Spain) and in Portugal, are the evidence of the first known dispersal event of a turtle from Gondwana.
Symbiosis between fungi and microalgae gives rise to lichen. Some lichen, however, such as Lobaria scrobiculata, have a unique feature: the fungus establishes a symbiosis with a cyanobacteria, thus requiring water in liquid form to activate photosynthesis. According to a new study, this forces the lichen to concentrate its resources on reproduction in places where water is scarce. For the first time, this study demonstrates the theory of life strategies in fungi.
Frying pans, pizza boxes, clothes and textiles are just some of the products which contain perfluoroalkyl compounds, used for their chemical stability and resistance. Their exposure through air, house dust, drinking water and even food, makes them a serious risk for human health. Now a group of scientists reveals the first exposure map of these substances among the Spanish population.
In every animal community, several species in the same group share habitats. An international team, including scientists from Catalonia in Spain, has chosen ants to create the largest public-access database on the cohabitation of these insects. The goal is to understand their tricks for coexistence and how they respond to invasive species and climate change.
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 fountains standing next to the Museo del Prado are built using a sedimentary rock full of gastropod shells from the time of the dinosaurs. These fossils have revealed the origin of the stone: forgotten quarries in Redueña, in the province of Madrid, where the building material for the Fountain of Apollo and the Palacio de las Cortes also came from.
Inside the crater of a volcano on Graciosa Island in the Azores archipelago, in the Atlantic Ocean, an international team of researchers has discovered the bones of a new extinct species of songbird, a bullfinch which they have named Pyrrhula crassa. The remains were found in a small cavity through which time ago the lava flowed. This bird disappeared a few hundreds of years ago due to human colonization of the islands and the introduction of invasive species.
Researchers from the University of Zaragoza (Spain) have analysed drinking water and detected oocysts of Cryptosporidium and cysts of Giardia, two protozoa that cause outbreaks of diarrhoea in humans. The levels detected are very low and do not represent a health risk; however, according to the study, the ubiquity of these parasites and the inefficiency of conventional water treatment in reducing them may present a public health issue.