UGR scientists patent an effective drug for treating breast, colon, and skin cancers

Scientists from the University of Granada (UGR) have patented an effective drug for treating cancer stem cells (CSCs) in breast, colon, and skin cancers. The researchers have proved the anti-tumor effects of the drug on immunodeficient mice. The new compound and its derivatives enabled the researchers to reduce tumor activity by 50 percent after 41 […]

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Newly Discovered Planet Kepler-453b Orbits Two Stars

Using Kepler data astronomers have discovered Kepler-453b – a circumbinary planet located within the “habitable zone.” A team of astronomers including a San Francisco State University researcher has discovered a new planet orbiting a pair of stars, the 10th “circumbinary” planet discovered by NASA’s Kepler Mission and a milestone for the 6-year-old spacecraft. The planet, […]

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New Study Explains Why Theropod Dinosaurs Were So Successful

Members of Theropoda, the only clade of predominantly predatory dinosaurs, were successful predators partly due to a unique, deeply serrated tooth structure that allowed them to easily tear through the flesh and bone of other dinosaurs, according to a new study published in the journalScientific Reports.

The teeth of theropod dinosaurs are characterized by ziphodonty, the presence of serrations on their cutting edges. The only reptile living today that has the same superficial tooth structure is the Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis).

“What is so fascinating to me is that all animal teeth are made from the same building blocks, but the way the blocks fit together to form the structure of the tooth greatly affects how that animal processes food. The hidden complexity of the tooth structure in theropods suggests that they were more efficient at handling prey than previously thought, likely contributing to their success,” said Dr Kirstin Brink from the University of Toronto Mississauga, who is the first author on the study.

Dr Brink and co-authors found that the unique arrangement of tooth tissues did not develop in response to these carnivores chewing hard materials.

They determined this by examining samples of dinosaur teeth that had not yet broken through the gums, as well as samples from mature dinosaur teeth. Unlike humans, reptiles grow new teeth throughout their lifetimes.

“What is startling and amazing about this work is that Dr Brink was able to take teeth with these steak knife-like serrations and find a way to make cuts to obtain sections along the cutting edge of these teeth,” said co-author Prof Robert Reisz, also from the University of Toronto Mississauga.

“If you don’t cut them right, you don’t get the information. This brought about a developmental explanation for the tooth formation; the serrations are even more spectacular and permanent.”

The paleontologists used a scanning electron microscope and a synchrotron to do a thorough examination and analysis of tooth slices from eight carnivorous theropods, including Tyrannosaurus rex, Allosaurus, Coelophysisand Gorgosaurus.

“We present the first model for the development of ziphodont teeth in theropods through histological, SEM, and SR-FTIR analyses, revealing that structures previously hypothesized to prevent tooth breakage instead first evolved to shape and maintain the characteristic denticles through the life of the tooth,” they wrote in the paper.

“We show that this novel complex of dental morphology and tissues characterizes Theropoda, with the exception of species with modified feeding behaviors, suggesting that these characters are important for facilitating the hypercarnivorous diet of most theropods.”

“This adaptation may have played an important role in the initial radiation and subsequent success of theropods as terrestrial apex predators.”

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NASA Scientists Produce New Topographic Maps of Ceres

Researchers at NASA have just released colorful new topographic maps of the dwarf planet Ceres, based on data gathered by the agency’s Dawn spacecraft.

This map shows the highs and lows of topography on the surface of Ceres. It is labeled with names of features approved by the International Astronomical Union. The color scale extends about 5 miles (7.5 km) below the surface in indigo to 5 miles (7.5 km) above the surface in white. Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / UCLA / MPS / DLR / IDA.

“The craters we find on Ceres, in terms of their depth and diameter, are very similar to what we see on Dione and Tethys, two icy satellites of Saturn that are about the same size and density as Ceres,” said Dr Paul Schenk of the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, a geologist for the Dawn mission.

“The features are pretty consistent with an ice-rich crust,” he said.

The International Astronomical Union recently approved a batch of official names for some of the craters and other features on the dwarf planet.

The features include Occator, the crater containing Ceres’ famed bright spots.

Named after the Roman agriculture deity of harrowing, Occator has a diameter of 60 miles (90 km) and a depth of two miles (4 km).

A crater with bright material, unofficially named Spot 1, is now identified as Haulani.

Haulani, named after the Hawaiian plant goddess, has a diameter of about 20 miles (30 km).

Temperature data from Dawn’s spectrometer show that this crater seems to be colder than most of the territory around it.

A crater called Dantu, after the Ghanaian god associated with the planting of corn, is about 75 miles (120 km) across and three miles (5 km) deep. Crater Ezinu, named after the Sumerian goddess of grain, is about the same size.

This pair of images shows topographic maps of the dwarf planet Ceres. The map at left is centered on terrain at 60 degrees east longitude; the map at right is centered on 240 degrees east longitude. The color scale extends about 5 miles (7.5 km) below the surface in indigo to 5 miles (7.5 km) above the surface in white. The bright spots in the center of Ceres northern hemisphere in the image at right retain their bright appearance, although they are color-coded in the same green elevation of the crater floor in which they sit. Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / UCLA / MPS / DLR / IDA.

Both are less than half the size of Kerwan, named after the Hopi spirit of sprouting maize, and Yalode, a crater named after the African Dahomey goddess worshipped by women at harvest rites.

“The impact craters Dantu and Ezinu are extremely deep, while the much larger impact basins Kerwan and Yalode exhibit much shallower depth, indicating increasing ice mobility with crater size and age,” said Dr Ralf Jaumann from the German Aerospace Center in Berlin, who is a Dawn science team member.

Almost directly south of Occator is Urvara, a crater named for the Indian and Iranian deity of plants and fields.

The crater is about 100 miles (160 km) wide and 3 miles (6 km) deep. It has a prominent central pointy peak that is two miles (3 km) high.

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