The ur-Iris likely had purple flowers, pollinated by insects for nectar

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IMAGE: Selected Iris species. (A) I. atropurpurea; (B) I. bismarckiana; (C) I. fulva; (D) I. historio; (E) I. loretti; (F) I. lutescens; (G) I. mesopotamica;
(H) I. petrana; (I) I. pumila; (J)…
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Credit: The authors

The genus Iris of flowering plants — named after the Greek rainbow goddess because of the variation in flower color — comprises over 300 species across the northern hemisphere, some of which are Vulnerable or (Critically) Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Due to the poor fossil record, it is not yet known when irises first originated, but scientists believe the genus is only a few million years old, having its closest living relatives in today’s southern Africa.

“We wanted to study the factors influencing and maintaining the outstanding evolutionary divergence in irises, a young but very diverse group. We were especially interested in the evolution of flower color and

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Long-legged ‘stilt mice’ wade into streams to hunt aquatic insects using their whiskers — ScienceDaily

Ninety-three years ago, a scientist trapped a mouse in a stream in Ethiopia. Of all the mice, rats, and gerbils in Africa, it stood out as the one most adapted for living in water, with water-resistant fur and long, broad feet. That specimen, housed at Chicago’s Field Museum, is the only one of its genus ever collected, and scientists think it may now be extinct. But in a new study in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, researchers have verified this semi-aquatic mouse’s closest cousins, including two species new to science.

“These two groups of mice have been confused with one another for a century,” says Julian Kerbis Peterhans, one of the paper’s authors and a researcher at the Field Museum who’s studied these rodents for over 30 years. “They’ve been so elusive for so long, they’re some of the rarest animals in the world, so it’s exciting

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Findings show even small doses of insecticides reduce capacity of insects to survive — ScienceDaily

New research has identified a mechanism by which low levels of insecticides such as, the neonicotinoid Imidacloprid, could harm the nervous, metabolic and immune system of insects, including those that are not pests, such as our leading pollinators, bees.

A study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences led by researchers at the University of Melbourne and Baylor College of Medicine, shows that low doses of Imidacloprid trigger neurodegeneration and disrupt vital body-wide functions, including energy production, vision, movement and the immune system, in the vinegar fly, Drosophila melanogaster.

With insect populations declining around the world and intense use of insecticides suspected to play a role, the findings provide important evidence that even small doses of insecticides reduce the capacity of insects to survive, even those that are not pests.

“Our research was conducted on one insecticide, but there is evidence that other insecticides cause

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