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  • News

    Eating less protein may help curb gut bacteria’s growth

    Humans and other animals may have a way to control the growth of gut microbes: Eat less protein.

    That’s because protein contains nitrogen. And, it turns out, the amount of nitrogen in the diet of mice governed the growth of bacteria in the animals’ large intestine, researchers report October 29 in Nature Microbiology. The finding may help researchers learn how to manipulate the types and...

    11/02/2018 - 06:00 Microbiology, Ecology, Physiology
  • The Science Life

    How researchers flinging salmon inadvertently spurred tree growth

    How much salmon would scientists sling if scientists could sling salmon? For one research team, the question isn’t hypothetical, and the answer is … tons.

    During 20 years of monitoring salmon populations in one southwest Alaskan stream, ecologists have found and flung a total 267,620 kilograms of dead fish into the forest. Those rotting carcasses leached enough nutrients to speed up tree...

    10/30/2018 - 13:54 Ecology, Animals, Plants
  • Reviews & Previews

    If you want to believe your home’s bug free, don’t read this book

    Never Home AloneRob DunnBasic Books, $28

    As I write this in my basement office, a sticky trap lies beneath my desk catching whatever insects wander by. Its current haul is pretty typical: a cricket, a spider and some small flies. But as Rob Dunn writes in his intriguing new book, Never Home Alone, I’m missing a lot if I think that’s all that lurks beneath my slippers.

    Dunn has...

    10/30/2018 - 11:08 Animals, Ecology, Microbiology, Science & Society
  • News

    The first vertebrates on Earth arose in shallow coastal waters

    The cradle of vertebrate evolution was limited to a zone of shallow coastal waters, no more than 60 meters deep.

    In those waters, fish — the first vertebrates — appeared roughly 480 million years ago, a study finds. For nearly 100 million years, those creatures rarely strayed from that habitat, where they diversified into a dizzying array of new forms, scientists report in the Oct. 26...

    10/25/2018 - 14:08 Paleontology, Animals, Ecology
  • Wild Things

    How a snake named Hannibal led to a discovery about cobra cannibalism

    Studying the diet of snakes isn’t easy. The animals are elusive, and they don’t feed all that often. It probably doesn’t help that some of them can be deadly to humans. So perhaps it’s not much of a surprise that scientists hadn’t realized how common one category of snack is for southern African cobras: each other. But once researchers started looking, they realized that cannibalism among...

    10/25/2018 - 06:45 Animals, Ecology
  • News

    In lab tests, this gene drive wiped out a population of mosquitoes

    A new gene drive may push a species of malaria-carrying mosquito to extinction.

    In a small-scale laboratory study, the genetic engineering tool caused Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes to stop producing offspring in eight to 12 generations, researchers report September 24 in Nature Biotechnology. If the finding holds up in larger studies, the gene drive could be the first capable of wiping...

    09/24/2018 - 11:20 Genetics, Ecology
  • Wild Things

    A gentoo penguin’s dinner knows how to fight back

    In a fight between a pipsqueak and a giant, the giant should always win, right?

    Well, a battle between an underwater David and Goliath has revealed that sometimes the little guy can come out on top. He just needs the right armaments. The David in this case is the lobster krill. And instead of a slingshot, it’s armed with sharp pincers that can sometimes fight off a Goliath: the gentoo...

    09/04/2018 - 14:12 Animals, Ecology, Oceans
  • News

    In the animal kingdom, what does it mean to be promiscuous?

    MILWAUKEE — When it comes to the sex lives of animals, scientists have a slate of explicit terms to describe the proclivities of species. But researchers may be playing a little fast and loose with one of those words. Just what sort of activity qualifies an animal as promiscuous?

    A review of almost 350 studies published in scientific journals in 2015 and 2016 found that the label was...

    08/13/2018 - 07:00 Animals, Ecology
  • News in Brief

    With one island’s losses, the king penguin species shrinks by a third

    What was once the king of the king penguin colonies has lost 85 percent or more of its big showy birds since the 1980s, a drop perhaps big enough to shrink the whole species population by a third.

    In its glory days, an island called Île aux Cochons in the southern Indian Ocean ranked as the largest colony of king penguins. Satellite data suggest numbers peaked at around 500,000 breeding...

    08/01/2018 - 16:35 Animals, Conservation, Ecology
  • Reviews & Previews

    Got an environmental problem? Beavers could be the solution

    EagerBen GoldfarbChelsea Green Publishing, $24.95

    Most people probably don’t think of beavers until one has chewed through the trunk of a favorite tree or dammed up a nearby creek and flooded a yard or nearby road. Beavers are pests, in this view, on par with other members of the order Rodentia. But a growing number of scientists and citizens are recognizing the merits of these...

    07/27/2018 - 10:49 Animals, Ecology, Conservation