It’s a rare triumph when a species comes back from the dead. A new genetic analysis has officially established what many entomologists and conservation biologists hoped was true: The Lord Howe stick insect (Dryococelus australis) lives.
Nicknamed “tree lobsters,” the dark-brown crawlers are nocturnal, flightless creatures that can grow up to 15 centimeters long. They feed on tea trees,...
Light-sensitive cells in the eyes of some fish do double-duty. In pearlsides, cells that look like rods — the stars of low-light vision — actually act more like cones, which only respond to brighter light, researchers report November 8 in Science Advances. It’s probably an adaptation to give the deep-sea fish acute vision at dawn and dusk, when they come to the surface of the water to feed....
Crested pigeons communicate without even opening their beaks. The birds have a built-in alarm system that’s set off by fluttering feathers when flying away from danger, researchers report November 9 in Current Biology.
In animals, nonvocal sounds are not uncommon. “All animals produce sound as we move, even humans, and that sound can be useful to those that hear it,” says study coauthor...
For an animal already amazing enough to walk on water, what could growing feather fans on its legs possibly add?
These fans have preoccupied Abderrahman Khila of the University of Lyon in France, who keeps some 30 species of bugs called water striders walking the tanks in his lab without getting their long, elegant legs wet.
“Walk” may be too humdrum a word. The 2,200 or so known...
Male mammoths really had to watch their steps. More than two-thirds of woolly mammoth specimens recovered from several types of natural traps in Siberia came from males, researchers report November 2 in Current Biology.
Paleogenomicist Patrícia Pečnerová of the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm and her colleagues examined genomic data recovered from 98 mammoth bone, tooth,...
Orangutans living in forested foothills on the Indonesian island of Sumatra represent a previously unknown species, researchers say.
Skeletal and genetic evidence puts these apes on a separate evolutionary trajectory from other orangutans in Sumatra (Pongo abelii) and Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus), says a team led by evolutionary anthropologist Michael Krützen of the University of...
Finding the chemical basis for the close association between the Attine ants, inhabiting an area extending from Argentina to the southern United States, and the fungus they culture is the aim of research … by Prof. Michael M. Martin of the University of Michigan. Although many animals feed on fungi, the culturing of fungus by the Attine ants is the only known example...
Classification is inevitable. It’s a widespread human tendency and a bedrock of scientific study. From rocks to stars to the stinkbug buzzing against my window, from parts of speech to diseases to the fundamental forces of nature, if an object or phenomenon can be described, it will be grouped with others like it and distinguished from those that differ.11/01/2017 - 12:13 Animals, Evolution, Science & Society
One of the best-known...
Letters to the Editor
Gut feelings11/01/2017 - 12:11 Health, Evolution, Animals
Tests in mice show that microbes in the gut may tamper with the production of tiny molecules in brain regions known to help control anxiety, Maria Temming reported in “How gut bacteria may affect anxiety” (SN: 9/30/17, p. 12).
Online reader Amanda wondered what has more influence: gut bacteria on anxiety, or anxiety on the bacterial makeup of the gut. If bacteria have...
The funniest thing I’ve ever said to any botanist was, “What is a species?” Well, it certainly got the most spontaneous laugh. I don’t think Barbara Ertter, who doesn’t remember the long-ago moment, was being mean. Her laugh was more of a “where do I even start” response to an almost impossible question.
At first glance, “species” is a basic vocabulary word schoolchildren can ace on a...