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Here's Why Amish Kids Don't Get Asthma as Often

They can probably thank the cows

(Newser) - You're probably less likely to see an Amish kid carrying around an inhaler, because they don't seem to get asthma as often as other kids—and researchers think it's due to the cows, Live Science reports. In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine ... More »

First Mass Extinction Likely Caused by 'Utterly Weird' Animals

Animals shaped like 'Frisbees and lumpy mattresses' may have killed early Ediacarans

(Newser) - New fossil evidence dug up in Namibia lends credence to the theory that we should blame "ecosystem engineers" for the world's first mass extinction, and that's not a euphemism for man, asteroids, or aliens. Instead, per a Vanderbilt University study published in the October issue of the... More »

Deodorant Changes More Than Your Smell

Study: products actually alter your body's bacteria

(Newser) - Applying deodorant or antiperspirant clearly alters your body’s smell, but it may also alter your body's bacteria. A PeerJ study finds the organisms that live in and on your skin are drastically changed by what you put under your arms. Evolutionary genomicist Julie Horvath recruited 17 participants—antiperspirant... More »

You Have an Invisible Cloud, Much Like a Fingerprint

The bacteria around you could tie you to the scene of a crime

(Newser) - When someone says you're in their personal bubble, they aren't exactly speaking metaphorically. In a new study , University of Oregon researchers say they've found people really are surrounded by a sort of cloud that's unique to them. The gross part: It's made up of millions... More »

What the Dust in Your House Says About You

Our dust contains, on average, 9K unique species of microbes

(Newser) - Last year, volunteers mailed in dust samples taken from above interior and exterior door frames in 1,200 homes across the US as part of a citizen science project called Wild Life of Our Homes . Now, scientists are reporting in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B that our... More »

Beneath Antarctica's Blood Falls, a Clue to Mars?

'Subglacial world' of briny water could hint at life elsewhere

(Newser) - The chillingly named Blood Falls is a fascinating feature of Antarctica's landscape : Interrupting the blanket of frozen white, the falls is a liquid, rusty red. (It's no coincidence that the falls looks rusty: The water gets its color from oxidized iron it carries.) And, as a researcher... More »

NY Subway Has Bubonic Plague

Study maps DNA of New York City storied subway system

(Newser) - Like riding the subway in New York? You're not alone: so do countless bacteria including bubonic plague, anthrax, and E. coli, the Wall Street Journal reports. A new study maps out the subway system's DNA, revealing an underground world packed with microbial diversity. "People don’t look... More »

Scientists Surprised by Central Park Dirt

It has as much biodiversity as soils 'from the Arctic to Antarctica'

(Newser) - Dirt probably isn't something you'd think of as having "so much going on," but scientist Kelly Ramirez begs to differ. She's sampled dirt from tropical forests to deserts around the world and found it "teeming with so many different types of organisms," she... More »

'Space Sex' Geckos Come Back Frozen to Death

Reproductive systems didn't necessarily fail—shuttle's heating system did

(Newser) - Oops. A Russian space mission meant to test the effect of weightlessness on the gecko's reproductive system didn't quite go as planned. It's not (necessarily) that the geckos weren't mating, it's that all five of them came back dead. And they weren't killed by... More »

Life May Have Originated Miles Underground

New research questions 'primordial soup' theory

(Newser) - The idea of a "primordial soup," in which life theoretically began in lakes and oceans, may be way off. New studies suggest the beginnings of life on this planet could have occurred deep underground, the Independent reports. Researchers have found microbes up to 3.1 miles below the... More »

Australia Yields Evidence of Oldest Life Ever

Rocks in Pilbara reveal 3.5B-year-old microbes

(Newser) - We have found the oldest life on Earth, and it is Australian. A team of researchers from Down Under have found signs of "complex microbial ecosystems" in rock formations from the Pilbara region in Western Australia dating back 3.5 billion years, the Guardian reports. The discovery "pushes... More »

Want Health? Feed the Bacteria Living Inside You

Antibiotics, processed foods aren't helping

(Newser) - Don't look now, but roughly 100 trillion bacteria live in and on your body. According to scientists, these microbes—especially the ones in your gut—may be fending off chronic diseases, moderating your weight, and strengthening your immune system. But our society's processed foods and war on bacteria... More »

Oregon Brewing Up a State Microbe

Saccharomyces cerevisiae , or beer yeast, would be first state microbe

(Newser) - US states have official flags and official flowers, but Oregon could become the first to have a state microbe—and a delicious microbe, at that. Oregon's microbe of choice is the Saccharomyces cerevisiae, better known as ale yeast, and the bill's sponsor hopes the measure will show appreciation... More »

Unidentified Life Form Found in Antarctic Lake

Isolated for millions of years, bacteria could hold clues about life beyond Earth

(Newser) - It looks like drilling through 2.3 miles of ice may have paid off: The Russian scientists who did just that last year at Antarctica's Lake Vostok say the samples they recovered contain an "unclassified and unidentified" life form, reports the BBC .The bacteria's DNA measured less... More »

Latest Search for Alien Life Taking Place on Earth

NASA turns to geologists for help

(Newser) - NASA's latest partner in the search for alien life: a group of about 50 geologists who are hunting for evidence of ancient life here on Earth. The University of Wisconsin's Astrobiology Research Consortium last month started a five-year, $7 million project funded by a NASA grant. It'll... More »

Search Begins for Life in Antarctic Lake

Lake Ellsworth has been isolated for up to 500K years

(Newser) - What lurks in the pitch black, near-freezing waters of Lake Ellsworth? That's what British researchers, who began their trek to the lake in October 2011, hope to find out in as soon as a week. They've begun drilling through more than two miles of ice to reach the... More »

Scientists: Let's End the War on Germs

Scientists trying to map body's microbes, tend them like wildlife rangers

(Newser) - There might be up to 100 species of microbes living in your mouth right now—and that's probably a good thing. A growing number of scientists say it's time to stop trying to eradicate germs, and to start treating our bodies the way ecologists treat wildlife preserves, the... More »

10K Microbial Species Inhabit ... You

Research could help with treatment of disease

(Newser) - After five years of research, scientists have developed the first genetic map of the "human microbiome"—the more than 10,000 distinct microbial species that reside on and in your body. To do so, they collected tissue samples from 242 healthy Americans from different sites (or "habitats"... More »

Beneath Pacific Lies Ancient, Barely Alive Bacteria

Bacteria 100 feet under ocean floor haven't had new food since time of dinosaurs

(Newser) - Some 100 feet below the most nutrient-starved part of the Pacific Ocean floor, incredibly old life exists. In the most detailed look yet at the lifestyles of "extremophile" bacteria, scientists have determined that the organisms have survived for what could be as long as millions of years solely on... More »

Scientists Make Seaweed-Fuel Breakthrough

Next hurdle: bringing it to market

(Newser) - Algae-based fuel is a step closer to reality. Scientists in California have genetically modified a microbe so that it can convert seaweed into biofuel, the Guardian reports. "Natural seaweed species grow very fast—10 times faster than normal plants—and are full of sugars, but it has been very... More »

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