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E.g., 07/16/2019
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  • News in Brief

    An ancient bird found encased in amber had a bizarrely long toe

    There once was a little bird, smaller than a sparrow, that lived about 99 million years ago. And it had a freakishly long toe.

    Researchers found the ancient bird’s right leg and foot preserved in a chunk of amber. Its third digit is 9.8 millimeters long, about 41 percent longer than its second-longest digit — and 20 percent longer than its entire lower leg. This foot morphology is unique...

    07/11/2019 - 11:00 Paleontology
  • News

    Hayabusa2 may have just snagged bits of asteroid Ryugu’s insides

    The Hayabusa2 spacecraft has made its second and final attempt to grab a pinch of dust from asteroid Ryugu. At about 9:06 p.m. EDT on July 10, the Japanese spacecraft briefly touched down near an artificial crater it had previously blasted into the 4.5-billion-year-old asteroid’s surface. If the dust grab went well, it’s the first spacecraft to ever collect a sample from an asteroid’s insides...

    07/11/2019 - 10:38 Planetary Science
  • Context

    Many fictional moon voyages preceded the Apollo landing

    From the beginning, the moon has been humankind’s perpetual nighttime companion.

    Accompanied by innumerable points of light, the moon’s luminous disk hovered overhead like a dim substitute for the sun, just with a shape not so constant. Rather the moon waxed and waned, diminishing to a barely discernible sliver before disappearing and then gradually restoring itself to fullness.

    It...

    07/11/2019 - 06:00 History of Science
  • News

    Both fish and humans have REM-like sleep

    No one should have to sleep with the fishes, but new research on zebrafish suggests that we sleep like them.

    Sleeping zebrafish have brain activity similar to both deep slow-wave sleep and rapid eye movement, or REM, sleep that’s found in mammals, researchers report July 10 in Nature. And the team may have tracked down the cells that kick off REM sleep.

    The findings suggest that...

    07/10/2019 - 13:38 Neuroscience, Physiology, Animals
  • News

    A Greek skull may belong to the oldest human found outside of Africa

    A skull found in a cliffside cave on Greece’s southern coast in 1978 represents the oldest Homo sapiens fossil outside Africa, scientists say.  

    That skull, from an individual who lived at least 210,000 years ago, was encased in rock that also held a Neandertal skull dating to at least 170,000 years ago, contends a team led by paleoanthropologist Katerina Harvati of the University of...

    07/10/2019 - 13:00 Anthropology, Human Evolution
  • Growth Curve

    Toddlers tend to opt for the last thing in a set, so craft your questions carefully

    My youngest child, now just over a year old, has started to talk. Even though I’ve experienced this process with my older two, it’s absolutely thrilling. He is putting words to the thoughts that swirl around in his sweet little head, making his mind a little less mysterious to the rest of us.

    But these early words may not mean what we think they mean, a new study hints. Unsurprisingly,...

    07/10/2019 - 08:00 Child Development, Parenting
  • Science Visualized

    See how visualizations of the moon have changed over time

    Look up at the moon and you’ll see roughly the same patterns of light and shadow that Plato saw about 2,500 years ago. But humankind’s understanding of Earth’s nearest neighbor has changed considerably since then, and so have the ways that scientists and others have visualized the moon.

    To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, here are a collection of images that...

    07/10/2019 - 06:00 Planetary Science, Science & Society, Technology
  • News

    Moons that escape their planets could become ‘ploonets’

    Meet ploonets: planets of moonish origin.

    In other star systems, some moons could escape their planets and start orbiting their stars instead, new simulations suggest. Scientists have dubbed such liberated worlds “ploonets,” and say that current telescopes may be able to find the wayward objects.

    Astronomers think that exomoons — moons orbiting planets that orbit stars other than...

    07/09/2019 - 10:02 Exoplanets, Astronomy
  • Essay

    Ancient humans used the moon as a calendar in the sky

    The sun’s rhythm may have set the pace of each day, but when early humans needed a way to keep time beyond a single day and night, they looked to a second light in the sky. The moon was one of humankind’s first timepieces long before the first written language, before the earliest organized cities and well before structured religions. The moon’s face changes nightly and with the regularity of...

    07/09/2019 - 08:00 Anthropology, Archaeology, Planetary Science
  • News

    A mysterious coral disease is ravaging Caribbean reefs

    Divers monitoring coral reefs off St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands in January noticed something alarming: Big white lesions were eating into the colorful tissues of hundreds of stony corals. Some corals were dead by the next day — only their stark white skeletons remained. Others languished for up to two weeks. Within four months, more than half of the reef suffered the same demise.

    ...
    07/09/2019 - 06:00 Oceans, Ecosystems, Climate