What's new in the world of science this week.
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Below are some science stories you may be interested in following this week. If you have any questions or feedback, please contact us at:
indicates Canadian contributors. 

PLEASE NOTE: Embargoed stories shall not be released, distributed, or published before the embargo date and time. Embargo violations will result in cancellation of access to our material.

From an ass’s mouth: Earliest evidence of use of donkey bit 


Embargoed until May 16, 2018 14:00 EDT (News release from PLOS) 
Teeth from a 4,700-year-old domestic donkey skeleton from Israel reveal unevenly worn enamel that is indicative of bit wear. The findings suggest that bits may have been used to control donkeys in the ancient Near East as early as the third millennium, long before the arrival of the horse. This early evidence emphasizes donkeys’ significance as domesticated animals even at that early date—a development that continues to influence the political, social, and economic life of many Third World countries today where donkeys remain an important means of transportation.
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Canadian co-authors: Haskel Greenfield, University of Manitoba -; Tina Greenfield, University of Saskatchewan -

Learning music or another language increases brains’ efficiency
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Embargoed until May 17, 2018 12:00 EDT (News release from the Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care)

Whether you learn to play a musical instrument or speak another language, you're training your brain to be more efficient. Researchers found that musicians and people who are bilingual utilized fewer brain resources when completing a working memory task. Individuals with either a musical or bilingual background activated different brain networks and showed less brain activity than people who only spoke one language and didn't have formal music training to complete the task.
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Lead author: Claude Alain, Rotman Research Institute, Baycrest Centre/University of Toronto -
Climate change to shift many fish species north, disrupting fisheries
Embargoed until May 16, 2018 14:00 EDT (News release from PLOS)

Climate change will force hundreds of ocean fish and invertebrate species, including economically important species, to move northwards, disrupting U.S. and Canadian fisheries. Researchers surveyed finfish, sharks and rays, crustaceans, and squid on the North American continental shelfs on the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. The models predicted that the area of some species' suitable habitat may increase, but habitats for other species may shrink significantly. Species off the west coast may move the farthest. Among the species most affected are Pacific rockfishes, Atlantic cod and black sea bass.
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Lead author:  James Morley, Rutgers University -

Size and oviraptor dinosaurs' brood strategies

Royal Society Biology Letters
Embargoed Until May 16, 2018 19:01 EDT

Most birds sit on their eggs during incubation—brooding behaviour that likely evolved among non-avian dinosaurs. Researchers examined egg clutches over a range of body sizes of oviraptorosaurid dinosaurs and found that all clutches consist of eggs arranged radially in a ring. However, clutches from small species have small or no central opening, while the central opening becomes progressively larger in larger species and occupies most of the nest area in giant species. This suggests that the smallest oviraptorosaurs sat on their eggs when they brooded, whereas larger parents rested more weight on the ground in the central ring, reducing or eliminating the load on the eggs while maintaining some contact and heat transfer during incubation even in giant species. 
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Canadian co-author: Darla Zelenitsky, University of Calgary - 

Noisy oil wells disrupt sparrows

Royal Society Open Science
Embargoed Until May 16, 2018 19:01 EDT (News brief from the Royal Society)

Some birds use alarm calls when caring for nestlings to warn their mates of nearby predators. Researchers measured how Savannah sparrows nesting near oil wells and gas-compressor stations responded to alarm calls. Close to compressor stations, which had the loudest machinery, Savannah sparrows failed to respond to alarm calls properly, but close to quieter oil wells, they responded normally. Making compressor stations quieter may help these birds communicate better and better protect their nestlings from predators. 
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Lead author: Bridget Antze, University of Manitoba -

In Case You Missed It

Solar-powered oxygen delivery provides hope for patients in resource-strapped hospitals 
JAMA Pediatrics 
Published May 14, 2018 11:00 EDT 

Solar-powered oxygen delivery, which concentrates oxygen from ambient air using solar energy, performed similarly to standard oxygen delivery, which uses compressed oxygen cylinders, delivery in a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial among children with low blood-oxygen illnesses at two resource-constrained hospitals in Uganda. The technology has potentially global benefits, given nearly 900,000 children die from pneumonia each year. Learn more in the audio interview>
Corresponding author: Michael Hawkes, University of Alberta -;; Kevin Kain, University Health Network-Toronto General Hospital -

