On June 14th, 2018 we learned about

To avoid interactions with humans, more animals are becoming increasingly active at night

Millions of years ago, tiny mammals faced overwhelming competition from dinosaurs of all shapes and sizes. To avoid being gobbled up by hungry raptors or crushed under a distracted stegosaur, our shrew-like ancestors had to find a safe niche in their ecosystem where they wouldn’t be directly at odds with the dominant animals of the Mesozoic era. Their solution was to become nocturnal, allowing them to minimize contact with dinosaurs while continuing to live in the same locations. Once those dinosaurs were wiped out, mammals diversified and enjoyed more time in the sun, becoming the dominant vertebrates on land in the shape of deer, dogs, bears and more. However, research indicates that many species are being pressed back into the shadows, avoiding contact with the latest form of world-dominating creatures— humans.

Hints of this development have been noted for years. Nepalese tigers (Panthera tigris tigris), for instance, were documented shifting to a nocturnal schedule back in 2012. Motion-triggered cameras were set up in various locations around the tigers’ habitat, revealing a clear pattern in when the tigers were active. In places with less human activity, the tigers traveled day and night, but areas frequented by humans reduced their daytime activity by at least six percent.

Daily activities after dark

These night-owl tigers were apparently part of a larger trend. At this point, 76 studies of 62 species have seen similar shifts in animals’ schedules. From lions to otters, creatures around the world seem to be starting their day at night to minimize any contact with humans. That contact doesn’t even need to be explicitly dangerous their interactions with humans. While avoiding hunters may seem obvious, the analysis found that animals are changing their behavior around seemingly innocuous activities, like day hikes on footpaths. As much as people try to take only photos and leave only footprints, even a footprint may make some of our furry friends think twice about their daily routines.

This obviously isn’t the only time humans have functioned as an environmental pressure on wildlife, but it still stings a bit to realize how far other species will go to avoid being around us. Egos aside, biologists actually see an upside to this strategy, which is that it might work. While it’s obviously going to be disruptive to ecosystems if creatures like lions are staying up later to find food, the lions will probably still be better off avoiding potentially dangerous interactions with humans. As some species have found, coming out after people have gone to bed can work pretty well, allowing them to live in closer proximity to human developments than would otherwise be possible. Basically, if this strategy kept our ancestors safe from millions of years of dinosaurs, it will hopefully offer some of our current kin a way to stay safe from us.

Source: Many animals are shifting from day to night to avoid people by Emiliano Rodriguez Mega, Phys.org

On June 12th, 2018 we learned about

Monkeys will punish their peers to preempt larger outbreaks of violence

There’s a surprising degree of subtly in monkey-on-monkey violence. While a brief spat between two individuals is unlikely to have a large impact on a group, extended conflicts are much more likely to large-scale violence. As a fight wears on, researchers have found that combatants employ a sort of collective memory, and will make a point to fight every available adversary, which increases the duration of the battle as well as the risk of serious injury. The monkeys themselves seem to appreciate these risks, as species like vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus pygerythrus) from southeastern Africa make specific efforts to prevent bigger fights, even that means causing a bit of harm to one of their own allies.

If a conflict is brewing between two larger groups, female vervet monkeys have long been known to campaign either for or against brawls. In some cases, they will offer extra grooming to potential fighters to sway their opinion one way or the other. If the “carrot” approach doesn’t work, females will also use a “stick” in the form of harassment and coercion, even if that requires banding together in a group to be more intimidating to the generally larger male monkeys.

To dominate or deter?

Until recently, researchers assumed that the male vervet monkeys were always up for a fight. They didn’t seem to offer rewards to their peers, and the punishment and coercion they would use against males in their own social groups was thought to be a way to keep their peers from competing for the wrong mate. However, more careful observations found that the males never made a move to stop females from interacting with other males, even when those males were from other social groups. This acceptance of female autonomy seemed to indicate that monogamy wasn’t the primary motivation behind the males’ punitive behavior.

The final clue was that fathers of young offspring were the most likely to exhibit punitive behavior towards other male monkeys. Researchers now believe that males aren’t roughing up their peers to assert dominance as much as they’re stopping would-be troublemakers from starting fights. Since those intra-group fights could be dangerous to the males, but especially to their more vulnerable offspring, these male monkeys have a clear incentive to keep larger fights from threatening their family. It’s certainly a more noble incentive for coercion than simply asserting dominance, but the targets of this abuse probably wish the protective males would work a little harder on their diplomacy instead of their left hooks.

