Fierce and swift, steel blue in color and called the world’s most perfect flying machine, the peregrine falcon is heading toward extinction in North America. The reason: DDT. Perilously high levels of the pesticide and related chemicals have been found in the eggs, fat and tissues of the birds…. [The falcons] are not picking up the DDT directly, but get it by eating other birds which...02/14/2019 - 07:00 Animals, Conservation, Toxicology
A 240-million-year-old case of bone cancer has turned up in a fossil of an extinct ancestor of turtles. Dating to the Triassic Period, the fossil is the oldest known example of this cancer in an amniote, a group that includes mammals, birds and reptiles, researchers report online February 7 in JAMA Oncology.
The fossilized left femur from the shell-less stem-turtle Pappochelys rosinae...
Letters to the Editor
Defining intelligence02/10/2019 - 07:15 Artificial Intelligence, Astronomy, Animals
Artificial intelligence followed fauna, diagnosed disease, mapped the moon and more in 2018, Maria Temming reported in “Artificial intelligence is mastering a wider variety of jobs than ever before” (SN: 12/22/18 & 1/5/19, p. 25).
Online reader greg found the term “artificial intelligence” misleading. “In reality what we call AI are merely classification...
News in Brief
It all started with the can’t-tear-your-eyes-away video of black soldier fly larvae devouring a 16-inch pizza in just two hours. Watching sped-up action of the writhing mass inspired mechanical engineer Olga Shishkov of Georgia Tech in Atlanta to see what makes these insects such champions of collective feeding.
An individual Hermetia illucens larva doesn’t eat steadily, Shishkov found....
The Science Life
Mysterious red-coated canids in Texas are stirring debate over how genetic diversity should be preserved.
“I thought they were some strange looking coyotes,” wildlife biologist Ron Wooten says of the canids on Galveston Island, where Wooten works. But DNA evidence suggests the large canids might be descendants of red wolves, a species declared in 1980 to be extinct in the wild.
When it comes to deciding what’s for breakfast, lunch or dinner, pandas have it easy: Bamboo, bamboo and more bamboo. But that wasn’t always the case.
Although modern giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) chow almost exclusively on bamboo in the mountain forests of central China, these bears’ diet was much broader not so long ago, researchers report online January 31 in Current Biology....
North America’s fox squirrel, the venomous striped eel catfish (SN: 4/29/17, p. 28) and 64 other species are now considered invasive threats to existing species in the European Union, scientists report online on December 12 in Global Change Biology. Emphasis on the word ‘threat.’ None of these organisms have been found yet in the EU, except for in captivity.
The goal in listing and...
Letters to the Editor
Gut connection01/27/2019 - 07:15 Health, Animals, Numbers
Abnormal proteins tied to Parkinson’s disease may form in the gut before traveling through the body’s nervous system to the brain, Laura Beil reported in “A gut-brain link for Parkinson’s gets a closer look” (SN: 12/8/18, p. 22).
The vagus nerve offers a connection between nerves in the gut and those in the brain. Beil reported on one study that showed that people who...
Dogs that lived alongside Middle Eastern villagers roughly 11,500 years ago may have helped to transform how those humans hunted, researchers say.
Fragmentary canine bones unearthed at Shubayqa 6, an ancient site in northeastern Jordan, date to a time when remains of hares and other small prey at the outpost sharply increased, say zooarchaeologist Lisa Yeomans of the University of...
After some 20 years of theorizing, a scientist is publicly renouncing the “beautiful hypothesis” that male birds’ sexy songs could indicate the quality of their brains.
Behavioral ecologist Steve Nowicki of Duke University called birdsong “unreliable” as a clue for choosy females seeking a smart mate, in a paper published in the March 2018 Animal Behaviour. He will also soon publish...