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  • News

    A jumping spider mom nurses her brood for weeks on milk

    Mom nurses her young for weeks on milk that has four times the protein of a cow’s. Yet this mother’s not a mammal. She’s a jumping spider with eight legs and a taste for fruit flies.

    We mammals have named ourselves after our mammary glands. Yet other animals, from tsetse flies to pigeons, secrete their own versions of milk for their babies. The newly discovered nursing in Toxeus magnus...

    11/29/2018 - 16:03 Animals, Evolution
  • The Science Life

    How locust ecology inspired an opera

    Locust: The Opera finds a novel way to doom a soprano: species extinction.

    The libretto, written by entomologist Jeff Lockwood of the University of Wyoming in Laramie, features a scientist, a rancher and a dead insect. The scientist tenor agonizes over why the Rocky Mountain locust went extinct at the dawn of the 20th century. He comes up with hypotheses, three of which unravel to music...

    11/26/2018 - 10:00 Animals, Evolution, Science & Society
  • News

    Sound-absorbent wings and fur help some moths evade bats

    Some moths aren’t so easy for bats to detect.

    The cabbage tree emperor moth has wings with tiny scales that absorb sound waves sent out by bats searching for food. That absorption reduces the echoes that bounce back to bats, allowing Bunaea alcinoe to avoid being so noticeable to the nocturnal predators, researchers report online November 12 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of...

    11/14/2018 - 06:00 Animals, Evolution
  • News

    A mash-up of yeast and E. coli shows how mitochondria might have evolved

    Yeast intentionally stuffed with bacteria may teach scientists something about the origins of cells’ powerhouses.

    Cellular power-generating organelles, called mitochondria, are thought to have once been bacteria captured by archaea, single-celled microbes that are one of the earliest forms of life. Now, almost all eukaryotic cells (cells with a nucleus) contain mitochondria. At first,...

    11/05/2018 - 06:00 Evolution, Cells
  • News in Brief

    Neandertal teeth reveal the earliest known signs of lead exposure

    Traces of lead found in the molars of two young Neandertals found in southeast France provide the earliest recorded evidence of lead exposure in hominids.

    Like tiny time capsules, chemical signatures in the 250,000-year-old chompers chronicle specific times — mostly during the winter months — when the two individuals were exposed to the element as children, researchers report online...

    11/02/2018 - 10:56 Anthropology, Evolution, Health
  • News

    How roaches fight off wasps that turn their victims into zombies

    Real-life fights against zombie-makers offer plenty of tips for avoiding undeath. Just ask cockroaches, targets of the emerald jewel wasp.

    The female wasps (Ampulex compressa) specialize in attacking the American cockroach (Periplaneta americana). If a wasp succeeds, she leads away an unprotesting roach like a dog on a leash just by tugging at a roach antenna. Then she lays an egg on the...

    10/31/2018 - 03:00 Animals, Evolution
  • News

    Lemur study suggests why some fruits smell so fruity

    It’s a lovely notion, but tricky to prove. Still, lemurs sniffing around wild fruits in Madagascar are bolstering the idea that animal noses contributed to the evolution of aromas of fruity ripeness.

    The idea sounds simple, says evolutionary ecologist Omer Nevo of the University of Ulm in Germany. Plants can use mouth-watering scents to lure animals to eat fruits, and thus spread around...

    10/03/2018 - 14:12 Evolution, Plants, Animals
  • News

    The way hunter-gatherers share food shows how cooperation evolved

    East African Hadza hunter-gatherers are neither generous nor stingy. But the groups they live in are. That pattern highlights a flexible and underappreciated form of cooperation that may have helped humans go from mobile bands to industrialized states, researchers say.

    Some camps share food more than others, but Hadza circulate among all camps rather than clustering in the most...

    09/21/2018 - 13:31 Anthropology, Evolution
  • Reviews & Previews

    Smart plants can teach us a thing or two

    The Revolutionary Genius of PlantsStefano MancusoAtria Books, $30

    More than 200 years ago, French botanist René Desfontaines instructed a student to monitor the behavior of Mimosa pudica plants as he drove them around Paris in a carriage. Mimosa pudica quickly closes its leaves when touched — presumably as a defense mechanism. Desfontaines was interested in the plants’ response to...

    09/18/2018 - 07:00 Plants, Evolution, Biophysics
  • It's Alive

    These songbirds violently fling and then impale their prey

    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...

    09/07/2018 - 06:00 Animals, Evolution