Source: Male vervet monkeys use punishment and coercion to de-escalate costly intergroup fights by University of Zurich, Phys.org

On June 12th, 2018 we learned about

Students do better in school when they get frequent breaks from extended instruction

One of the best ways to help kids get more out of their time in the classroom is to spend less of that time teaching. A series of 45-minute lessons broken up by 15-minute recesses seems to have a great effect students’ concentration, enabling greater student engagement for each segment of the day. At first glance, it may sound like a ridiculous amount of time spent out on the playground, but schools in Finland, controlled studies and pilot programs in the United State all suggest that expecting kids to stay focused for hours at a time may not be worth the trouble.

Giving brains a break

In Finland, elementary students are given 15 minutes after each 45-minute lesson to head outside and take whatever kind of break they need. When the students return to the classroom, they’re generally ready to take on the next lesson without much hesitation or time spent getting everyone back on track. Because these recesses are outdoors in rain or shine, it was originally assumed that the physical activity involved was the secret to student’s concentration- that they were essentially getting their wiggles out before taking on a new task. However, experiments in classrooms in the United States found that physical exertion might not be necessary, as even breaks inside the classroom made a difference in student performance.

The key mechanic seems to be more closely tied to how our brains learn and retain new information. If running around a playground isn’t strictly necessary, it seems that simply taking a break from learning is. Various durations of lesson-time have been tested, and 45 minutes seems to be the most students can handle before their brains are essentially full. By having a short time for less-structured thought, students seem to be able to process and remember new information more easily. This mirrors the benefits of taking a nap or getting a good night’s sleep to better retain information.

Aerobics for academics

This isn’t to say that kids don’t benefit from moving around during their breaks. A separate study has found that kids with better physical fitness had more gray matter in their brains. What’s more, this increased brain volume correlated with better academic performance in school, particularly with language tasks. In particular, cortical and sub-cortical regions of the brain were larger in kids with better aerobic and motor function, although it’s not clear what mechanism is driving this boost.

In an era when American education is very concerned with test scores, rigor and notions of personal “grit,” giving kids a recess every 45 minutes may seem like a step in the wrong direction (if you choose to ignore the improved scores and behavior.) However, it may be that elementary schools adopting this schedule are simply falling in line with the adult world. Meetings, college lectures and even television shows are mostly expected to require around an hour of concentration, so really we just need to let our younger kids sync up with the demanding schedules adults make for themselves.

My third-grader asked: How long is a school day in Finland? Do they go to school all year?

While it might be intuitive for Finnish kids to make up their “lost” break time in other ways throughout the year, they don’t seem to worry about it. Schools generally start between 8:00 and 9:00 am, getting out between 1:00 to 2:00 pm. Finns also get summer and Christmas holidays, going to school around the same number of days as many American schools.  The important twist is that this schedule with only 25 hours of instruction a week seems to work really well, as Finish schools are considered to be some of the best in the world.

Source: How Kids Learn Better By Taking Frequent Breaks Throughout The Day by Timothy D. Walker, Mind/Shift

On June 10th, 2018 we learned about

Skinks use blue tails and tongues to trick attacking predators

Green means “go,” red means “stop,” and blue apparently means “don’t eat me,” at least if you’re a lizard. Don’t feel bad if you’ve somehow never noticed this message in all the lizards you thought about eating, because the blue in question is primarily in the ultraviolet (UV) light spectrum, which human eyes can’t see. Predators of bluetongued skinks and Plestiodon latiscutatus are very likely to notice this bright color though, which the lizards have come to rely on as a way to stay safe.

Bewildering tongues in ultraviolet and blue

As their name implies, bluetongued skinks like Tiliqua scincoides intermedia focus their predator-deterring coloring on their tongues. Of course, this means that the blue isn’t visible at all times, which allows the lizards to utilize it only when necessary. Most of the time, the brown, banded coloration on these lizards works to camouflage them among the dirt, rocks and foliage of northern Australia where they live, as the easiest way to deal with predators is to avoid interacting with them at all. If the lizard is spotted though, it will wait until nearly the last second before being struck down to open its mouth wide and reveal its intensely-colored tongue, which is visibly blue to humans at the tip, but more saturated in ultraviolet color towards the back of the mouth.

