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E.g., 04/19/2018
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  • News

    These seals haven’t lost their land ancestors’ hunting ways

    Some seals still eat like landlubbers.

    Just like lions, tigers and bears, certain kinds of seals have claws that help the animals grasp prey and tear it apart. X-rays show that the bones in these seals’ forelimbs look like those found in the earliest seals, a new study finds.

    Ancestors of these ancient seals transitioned from land to sea at some point, preserving clawed limbs...

    04/17/2018 - 19:09 Animals, Paleontology
  • News in Brief

    These hummingbirds aim their singing tail feathers to wow mates

    There’s more subtlety than humans have realized in dropping out of the sky so fast your tail feathers sing.

    Male Costa’s hummingbirds in western North America are masters of the tail-screaming courtship plunge. Acoustic cameras recorded these repeated stunts and revealed that, as the male whooshes down, he twists half of his tail sideways, says ornithologist Christopher J. Clark of the...

    04/12/2018 - 12:39 Animals, Biophysics
  • News

    Colorful moth wings date back to the dinosaur era

    Tiny light-scattering structures that give today’s butterflies and moths their brilliant hues date back to the days of the dinosaurs.

    Fossilized mothlike insects from the Jurassic Period bear textured scales on their forewings that could display iridescent colors, researchers report April 11 in Science Advances. The fossils are the earliest known examples of insects displaying structural...

    04/11/2018 - 14:14 Paleontology, Biophysics, Animals
  • Science Ticker

    In a colony, king penguins behave like molecules in a 2-D liquid

    Emperor penguins are known to huddle for warmth, but their regal relatives prefer personal space.

    Aerial photos of two king penguin breeding colonies show that individuals and couples keep their distance from neighbors but still stay together as a group. That arrangement resembles a simulated 2-D liquid in which molecules on a flat plane simultaneously attract and repel one another,...

    04/06/2018 - 12:03 Animals, Physics
  • Feature

    Flying insects tell tales of long-distance migrations

    Every autumn, a quiet mountain pass in the Swiss Alps turns into an insect superhighway. For a couple of months, the air thickens as millions of migrating flies, moths and butterflies make their way through a narrow opening in the mountains. For Myles Menz, it’s a front-row seat to one of the greatest movements in the animal kingdom.

    Menz, an ecologist at the University of Bern in...

    04/05/2018 - 06:00 Animals, Ecology
  • News

    Birds get their internal compass from this newly ID’d eye protein

    Birds can sense Earth’s magnetic field, and this uncanny ability may help them fly home from unfamiliar places or navigate migrations that span tens of thousands of kilometers.

    For decades, researchers thought iron-rich cells in birds’ beaks acted as microscopic compasses (SN: 5/19/12, p. 8). But in recent years, scientists have found increasing evidence that certain proteins in birds’...

    04/03/2018 - 07:00 Genetics, Chemistry, Animals
  • News

    How honeybees’ royal jelly might be baby glue, too

    Honeybee royal jelly is food meant to be eaten on the ceiling. And it might also be glue that keeps a royal baby in an upside-down cradle.

    These bees raise their queens in cells that can stay open at the bottom for days. A big blob of royal jelly, abundantly resupplied by worker bees, surrounds the larva at the ceiling. Before the food is deposited in the cell, it receives a last-minute...

    04/02/2018 - 07:00 Animals, Chemistry
  • Reviews & Previews

    The truth about animals isn’t always pretty

    The Truth About AnimalsLucy CookeBasic Books, $28

    Nearly 2,000 years ago, Pliny the Elder reported that hippopotamuses find relief from overeating by piercing their skin in a hippo version of bloodletting. Eventually, scientists learned that the oozing red stuff Pliny described isn’t even blood but a secretion that may have antibacterial and sun-blocking properties. While...

    04/01/2018 - 08:00 Animals, History of Science
  • News

    Toxins from the world’s longest animal can kill cockroaches

    Bootlace worms with spooky-stretchy bodies secrete a family of toxins new to scientists. These compounds might inspire novel ways to attack pests such as cockroaches.

    Tests first identified the toxins in mucus coating a bootlace species that holds the record as the world’s longest animal, says pharmacognosist Ulf Göransson of Uppsala University in Sweden. This champion marine worm (...

    03/30/2018 - 07:00 Animals, Chemistry
  • News

    Some frogs may be bouncing back after killer chytrid fungus

    It’s tough to be a frog once a killer skin fungus moves in. But, in Panama, the amphibians might be fighting back, researchers propose.

    More than a decade ago, an amphibian-killing chytrid fungus nicknamed Bd swept through the country. Now some frog species that had nearly vanished from three regions are growing easier to spot again. But tests of the pathogen find no signs that it is...

    03/29/2018 - 16:15 Animals, Ecology