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Longevity from Bees, Headgear that's cool, and Why Cavemen are Sexy

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Bite Down to Change Songs

My least favorite part about the iPod is having to always stop running to pull it out to switch songs. The researchers at Osaka University must have had me in mind when they came up with a creative new way to control a music player- teeth. They've designed a piece of head gear that detects when the user is clenching their teeth, which can then be used to control a music device. Clenching on the left skips a song, while clenching on the right side makes a song start or stop. They say this dental technology could also be adapted for cell phones, slide presentations and wheelchairs. If it catches on, then temporomandibular joint disorder could be the new carpal tunnel.

Why Brad Pitt is hot

will-smith-400a314.jpgIt's commonplace for companies to use attractive people in their commercials; T-Mobile had Catherine Zeta-Jones, Coors Light had the Coors Twins and GEICO has those cavemen. What, you don't think the cavemen are sexy? Actually, it turns out that ancient cavemen had facial structures like those of attractive men today. A group of researchers studied dozens of skulls from southern Africa and found that the males with a relatively small upper face (upper lip to brow) lived on in evolution and attracted the most mates. Ironically, this accompanied a decrease in the size of the canine teeth, so they looked less threatening. Among today's men that fit the "hot caveman" facial structure: Kanye West, Brad Pitt, David Beckham and the granddaddy of the scrunched face, Will Smith.

Judge Not by the Color of One's Skin

Martin Luther King Jr. once dreamed of a day when we wouldn't judge people by the color of their skin, but I bet he never dreamed about the day when we would change the color of people's skin. Scientists discovered skin cells called keratinocytes that can control how much pigment is present in a person's skin. They think these cells can be manipulated to create more convincing cosmetics and skin grafts, making the new skin blend in well with a person's original skin. Feel free to toss in any Michael Jackson joke you choose.

PLUS: Speedy T-Rexes and Why bees will help us live forever, all after the jump!

Who would win in a race?

t-rex.gifI'll admit, I was never all that scared of the T-Rex in Jurassic Park. I always figured I could just run away, so the velociraptors were more frightening to me. It turns out I was wrong about that; a new computer model shows that a T-Rex could outrun a human pretty handily. By going back through simulated bone structures and measuring the speeds of those animals, two researchers at the University of Manchester in England managed to create a workable computer model of a T-Rex running, which they raced against similar bipeds and showed just how slow humans really are.

Could Bees Help us Live Forever?

Bees seem to make a lot of appearances in these weekly wrap-ups, but this may be their biggest contribution yet; they might hold the secret to reversing old age. An Arizona State University researcher found that some worker bees, whose life expectancy is four to six weeks, end up getting a second lease on life after they care for the queen, resulting in a refreshed immune system and a life span ten times their original expectations. The key is a protein that gets released into their body, which reverses most symptoms of aging. The researchers are studying the protein for use in humans and say its not unreasonable to think that we might someday be able to increase our lifespan tenfold, too.

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The Delicious Chemistry of Sushi
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iStock

The secret to sushi's delicious taste is invisible to the human eye. Chefs spend years training to properly prepare the Japanese culinary staple, which consists of fresh fish and seasoned rice, either served together or wrapped in seaweed. At its most elemental, as the American Chemistry Society's latest Reactions video explains below, the bite-sized morsels contain an assortment of compounds that, together, combine to form a perfectly balanced mix of savory and sweet. They include mannitol, iodine, and bromophenol, all of which provide a distinctive tang; and glutamate, which adds a savory, rich umami flavor (and turns into MSG when it's combined with a sodium ion).

Take a bite of science, and learn more fun facts about the Japanese culinary staple's long history and unique preparation method by watching the video below.

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Courtesy the University of Colorado Boulder
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Fossilized Poop Shows Some Herbivorous Dinosaurs Loved a Good Crab Dinner
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Lead author Karen Chin of the University of Colorado Boulder
Courtesy the University of Colorado Boulder

Scientists can learn a lot about the prehistoric world through very, very old poop. Just recently, researchers from the University of Colorado-Boulder and Kent State University studying fossilized dinosaur poop discovered that some herbivores weren't as picky about their diets as we thought. Though they mostly ate plants, large dinosaurs living in Utah 75 million years ago also seem to have eaten prehistoric crustaceans, as Nature News reports.

The new study, published in Scientific Reports, finds that large dinosaurs of the Late Cretaceous period seem to have eaten crabs, along with rotting wood, based on the content of their coprolites (the more scientific term for prehistoric No. 2). The fossilized remains of dinos' bathroom activities were found in the Kaiparowits rock formation in Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, a known hotspot for pristine Late Cretaceous fossils.

"The large size and woody contents" of the poop suggest that they were created by dinosaurs that were well-equipped to process fiber in their diets, as the study puts it, leading the researchers to suggest that the poop came from big herbivores like hadrosaurs, whose remains have been found in the area before.

Close up scientific images of evidence of crustaceans in fossilized poop.
Chin et al., Scientific Reports (2017)

While scientists previously thought that plant-eating dinosaurs like hadrosaurs only ate vegetation, these findings suggest otherwise. "The diet represented by the Kaiparowits coprolites would have provided a woody stew of plant, fungal, and invertebrate tissues," the researchers write, including crabs (Yum.) These crustaceans would have provided a big source of calcium for the dinosaurs, and the other invertebrates that no doubt lived in the rotting logs would have provided a good source of protein.

But they probably didn't eat the rotting wood all year, instead munching on dead trees seasonally or during times when other food sources weren’t available. Another hypothesis is that these "ancient fecal producers," as the researchers call them, might have eaten the rotting wood, with its calcium-rich crustaceans and protein-laden invertebrates, during egg production, similar to the feeding patterns of modern birds during breeding season.

Regardless of the reason, these findings could change how we think about what big dinosaurs ate.

[h/t Nature News]

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