Published: Monday 15 January 2007

numbers phobia: Children with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) have particular difficulty understanding numbers and sequences, a University of Alberta study shows. An assessment of 50 Canadian children diagnosed with FASD, a condition caused by the mother's alcohol consumption while a foetus is still in the womb, revealed that the youngsters had specific deficits in memory for numbers and sequences, which may contribute to common maths difficulties faced by these children. The study also revealed differences among ethnicities. Aboriginal children (35 in the study) and non-aboriginal children (15) showed different patterns of strengths and weaknesses in neurobehavioural functioning. Aboriginal children had stronger visual memories than verbal memories, while non-aboriginal children showed just the opposite.

fossil find: Small but remarkable fossils found in New Zealand will prompt a major rewrite of prehistory textbooks, showing for the first time that the so-called "land of birds" was once home to mammals as well. The tiny fossilised bones--part of a jaw and hip--belonged to a unique, mouse-sized land animal unlike any other mammal known and were unearthed in the Otago region of South Island. Until now, decades of searching had shown no hint that the furry, warm-blooded animals that thrived and prospered so widely in other lands had ever trodden on New Zealand soil.

monkey clone: A team led by a South Korean scientist said it would soon attempt to perform the world's first cloning of a monkey. "We are working on the mechanism of stimulating female monkey ovulation to gain eggs en masse, the minimal must for cloning," team leader Chang Kyu-tae, of the Korea National Primate Research Center, said. "After related regulations are set, we will begin cloning attempts with monkeys next year." The scientist said his team was cautious about its attempt because monkey cloning is important for developing an animal model that parallels human biology and can be used for preclinical tests in a number of areas.

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