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Popular Science

Researchers from MIT and other institutions have uncovered evidence that early dinosaurs may have lived in social herds, reports Kate Baggaley for Popular Science. “People have known for a long time that the more advanced dinosaurs, the ones that lived in the late Jurassic and Cretaceous, especially the large sauropods…moved and lived in herds,” explains research scientist Jahandar Ramezani. “But the question has always been, when did this behavior start?”

Wired

Writing for Wired, Media Lab research specialist Kate Darling makes the case that robots are more like animals than people. “Despite the AI pioneers’ original goal of recreating human intelligence, our current robots are fundamentally different,” writes Darling. “They’re not less-developed versions of us that will eventually catch up as we increase their computing power; like animals, they have a different type of intelligence entirely.” 

The Washington Post

Senior Research Scientist Stephanie Seneff co-authored an opinion piece for The Washington Post, which examines how the high level of herbicide chemicals found in Florida waterways is contributing to a record number of manatee deaths. “If we want to stop manatees from starving, we have to stop using this harmful chemical on our crops, on our lawns and in our waterways,” they conclude. 

Smithsonian Magazine

Smithsonian reporter Theresa Machemer writes that a new study by MIT researchers shows that C. elegans are able to sense and avoid the color blue.

New York Times

A new study by MIT researchers investigates how roundworms are able to sense the color blue to avoid dangerous bacteria that secrete toxins, reports Veronique Greenwood for The New York Times. Greenwood found that “some roundworms respond clearly to that distinctive pigment, perceiving it — and fleeing from it — without the benefit of any known visual system.”

New York Times

A new study by MIT researchers explores how cellular guides in planarians appear to provide a roadmap for regeneration, reports Veronique Greenwood for The New York Times. Greenwood notes that the findings “may someday help scientists interested in helping humans regenerate injured neurons.”

WBUR

A new study by MIT researchers finds that there are differences in how genes are used in men and women, reports Angus Chen for WBUR. “I think we are at present missing a lot because we operate with what is essentially a unisex model in biomedical research,” explains Prof. David Page.

Gizmodo

New research from members of the Broad Institute finds that ancient and present elephant species are the product of interbreeding. The team will now “explore how (and if) the intermingling of genetic traits may have been advantageous for elephant evolution, like an increased tolerance for new habitats and climate change,” writes George Dvorsky for Gizmodo.

NBC News

Kate Baggaley of NBC News highlights a team of MIT researchers who have developed a computer model to explain how albatrosses fly so efficiently. “Unlike other birds that flap their wings frequently, the albatross rides the wind,” which researchers are hoping to duplicate as they attempt to create drones that fly by harnessing power from the wind and sun, she explains.

WBUR

Carey Goldberg of WBUR speaks to Prof. Kevin Esvelt and graduate student Joanna Buchthal about the next steps in engineering mice that are immune to Lyme disease. With the Lyme disease antibodies identified, the next step is “to encode that mouse DNA back in the mouse genome so that it can be inherited by future generations,” says Esvelt.

KQED

Joshua Cassidy of KQED highlights an MIT study about how cats use their tongues to drink. The researchers created a model that mimics how cats drink and determined that “house cats tend to lap water about four times a second while larger species of cats, like lions and tigers, lap slower as their body mass increases.”

PBS

Graduate student Eric Arndt discusses his research on the bombardier beetle’s ability to produce a boiling-hot stream of liquid on the PBS program SciTech Now. “Insects, as it turns out, are very good material scientists,” explains Arndt. “Just studying these fundamental systems has the possibility of opening up all kinds of doors in all kinds of industries.” 

New York Times

Sindya Bhanoo writes for The New York Times that MIT researchers have discovered how the bombardier beetle produces blasts of a hot, lethal toxin to fend off predators. “The beetle has a really complicated explosion system that’s all connected together,” explains Prof. Christine Ortiz.

The Washington Post

MIT researchers have figured out how the bombardier beetle can fire off chemicals when threatened, writes Washington Post reporter Rachel Feltman. Feltman explains that the researchers used “high-speed x-ray imaging” to examine the beetle’s defense mechanisms in action. 

New Scientist

By examining X-ray images, MIT researchers have uncovered how bombardier beetles are able to produce “machine-gun style” blasts of chemicals to fend off predators, reports Andy Coghlan for New Scientist. “The researchers were surprised to find that a passive mechanism generates the pulses,” Coghlan explains.