The Week In Science: T. Rex Tissue, Aggressive HIV, Thanksgiving In Space

 @rpalmerscience on November 29 2013 12:05 PM

This week in science, we pondered the curious comeback story of the wild turkey, found out why a beer bottle foams over when you tap the top of it and followed the trail from a polar bear hair to a (possible) Jackson Pollock painting. But there were many more discoveries unveiled this week, and here’s a roundup:

It’s hard out here for a baby male lion. A new Nat Geo Wild documentary, “Game of Lions,” explores the unique challenges faced by little Simbas. Young male lions are kicked out of their prides by the reigning older males when they’re around 2 years old, and from there it’s a hard road to adulthood. The young males will have to roam through the countryside, avoiding the territories of other prides, where they could be attacked and killed. Ranging young males without a pride are also more likely to come into contact with humans -- and their traps. If a young lion wants to lead a pride, he’ll have to fight the reigning king, usually to the death. [LiveScience]

Sexually frustrated male fruit flies die prematurely, living only about 40 percent as long as their satisfied compatriots. [BBC]

A newly identified strain of HIV appears to be more aggressive than other types of the virus. Swedish researchers found that the A3/02 strain, which is a fusion of two other types of HIV, progresses to AIDS within five years, which is up to two and a half years faster than its parent viral strains. [TIME]

Tongue piercings aren’t just a way to shock Mom over the holidays; doctors are using them to help paralyzed people get around. A special implanted tongue stud allows a paralyzed patient to control their wheelchair, along with other tasks: using a cell phone, or surfing the Web. When the patient moves their tongue around, a sensor relays the tongue’s position to a headset, which translates into a command for the device the person is using. Since people with even the most grievous level of spinal cord injuries retain use of their tongues, the system is ideal for a wide range of paralyzed people -- and much easier to use than the current contraptions that require patients to blow or gulp air through a tube. [Fox News]

Ever wonder how astronauts celebrate Thanksgiving? It’s hard enough to eat in zero gravity, but did you know that being in orbit affects your sense of smell and taste, too? [CNN]

Some years ago, scientists found what seemed like preserved tissue from the insides of Tyrannosaurus rex bones that were over 68 million years old. Other scientists were flabbergasted that the tissue could have survived in that form for so long, and suggested it was something else -- remnants of a bacteria infestation later on, perhaps. But Mary Schweitzer, the scientist behind the discovery, thinks she might know how the dinosaur flesh stayed soft for eons. Iron in the T. rex’s blood might have acted like formaldehyde to preserve the proteins and cells of the tissue since Cretaceous times. [Discovery]

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