Ice sheets in western Antarctica are melting faster than those in the east, the reason may lie in the origin story

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Wild birds have 'episodic' advanced memory skills

Researchers from the University of Cambridge and the University of East Anglia conducted a first-of-its-kind experiment on wild birds called tits to understand their memory patterns. Current Biology On July 3, it was discovered that blue and great rats have an 'episodic-like' memory, remembering what, where and when they found food.

Using automated food containers and unique tracking software, the study involved 94 wild blue and great tits. The birds were equipped with radio frequency tags and demonstrated the ability to remember past feeding events, suggesting that human practices such as leaving food out may have influenced the evolution of these memory traits. This research challenges the notion that episodic memory is only human and shows that these birds have more advanced cognitive abilities than previously thought. Read more here.

Before the dinosaurs, the apex predator was a giant salamander-like creature

About 40 million years before dinosaurs roamed the Earth, the apex predator during the Ice Age was Gaeasia jennae — a four-legged vertebrate resembling a salamander. Its skull was two feet long and its jaws were fused, according to fossils found in a study published in . Nature On July 3rd.

In the study, the researchers describe Gaeasia as a large, ambush predator with a head shaped like a unique toilet seat, allowing it to suck up prey. It was part of a superclass of animals called early tetrapods and was said to have lived primarily in swampy waters.

Discovered in Namibia's Gai-As Formation, the fossil is named in honor of both the region where it was found and renowned paleontologist Jenny Clack. The team that discovered the specimens wrote the paper, which provides important information about early tetrapod evolution during the Permian period, about 280 million years ago. The discovery highlights the diversity and adaptability of ancient ecosystems in present-day southern Africa. Read more here.

Ozempic may reduce risk of obesity-related cancers

A recent study published in JAMA Network on July 5 suggests that a class of diabetes medications called GLP-1 agonists, such as Ozempic, are associated with a reduced risk of certain obesity-related cancers. The study, which looked at data from 1.6 million type 2 diabetes patients treated in the U.S. between 2005 and 2018, compared those taking insulin with those taking GLP-1 agonists, such as Ozempic.

The researchers found that GLP-1 users had a significantly lower risk of developing 10 of 13 obesity-associated cancers (OACs), including kidney, pancreatic and colorectal cancers. Thyroid and postmenopausal breast cancers showed no significant changes. Since obesity is known to increase the risk of certain cancer types, the aim of the study was to understand whether any existing treatment method targets risk better than others.

This study suggests that GLP-1 treatment may work better for diabetics than insulin to reduce the risk of certain cancers. Ozempic, approved in the US in 2017, is part of a new generation of GLP-1 drugs for diabetes that is also being used for its weight loss benefits.

However, there have been studies that show other negative effects of the drug including gastroparesis and an eye condition that leads to blindness. In the US, the drug is facing 13 lawsuits due to its side effects. Read more about the JAMA study here.

Also read: MIT scientists develop new tool for long-term DNA storage – amber-like polymer inspired by Jurassic Park

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