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  • News

    Feral cats appear to be pathetic at controlling New York City’s rats

    People often assume cats enthusiastically kill city rats, but that may be just an urban legend.

    Feral cats caught on video were keen to watch rats lurking around a trash collection center in Brooklyn, says behavioral ecologist Michael Parsons. But cats rarely killed, or even chased, the rats. Cats aren’t a good choice for rat-population control, Parsons, a visiting researcher at Fordham...

    09/27/2018 - 16:09 Animals, Science & Society
  • News

    Manta rays have an unusual mouth filter that resists clogging

    Manta rays were built for speed — and to filter feed.

    The aerodynamic ocean dwellers efficiently separate plankton from seawater using a previously unknown kind of filtration system that resists clogs and captures tiny bits of plankton, researchers report September 26 in Science Advances.

    Mantas are filter feeders, like many other ocean creatures. They pull plankton-laden seawater...

    09/26/2018 - 14:05 Animals, Physics
  • News

    A new species of high-altitude hummingbird may already be in trouble

    A new hummingbird species has been discovered high in the Ecuadorian Andes, but in numbers so low the bird may already be critically endangered.

    Named for its cobalt-colored feathers, the blue-throated hillstar hummingbird nibbles on insects and slurps pollen from chuquiraga plants in a remote, treeless ecosystem known as the Páramo. Like other high-altitude hummingbirds from the same...

    09/26/2018 - 09:00 Animals
  • Feature

    Jenny Tung wants to know how social stresses mess with genes

    Jenny Tung, 36Genetics and evolutionary anthropologyDuke University

    Jenny Tung is skeptical when she hears that her older sister, Wenny, compares Jenny’s science to their father’s golf.

    He played so much because he found it “a big, fat, hairy challenge,” Wenny said, proposing that Jenny, too, is drawn to challenges by their difficulty.

    Jenny Tung protests. Yet she doesn’t deny...

    09/26/2018 - 08:26 Animals, Genetics, Health
  • Introducing

    This new fish species displays a splash of highlighter hues

    A new species of reef fish is a real head turner. 

    Last year while surveying a remote coral reef about 130 meters below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, ichthyologists Luiz Rocha and Hudson Pinheiro spotted a radiant fish hiding in a drab rock crevice.  

    “It was like finding a bright emerald in a coal mine,” recalls Pinheiro.

    The fish, with its electric-pink-and-yellow body...

    09/25/2018 - 10:22 Animals
  • Science Visualized

    How math helps explain the delicate patterns of dragonfly wings

    The dainty veins gracing the wings of dragonflies and other insects are like fingerprints: Each wing displays a distinct pattern. A randomized mathematical process may help explain how certain thin filaments, called secondary veins, form these complex patterns, a new study finds.

    Insect wings consist of two types of veins, both of which provide structural support (SN: 6/24/17, p. 5)....

    09/23/2018 - 08:00 Animals, Biophysics
  • News

    DNA from seized elephant ivory unmasks 3 big trafficking cartels in Africa

    Pairs of elephant tusks that are separated during smuggling are illuminating the tracks of wildlife crime.

    Identifying matching elephant DNA in different shipments of tusks can help scientific sleuths connect the shipments to the same ivory trafficking cartel, a new study finds. That technique has already revealed the presence of three major interconnected cartels that are active in...

    09/19/2018 - 14:00 Conservation, Animals, Genetics
  • Reviews & Previews

    ‘Poached’ offers a deep, disturbing look into the illegal wildlife trade

    PoachedRachel Love NuwerDa Capo Press, $28

    Perhaps the most unsettling scene in Poached, by science journalist Rachel Love Nuwer, comes early in the book, in a fancy restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The author and two friends sit down and are handed leather-bound menus offering roasted civet, fried tortoise, stewed pangolin and other delicacies made from rare or endangered...

    09/14/2018 - 07:00 Animals, Conservation, Science & Society
  • News in Brief

    This flying robot could reveal secrets of the aerial world of insects

    A new winged robot helps explain why airborne insects are so doggone hard to swat.

    Scientists have wondered how these tiny pilots pull off such rapid twists and turns, but researchers haven’t been able to test all their ideas by monitoring real insects or using tethered robots. Now, a free-flying, insect-inspired robot, described in the Sept. 14 Science, gives researchers an alternative...

    09/13/2018 - 14:00 Robotics, Animals
  • News

    Before it burned, Brazil’s National Museum gave much to science

    A natural history museum isn’t just a place to take visiting relatives or for entertaining kids on the weekends. These museums’ collections also play a vital, but under-celebrated, role in scientific research.

    That’s why, when Brazil's National Museum in Rio de Janeiro caught fire on September 2, more than just a catalog of natural and human history was lost. The museum was full of...

    09/07/2018 - 17:53 Science & Society, Paleontology, Animals