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  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers seek answers to stories about shingles, Neandertal spears and more

    Life after shingles

    In “With its burning grip, shingles can do lasting damage” (SN: 3/2/19, p. 22), Aimee Cunningham described the experience of Nora Fox, a woman whose bout with shingles nearly 15 years ago left her with a painful condition called postherpetic neuralgia. Fox hadn’t found any reliable treatments, Cunningham reported.

    Fox praised Science News for our portrayal of...

    04/07/2019 - 07:00 Health, Anthropology, Earth
  • News in Brief

    Foreigners may have conquered ancient Egypt without invading it

    CLEVELAND — A mysterious foreign dynasty that ruled ancient Egypt for about a century gained power not by force, as often thought, but by marrying into royalty, new evidence suggests.

    Hyksos people, thought to have come from somewhere in West Asia, reigned as Egypt’s 15th dynasty from around 3,650 to 3,540 years ago. Although later, homegrown Egyptian pharaohs described these people as...

    04/02/2019 - 11:57 Anthropology
  • News

    The first known fossil of a Denisovan skull has been found in a Siberian cave

    CLEVELAND — A palm-sized section of a braincase is the first Denisovan skull fossil ever found.

    Discovered in two pieces in Siberia’s Denisova Cave in August 2016, the find joins only a handful of fragmentary fossils from these mysterious, extinct hominids. Mitochondrial DNA, a type of genetic material typically inherited from the mother, extracted from the skull pegged it as Denisovan,...

    03/29/2019 - 11:01 Anthropology, Human Evolution
  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers respond to classroom robots, soil erosion and more

    Robot revolution?

    Educational robots could help students learn new skills and good study habits. But researchers still have a lot to learn about the potential risks involved when young kids keep close company with such robots, Maria Temming reported in “Robots are becoming classroom tutors. But will they make the grade?” (SN: 2/16/19, p. 16).The story reminded reader A. Bogart of Isaac...

    03/27/2019 - 07:00 Robotics, Anthropology, Health
  • News

    The rise of farming altered our bite and changed how people talk

    Humankind’s gift of gab is not set in stone, and farming could help to explain why.

    Over the last 6,000 years or so, farming societies increasingly have substituted processed dairy and grain products for tougher-to-chew game meat and wild plants common in hunter-gatherer diets. Switching to those diets of softer, processed foods altered people’s jaw structure over time, rendering certain...

    03/14/2019 - 14:00 Language, Anthropology, Human Evolution
  • Reviews & Previews

    ‘Skeleton Keys’ unlocks the history and mysteries of bones

    Skeleton KeysBrian SwitekRiverhead Books, $26

    At this very moment, voracious cells are eating away at your bones. Not to worry, though — that’s just a normal part of bone maintenance in healthy adults. The formation of new bone cells balances out the removal of old bone cells. Although bone-making cells rev up when a bone breaks or disease sets in, eventually bone-eating cells kick...

    03/08/2019 - 06:00 Animals, Anthropology, Cells
  • News

    Human encroachment threatens chimpanzee culture

    From deep inside chimpanzee territory, the fieldworkers heard loud bangs and shouts. Hidden video cameras later revealed what the chimps in the Boé region of Guinea-Bissau were up to. Males were throwing rocks at trees and yelling.  

    Researchers don’t fully understand why the apes engage in this rare behavior, known as accumulative stone throwing. And scientists may not have much time to...

    03/07/2019 - 14:44 Conservation, Evolution, Anthropology
  • News in Brief

    Hominids may have hunted rabbits as far back as 400,000 years ago

    In Europe, Stone Age hominids began adding small, fast animals to their menus much earlier than previously thought, scientists say.

    Now-extinct members of the human genus, Homo, hunted rabbits and, to a lesser extent, hares in southern France and probably other Mediterranean parts of Europe by around 400,000 years ago, researchers report online March 6 in Science Advances. Hunters also...

    03/06/2019 - 14:00 Anthropology, Human Evolution
  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers ponder mitochondria, Neandertal diets, deep sea corals and more

    Dad’s contribution

    Scientists have long thought that children inherit mitochondria — tiny energy factories found in cells — from only their mothers. But data from three unrelated families suggest that in rare cases children can also inherit mitochondria from their fathers, Tina Hesman Saey reported in “Dads, not just moms, can pass along mitochondrial DNA” (SN: 1/19/19, p. 8).

    ...

    02/26/2019 - 06:00 Cells, Anthropology, Oceans
  • News

    African hominid fossils show ancient steps toward a two-legged stride

    Fossils unearthed from an Ethiopian site not far from where the famous hominid Ardi’s partial skeleton was found suggest that her species was evolving different ways of walking upright more than 4 million years ago.

    Scientists have established that Ardi herself could walk upright (SN Online: 4/2/18). But the new fossils demonstrate that other members of Ardipithecus ramidus developed a...

    02/22/2019 - 11:11 Anthropology, Human Evolution