Science & Tech

Sea-dwelling worms with muscular mouths produce loud snaps to protect their homes, researchers find.

07
August
2019

When marine biologist Richard Palmer saw a video of sea-dwelling worms snapping at each other and making one of the loudest sounds ever measured in aquatic animals, he couldn’t believe his ears. 

“The biomechanics allowing the animals to do this are both puzzling and extraordinary,” said Palmer, a professor emeritus at the University of Alberta. “When I first saw their video and audio recordings, my eyes just popped out of my head because it was so unexpected.”

The video had been sent to him by Ryutaro Goto, a Japanese scientist who asked him to help figure out how these invertebrates were capable of producing such loud sounds. 

The worms were first discovered in the finger-like protuberances of glass sea sponges collected off the coast of Japan during a 2017 dredging expedition.

Isao Hirabayashi had been the first to hear ...

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19
August
2019
| 21:05 America/Tegucigalpa

Glacier-fed rivers may consume atmospheric carbon dioxide

Study shows chemical weathering causes CO2 consumption in glacier-fed freshwater systems.

Glacier-fed rivers in Northern Canada may be consuming significant amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, according to new research by University of Alberta biologists.  The researchers
16
August
2019
| 14:00 America/Tegucigalpa

Seismic lines helped butterflies survive Fort McMurray wildfire, study shows

Cleared corridors used to locate oil reserves were mostly undamaged and provided refuge for plants and insects as surrounding forest burned, U of A researcher finds.

Even as Alberta’s fierce wildfire raged in and around Fort McMurray in 2016, plants and butterflies were surviving in narrow strips of forest that remained green and undamaged. Seismic lines, used
15
August
2019
| 18:30 America/Tegucigalpa

First global open-source database for spinal cord injury research will be a ‘game-changer,’ say experts

U of A research team receives $3.3 million to create data-sharing platform including results from both published and unpublished research.

Experts from the University of Alberta and two universities of California are teaming up to launch the world’s first open-source database for spinal cord injury research. The Open Data Commons for
13
August
2019
| 14:00 America/Tegucigalpa

Why plastic bags are so hard to get rid of

Easy to make and convenient to use, petroleum-based plastics have no obvious alternative—but that’s slowly changing, say researchers.

In June, Canada joined a growing list of countries frustrated with the inability of market forces to shrink our plastics dependency and announced a plan to ban single-use plastics as early as
12
August
2019
| 14:00 America/Tegucigalpa

Why even a small change in Earth’s carbon dioxide makes a big difference

“Just because it's a small percentage of the atmosphere, that in no way means it's unimportant,” explains U of A climatology researcher.

In July 2015, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency head Gina McCarthy was being grilled by lawmakers over President Obama’s Clean Power Plan requiring states to limit carbon emissions, when she was
09
August
2019
| 19:44 America/Tegucigalpa

Researchers creating AI-powered chatbot to help families living with neurodevelopmental disabilities

Smart program will scour the internet to connect families with good information and resources that can be hard to access.

A research team at the University of Alberta is using artificial intelligence to build a chatbot—a computer program that can simulate a human conversation through text or voice—to help families
08
August
2019
| 13:50 America/Tegucigalpa

Researchers aim to create AI companion for lonely seniors

U of A computing scientists are working toward a digital chatbot that can carry a conversation—and express emotion in its responses.

Computing scientists at the University of Alberta are taking the first steps toward chatbots that can express and respond to emotion during a conversation—including artificially intelligent
07
August
2019
| 19:29 America/Tegucigalpa

New research on garden-variety snake sheds light on how reptiles evolved

U of A undergraduate student leads research providing first-ever detailed look at development of garter snake skulls.

New research on a garden-variety snake in Alberta provides an unprecedented look at how their skulls develop—and may offer new clues into how reptiles evolved. “Prior to this research, no one had
07
August
2019
| 18:25 America/Tegucigalpa

Pine trees send chemical warning to each other when pine beetles attack

New U of A research first to show that lodgepole pines release chemicals to warn related trees of threat and help them boost defences.

Lodgepole pines attacked by mountain pine beetles release volatile chemical compounds to warn related trees of the incoming threat, according to a new University of Alberta study. The study,
07
August
2019
| 14:00 America/Tegucigalpa

City coyotes’ poor diets could make them more aggressive, study suggests

Research shows urban coyotes lack specific gut bacteria and are twice as likely to have a tapeworm that is potentially fatal to humans.

City coyotes’ garbage-based diets are affecting their gut bacteria and that could affect how they interact with humans, new University of Alberta research shows. Don’t feed coyote
02
August
2019
| 14:00 America/Tegucigalpa

Sex appeal helped dinosaurs take flight

Study by U of A paleontologists helps explain how feathers went from dinosaur insulation to enabling flight.

Attracting mates with showy displays may have helped dinosaurs develop feathers that let them take flight, according to new research by University of Alberta paleontologists. “The first complex