New research says location of protected areas vital to wildlife survival
Published May 14, 2018 09:00 EDT
Researchers provide a first-ever framework to identify geographical hotspots that have ecological potential to protect wild places and species from biodiversity loss associated with the global extinction crisis. Read more>
Corresponding author: Laura Coristine, University of British Columbia - Okanagan -

Minority children develop implicit racial bias in early childhood
Developmental Science
Published May 14, 2018

Minority children as young as six years old show implicit racial biases. But how ingrained these biases become and whether they persist into late childhood and adulthood might depend on their social environment. Read more>
Lead author: Jennifer R. Steele, York University -

Deadly fungus killing amphibians arose in Korea
Published May 11, 2018

Human trade of amphibian species over the past century has accelerated the spread of a deadly fungus from Korea that has contributed to the global decline of amphibian populations. Read more>
Canadian co-author: William Hintz, University of Victoria -

3D-printed mouth guard for oral drug delivery
Science Advances
Published May 9, 2018

Scientists have created a 3-D printed mouth guard that can sustainably deliver customizable amounts of medication to its wearer. Read more>
Canadian co-author: Davide Brambilla, Université de Montréal -

Buses are safer than cars
Journal of Urban Health
Published April 2018

People who travel by car are four times more likely to be injured than people who travel by city bus. Buses are safer for cyclists and pedestrians, too. Read more>
Lead author: Patrick Morency, Université de Montréal Public Health Research Institute -

When temperatures soar, even tropical birds suffer
Proceedings of the Royal Society B
Published May 9 

Most research regarding climate influences on animal survival have focused on migratory birds or birds that live in temperate environments, but this 15-year study shows that a hot climate reduces survival in tropical birds. The effect varies for males and females. Read more>
Contributing authors: Bradley Woodworth, University of Guelph -; Dan Mennill, University of Windsor -

How to improve environmental assessment reviews
Environmental Management
Published June 2018

Researcher examined the conclusions of 10 recent assessments for major projects in B.C. and found that, although environmental thresholds were often surpassed, the projects were ultimately given the green light. The researchers argue this may be a result of allowing project proponents to hire their own consultants to perform the analyses. Read more>
Lead author: Cathryn Clarke Murray, University of British Columbia -

Wildlife winners and losers in an oil sands landscape
Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment

Early View online
Wildlife populations respond differently to human disturbance. Increasing human footprint on the landscape, access to multiple habitats, and new forage sources favor generalist predators and browsers, to the detriment of specialists, likely altering ecological processes. 
Lead author: Jason Fisher, University of Victoria/InnoTech Alberta -

TB: How can we tolerate an infection without eliminating a pathogen?
Science Immunology
Published May 11, 2018

The body's tolerance to Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the key mechanism for preventing the disease’s spread. In fact, researchers found having too many T cells—the soldiers of our immune system—can cause more harm than good. Read more>
Corresponding author: Maziar Divangahi, McGill University -

Moore's Law extended with the use of light
Nature Nanotechnology
Published April 23, 2018

Researchers have discovered that light can induce magnetization in certain semiconductors—the standard class of materials at the heart of computing devices today. The results pave the way for a new way to electronically process, transfer, and store information that is faster and more efficient than conventional electronics. Read more>
Corresponding author: Pavle Radovanovic, University of Waterloo -

News Tips

Reversing the Brain Drain: where is Canadian STEM talent going?
Canada’s brain drain in the technology and innovation sector exceeds levels previously identified as detrimental to the growth of an economy.
Download the report>
Read the May 3 news release from Delvinia>
Authors: Zachary Spicer, University of Toronto -; Nathan Olmstead, Brock University –

Government of Canada and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society reach an agreement on species at risk reporting
Read the May 8 news release>

Four of Canada’s most decorated female athletes donate brains to Canadian concussion centre
Read the May 10 news release>

Of Interest

Applications sought for Asper Visiting Journalism Professor at University of British Columbia
The journalist will participate in teaching during the winter semester (either in Term 1: September to December. or Term 2: January to April), either contributing to existing courses or teaching a new course, interact with students and deliver one public talk.
Application deadline: June 6, 2018
Find out more>

Analytical Cannabis seeks a science writer (short-term contract)
Analytical Cannabis, a Technology Networks publication, is looking for a science writer who will play a key role in creating high-quality, original articles as the publication expands. Based remotely or out of the UK office, the science writer will pitch stories, cover breaking news, and produce original, engaging content around the field of cannabis science and testing. 
If interested, email Jamie Burns at

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