I came across this interesting article on ScienceBlog the other day about mangrove fish. Mangrove fish can survive out of the water for two months, thanks to their special skin. Their skin is covered with special cells, called ionocytes, that regulate the amount of water and salts (ions) that pass through the fish's skin. Normally these cells are found only in the gills. By being spread over the entire body, ionocytes allow fish to function on land the same way they do in the water. (Lungfish, which can also survive being out of the water for extended periods of time, have to alter their physiological state to do so.) I think this would be a neat trait to give to an alien race; they could live mostly in the water but be able to go about on land to gather resources or do other things.
Here are a few other recent news articles from ScienceBlog that are worth passing along:
Are you interested in quantum computers? This article states that it may be easier to work with them than originally thought, though we have yet to unlock their full potential.
From last month, this article on the brain shows that we can consciously regulate the activity of individual neurons in our brains. Patients in this study were even able to manipulate computer images with just their minds. Perhaps the brain-computer interface is closer than we think. We may even literally carry internet networks on us by means of sensors, according to this article.
Reading articles like this always reminds me that the future is closer than we think.