Scientists investigate how Venus fly trap plants shut in response to touch.

Scientists have revealed the three-dimensional structure of Flycatcher1, an aptly named protein channel that may enable Venus fly trap plants to snap shut in response to prey. The structure of Flycatcher1 helps shed light on longstanding questions about the remarkably sensitive touch response of Venus fly traps. The structure also gives the researchers a better understanding of how similar proteins in organisms including plants and bacteria, as well as proteins in the human body with similar functions (called mechanosensitive ion channels), might operate.

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Climate change likely drove the extinction of North America’s largest animals

A new study suggests that the extinction of North America’s largest mammals was not driven by over-hunting by rapidly expanding human populations following their entrance into the Americas. Instead, the findings, based on a new statistical modelling approach, suggest that populations of large mammals fluctuated in response to climate change, with drastic decreases of temperatures around 13,000 years ago initiating the decline and extinction of these massive creatures.

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