Reviews & Previews
Rise of the NecrofaunaBritt WrayGreystone Books, $26.95
A theme park populated with re-created dinosaurs is fiction. But if a handful of dedicated scientists have their way, a park with woolly mammoths, passenger pigeons and other “de-extincted” animals could become reality.
In Rise of the Necrofauna, writer and radio broadcaster Britt Wray presents a comprehensive look at...
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Discovering an itchy welt is often a sign you have been duped by one of Earth’s sneakiest creatures — the mosquito.
Scientists have puzzled over how the insects, often laden with two or three times their weight in blood, manage to flee undetected. At least one species of mosquito — Anopheles coluzzii — does so by relying more on lift from its wings than push from its...
Letters to the Editor
Brain boost10/18/2017 - 12:15 Particle Physics, Animals, Neuroscience
It’s possible that therapies such as external brain stimulation and neurofeedback, as well as some drugs, may one day boost brain flexibility. A new line of research suggests flexibility is important for learning, Laura Sanders reported in “Learning takes brain acrobatics” (SN: 9/16/17, p. 22).
Online reader Glenn wondered if drugs for Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s...
Jennifer Zaspel can’t explain why she stuck her thumb in the vial with the moth. Just an after-dark, out-in-the-woods zing of curiosity.
She was catching moths on a July night in the Russian Far East and had just eased a Calyptra, with brownish forewings like a dried leaf, into a plastic collecting vial. Of the 17 or so largely tropical Calyptra species, eight were known vampires. Males...
Life’s great diversity has revealed itself in more than 600 pieces of floating tsunami debris that have landed on the western coast of North America. Of nearly 300 living animal and protist species documented on the debris, which crossed the Pacific Ocean following Japan’s destructive 2011 tsunami, researchers analyzed in detail 237 species, which include larger invertebrates and two fish. The...
Hydrogen peroxide, a molecule produced by cells under duress, may be a common danger signal, helping to alert animals to potential harm and send them scurrying. New details from planarian flatworms of how this process works may deepen scientists’ understanding of how people detect pain, and may ultimately point to better ways to curb it.
“Being able to get a big-picture view of how these...
The Science Life
Robert Klapper has examined scores of damaged and diseased human knees, hips and shoulders. But a visit to the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum introduced the orthopedic surgeon to the suffering of an extinct cat — and a scientific mystery. In 2000, Klapper took a break from his patients at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles to visit the nearby tar pits, where myriad mammals and other...
The deep waters of the East Pacific hold an unprepossessing treasure trove: potato-sized lumps of rock that contain valuable metals such as manganese, cobalt and copper. Turns out, such “manganese nodules” are home to another kind of goody: a species of sponge never before seen, researchers report online September 24 in Systematics and Biodiversity. These newly discovered nodule-dwellers may...
A new discovery is turning the hemispheric history of a mysterious whale species upside-down. Two fossils recently unearthed in Italy and Japan suggest that a southern whale was briefly a denizen of northern waters more than half a million years ago.
Until now, all available evidence suggested that the pygmy right whale, Caperea marginata, and its ancestors have been steadfast Southern...
Neonicotinoid pesticides are turning up in honey on every continent with honeybees.
The first global honey survey testing for these controversial nicotine-derived pesticides shows just how widely honeybees are exposed to the chemicals, which have been shown to affect the health of bees and other insects. Three out of four honey samples tested contained measurable levels of at least one...