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Stories by Jennifer Frazer

Funnel-Shaped Animals Invented Reefs Prior to Cambrian Explosion

Scientists have long thought of the Cambrian Explosion 541 million years ago as the flowering of complex life on Earth. Strangely shaped, large soft-bodied organisms were known to have lived in the period just prior — the Ediacaran — but they made few hard parts and scientists have debated whether any or how many were [...]..

July 2, 2014 — Jennifer Frazer
Spiny Baby Sea Bass Illustrates Surprising Physiques of Young Fish

Spiny Baby Sea Bass Illustrates Surprising Physiques of Young Fish

Among divers and marine biologists, it’s common knowledge that ocean fish lead double lives. Like birds and butterflies, their young often look nothing like the adults, but unlike birds and butterflies, it is the young that are often more beautiful and ornate than their parents...

May 27, 2014 — Jennifer Frazer
Kawasaki Disease Traced to Winds from Northeast China Carrying Unusual Fungal Load

Kawasaki Disease Traced to Winds from Northeast China Carrying Unusual Fungal Load

In 2012 I wrote a story for Nature about a strange illness called Kawasaki Disease whose cause has eluded scientists for over 50 years. The diseases causes inflammation of the blood vessels in small children that leads to fever, rashes and reddening, and even coronary aneurysms that can cause heart attacks in the young...

May 25, 2014 — Jennifer Frazer

In Honor of Linnaeus, a Rogue’s Gallery of New Species

Today is the birthday of one of my science heroes: Carl Linnaeus. Born on May 23, 1707, the Swede turned natural history from a hobby into a science with his masterful systemization and documentation of what had until then been haphazard classification of plants, animals and fungi...

May 23, 2014 — Jennifer Frazer

Everyone Poops, Even Paramecium

Perhaps you’ve heard of — or even read — the children’s book “Everyone Poops“. This illustrative tome explains that because everyone eats, everyone poops...

May 8, 2014 — Jennifer Frazer

Ferns Stole Rare Gene From Unlikely Source

Scientists knew neochrome was odd before they started rooting around in its family tree. A union of independent proteins — red-sensing phytochrome and blue-sensing phototropin — the super-protein combines two already-great pieces into one fantastic whole that helps plants grow toward dim, filtered light...

May 6, 2014 — Jennifer Frazer

Frog-Killing Fungus Meets Its Match in Tiny Predators

As I reported in a feature story in Scientific American last December , some fungi have been behaving badly of late, attacking bats, plants, amphibians, reptiles, and people with gusto, driving many species to extinction and others to the brink...

April 28, 2014 — Jennifer Frazer
Defrosted Moss Sprouts Anew After 1,500 years in Antarctic Permafrost

Defrosted Moss Sprouts Anew After 1,500 years in Antarctic Permafrost

Last year I blogged about the surprising discovery that mosses released after 400 years of frozen glacial ensquashment had managed to survive and sprout new growth, a finding that radically altered our ideas about regrowth during the retreat of ice ages...

March 17, 2014 — Jennifer Frazer
Solving a Winemaker’s Dilemma With Wild Yeast

Solving a Winemaker’s Dilemma With Wild Yeast

Have you noticed that wine seems to be packing more punch? Well, it’s not your imagination. Over the past 20 years, wine really has been getting stronger for some reasons that may surprise you...

February 28, 2014 — Jennifer Frazer

Flying for Free the Horsetail Spore Way

In spite of their sedentary reputations (putting down roots being, perhaps, the ultimate symbol of stability), plants are capable of a surprising range of movements, and not just the Venus flytraps of the world...

February 21, 2014 — Jennifer Frazer
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The Essential Guide to the Modern World

The Essential Guide to the Modern World