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E.g., 08/16/2018
E.g., 08/16/2018
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  • News

    Here’s what robots could learn from fire ants

    Robots, take note: When working in tight, crowded spaces, fire ants know how to avoid too many cooks in the kitchen.

    Observations of fire ants digging an underground nest reveal that a few industrious ants do most of the work while others dawdle. Computer simulations confirm that, while this strategy may not be the fairest, it is the most efficient because it helps reduce overcrowding in...

    08/16/2018 - 14:04 Robotics, Animals, Technology
  • News

    A resurrected gene may protect elephants from cancer

    Elephants rarely succumb to cancer. That’s surprising given how large the animals grow and how long they can live, which should provide more opportunities for cells to morph into cancer cells. A newly described gene that was brought back from the dead may take part in protecting the animals from the disease.

    A deep dive into elephants’ evolutionary history revealed a defunct gene called...

    08/14/2018 - 14:23 Health, Genetics, Animals
  • News

    In the animal kingdom, what does it mean to be promiscuous?

    MILWAUKEE — When it comes to the sex lives of animals, scientists have a slate of explicit terms to describe the proclivities of species. But researchers may be playing a little fast and loose with one of those words. Just what sort of activity qualifies an animal as promiscuous?

    A review of almost 350 studies published in scientific journals in 2015 and 2016 found that the label was...

    08/13/2018 - 07:00 Animals, Ecology
  • Film

    What ‘The Meg’ gets wrong — and right — about megalodon sharks

    OK, so what if a giant prehistoric shark, thought to be extinct for about 2.5 million years, is actually still lurking in the depths of the ocean? That’s the premise of the new flick The Meg, which opens August 10 and pits massive Carcharocles megalodon against a grizzled and fearless deep-sea rescue diver, played by Jason Statham, and a handful of resourceful scientists.

    The...

    08/10/2018 - 12:41 Paleontology, Animals, Oceans
  • News

    A ghost gene leaves ocean mammals vulnerable to some pesticides

    A gene that helps mammals break down certain toxic chemicals appears to be faulty in marine mammals — potentially leaving manatees, dolphins and other warm-blooded water dwellers more sensitive to dangerous pesticides.

    The gene, PON1, carries instructions for making a protein that interacts with fatty acids ingested with food. But that protein has taken on another role in recent decades...

    08/09/2018 - 14:00 Animals, Molecular Evolution, Toxicology
  • The –est

    This killifish can go from egg to sex in two weeks

    A fish that lives in rain puddles has beaten its own record for the fastest known sexual maturity among vertebrates.

    Turquoise killifish (Nothobranchius furzeri) that hatch after unpredictable deluges in Mozambique can go from hatchling to ready-to-breed adult in 14 days, researchers announce August 6 in Current Biology. Killifish in cushy lab conditions had already grown up faster than...

    08/06/2018 - 15:04 Animals, Evolution
  • News

    The first detailed map of red foxes’ DNA may reveal domestication secrets

    For nearly 60 years, scientists in Siberia have bred silver foxes in an attempt to replay how domestication occurred thousands of years ago. Now, in a first, researchers have compiled the genetic instruction book, or genome, of Vulpes vulpes, the red fox species that includes the silver-coated variant. This long-awaited study of the foxes’ DNA may reveal genetic changes that drove...

    08/06/2018 - 11:00 Genetics, Animals
  • Science Ticker

    Rat lungworm disease is popping up in the mainland United States

    Health officials have confirmed 12 cases of rat lungworm disease in the continental United States since January 2011 — including six patients who had not traveled abroad but still contracted the illness caused by a parasite endemic to tropical regions in Asia and Hawaii.

    While the disease can be mild, it can become extreme and cause severe neurological problems. In most of the new cases...

    08/03/2018 - 09:00 Health, Animals, Microbes
  • News in Brief

    Fossil teeth show how a mass extinction scrambled shark evolution

    The extinction event that wiped out all nonbird dinosaurs about 66 million years ago also shook up shark evolution.

    Fossilized shark teeth show that the extinction marked a shift in the relative fates of two groups of sharks. Apex predators called lamniformes, which include modern great white sharks, dominated the oceans before the event, which took place at the end of the Cretaceous...

    08/02/2018 - 11:00 Paleontology, Evolution, Animals
  • News in Brief

    With one island’s losses, the king penguin species shrinks by a third

    What was once the king of the king penguin colonies has lost 85 percent or more of its big showy birds since the 1980s, a drop perhaps big enough to shrink the whole species population by a third.

    In its glory days, an island called Île aux Cochons in the southern Indian Ocean ranked as the largest colony of king penguins. Satellite data suggest numbers peaked at around 500,000 breeding...

    08/01/2018 - 16:35 Animals, Conservation, Ecology