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  • News

    Macaques take turns while chattering

    When polite people talk, they take turns speaking and adjust the timing of their responses on the fly. So do wild macaques, a team of Japanese ethologists reports.

    Analysis of 20-minute vocal exchanges involving 15 adult female Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata) revealed that the monkeys altered their conversational pauses depending on how quickly others answered, the researchers report...

    12/31/2018 - 11:10 Animals
  • Letters to the Editor

    These are the most-read Science News stories of 2018

    More than 11 million people visited the Science News website this year. Check out this recap of the most-read stories of 2018, and the most popular stories published this year on each of our blogs.

    Top 10 stories

    1. Male birth control pill passes a safety testMen who took a prototype once-daily contraceptive pill for about a month saw their testosterone and other reproductive hormones...

    12/28/2018 - 12:03 Astronomy, Animals, Anthropology
  • News

    Invasive asexual midges may upset Antarctica’s delicate moss banks

    Some of the scariest poop in Antarctica comes from an all-female invader species about the size of an ant. Researchers are now fretting about what the waste from these debris-eating midges may do to the continent’s once nutrient-sparse moss banks.

    The midge Eretmoptera murphyi, a kind of tiny fly that can’t actually fly, hitchhiked onto the Antarctic island of Signy probably sometime in...

    12/19/2018 - 15:51 Animals
  • Year in Review

    Humans wiped out mosquitoes (in one small lab test)

    For the first time, humans have built a set of pushy, destructive genes that infiltrated small populations of mosquitoes and drove them to extinction.

    But before dancing sleeveless in the streets, let’s be clear. This extermination occurred in a lab in mosquito populations with less of the crazy genetic diversity that an extinction scheme would face in the wild. The new gene drive,...

    12/17/2018 - 08:26 Animals, Genetics, Health
  • News

    Endangered northern bettongs aren’t picky truffle eaters

    A small endangered marsupial with a taste for truffles may be a linchpin in one kind of Australian forest — and the evidence is in the animal’s poop.

    Northern bettongs feast on truffles, the meaty, spore-producing parts of certain fungi. Plenty of animals eat a selection of these subterranean orbs from time to time. But analyses of the scat from northern bettongs (Bettongia tropica)...

    12/14/2018 - 13:21 Animals, Conservation
  • News

    Counting the breaths of wild porpoises reveals their revved-up metabolism

    By counting harbor porpoise breaths, researchers have come up with a new way to judge the animals’ hard-to-measure metabolism. The trick shows that the animals can burn energy more than twice as fast as humans.

    Researchers analyzed the several thousand puff-huff respiratory sounds recorded per day from each of 13 harbor porpoises swimming freely in Danish waters. Including just everyday...

    12/14/2018 - 06:00 Animals, Physiology, Conservation
  • 50 years ago, armadillos hinted that DNA wasn’t destiny

    64 armadillos threaten a theory —

    Armadillos come in fours, quadruplet offspring from a single egg, and are endowed with identical genes. Yet, the quadruplets are often not identical, a fact that calls into question the assumption that genes encased in the nucleus of the cell are the sole determinants of heredity. — Science News, November 30, 1968

    Update

    What comes naturally to...

    12/13/2018 - 07:00 Animals, Genetics
  • Rethink

    Nearly 200 Great Barrier Reef coral species also live in the deep sea

    Nearly 200 species of Great Barrier Reef corals have found a second home in the deep ocean. That’s six times as many species as previously thought to be living in the dark, cold waters off northeastern Australia, researchers report December 12 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

    Perhaps more important than the number of species cataloged at those depths is the fact that every...

    12/11/2018 - 19:05 Animals, Oceans, Climate
  • News

    Here’s how geckos (almost) walk on water

    Add water aerobics to the list of the agile gecko’s athletic accomplishments.

    In addition to sticking to smooth walls and swinging from leaves, geckos can skitter along the surface of water. By slapping the water with all four limbs to create air bubbles and exploiting the surface tension of water, the reptiles can travel at speeds close to what they can achieve on land, according to a...

    12/06/2018 - 11:17 Animals
  • News in Brief

    Pea aphid youngsters use piggyback rides to escape a crisis

    First it’s mammal bad breath. Then it’s babies pestering for piggyback rides. A near-death experience is tough on pea aphids.

    When warm, moist breath signals that some cow or other giant is about to chomp into foliage, tiny green aphids feeding on that foliage drop toward the ground by the hundreds (SN Online: 8/10/10). “It literally rains aphids,” says ecologist Moshe Gish, who in 2010...

    12/05/2018 - 20:00 Animals, Ecology