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Ship noise boosts stress in whales, 9/11 reveals: study

The steady drone of motors along busy commercial shipping lanes not only alters whale behaviour but can affect the giant sea mammals physically by causing chronic stress, a study published Wednesday has reported for the first time. The findings were made possible, researchers said, by an event that at first…

Tiny primate ‘talks’ in ultrasound

One of the world’s smallest primates, the Philippine tarsier, communicates in a range of ultrasound inaudible to predator and prey alike, according to a study published Wednesday. No bigger than a man’s hand, Tarsius syrichta can hear and emit sounds at a frequency that effectively gives it a private channel…

Lead poisoning ‘epidemic’ around Nigerian gold mines sickens thousands

LAGOS — A lead poisoning epidemic in Nigeria’s north that has killed 400 children and affected thousands is the worst in modern history, but cleanup has not even begun in many areas, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday. “Thousands of children in northern Nigeria need immediate medical treatment and dozens of…

Solid ‘finger food’ may help babies avoid obesity

Infants outgrowing a liquid diet who give themselves finger food rather than being spoon-fed puree are likelier to eat healthily and avoid getting fat during weaning, reports a study released Tuesday. Researchers found that the technique, known as “baby-led weaning,” led to a child expressing a clear preference for pasta,…

Anti-cancer drug for women weakens bone density

A drug tipped for widespread use to prevent breast cancer in post-menopausal women also accelerates loss of bone density, thus potentially boosting the risk of fractures, a study published on Tuesday said. Exemestane — brand name Aromasin — is part of a drug class called aromatase inhibitors, which lower levels…

Jurassic chirp: Scientists recreate ancient cricket song

WASHINGTON — The call of a Jurassic-era cricket was simple, pure and capable of traveling long distances in the night, said scientists who reconstructed the creature’s love song from a 165 million year old fossil. British scientists based their work out Monday on an extremely well preserved fossil of a…

Scientists cautious over Russia’s Antarctic lake drilling

PARIS — Experts on Monday raised questions over the scientific benefit and environmental impact of Russia’s feat in drilling into a virgin lake under Antarctica’s icesheet. Kerosene, which the Russians used as antifreeze to prevent the borehole from closing up in the extremely cold depths of the icesheet, was a…

Proposed autism diagnostic criteria disturbs medical community

A proposal to use new diagnostic criteria for autism has roiled the US medical community, with many experts concerned that the move could exclude children affected by some forms of the disorder. The American Psychiatric Association recommended last month that a new category called “autism spectrum disorder” be established to…

Nine-year-old girl gets six-organ transplant

NEW YORK, USA — A nine-year-old girl is making what doctors described as a remarkable recovery Sunday, days after surgeons transplanted six of her organs in a groundbreaking medical procedure. The surgery performed last Tuesday on young Alannah Shevenell, sought to remove an aggressive cancerous growth festering since 2008, and…

Santorum suggests abortion causes breast cancer

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum on Sunday suggested that Susan G. Komen for the Cure shouldn’t provide grants to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screenings because abortions cause breast cancer, a false claim that has been repeatedly debunked. The candidate told Fox News host Chris Wallace that he didn’t agree…

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