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The Creatures Have a Secret

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Toads can help us predict earthquakes
When earthquakes strike they can be devastating, but scientists think there could be a way of using animals to help predict when a quake's about to happen. Researchers in Italy found toads suddenly fled their pond days before an earthquake hit in L'Aquila in 2009. They realised the unusual behaviour may have been a reaction to changes in the water caused by the quake.
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Slime moulds help us understand how cancer develops
The behaviour of primitive cells called slime moulds could help scientists understand how cancer develops.
Slime moulds are single cell organisms which live among leaf litter. Scientists looked at them because they move around in the same way human cells move within tissues.

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Slime moulds grow could help engineers design wireless communication networks.
The way fungus-like slime moulds grow could help engineers design wireless communication networks.
Scientists drew this conclusion after observing a slime mould as it grew into a network that was almost identical to the Tokyo rail system.

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Branch clue to child bone secrets
The "greenstick fracture" happens when the bone splits lengthwise, rather than cleanly at right angles. The way bone structure develops in children and young adults is still not fully understood by scientists. Dr Roland Ennos, from Manchester University, thinks similarities between crystals in young bone and cells in young wood could explain this.
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Snorkel rice could feed millions
A new rice plant has been developed which grows "snorkels" when exposed to floods. A paper in the journal Nature, describes how the plant elongates rapidly in response to being submerged. One of the scientists from Nagoya University in Japan, said "the impact is huge". It could also boost the production of rice in Asia and Africa, where up to 40% of crops are subject to flash floods or deep water.
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Greener plastic made with potatoes set to be a smash
Researchers reckon plastic which lasts forever could have had its chips thanks to the humble spud. Scientists at the University of Leicester have been working on a way of creating a "greener" plastic using plant material. They have worked on modifying starch and cellulose used by plants as food into plastic materials which can be rotted down on the compost heap.

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Green tea 'slows prostate cancer'
A chemical found in green tea appears to slow the progression of prostate cancer, a study has suggested.
Green tea has been linked to a positive effect on a wide range of conditions, including heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer's disease.
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Growing algae for biofuel
...About 1kg of algae is reported to "eat" 3kg of CO2, which means tubes of algae could be laid out on brownfield sites next to a power station or a food processing plant to soak up emissions....
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How the gribble can power our cars
A small marine creature resembling a woodlouse, may provide the key to a major breakthrough for biofuels in Britain.
For the gribble bores into the planks of boats and the pillars of piers and eats them, and its wood-consuming technique may be adapted by scientists to turn wood into sustainable motor fuel on a vast scale...

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Tadpoles offer skin cancer hope
With the incidence of skin cancer growing at an alarming rate in the developed world, unconventional research on tadpoles at the University of East Anglia may offer hope of a drug to prevent the development and spread of the disease.

"But it just goes to show that studying animals like tadpoles, which may seem unusual, could lead to potential cancer drugs in the future."
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