Ancient DNA reveals the lion’s past and (perhaps) future

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Kbhargava, Wikipedia, CC 3.0

The evolutionary history of lions is opaque, as most of the sub-species that once roamed the Old World are now extinct. However new research, published in BMC Evolutionary Biology, uses ancient DNA from extinct lions to piece together the gaps in their history. The findings provide both a new understanding of the lion’s past and may provide new insight into how to conserve what remain for the future.

Lions once roamed across the world. Until relatively recently, various sub-species could be found across Africa and all the way from the Indian subcontinent, through the Middle East and into modern day Greece and Turkey. Visitors to the British Museum in London can see engravings from Assyria (in modern day …

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Uncovering the secrets of the cryptic bushbabies

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The charmingly named bushbabies (or galagos, from the family name Galagidae) are famously large-eyed nocturnal primates, native to continental Africa. An intriguing family, the Galagidae contains one of the smallest living primates, Galagoides rondoensis, weighing in at ~60g but it is also home to some species that can grow as large as a domestic cat. Galagos are capable jumpers, feeding on a range of foods as diverse as insects and gum and are known to live in a variety of different social hierarchies. Yet their nocturnal habits and often remote habitats mean that they are the least well-studied of all the primates and still relatively little is known of the biology of this enigmatic species.

The species …

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Highlights of the BMC-series: March 2014

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BMCWordle

• Great tits hide their success • Soccer surface injury risk • Can students afford to specialise? • Cognitive enhancement in the healthy? • Coffee can help! • Nanoscale chromatin changes precede cancer • Liver transplant of inverted organs •

Evolutionary biology: Great tits hide their success

Pied flycatchers (Ficedula hypoleuca) have been shown to derive fitness benefits (measured as number of eggs laid) when nesting in close proximity to great tits (Parus major), presumably because they are able to obtain information about what makes a good nesting site. New experimental evidence also suggests that great tits actively cover their eggs as a counter-adaptation to this ‘information parasitism’, a tactic that …

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World Health Day 2014 focuses on vector-borne diseases

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malaria

World Health Day, which is celebrated on the 7th of April, selects a high priority theme for Public Health every year. This year’s goal for World Health Day is to raise awareness of the threats vectors and vector-borne diseases pose to communities and to empower people across the globe to protect themselves. The World Health Organisation has recently declared that vector-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue and Japanese encephalitis could be eradicated through preventive measures and more financial commitment for campaigns against the diseases.

Vectors – such as mosquitoes, sandflies, bugs, ticks and snails – are organisms that transmit pathogens and parasites from one infected person or animal to another. Vector-borne diseases originate from these pathogens and parasites …

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A day at the races

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Wikipedia: File:Hedgehunter 2.jpg

BMC Veterinary Research editorial adviser Professor Chris Proudman, leads Grand National vet team and chats about improvements to equine welfare

Professor Chris Proudman, Head of the University of Surrey’s School of Veterinary Medicine, will soon swap Surrey for the racecourse at Aintree, where he will be part of the team overseeing the health and welfare of horses competing in the world’s most famous steeplechase, the Grand National.

As the National Hunt season comes to an end, the Aintree Grand National Festival begins on Thursday 3rd April with an exciting day of racing, with Ladies Day following on the Friday and the Grand National itself on the Saturday.

The Grand National is steeped in history, crowning the winning horse a …

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BMC Cancer at AACR 2014

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BMC Cancer will be attending the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2014, in San Diego, California, from 5th -9th April.

With an estimated 18,000 delegates, the AACR is confirmed as one of the major cancer research events. This year’s theme, “Harnessing Breakthroughs – Targeting Cures” puts the emphasis on translational oncology and emerging approaches to personalizing cancer care.  The meeting promises to provide a fantastic opportunity for basic scientists and clinicians alike to meet and exchange ideas, and for us to learn about the latest and most exciting discoveries in  basic, translational, and clinical research.

If you will also be attending and would like to talk to us about your work, what is going on …

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European Congress of Radiology 2014

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BMC Medical Imaging has recently returned from the European Congress of Radiology 2014 (ECR 2014),  the 20th  annual meeting of the European Society of Radiology held in Vienna. Extremely well organised, the congress became a forum for experts to learn and debate about the latest advances in imaging techniques and their clinical applications. Besides the interesting lectures,  the conference introduced some remarkable innovations  designed to  make this a more dynamic and interactive congress.

One of these innovations was the Multimedia Classroom. The organisers set-up an auditorium with network connected workstations where multimedia sessions were presented, each including the discussion of three clinical cases that allowed the attendees to participate in the lecture and encouraged discussion.  The extensive …

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BMC Anesthesiology heads back to Brussels for ISICEM 2014

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Brussels_Great_Marked_Square

BMC Anesthesiology is once again Brussels bound this year for the 34thInternational Symposium on Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine, which is taking place from 18th-21st March. In between sampling the local chocolate, waffles, mussels and beer, we will also be indulging in the very best that critical care research has to offer, and finding out what’s happening at the leading edge of the field

If you will also be attending and would be interested in speaking to us about your work, or simply discussing what’s going on in the field, then please do let our Executive Editor Tom Rowles know,and we would be happy to organise a meeting.

We look forward to seeing …

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Highlights of the BMC-series: February 2014

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BMCWordle

Suffering Syrian refugees • You are what your gran ate • BMI affects brain volume • A missing piece in skull shape • Cannibal ladybirds • Delayed sleep and depression • What’s in a name? • Subsidised nutrition works

Women’s health: Suffering Syrian refugees

A needs assessment of more than 400 women displaced into neighbouring countries during the current conflict in Syria reports that refugees suffer from poor reproductive health, associated with exposure to conflict-related violence and abuse. Almost 40% of women interviewed experienced complications during pregnancy, whilst almost two-thirds did not seek medical help for conflict-related violence. This report, also covered by the Guardian newspaper, highlights the need for better targeting of reproductive health services in times …

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Hiding the truth – how one bird fools another

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Great tit nest

There are many things we might think of when admiring the song birds we see in our gardens and woodlands; their bright plumage, the beautiful singing, the chicks waiting back in the nest. Cunning and duplicitous mind games between birds engaged in a battle of wits? Not so much. Yet research coming out of Finland suggests that common garden birds are capable of just such complex, almost Machiavellian, behaviour.

The rivals

Great tits (Parus major) are a common garden bird found throughout Europe (and a relative of chickadees in America). During the breeding season, the number of eggs laid by females varies considerably, from as few as 5 up to as many as 18. Evolutionary theory tells us females should always …

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