Recent maps reveal trouble spots for the world’s imperiled birds.
In South America, two swaths light up with unusually high concentrations of birds at risk of extinction: southeastern Brazil plus a strip along the northwest coast of the continent, say nine eminent biologists in a status review of biodiversity in the May 30 Science.
Warmer colors indicate a greater number of birds...
Elephant shrews — including so-called “giant” species the size of a squirrel — are more closely related to elephants than to shrews. As for their basic lifestyle, elephant shrews may be more like really mixed-up antelopes.
“Take an antelope and an anteater and slap them together,” says Galen Rathbun of the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.
Elephant shrews, or sengis...
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TamboraGillen D’arcy WoodPrinceton Univ., $29.95
For many residents of the Northern Hemisphere, 1816 was known as the “year without a summer.” In Europe, summer heat waves were replaced by freezing temperatures while New England saw snowstorms in June. The ruined crops, hunger and social turmoil that followed the next year led many others to remember 1817 as the “year of the beggar...
A new species of one of the toughest creatures on Earth has been found on the Antarctic coast. Mopsechiniscus franciscae is a tardigrade, or water bear. These microscopic animals can survive nearly any condition, including a vacuum, because of their ability to enter a deep resting state when water is not available. The new species was collected among moss growing on gravel during a 2011 survey...
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Kidding OurselvesJoseph T. HallinanRandom House, $25
People believe the darnedest things — despite doubts, common sense and even evidence to the contrary. For example, a large majority of people are convinced that they drive better than others do, which of course isn’t possible. We can’t all be above average, no matter what Garrison Keillor says.
Hallinan, a Pulitzer Prize–...
Long before causing today’s animal losses, people may have been a primary cause of extinctions during the last Ice Age.
A study of 177 large mammals (weighing more than 10 kilograms) that went extinct between 1,000 and 132,000 years ago concludes that humans, not changes in climate, may have been the main factor in driving the animals over the brink.
Changes in regional temperature...
Letters to the Editor
Cannabis highs and lows07/11/2014 - 15:30 Neuroscience
Marijuana can tweak the brain’s normal functions, and young people may be particularly vulnerable. Laura Sanders delved into the science behind pot’s neurological effects in “High times” (SN: 6/14/14,p. 16).
Legalization is a hot issue, and Science News’ website, Facebook page and Twitter feed exploded with opinions from readers, many of whom argued for...
In late June, the U.S. Government Accountability Office released an assessment of how the consequences of climate change, from rising temperatures and sea levels to changes in precipitation patterns and sea ice cover, might impact the military. The report recommends that the Pentagon develop a better plan to respond to and mitigate such impacts.
The title of the report, “Climate Change...
High in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, mustard plants slumber through the winter in snow-covered meadows. When spring finally reveals these hardy perennials, the plants reach for the sky, unveiling tiny pink or white flowers.
This annual rebirth is timed to the snowmelt, and as warmer temperatures have moved melting earlier and earlier in the year, this particular mustard, known as...
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By his own admission, Stefano Bertuzzi is a frequent and grumpy traveler. His trips often take him to the United Airlines terminal at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C. There, Bertuzzi, executive director of the American Society for Cell Biology, long grumbled that the pictures of local landmarks lining the hallways ought to be replaced with pictures of cells.