Flying forward is hard enough, but flying nowhere, just hovering, is so much harder. Most bats and birds can manage the feat for only a few frantic seconds.
Hovering means losing a useful aerodynamic shortcut, says aerospace engineer and biologist David Lentink of Stanford University. As a bat or bird flies forward, its body movement sends air flowing around the wings and providing some...
To help self-driving cars drive safely, scientists are looking to an unlikely place: the sea.
A new type of camera inspired by the eyes of mantis shrimps could help autonomous vehicles better gauge their surroundings, researchers report October 11 in Optica. The camera — which detects polarized light, or light waves vibrating on a single plane — has roughly half a million sensors that...
A new microscope is giving researchers an unprecedented view of how mammals are built, cell by cell.
Light sheet microscopes use ultrathin laser beams to illuminate sections of a specimen while cameras record those lit-up sections. Previous iterations of the device have captured detailed portraits of living zebra fish and fruit fly embryos as they develop. Kate McDole, a developmental...
News in Brief
When the 2017 Great American Eclipse hit totality and the sky went dark, bees noticed.
Microphones in flower patches at 11 sites in the path of the eclipse picked up the buzzing sounds of bees flying among blooms before and after totality. But those sounds were noticeably absent during the full solar blackout, a new study finds.
Dimming light and some summer cooling during the...
It’s a lovely notion, but tricky to prove. Still, lemurs sniffing around wild fruits in Madagascar are bolstering the idea that animal noses contributed to the evolution of aromas of fruity ripeness.
The idea sounds simple, says evolutionary ecologist Omer Nevo of the University of Ulm in Germany. Plants can use mouth-watering scents to lure animals to eat fruits, and thus spread around...
The mottled patterns that adorn Africa’s tallest creatures are passed down from their mothers, a new study suggests.
A giraffe calf inherits spots that are similar to those of its mother in terms of roundness and the smoothness of the spots’ borders, researchers report October 2 in PeerJ. The size and shape of those splotches can also affect a giraffe’s chances of surviving in the wild,...
People often assume cats enthusiastically kill city rats, but that may be just an urban legend.
Feral cats caught on video were keen to watch rats lurking around a trash collection center in Brooklyn, says behavioral ecologist Michael Parsons. But cats rarely killed, or even chased, the rats. Cats aren’t a good choice for rat-population control, Parsons, a visiting researcher at Fordham...
Manta rays were built for speed — and to filter feed.
The aerodynamic ocean dwellers efficiently separate plankton from seawater using a previously unknown kind of filtration system that resists clogs and captures tiny bits of plankton, researchers report September 26 in Science Advances.
Mantas are filter feeders, like many other ocean creatures. They pull plankton-laden seawater...
A new hummingbird species has been discovered high in the Ecuadorian Andes, but in numbers so low the bird may already be critically endangered.
Named for its cobalt-colored feathers, the blue-throated hillstar hummingbird nibbles on insects and slurps pollen from chuquiraga plants in a remote, treeless ecosystem known as the Páramo. Like other high-altitude hummingbirds from the same...
Jenny Tung, 36Genetics and evolutionary anthropologyDuke University09/26/2018 - 08:26 Animals, Genetics, Health
Jenny Tung is skeptical when she hears that her older sister, Wenny, compares Jenny’s science to their father’s golf.
He played so much because he found it “a big, fat, hairy challenge,” Wenny said, proposing that Jenny, too, is drawn to challenges by their difficulty.
Jenny Tung protests. Yet she doesn’t deny...