When coupled with some good hissing and puffed-up body language, this display has a chance to startle a predator enough to stop their attack. In tests with dummy predators, it appeared the the skink did make some judgment about the severity of the incoming attack, reacting more for a fake snake than for a piece of wood moving in their direction.  The lizards also made sure to time their big reveal carefully, since revealing a bright tongue from a distance would just make them easier to target. By waiting until the last second, particularly for a diving bird, the skink would have the best chance to significantly disrupt an attack, buying itself time to escape. This strategy also indicates that predators wouldn’t be deterred simply by the bright color, suggesting that the element of surprise is the key mechanic at play, versus the warning of potential poisoning behind the coloring of a poison dart frog in the Dendrobatidae family.

Drawing predators’ interest with indigo

Not every lizard hides it’s ultraviolet side though. Many species of lizard, particularly young skinks, start their lives with bright blue tails. Unlike the bluetongued skinks, these bright tails are meant to draw predators’ attention, allowing the lizards to use autotomy to escape serious harm. As long as predator only strikes the blue portion of the lizard’s tail, that bit of flesh can be safely detached to spare the target’s life.

With no way to hide and reveal these tails, lizards seem to have tailored exactly how eye-catching they are according to the threats in their local ecosystem. If lizards face snakes and weasels, tails are likely to be colored in blue and UV-reflecting pigments. If a snake is the only predator to worry about, the lizards’ tails are only distracting in ultraviolet, allowing them to draw a little less attention to themselves in other color spectra. Birds almost reverse this trend, since their ability to spot a lizard tail from a distance makes drawing their attention more trouble than it’s worth. So when lizards need to worry most about predatory birds, they’re most likely to skip blue and UV colors altogether, opting for more easily hidden tails and bodies.

Source: Australian lizard scares away predators with ultra-violet tongue, Science Daily

On June 10th, 2018 we learned about

Asking my kids reflect on what they get out of video games

My son, from what I’ve seen, is a decent driver. He’s only five, but he seems to be able to maneuver vehicles as large as a fire truck with minimal damage to the surrounding area. He’s only been tested on the virtual streets of Lego City Undercover, but there’s something comforting in seeing his interest in keeping fire trucks and police cruisers on the road, rather than futilely attempting to maim the endless supply of lucky bystanders. If video games offer a way to satisfy psychological needs, it’s nice to know he doesn’t need to endlessly blow things up when playing… like many of us often do.

First, I can assure you that I have yet to hit a pedestrian with my car, and never intend to. As anyone who has held a controller can attest, smashing a car into a building, or jumping on the back of a semi-malicious turtle doesn’t necessarily correspond with needing to do those things in real life. While video games do allow us to try out difficult or otherwise disruptive behavior in a safe environment, it’s been suggested that the goals and satisfaction players seek isn’t necessarily what’s being depicted on the screen.

Figuring out exactly why we play these games may not even be immediately apparent to the player themselves. If you asked someone what was so compelling about lining up colored shapes in order to make them disappear from the screen, they might not have an immediate answer. As much as some video games tap into the emotional framework of narrative fiction by letting the player feel powerful and heroic, other games certainly don’t offer that opportunity (unless I’m really underestimating the narrative and emotional impact of Candy Crush here…) To capture some of the motivations behind people’s play, researchers have developed a variety of tests and surveys, such as the Game User Experience Satisfaction Scale, or GUESS. These aim to help developers unpack why a particular game resonates with players, although it’s not a bad idea for a player to ask themselves some of these questions also.

What’s fun about driving an imaginary fire truck?

Starting a little more simply, I shared the Bartle taxonomy of player types with my kids. This framework divides players into four main groups, based on the motivation that drives them to play a game. An easy breakdown can be found in a game like Mario Kart Achievers likely want to win the race, Explorers will be happiest discovering a hidden shortcut, socializers will simply be happy to be sharing the game on the couch with friends while so-called “Killers” will just want to assert their dominance by hitting the other racers with as many shells as possible.

