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Paleontologists have recreated the cranial structure of a 308-million-year-old lizard-like vertebrate that could be the earliest example of a reptile and explain the origin of all vertebrates that belong to reptiles, birds and mammals.

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A faster and more accurate way to test for infection with Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola, a fungus that is killing snakes in the Midwest and eastern United States, has been devised by researchers. The test also allows scientists to monitor the progression of the infection in living snakes. Researchers first took notice of Ophidiomyces in snakes in the mid-2000s. Today the fungus threatens the last remaining eastern massasauga rattlesnake population in Illinois and has been found to infect timber rattlesnakes, mud snakes, rat snakes, garter snakes, milk snakes, water snakes and racers in several states.

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A new study casts doubt on long-held suspicions that persistent organic pollutants in the environment make green turtle more susceptible to the virus that causes fibropapilomatosis, a disease that forms large benign tumors that can inhibit the animal's sight, mobility and feeding ability.

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A key mechanism in the formation of the head in frogs has been explained by researchers. Previous studies had reported genes involved in head development. However, it still remained unclear how those genes interact with each other for head formation as a whole. By employing Next-Generation sequencing techniques, which provide scientists with massive amounts of DNA sequence data, this study has uncovered a genetic mechanism underlying head formation, which is one of the most important processes in animal development.

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