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Feature article

Big Floods = Big Barras

barramundi

Study co-author Ian Halliday catches a barramundi, a popular species for anglers in rivers such as the Daly River in the Northern Territory.

By Tim Jardine, Brad Pusey and Ian Halliday

More barramundi survive to adulthood during big flood years due to increased feeding opportunities.

Tim Jardine and Brad Pusey are Research Fellows at the Australian Rivers Institute, Griffith University. Ian Halliday is a biologist with the Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation.

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Sinking Aristotle’s Sailing Octopus

argonaut

A female argonaut (Argonauta argo) swimming close to the sea surface in the Sea of Japan. Photo: Julian Finn, Museum Victoria

By Julian Finn

By expertly manipulating air gathered from the sea surface, argonauts are able to control their buoyancy and traverse the world’s oceans at depth.

Dr Julian Finn is a Curator of Marine Invertebrates at Museum Victoria. This study has been published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, B: Biological Sciences.

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Sleight of Memory

Finger

iStockphoto

By John Bradshaw

Our memories can easily deceive us, for good or for ill.

John Bradshaw is Emeritus Professor of Neuropsychology at Monash University. This is an edited version of a script broadcast on Ockham’s Razor.

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Head Modification Explains the Origin of the First Australians

skull

The Nacurie 1 cranium provides evidence that mothers intentionally modified the shape of their infants’ heads in the Murray River region of south-eastern Australia during the terminal Pleistocene. Photo: Peter Brown

By Peter Brown

Evidence of head shape modification among Pleistocene Australians helps refute claims of an evolutionary connection with Indonesian Homo erectus.

Peter Brown holds the Chair of Palaeoanthropology at the University of New England, Armidale, NSW.

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Lizards Give Birth To Cancer Clues

skink

The same protein found in pre-cancerous skin cells helps blood vessels to grow in the placenta of the three-toed skink (Saiphos equalis). Photo: Nadav Pezaro

By Bridget Murphy

A gene found in a pregnant lizard may provide important information about the origins and treatment of cancer in humans.

Bridget Murphy is completing a PhD in biology at the University of Sydney.

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Fruit Extracts Help Exercise Recovery and Asthma

By Roger Hurst

Natural fruit compounds may balance the impacts that exercise can have on the body and help breathing in some types of asthma.

Dr Roger Hurst leads the Food and Wellness Group at Plant & Food Research in New Zealand.

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The Double-Edged Sword of Technology

By Graham M. Turner

When questions of population growth and sustainability are debated, the silver bullet of technological progress is usually proposed or implied. But historical evidence and simulations of the future demonstrate the danger of relying on technology.

Graham Turner is a senior analyst with the National Futures Group at CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems.

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Lie to Me

cartoon

Image: Simon Kneebone

By Michael Cook

Will brain scans revolutionise our legal system?

Michael Cook is editor of the bioethics newsletter BioEdge.

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Fire, Erosion and the End of the Megafauna

The distribution of dated erosion events in Tasmania

The distribution of dated erosion events in Tasmania over the past 105,000 years in relation to human arrival and the extinction of the megafauna. Note the increase in the number of erosion events after 40,000 years ago and the absence of a peak in erosion events in the cold period around 65,000 years ago. The image of the giant marsupial Zygomaturus trilobus is by Nobu Tamura.

By Peter McIntosh

Tasmania’s erosion history links ancient Aboriginal burning practices with the demise of Tasmania’s megafauna.

Peter McIntosh is Senior Scientist (Earth Sciences) with the Forest Practices Authority in Tasmania.

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A New Reason to Lose Sleep

Could the brain be more vulnerable to apnoea if CPAP therapy is discontinued?

Could the brain be more vulnerable to apnoea if CPAP therapy is discontinued? iStockphoto

By Caroline Rae

Are people with sleep apnoea prone to brain injury from oxygen deprivation?

Caroline Rae is Professor of Brain Sciences at The University of New South Wales and is based at Neuroscience Research Australia. This work was also conducted in collaboration with the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research.

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