In a broad swath of northwestern Alaska, small groups of recent immigrants are hard at work. Like many residents of this remote area, they’re living off the land. But these industrious foreigners are neither prospecting for gold nor trapping animals for their pelts. In fact, their own luxurious fur was once a hot commodity. Say hello to Castor canadensis, the American beaver.
VANCOUVER — Adult female mosquitoes could be surfing air currents high above the West African Sahel. This traffic, at least 40 meters up, might be troubling news for efforts to control malaria.
Traps attached to balloons flown over villages in Mali caught close to 3,000 mosquitoes at heights between 40 and 290 meters above the ground, where winds might blow the insects long distances....
The Science Life
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...
A new species of hulking ancient herbivore would have overshadowed its relatives.
Fossils found in Poland belong to a new species that roamed during the Late Triassic, a period some 237 million to 201 million years ago, researchers report November 22 in Science. But unlike most of the enormous animals who lived during that time period, this new creature isn’t a dinosaur — it’s a...
VANCOUVER — Fields of hemp might become a late-season pollen bonanza for bees.
Industrial hemp plants, the no-high varieties of cannabis, are becoming a more familiar sight for American bees as states create pilot programs for legal growing. Neither hemp nor the other strains of the Cannabis sativa species grown for recreational or medicinal uses offer insects any nectar, and all rely on...
Of all the poops in the world, only wombats’ are shaped like cubes.
The varied elasticity of the wombat’s intestines helps the marsupials to sculpt their scat into cubelike nuggets, instead of the round pellets, messy piles or tubular coils made by other mammals, researchers reported November 18 at the American Physical Society Division of Fluid Dynamics meeting in Atlanta.
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...
Climate change may be flipping good Arctic neighborhoods into killing fields for baby birds.
Every year, shorebirds migrate thousands of kilometers from their southern winter refuges to reach Arctic breeding grounds. But what was once a safer region for birds that nest on the ground now has higher risks from predators than nesting in the tropics, says Vojtěch Kubelka, an evolutionary...
Sea otters restocked in old home
When the [Atomic Energy Commission] first cast its eye on the island of Amchitka as a possible site for the testing of underground nuclear explosions, howls of anguish went up; the island is part of the Aleutians National Wildlife Refuge, created to preserve the colonies of nesting birds and some 2,500 sea otters that live there…— Science News, ...
Reviews & Previews
End of the MegafaunaRoss D.E. MacPhee and Peter Schouten (illustrator)W.W. Norton & Co., $35
Today’s land animals are a bunch of runts compared with creatures from the not-too-distant past. Beasts as big as elephants, gorillas and bears were once much more common around the world. Then, seemingly suddenly, hundreds of big species, including the woolly mammoth, the giant ground...