How some mushrooms became 'magic'

Researchers say mind-altering compound may have evolved to trip up fungus-eating insects

They’ve gained notoriety for their hallucinogenic side-effects – but, so-called magic mushrooms may have developed their mind-altering properties as a way to protect themselves, according to Daily Mail.

Scientists have long remained perplexed by the ‘biological mystery’ of psychedelic mushrooms, which contain the compound psilocybin but appear to have little in common between the different species.

The starry sky shows nocturnal animals the way

Nocturnal animals can use the stars and the Milky Way to find their way during the darkest hours. While animal navigation is studied all over the world, some of the leading researchers.  In a recent article they sum up the research so far and give their thoughts on challenges to come, according to Science Daily.

There are advantages to being active in the night. Fewer parasites are active and the same goes for predators. What is more, there are not as many competitors for food as there are during the day. For animals that migrate or search for food over vast distances in particular, the cooler hours of the night are preferable to the heat of the sun.

Comes naturally? Using stick insects, scientists explore natural selection, predictability

Is evolution predictable? Are changes in a species random or do they happen because of natural selection? According to Science Daily.

"Evolution often appears random, even when driven by the deterministic process of natural selection, because we just aren't aware of all the environmental fluctuations and other factors taking place that drive change," says biologist Zach Gompert. "If we had a better understanding of the mechanisms at play, we might have a better picture of evolutionary change and its predictability."

Gompert and colleagues used data from the past to test their ideas of evolutionary predictability.

Large-group living boosts magpie intelligence

Growing up in a large social group makes magpies more intelligent, new research shows, according to Science Daily.

Using four tasks to test intelligence, scientists found wild magpies from larger groups showed "elevated cognitive performance."

The study also found more intelligent females produced more offspring.

The research suggests that the demands of living in complex social groups may play a role in the evolution of intelligence.

Earth's first flowers may have emerged up to 256 million years ago

Researchers from have discovered that flowers evolved between 149 and 256 million years ago according to Daily mail.

They analyzed genetic data on flowering plants and evidence from fossils to come up with the new time frame.

Their work goes against two popular theories about plant evolution - one that says flowering plants are younger, and one that says they are older.

Molecular studies have suggested that flowers evolved earlier, but fossil records influenced some scientists to think they are younger.