Two new 250 million year-old species of large, meat-eating amphibians have been discovered by researchers, including investigators from McGill University. Their findings published in todays issue of Nature, describe the first and oldest amphibious carnivores from the Republic of Niger in West Africa.
"This the first evidence of carnivores in this area," says McGill paleontologist, and co-author, Hans Larsson. "This find is particularly interesting because the animals we found are not present anywhere else in the world at that time. These animals seemed to be restricted to this one region of Africa that had one of the driest climates on the planet. Animal communities found in other parts of the world are similar to each other, but completely different from those in Niger. We think the shared temperate climates of these other communities may have forced them to evolve independently and in relative isolation from the Niger fauna."
The two species of amphibians discovered are similar to crocodiles in shape. Nigerpeton ricglesi had rounded noses, with small eyes and both small and large fang-like teeth. Saharastega moradiensis had curved horns on the back of its head and an array of small teeth.
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Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
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At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
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Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.
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