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...
A new species of reef fish is a real head turner.
Last year while surveying a remote coral reef about 130 meters below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, ichthyologists Luiz Rocha and Hudson Pinheiro spotted a radiant fish hiding in a drab rock crevice.
“It was like finding a bright emerald in a coal mine,” recalls Pinheiro.
The fish, with its electric-pink-and-yellow body...
The dainty veins gracing the wings of dragonflies and other insects are like fingerprints: Each wing displays a distinct pattern. A randomized mathematical process may help explain how certain thin filaments, called secondary veins, form these complex patterns, a new study finds.
Insect wings consist of two types of veins, both of which provide structural support (SN: 6/24/17, p. 5)....
Pairs of elephant tusks that are separated during smuggling are illuminating the tracks of wildlife crime.
Identifying matching elephant DNA in different shipments of tusks can help scientific sleuths connect the shipments to the same ivory trafficking cartel, a new study finds. That technique has already revealed the presence of three major interconnected cartels that are active in...
Reviews & Previews
PoachedRachel Love NuwerDa Capo Press, $28
Perhaps the most unsettling scene in Poached, by science journalist Rachel Love Nuwer, comes early in the book, in a fancy restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The author and two friends sit down and are handed leather-bound menus offering roasted civet, fried tortoise, stewed pangolin and other delicacies made from rare or endangered...
News in Brief
A new winged robot helps explain why airborne insects are so doggone hard to swat.
Scientists have wondered how these tiny pilots pull off such rapid twists and turns, but researchers haven’t been able to test all their ideas by monitoring real insects or using tethered robots. Now, a free-flying, insect-inspired robot, described in the Sept. 14 Science, gives researchers an alternative...
A natural history museum isn’t just a place to take visiting relatives or for entertaining kids on the weekends. These museums’ collections also play a vital, but under-celebrated, role in scientific research.
That’s why, when Brazil's National Museum in Rio de Janeiro caught fire on September 2, more than just a catalog of natural and human history was lost. The museum was full of...
Bite a mouse in the back of the neck and don’t let go. Now shake your head at a frenzied 11 turns per second, as if saying “No, no, no, no, no!”
You have just imitated a hunting loggerhead shrike (Lanius ludovicianus), already considered one of North America’s more ghoulish songbirds for the way it impales its prey carcasses on thorns and barbed wire.
Once the shrike hoists its...
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...