University Briefs



Dino discovery at U of A

A team of scientists from the University of Alberta discovered a very well preserved fossil from a duck-billed Edmontosaurus regalis just west of Grande Prairie, Alta last year. What paleontologists find remarkable about this particular fossil is that it contains skin impressions preserved by a “natural cast.”

The soft tissue confirms the hypothesis that the dinosaur was in possession of a “fleshy head crest” and had a different appearance than previous skeletal evidence suggests. Researchers say this could prove true for other species of dinosaurs as well, whose soft-flesh features may be, as of yet, undiscovered.

With files from University of Alberta News


Alcohol and texting mix!

Researchers at York University have made strides in molecular communication, sending what doctoral candidate Nariman Farsad believes is “the world’s first text message to be transmitted entirely with molecular communication.”

In a recent experiment, they successfully used chemical signals provided by the alcohol content in vodka to send the text message “O Canada.” Farsad explained that they can encode alphabets by “controlling concentration levels of alcohol molecules . . . with single spray representing bit 1 and no spray representing bit 0.” Chemical signaling is a fairly new development in communication, but York professor Andrew Eckford says it “can offer a more efficient way of transmitting data inside tunnels, pipelines or deep underground structures.”

With files from York University Media Relations


Second hand vaccinations

Research coming out of UBC is showing that expectant mothers can successfully pass on antibodies from vaccinations to their unborn children. Administering vaccines to pregnant women has not always been encouraged since the side effects on the child can be unpredictable, but a change could be on the way in that regard. Studies are showing that “pre-loading immunity” could become a viable health practice.

Professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UBC, Deborah Money, says “Maternal vaccination could substantially reduce risk of infectious diseases in newborns, especially for rural and low-resource communities where there are much higher rates of infant deaths.”

With files from UBC News


Queens gives break down on oil spill dispersants

Queens professor, Peter Hodson, and his research team have found that the controversial chemical dispersants used to clean up oil spills may not be as harmful as once believed. Dispersants are meant to break oil up into smaller particles so that they may mix more easily with water as opposed to having a large amount floating on the surface. The chemical’s use has been disputed because of the belief that it will increase the water’s toxicity to marine life. However, research has shown that while the chemical is toxic on its own, it is not when mixed in with the oil.

With filles from Queens University News Centre