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  • Nazca lines
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  • News

    DNA reveals a European Neandertal lineage that lasted 80,000 years

    Neandertals had evolutionary stamina. An unbroken genetic line of the jut-jawed, powerfully built human relatives inhabited Europe for at least 80,000 years until dying out around 40,000 years ago, scientists say.

    DNA extracted from fossils of two roughly 120,000-year-old European Neandertals displays closer genetic links to 40,000-year-old European Neandertals than to a Siberian...

    06/26/2019 - 14:00 Genetics, Human Evolution
  • Rethink

    Thick calluses don’t make feet any less sensitive

    The tender feet of the shoe-clad are no better at sensing the ground than the callused soles of the barefoot.

    Calluses, skin thickened by rubbing against other surfaces, would seem to offer protection at the expense of sensitivity. But that isn’t what Harvard University human evolutionary biologist Daniel Lieberman has experienced when he runs barefoot in summer.

    As Lieberman’s...

    06/26/2019 - 13:00 Health
  • News in Brief

    Peru’s famous Nazca Lines may include drawings of exotic birds

    Massive drawings of birds etched by pre-Inca people on southern Peru’s Nazca desert plateau include several exotic surprises, Japanese researchers say.

    Three avian images depict species that live far outside the region where the famous drawings were created, zooarchaeologist Masaki Eda of Hokkaido University Museum and his colleagues conclude. A drawing previously classified as a...

    06/26/2019 - 07:00 Archaeology, Animals
  • News

    Signs of the color blue have been found in a fossil for the first time

    A tree-dwelling bird that lived 48 million years ago probably had blue plumage, researchers say. Scientists inspecting a fossil of Eocoracias brachyptera say they have, for the first time, identified the remnants of the color in a fossil.

    The researchers examined 72 feather samples from modern birds of many different colors, and 12 samples of organic material carefully collected from the...

    06/25/2019 - 19:01 Paleontology
  • News in Brief

    These fungi drug cicadas with psilocybin or amphetamine to make them mate nonstop

    SAN FRANCISCO — A cicada-infecting fungus produces drugs that make the insects literally mate their butts off.

    Massospora fungi make either a drug found in hallucinogenic mushrooms or an amphetamine found in khat leaves, plant pathologist Matthew Kasson of West Virginia University in Morgantown reported June 22 at the ASM Microbe 2019 meeting.

    The fungi may use psilocybin, which...

    06/25/2019 - 14:42 Microbiology, Animals
  • News in Brief

    A new algorithm finds nearby stars that could host hidden worlds

    A new planet-hunting algorithm suggests that at least 9 percent of nearby stars could host planets orbiting out of sight — and the stars’ chemistry could help find the worlds.

    Planetary astrophysicist Natalie Hinkel of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio and colleagues trained a machine-learning algorithm on a catalog of thousands of stars and their chemical compositions (SN...

    06/25/2019 - 08:00 Exoplanets, Astrobiology
  • News in Brief

    Dried Earth microbes could grow on Mars with just a little humidity

    SAN FRANCISCO — Salt-loving microbes can dry out and come back to life with just a little humidity, researchers have demonstrated for the first time.

    Scientists have suspected that microbes in arid places may get their moisture from humidity alone, but no one has shown that dried-out microbes can revive with water sucked from the air. Dessicated Halomonas bacteria from Washington’s Hot...

    06/25/2019 - 06:00 Microbiology
  • News

    3-D mammograms are popular, but are they better than 2-D?

    In recent years, women getting a mammogram have had a new decision to make: 2-D or 3-D?

    Some breast-care centers have touted the newer 3-D mammography technology as more accurate. But while initial research suggests that it may be a more sensitive diagnostic test, evidence that the technology actually reduces the number of deaths from breast cancer better than 2-D imaging is lacking....

    06/24/2019 - 12:09 Health
  • News

    Gut microbes might help elite athletes boost their physical performance

    One difference between elite athletes and the rest of us might be in what hangs out in their guts.

    Microbes that flourished in the guts of some runners after a marathon boosted the time that lab mice ran on a treadmill, researchers report June 24 in Nature Medicine. These particular microbes seem to take lactate, pumped out by muscles during exercise, and turn it into a compound that may...

    06/24/2019 - 11:00 Microbes, Biomedicine, Microbiology
  • News

    Capuchin monkeys’ stone-tool use has evolved over 3,000 years

    Excavations in Brazil have pounded out new insights into the handiness of ancient monkeys.

    South American capuchin monkeys have not only hammered and dug with carefully chosen stones for the last 3,000 years, but also have selected pounding tools of varying sizes and weights along the way.

    Capuchin stone implements recovered at a site in northeastern Brazil display signs of shifts...

    06/24/2019 - 11:00 Archaeology, Animals