SHORT SCIENCE

Snakes alive! First serpents may have lived 170m years ago

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 February, 2015, 8:12am
UPDATED : Monday, 02 February, 2015, 10:26am

Snakes may have lived 167 million years ago

A new look at four fossils has revealed that snakes' earliest known ancestor lived as many as 70 million years earlier than thought. Until now, the fossil record had suggested snakes slithered onto the scene in the Upper Cretaceous period, about 100 million years ago. By re-analysing fossils in museum collections, scientists found that the oldest among them belonged to the earliest identifiable snake, which lived between 143 and 167 million years ago. Its skull has key features that have continued to appear among snakes since. AFP

 

Probiotic strain may cure peanut allergy

Researchers from the Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia, have invented a strain of probiotics, testing the friendly bacteria on 60 children allergic to peanuts. The study revealed that 80 per cent of them tolerated the probiotics, in addition with either peanut protein or a placebo, without any allergic reaction. Of the 28 children tested with peanut protein, three were able to eat peanuts after the study. "It seems we have been able to modify the allergic response to peanuts," researcher Mimi Tang said. Xinhua

 

Locust war may be lost for the want of funds

A years-long battle against a plague of locusts in Madagascar could be lost if donors do not stump up the cash needed to finish the job, a UN agency has said, warning that this could threaten the food security of 13 million people. The Food and Agriculture Organisation said efforts to halt infestations in the past two years - at a cost of US$28.8 million - could be undone if an extra US$10.6 million was not provided. The Indian Ocean island's government declared a national disaster in 2012 as locusts infested pastures. The Guardian