When thinking about games in this context, my kids found that different games appealed for different reasons. My five-year-old is likely driving his fire trucks carefully to satisfy a sense of achievement, mastering a hard task. When he gets frustrated, he might switch over to what’s called being a killer, exerting dominance over his environment by crashing that same truck into another vehicle. My nine-year-old felt that she was interested in the achievement of completing the story of Lego City Undercover, but in Minecraft she was more interested in exploring the world for secrets, then building structures that she could share with her friends and me, even though a lot of that sharing was done via elaborate, endless monologues, rather than in the game itself.

Granted, my kids’ experience has still been tightly curated, so there’s a chance they’ll gravitate towards different experiences as they grow older and can pick their own favorites. Whatever they do end up playing, I just hope that they occasionally reflect on why they’re making these choices, and maybe look to fulfill some of their less-destructive needs in real life too.

Source: How Video Games Satisfy Basic Human Needs by Simon Parkin, Nautilus

On June 7th, 2018 we learned about

Ancient arthropods’ clawed appendages made these predators successful at any size

While they were only eight centimeters long, the top predators of the early Cambrian period were dangerous from birth. The radiodontan arthropods like Lyrarapax unguispinus looked a bit like a modern ray with claw-like appendages mounted on the front of its head that could gather food to put into their circular, serrated mouths. As arthropods, these relatives of crabs and insects, there was a chance that these predators would start life in some kind of larval form, needing to mature before they could successfully hunt for food. However, a tiny specimen from China seems to prove that these animals were well-developed predators from day one.

Claws over cognition

Despite being over 513 million years old, we’ve been able to piece together a significant amount information about these ancient predators. In addition to the eye-catching, spine-covered appendages and semi-toothed mouths, fossils have even given us a glimpse of L. unguispinus brain structures. These structures suggest that while these creatures’ bodies were quite specialized for gobbling up their neighbors, their brains were impressively straightforward. While we think of predators as often having to plan and outwit their prey, there’s a decent chance that L. unguispinus mainly got by with its physical strengths and, for its ecosystem, large size.

The newest fossil of a juvenile essentially had a miniaturized version of an adult body. Even at less than two centimeters in length, the well-developed claws and mouth of this specimen suggest that these traits were formidable even at a smaller size. This puts the tiny sea monster in company with some modern predators, like praying mantises, who are ready to hunt for themselves before they’re full size.

Predatory pressure

A mini-Lyrarapax unguispinus also has implications for Cambrian ocean ecology, since a tiny predator would have likely been hunting down tiny prey (versus scavenging or being fed by its parents). L. unguispinus would have then been an influential predator at any age, and their presence in an area would put pressure on all kinds of prey species to develop forms of defense or evasion. This then fits with what we know about ecosystems from 500 million years ago, as the so-called Cambrian Explosion saw a huge increase in the variety and diversity of species on Earth during this time. A claw-faced predator that chased down prey of all sizes very likely contributed to this diversification, since it was apparently hard to avoid being eaten by one of these spiny arthropods.

Source: Earth's first giant predators produced killer babies by Science China Press, Phys.org

On June 7th, 2018 we learned about

Identifying the factors that likely enabled humanity’s first attempts at farming

For as influential and beneficial as agriculture has been for the human race, we’re not actually sure why we started farming in the first place. Obviously people would have been happy to have better access to food for their communities, have time for skill specialization, etc., but wanting more food doesn’t explain why people would start farming one year instead of another. Since people started raising crops before they could necessarily write about doing so, researchers have had to start looking at less direct data to figure out what influenced the rise of agriculture. If the resulting models are correct, they not only help eliminate some long-standing hypothesis about the birth of agriculture, but they may be applicable to other questions about early human activities as well.

Making an analytical model

The first step in this research was to look for patterns in the intersections of cultural traits, environmental conditions and population densities in modern or recent foraging societies. Peoples that largely relied on hunting, fishing or gathering to feed themselves were used as verifiable reference point to see what conditions would be expected for a society to carry on without agriculture. Of particular interest were specific factors like environmental stability and how often people traveled in comparison to population density. All these dynamics were assembled into a predictive model that could first be tested against the observed data to ensure that further predictions about ancient populations were grounded in reality.

Researchers then used historical data from around the world to see how environmental conditions could influence a population’s food supply. Agriculture is known to have developed independently at least 12 times in human history around the world, so conditions were analyzed for each of those instances. While many specifics differed, such as the specific year, cultural norms, etc, people from New Guinea to Central America to the Middle East all followed at least one clear trend: their entry into agriculture followed improving environmental conditions.

