Star-shaped cells called astrocytes, long considered boring, ‘support cells,’ are finally coming into their own. To everyone’s surprise they even play an important role in the body’s master clock, which schedules everything from the release of hormones to the onset of sleepiness.
A team of scientists has described the most exceptionally preserved fossil bird discovered to date, in a newly published article. The new specimen from the rich Early Cretaceous Jehol Biota (approximately 131 to 120 million years old) is referred to as Eoconfuciusornis, the oldest and most primitive member of the Confuciusornithiformes, a group of early birds characterized by the first occurrence of an avian beak.
Most older Americans drink alcohol. Given that this segment of the population is projected to almost double by 2050, reaching 112 million, in the future, there will likely be many more older drinkers in the United States than currently. Importantly, older individuals are more sensitive to alcohol’s effects than their younger counterparts, and are also more likely to take prescription medications that can interact negatively with alcohol, potentially leading to falls and other injuries. This study examined trends in drinking status among U.S. adults 60 years of age and older.
Investigators have reported the discovery of a new gene that is associated with susceptibility to a common form of brain pathology called Tau that accumulates in several different conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, certain forms of dementia and Parkinsonian syndromes as well as chronic traumatic encephalopathy that occurs with repeated head injuries.
Researchers have revealed that declining plant diversity — from habitat loss, human use, and other environmental pressures — causes plants to flower earlier, and that the effects of diversity loss on the timing of flowering are similar in magnitude to the effects of global warming. The finding could have a powerful influence on the way scientists study ecosystem changes and measure the effects of global warming.
Moderate drinking is associated with a lower risk of several, but not all, cardiovascular diseases, finds a large study of UK adults. The finding that moderate drinking is not universally associated with a lower risk of all cardiovascular conditions suggests a more nuanced approach to the role of alcohol in prevention of cardiovascular disease is necessary.