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Your search has returned 30 articles:
  • News

    Kangaroo gut microbes make eco-friendly farts

    When kangaroos let one rip, the gas may be offensive to the nose but easy on the planet.

    Marsupial toots and burps contain little or no methane, a potent greenhouse gas. A new study suggests that the scanty emissions are thanks to the distinct mix of microbes in the kangaroos’ gut. The study appears March 13 in the ISME Journal, a microbial ecology journal. By sniffing out the microbes...

    03/21/2014 - 14:04 Climate
  • News

    A parasitic cuckoo can be a good thing

    A parasitic cuckoo chick foisted upon other birds can turn out to be luck in disguise, saving the nest with a disgusting defense.

    About 1 percent of bird species, including cuckoos, outsource their childcare by sneaking into other birds’ nests and leaving an egg.

    The intruder chick often kills or outcompetes the rightful offspring of a nest. Defense by cuckoo chicks of carrion crow...

    03/20/2014 - 16:14 Animals
  • News in Brief

    Fossil fern showcases ancient chromosomes

    After 180 million years buried in volcanic rock in the southern tip of Sweden, a recently discovered fern fossil looks almost as good as new.

    The matchbox-sized fossil is among the best ever preserved: Thin slices viewed under a microscope reveal rounded cells jam-packed in the stem, like water balloons stuffed in a barrel. And inside the cells, within tiny dots of nuclei, the shadowy...

    03/20/2014 - 14:00 Plants, Evolution, Paleontology
  • News

    Human noses know more than 1 trillion odors

    Respect the nose. Humans use it to tell apart an average of more than 1 trillion odors, a new study finds.

    That estimate of smell’s reach vastly exceeds the roughly several million colors and 340,000 tones a typical person can distinguish, reports a team led by geneticist Leslie Vosshall of Rockefeller University in New York City. A decades-old claim that humans discriminate only about...

    03/20/2014 - 14:00 Physiology, Neuroscience
  • Introducing

    The dinosaur ‘chicken from hell’

    A supersized chickenlike reptile with large, sharp claws and a toothless beak is the latest creature to earn the distinction of being called a dinosaur.

    The creature is named Anzu wyliei, its genus named after a birdlike demon in Mesopotamian mythology, and the researchers describing the dinosaur jokingly refer to it as a “chicken from hell.” It is the second-largest birdlike, feathered...

    03/19/2014 - 17:00 Paleontology
  • News in Brief

    Giant moa thrived before people reached New Zealand

    Humans probably caused the extinction of giant wingless birds called moa in New Zealand, DNA evidence suggests.

    Scientists have debated why the several species of moa went extinct about 100 years after Polynesians settled New Zealand around A.D. 1300. Various lines of evidence suggest that people’s hunting, setting fires and bringing competing species to the islands caused the big birds...

    03/18/2014 - 16:55 Genetics, Animals, Evolution
  • News

    Exoplanet oxygen may not signal alien life

    The first sign of extraterrestrial life probably won’t be a spaceship landing in a cornfield or a radio transmission from deep space. Most likely, the announcement will be encoded in the chemistry of a distant planet’s atmosphere. On Earth, oxygen betrays life’s presence. But oxygen in an exoplanet’s atmosphere wouldn’t necessarily point to alien shrubbery. Two researchers argue that an ocean-...

    03/18/2014 - 11:24 Astrobiology, Exoplanets, Planetary Science
  • News

    A tractor beam reels in objects with sound

    Tractor beams have hit the big time. A newly constructed device generates a beam of concentrated sound that, for the first time, exerts a continuous, perceptible tug on objects large enough to see. The researchers didn’t actually reel in an object, but they demonstrated that an ultrasound tractor beam could do the job.

    Using a tractor beam to haul a damaged spaceship may look simple on...

    03/17/2014 - 15:18 Physics
  • News

    Roman gladiator school digitally rebuilt

    Without breaking ground, researchers have uncovered the largely complete remains of a nearly 1,900-year-old Roman school for gladiators in what’s now eastern Austria.

    Advanced imaging techniques led to the discovery of a training center for these warrior-entertainers at Carnuntum, a Roman city excavated on and off since the late 19th century. The ancient facility lies beneath a field...

    03/13/2014 - 11:45 Archaeology
  • News in Brief

    Milk protein a potential flame retardant

    Milk: It may not only do a body good but protect fabrics as well.

    Researchers led by Jenny Alongi of Italy’s Politecnico di Torino dunked cotton, polyester and a polyester-cotton blend into a liquid formula of powdered milk proteins called caseins, which are key to making cheese. The researchers found that the phosphate-rich proteins extinguished fires set on the fabrics, slowing the...

    03/13/2014 - 11:01 Chemistry, Materials