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  • News

    A major crop pest can make tomato plants lie to their neighbors

    Don’t blame the tomato. Tiny pests called silverleaf whiteflies can make a tomato plant spread deceptive scents that leave its neighbors vulnerable to attach.

    Sap-sucking Bemisia tabaci, an invasive menace to a wide range of crops, are definitely insects. Yet when they attack a tomato plant, prompting a silent shriek of scents, the plant starts smelling as if bacteria or fungi have...

    04/04/2019 - 06:00 Plants, Animals, Agriculture
  • News in Brief

    Tiny pumpkin toadlets have glowing bony plates on their backs

    When a group of biologists realized that pumpkin toadlets had no middle ear bone, the team was stumped. That meant that these tiny, toxic frogs couldn’t hear each other’s high-pitched chirps, which is how most frogs attract mates. 

    “We scratched our heads about how they could communicate by other means,” says Sandra Goutte, an evolutionary biologist at New York University Abu Dhabi in...

    04/03/2019 - 07:00 Animals, Ecology
  • News in Brief

    Watch a desert kangaroo rat drop-kick a rattlesnake

    The deserts of the southwestern United States may be the lair of secret ninja masters: desert kangaroo rats.

    Researchers armed with high-speed cameras have captured the complex maneuvers that the rodents (Dipodomys deserti) deploy to avoid deadly bites from sidewinder rattlesnakes (Crotalus cerastes). Two new studies, published online March 27 in Functional Ecology and the Biological...

    03/29/2019 - 13:54 Animals
  • News

    Chytrid’s frog-killing toll has been tallied — and it’s bad

    A skin fungus that has plagued frogs and toads worldwide now holds the title of being the world’s worst invasive killer, displacing cats and rodents. 

    The first global tally of the toll caused by a chytrid infection shows that it’s responsible for population declines in at least 500 amphibian species, including 90 presumed extinctions. And that’s a conservative estimate, scientists say....

    03/28/2019 - 14:00 Animals, Ecosystems
  • News in Brief

    Geneticists close in on how mosquitoes sniff out human sweat

    Geneticists have found a scent-sniffer protein molecule in mosquito antennae that — if somehow jammed — might leave a bloodsucker confused about whether we’re human enough to bite.

    Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which can spread Zika and dengue, prefer human blood to the blood of other animals. A string of experiments now shows that a protein called IR8a, found in the insects’ antennae, is...

    03/28/2019 - 11:14 Animals
  • Feature

    Saber-toothed cats were fierce and family-oriented

    The adolescent saber-toothed cat on a summertime hunt realized too late that she had made a terrible miscalculation. 

    Already the size of a modern-day tiger, with huge canine teeth, she had crept across grassy terrain to ambush a giant ground sloth bellowing in distress. Ready to pounce, the cat’s front paw sank into sticky ground. Pressing down with her other three paws to free herself...

    03/24/2019 - 06:00 Paleontology, Animals, Evolution
  • Reviews & Previews

    How a tiger transforms into a man-eater

    No Beast So FierceDane HuckelbridgeWilliam Morrow, $26.99

    At the heart of No Beast So Fierce is a simple and terrifying story: In the early 20th century, a tiger killed and ate more than 400 people in Nepal and northern India before being shot by legendary hunter Jim Corbett in 1907. Rather than just describe this harrowing tale, though, author Dane Huckelbridge seeks to explain how...

    03/19/2019 - 07:00 Animals, Conservation, History of Science
  • Introducing

    Meet India’s starry dwarf frog — a species with no close relatives

    A tiny new frog species discovered in tropical forests of southwest India has been one of a kind for millions of years.

    Palaniswamy Vijayakumar and his colleagues first spotted the new species one night in 2010 while surveying frogs and reptiles roughly 1,300 meters up in India’s Western Ghats mountain range. The frog hardly stood out — its brown back, orange belly and starlike spots...

    03/18/2019 - 10:00 Animals, Evolution
  • News

    Resurrecting woolly mammoth cells is hard to do

    Proteins from woolly mammoth cells frozen for 28,000 years in the Siberian tundra may still have some biological activity, claim researchers attempting to clone the extinct behemoths.

    Japanese scientists first extracted nuclei, the DNA-containing compartments of cells, from the muscles of a juvenile woolly mammoth called Yuka, discovered in 2010 in northeast Russia. The team then...

    03/18/2019 - 07:00 Genetics, Cells, Animals
  • Television

    ‘Epic Yellowstone’ captures the thriving ecosystem of the world-famous park

    “What you’re about to experience is Yellowstone as it’s rarely seen,” actor and Montana resident Bill Pullman says in the opening narration of a new documentary. Smithsonian Channel’s Epic Yellowstone, a four-part series that airs this month and will be available via several streaming services, puts Yellowstone National Park’s recovering ecosystem into the limelight. The park went nearly half...

    03/17/2019 - 07:00 Animals, Conservation, Ecology