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  • It's Alive

    Flamboyant old bustards keep showing off

    View the video

    Nothing says romance like covering your face in white fluff and running like crazy through shrubbery.

    That’s the courtship display North African birds called houbara bustards (Chlamydotis undulata) perform repeatedly. At the peak of the breeding season, males start at dusk, around 4 or 5 p.m., and keep going until about 9 the next morning, says Yves Hingrat of RENECO...

    02/20/2015 - 10:30 Animals
  • News

    Asteroids or planets might trigger a supernova

    A few well-aimed asteroids or planets might be all it takes to make a star explode.

    A handful of impacts from rocky debris in the atmosphere of a white dwarf, the core of a long dead star, could trigger a powerful explosion known as a type 1a supernova. The proposal, reported online February 1 at arXiv.org, suggests a new way to create this type of supernova, whose origins are still...

    02/06/2015 - 10:47 Astronomy
  • Wild Things

    Cringe away, guys — this spider bites off his own genitals

    For a male ornamental tree trunk spider (Herennia multipuncta), copulation can get a bit dangerous. His mate is several times larger and if she’s hungry, she’ll eat him up. But that’s not even the most disturbing thing that can happen after sex among these arachnids, also called coin spiders: The male chews off one or both of his palps (the organs used to deliver sperm), leaving him a survivor...

    01/20/2015 - 07:00 Animals, Evolution
  • How Bizarre

    Stegosaurus landed a low blow in dino brawl

    VANCOUVER — In a story worthy of CSI: Jurassic Period, researchers have solved the mystery of what killed a predatory allosaurus dinosaur 147 million years ago.

    The allosaurus fossil contains a circular hole in its pelvis flanked by a well-preserved, fist-sized abscess where the infected wound spread. The only murder weapon around that time that would create the circular hole is a...

    10/22/2014 - 15:19 Paleontology
  • Scicurious

    Banana peel slipperiness wins IgNobel prize in physics

    BOSTON — We’ve all seen the cartoons. Bugs Bunny wolfs down a banana and casually tosses the skin onto the floor. Moments later, Elmer Fudd comes racing in, steps on the banana peel and goes flying. The music plays, and Bugs Bunny wins the day again. That wascally wabbit.

    No one has ever really questioned this scenario, though few of us have encountered a banana peel in such a dangerous...

    09/19/2014 - 13:57 Science & Society, Physics
  • How Bizarre

    Tiny mites are probably crawling all over your face

    Take a really close look at your face and you’ll probably find that two microscopic relatives of spiders and ticks dwell there. The usually benign mites, Demodex folliculorum and D. brevis, wriggle into skin pores and hair follicles, including eyelashes. And every adult may harbor these hitchhikers, researchers report August 27 in PLOS ONE.

    Scientists analyzed DNA from skin gently...

    08/29/2014 - 15:30 Health, Genetics, Animals
  • News

    When looking for aliens, try finding their pollution

    In the search for “little green men,” astronomers may want to focus on extraterrestrials that aren’t too green. A team suggests looking for industrial pollution in the atmospheres of distant planets as a signpost for intelligent life – assuming, of course, that pollution is a hallmark of intelligence.

    As the tally of known planets beyond our solar system grows –it’s up to about 1,800 –...

    07/31/2014 - 12:49 Exoplanets, Astronomy
  • Gory Details

    Why stabbing a voodoo doll is so satisfying

    When social psychologist Brad Bushman handed out voodoo dolls to 107 married couples, he knew those dolls were in for a lot of stabbing. 

    Each married person who volunteered for his study got a doll and 51 pins. Bushman and his fellow psychologists instructed the volunteers to stab a doll, representing their spouse, each night with more pins depending how angry they were with their...

    06/05/2014 - 14:30 Psychology
  • It's Alive

    How to milk a naked mole-rat

    For the sake of science, Olav Oftedal has milked bats, bears and a lot of other mammals. But a naked mole-rat was something new.

    “The thin, hairless skin is so translucent that you can see the milk accumulating in the mammary glands,” says Oftedal, of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, Md. For once he could tell exactly which glands were full.

    “In most...

    05/03/2014 - 10:00 Animals
  • Gory Details

    What your earwax says about your ancestry

    If you would describe yourself as white or black, your earwax is probably yellow and sticky. If you are East Asian or Native American, it’s likely to be dry and white.

    And for those with the yellow kind, I hate to break it to you, but your earwax stinks.

    Don’t take it personally. Smelly earwax is just another of the genetic quirks we inherit as part of one ethnic group or another....

    02/24/2014 - 18:26 Genetics