Predicting more about the past

A possible origin story may have then started with people enjoying enough food stability in their natural environment to have a bit of extra time and population growth. That allowed for more exploration of new ideas or techniques, eventually leading to more revolutionary discoveries like crop cultivation. It seems simple enough, but this possible origin is very different from previously proposed explanations, such as agriculture being the a response to near starvation, or simply arising at random in human history.

The models and analysis that revealed these patterns could likely use further refinement, but researchers are feeling quite confident about their long-term utility. They believe that it could be applied to events further back in time than the 21,000-year-old rise of agriculture, possibly looking at other major developments in human history. By analyzing how humanity changed in response to larger environmental trends, this kind of modeling may help us make sense of otherwise sparse and spotty archaeological evidence.

Source: On the origins of agriculture, researchers uncover new clues by Colorado State University, Science Daily

On June 6th, 2018 we learned about

Domesticated dogs’ survival depends on puppies leveraging their looks

We’re currently dog-sitting a mutt that most people think looks a bit like a ten-pound Ewok. Many onlookers seem to find his small size, button nose and large, dark eyes look pleasingly puppy-like. Just about all of our neighbors have commented on how quite the little fluffball looks on walks, although I don’t think anyone actually believes that he’s a puppy. Somehow people have a sense of what a truly young dog looks like, even to the point of finding a specific age more adorable than all the rest. It may seem like looking pleasing would only provide a benefit to human breeders, but researchers have found that peak-puppiness likely boosts dog survival rates exactly when they need the most help.

Judging the best babyfaces

In general, humans like to look at things that remind us of our own babies. This concept, called kinderschema, is so ingrained in us that adoring an infant’s chubby cheeks and bright eyes often triggers the release of hormones like oxytocin. This in turn helps us feel an emotional bond with the cute face we’re looking at, even if that face belongs to a puppy instead of our own offspring.

Researchers from Arizona State University asked test participants to rate how attractive they found photos of dogs at different ages. By limiting the photos to just a few breeds and specific poses, researchers were able to tease out which age dog triggered the strongest reactions from the 51 participating humans. They found that Jack Russell Terriers were cutest at 7.7 weeks, Cane Corsos at 6.3 weeks, and White Shepherds at 8.3 weeks old. These ages weren’t a huge surprise to researchers, because they all coincided with the age these dogs were most likely to be weaned from their mothers.

Swapping maternal care for adoring surrogates

Unlike wolves, which care for their young for around two years, domesticated dogs expect their young to be independent at around two months old. The problem is that most puppies don’t really agree with this assessment, as around 80 percent of puppies don’t survive their first year when living on their own. Rather than work on their hunting skills, dogs have been shaped to as adorably baby-faced as possible at this age, enticing humans to step in and pick up where the dogs’ mothers left off.

Figuring out exactly how this arrangement fell into place is difficult at this point, but as far as we know nobody was consciously breeding their dogs to sync up weaning with being extra cute. Nonetheless, it’s now an important part of dog survival, and it’s easy to see how this concept may even play a role in some breed’s entire life. After all, being a cat-sized Ewok-impersonator probably doesn’t impress predators or prey as well as it convinces humans to share their food and homes.

Source: Age Of Optimal Puppy Cuteness by Karen B. London PhD, Bark

On June 5th, 2018 we learned about

Sorting out how microbes survive on supposedly sterilized spacecraft

As much as humans want to discover life on other planets, we also want to make sure we didn’t accidentally send it there. Humans have a bad track record with introducing invasive species on to environments on our own planet, and we would really like to avoid doing so as we explore other planets. Allowing for crewed missions to Mars at some point in the future, a lot of effort goes into decontaminating any spacecraft that will be sent to potential ecosystems, like the Curiosity rover on Mars. Since there’s a good chance that some bacteria may be able to survive a trip through space, these spacecraft are assembled so called “clean rooms,” minimizing contact with the multitude of microbes that live in every other environment on Earth. Bunny suits and sterilization procedures have been fairly successful, but it seems that life has found an opportunity in these otherwise unoccupied environments. Not only have some microbes specialized to live in clean rooms around the world, but they’ve done so by evolving to eat our cleaning products.

