Weekly News Bites

Asia Research News monitors the latest research news in Asia. Some highlights that caught our attention this week are giant, extinct crocodiles, insect-inspired microbots, and ageing of our internal organs.

Swarms of microbots have been featured in some recent films, and now a consortium from Seoul (including KAIST and Seoul National University) aims to make them a reality. The consortium will develop insect-inspired microbots that can be used for surveillance and reconnaissance missions

Looking to the past, it turns out that geese may have been the first birds to have been domesticated. A team led by Hokkaido University Museum found that geese were domesticated 7000 years ago in China, discovering bones of young geese that may have been raised by humans in the area.

In other ancient news, a giant crocodile species that had been around since the Bronze Age may have been hunted to extinction only a few hundred years ago says study from Hefei University of Technology. The researchers think that the crocs were killed in ritualistic killings.

Urbanization and densification of the peri-urban area are issues of concern in many countries and for good reason. Scientists at Anna University found that this spread of urban sprawl is causing land surface temperatures to jump up in a “heat-island” effect in Chennai. Areas that experience 31-34 degree Celsius rose from around 30% in 1988 to almost 70% in 2017.

While we may count our age up since the year in which we were born, our internal organs could actually be ageing at different rates. Using biomarkers, researchers at the National University of Singapore looked at different organs and found that some (especially the gut microbiome) varied in “age” within a person’s body. Tracking these different ages can help detect disease risk and inform tailored treatment.

11 years after the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, radiation could still be affecting the flora and fauna of surrounding regions says research by Tohoku University on macaques and a joint study between Akita Prefectural University and Tokyo University of Agriculture on insects and spiders in the region.