In a fascinating new study forthcoming from The Quarterly Review of Biology, biologists from the University of Oxford explore a rare tactic employed by females badgers to maximize their reproductive success. The authors argue that conception during pregnancy, known as superfetation, benefits female reproductive fitness by reducing the risk of infanticide, extending the females window of opportunity for conception, and increasing the genetic diversity of the litter.
"Natural selection and sexual selection act on both sexes. However, emphasis on sexual selection as a direct evolutionary force acting on males has diverted attention away from the selective process acting on females, whose discrete mating tactics may have masked the extent of reproductive conflict between the sexes," write Nobuyuki Yamaguchi, Hannah L. Dugdale, and David W. Macdonald, all of the Wildlife Conservation Unit at the University of Oxford.
One of only two known species that exhibit or are presumed to exhibit both superfetation and embryonic diapause – during which the newly fertilized egg temporarily ceases development and remains free in the uterus cavity instead of implanting directly into the uterus – the female European badger first ovulates and is fertilized in late winter-early spring (January-March). However, implantation does not occur until December or January of the following year, a gestation period of nearly eleven months.
Suzanne Wu | EurekAlert!
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Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
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Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
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In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
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By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
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