Scientists have found traces of a variety of microbes on our spacecraft, including bacteria, fungi and single-celled archaea. To investigate the ecology of these unwanted microbiomes, students from Cal Poly Pomona focused on Acinetobacter, the most common genus of would-be astro-bacteria. Samples were collected from the rooms where the Odyssey and Phoenix spacecrafts were built, then analyzed to see how they could survive in supposedly sterile environments. Even if the bacteria were somehow hearty enough to survive contact with a cleaning agent, it wasn’t clear what these microbes could all be eating in these spaces in order to grow and multiply.

Consuming the cleansers

Normally, a cleaning agent like isopropyl alcohol sterilizes a surface by ripping bacterial cells apart. The lipids in the cell membrane basically dissolve in the presence of alcohol, rupturing the organism entirely. Acinetobacter aren’t necessarily immune to this chemistry, but if they aren’t wiped out completely they do use the alcohol to their advantage. As the alcohol biodegrades, the bacteria actually eat its carbon as their primary source of food. They were also able to take on Kleenol 30, another common cleaning agent. If that wasn’t resilient enough, Acinetobacter turned out to be able to survive a fair amount of oxidative stress. This means that they could possibly handle the higher radiation levels of space, as well as the dry conditions on a planet like Mars.

This doesn’t mean that every spacecraft we build will necessarily lead to a bacterial invasion on other planets. Missions that might involve contact with habitable environments, like the surface of Mars or a wet moon like Enceladus, will simply need to be cleaned more rigorously than before. Knowing how bacteria like Acinetobacter live off of our usual cleaning supplies will spur the development of new strategies, keeping spacecraft clean until the next round of bacterial evolution catches up with us.

Source: Team discover how microbes survive clean rooms and contaminate spacecraft by California State Polytechnic University, Phys.org

On June 3rd, 2018 we learned about

Bumblebees’ difficulty parsing iridescent objects may explain other dazzling prey

The shiny, shifting hues of an iridescent peacock feather is usually pretty eye-catching. Thanks to nanometer-sized structures in the feathers’ surface, light is reflected at a variety of angles at once, giving the feather a seemingly dynamic range of bright colors. Beyond a peacock’s blue-green feathers, iridescence can be found in fish scales, sea shells, and minerals, but the flashy appearance in animals like birds may have confused our understanding of its utility. While we may find it enjoyable to look at, researchers are finding that bees, and likely all insects, have a hard time comprehending the silhouette of iridescent objects, suggesting that some of these bright, shiny materials may have actually evolved to help some creatures hide from predators.

Bewildered bumblebees

To investigate how insects see iridescence, researchers created artificial flowers in various shapes for bumblebees. Once the bees had learned which shape was likely to have the highest concentration of sugar water, the flowers were covered in iridescent materials to see if the bees could still locate the best food sources in these new conditions. Even though the silhouettes were the same, the bees had a lot more trouble finding their favorite-shaped ‘flower,’ indicating that the new color scheme made it hard for them to recognize the form of each object.

While bumblebees are not predatory themselves, their eyes are similar enough to other insects that researchers believe this has implications for visually-oriented insect predators. A beetle with a matte wing case might be easy to spot on a leaf, whereas the iridescent wing case of a rose chafer (Macrodactylus subspinosus) likely looks like a confusing jumble of shapes, making the beetle hard to identify from a distance. Of course, being able to hide from other insects may not be most bugs’ biggest concern, as birds are much more likely to pose a threat to the average beetle. If researchers can confirm that iridescent body parts also disrupts bird predation, it would demonstrate how looking flashy may have evolved for insect safety, although it might also raise questions about those peacock feathers that were presumably meant to be examined by other birds.

Camouflage based on confusion

This concept of dazzling camouflage was first coined over 100 years ago by Abbott Thayer. The artificial camouflage used by militaries today operate on a similar principal, as they aim to break up easily recognizable silhouettes of humans and vehicles just enough to make them harder to target. Zebra stripes are thought to function in a similar way, as a herd of black and white stripes shifting and moving may make it just a bit harder for a predator to target a single individual, buying the zebras a few precious seconds for escape. Since iridescence turns up in other places, such as minerals, there’s likely more uses for it than just camouflage, but dazzling predators like this would help explain how certain bugs “hide” in plain sight.

Source: Bumblebees confused by iridescent colors by University of Bristol, EurekAlert!