Welcome to another Royal Society Publishing highlights blog. This month we have insights into animal reproduction; the evolution of falling; shorter titles – more citations; language evolution; and more applications for polythene.
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Animal fertilization includes a variety of unique cellular events that remain poorly understood at the functional level. They include the complex nuclear transformations of the fertilising sperm nucleus and other important mitotic events. This article published in Open Biology reviews the principal contributions of the model organism Drosophila melanogaster to this fascinating aspect of sexual reproduction.
In worrying news for arachnaphobes everywhere, researchers in the rainforests in Panama have discovered that some spiders have developed a rudimentary form of flying. The paper in Journal of the Royal Society Interface showed that Selenops spiders which fall from the forest canopy can steer themselves through the air to land on tree trunks, and thus avoid getting eaten on the dense forest floor.
For more information, check out this interview with the authors on the publishing blog.
Shorter paper titles get more citations, according to research from the University of Warwick which was published in the August edition of Royal Society Open Science. By analysing 20,000 of the most cited papers published between 2007 and 2013, the authors were showed that journals that published shorted journal titles were more likely to get higher impact factors.
Although language is undeniably integral to human intelligence and sociality, its origin and cognitive inner-workings are still an unsolved mystery. This is due in part to the fact that humans are the only living apes who possess the ability learn language. However, in their paper in Biology Letters, researchers from the University of Uppsala in Sweden point to the similarities between how humans learn language, and how birds learn birdsong. It is hoped that by studying birdsong more closely, we will be able to uncover more about how humans learn to talk.
How does your brain use the sense of touch to work out if an object you’re touching is movable or rigid? A pair of scientists from University of Paris Descartes have shown that it’s not the motion of something that lets the brain work out if it’s movable, but how much it vibrates against our skin when we touch it. Their work, published in Proceedings B demonstrates that this can be used to make virtual buttons on glass screens.
Adrian Sutton leads an intriguing investigation into the physical properties of polythene. This work, published in Proceedings A suggests amongst novel industrial applications for ‘aligned polythene’, and brings together insights into the plasticity of metals in understanding defects in manufactured polythene.