Weekly PLoS ONE News and Blog Round-Up

This week in the PLoS ONE news and blog round-up: coral reefs strike back, scaling up our understanding of musical scales, the physical characteristics that make us look our age, and much more.

In a recent PLoS ONE article, Ruth Reef and colleagues report a new defensive role for coral skeletons. The researchers examine the ability of coral skeletons to absorb UV radiation, thus reducing the potential for UV damage to corals, which results from the sun’s rays reflecting off the reef and striking the corals. The study has been covered by ScienceNOW and the Examiner.

Why do most Western musical scales have either five or seven notes and why have humans, throughout recorded history, favoured a small number of specific scales from among the large number of collections of tones we can perceive? A paper by Duke researchers Kamraan Gill and Dale Purves examines musical scales in terms of their similarity to a harmonic series. The authors report that the most common used musical scales are based on the physics of human vocalisations, suggesting that the preferred use of certain musical scales has a biological basis. Dienekes’ Anthropology Blog and the Examiner have highlighted the study this week.

In a new study, David Gunn and colleagues investigate some of the characteristics that make women appear older or younger than their age. The researchers studied the actual chronological and perceived facial age in a sample of 102 pairs of female Danish twins (aged 59 to 81) and 162 British females (aged 45 to 72) and found that skin wrinkling, hair greying and lip height were significantly associated with a woman’s perceived age. Gunn and colleagues also report that while women’s perceived age, pigmented age spots, skin wrinkles and the appearance of sun-damage are influenced about equally by genetic and environmental factors, hair greying, the recession of hair from the forehead and lip height are influenced mainly by genetic factors. The study was featured by the BBC News, the Press Association and the Telegraph.

And finally, some of the other PLoS ONE media coverage this week includes:

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