Inside an Ancient Monkey Skull

The brain hidden inside the oldest known Old World monkey skull has been visualized for the first time. The ancient monkey, known as Victoriapithecus, first made headlines in 1997 when its 15 million-year-old skull was discovered on an island in Kenya’s Lake Victoria. Now, thanks to X-ray imaging, researchers have peered inside its cranial cavity and created a three-dimensional computer model of what the animal’s brain looked like.

Developing Brain

A section of embryonic mouse brain has been stained to show different subtypes of developing neurons. Red marks neurons born early in development and yellow are more recent; cell nuclei are blue.  A team led by Debra Silver in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology has found that mice having only one good copy of the gene Rbm8a have fewer neural progenitor cells and thus fewer neurons and are born with smaller brains, demonstrating that Rbmb8a is crucial to healthy brain development.




A Plug for Science

A biopsy dart fired from a crossbow hits home on the flank of a surfacing humpback whale in the Palmer Deep off the Antarctic Peninsula in January. Duke Marine Lab scientists based on the research ship Lawrence M. Gould were harmlessly obtaining these small samples of skin and blubber during a National Science Foundation expedition to identify the sex and relatedness of whales and to assess their diet and reproductive status.


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