Weekly News Bites: Fish ear bones, hot nights, and learning to walk

Asia Research News monitors the latest research news in Asia. Some highlights that caught our attention this week are the potential use of fish ear bones to tell us about the seawater temperature millions of years ago, how hotter nights can lead to an increase in global mortality, and how Japanese children’s walking development differs to other countries.

Our pupils can expand and contract depending on the light available in our environment. However when we look at darkness, scientists from Ritsumeikan University and the University of Oslo found that participant’s eyes reacted to anticipated light levels allowing us to adapt our vision to darker areas faster. This may have been useful for early humans that walked in and out of dark caves.

Measuring the temperature of seawater millions of years ago is a difficult task but researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISC) might have found a way to achieve this by looking at the minerals collected in the tiny ear bones of fish. These bones grow over the fish’s lifetime and accumulate minerals. “Similar to tree rings, these [bones] also hold clues to the fish’s age, migration patterns, and the type of water that the fish lived in." says a release by the IISC.

Hotter temperatures at night could increase the global mortality rate by up to 60% according to an international team including Fudan University, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and researchers from Japan and Korea. Intensely hot nighttime temperatures will occur more rapidly than daily temperatures, say the researchers. Hot nights mean disrupted sleep which can lead to health problems.

A new self-healing coating has been developed by the Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology (KRICT) which can heal car scratches with 30 minutes of sunlight. The heat triggers the polymers in the coating to reform to their original arrangement, healing the scratch and helping avoid a trip to the car repair shop! 

Japanese children’s gait development differs from children from other countries according to research by Nagoya University and Aichi Prefectural Mikawa Aoitori Medical and Rehabilitation Center for Developmental Disabilities. Subtle differences in cadence and step and stride lengths could be influenced by lifestyle and cultural factors.