Temperature maps from space would 'boost crop production'

Scientists are developing a satellite system to record the temperatures of individual fields of crops.

The aim is to survey land temperatures to estimate water-use by plants and to show how they transfer that water back to the atmosphere.

The data will also help monitor how much water is available to grow crops and how they are responding to drought.

The new system is being considered for inclusion in the EU's Earth observation programme, Copernicus.

Mites and ticks are close relatives, new research shows

Scientists from the University of Bristol and the Natural History Museum in London have reconstructed the evolutionary history of the chelicerates, the mega-diverse group of 110,000 arthropods that includes spiders, scorpions, mites and ticks, according to Science Daily.

They found, for the first time, genomic evidence that mites and ticks do not constitute two distantly related lineages, rather they are part of the same evolutionary line. This now makes them the most diverse group of chelicerates, changing our perspective on their biodiversity.

Study predicts shift to smaller animals over next century

Researchers at the University of Southampton have forecast a worldwide move towards smaller birds and mammals over the next 100 years.

In the future, small, fast-lived, highly-fertile, insect-eating animals, which can thrive in a wide-variety of habitats, will predominate. These 'winners' include rodents, such as dwarf gerbil -- and songbirds, such as the white-browed sparrow-weaver. Less adaptable, slow-lived species, requiring specialist environmental conditions, will likely fall victim of extinction. These 'losers' include the tawny eagle and black rhinoceros, according to Science Daily.

Early species of dinosaurs CRAWLED on all fours before they learned to walk on two legs

An early species of dinosaur crawled on all-fours before learning to stand, much like ancient human beings.

Experts have found that the Mussaurus patagonicus - dubbed the Mouse Lizard - developed the ability to walk on two legs around 200 million years ago.

Researchers said the species, which was only hand-sized at birth, only became bipedal when it grew into adulthood and its weight of gravity shifted, according to Daily Mail. 

The teams made their find after scanning key fossils from three ages - birth, toddler and adult - into 3D models, then adding physical features such as the head, neck, torso, tail and limbs.

Chimpanzees can use sticks to dig up food buried in the soil

Chimpanzees can figure out on their own how to use sticks as tools to dig up buried items of food — without needing a demonstration first. 

An international research team led by the University of Oslo filmed chimps in a Norway Zoo after presenting the primates with buried fruit and various sticks ,according to Daily Mail.

The chimpanzees not only used various digging techniques but they also picked different shaped-sticks for different tasks and made their own tools from plants.  

The findings may help researchers to understand how early hominins, our distant ancestors, began adopting tools for digging.