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  • June 8, 2019

    06/06/2019 - 12:06
  • News

    Worms lure two new species of hopping rats out of obscurity

    Two newfound species of shrew-rat have joined a lengthy list of endemic mammals on Luzon, the largest island in the Philippine archipelago and a hotbed of biodiversity. Researchers made their discovery thanks to wriggling worms and a stroke of luck, and hope the finding might help sway legislators to protect the vulnerable ecosystem before it’s too late (SN: 6/8/19, p. 5).     

    The new...

    06/06/2019 - 10:00 Animals, Conservation, Ecology
  • News in Brief

    Tiny plastic debris is accumulating far beneath the ocean surface

    Vast swathes of litter floating on the ocean, like the great Pacific garbage patch, may just be the tip of the trash heap.

    Divers have reportedly spotted plastic bags and candy wrappers as deep as the Mariana Trench. Now, a survey of microplastics at various depths off the coast of California suggests that this debris is most common several hundred meters below the surface, scientists...

    06/06/2019 - 09:00 Oceans, Pollution, Animals
  • News

    Limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C could prevent thousands of deaths in the U.S.

    Having the world meet a more stringent goal to limit global warming may prevent thousands of heat-related deaths in 15 major U.S. cities, a study shows. The projections illustrate the high risk from climate change faced by urban populations.

    Under the Paris Agreement, participating countries have pledged to curb greenhouse gas emissions with the aim of limiting warming to no more than 2...

    06/05/2019 - 14:00 Health, Climate
  • News

    Soil eroded by glaciers may have kick-started plate tectonics

    Vast amounts of sediment eroded from Earth’s continents were necessary to lubricate the wheel of plate tectonics, scientists propose. The idea offers a new angle on long-standing riddles about the origin and evolution of the planet’s global surface recycling system, one that is unique in the solar system.

    Earth’s interior holds a lot of heat, even 4.6 billion years after the planet’s...

    06/05/2019 - 13:36 Earth
  • News

    The accretion disk around our galaxy’s black hole has been spotted at last

    Some supermassive black holes announce their presence with screaming hot disks of orbiting gases. But the behemoth at the center of the Milky Way has been shy and demure. Now, astronomers have finally spotted the black hole’s faintly glowing accretion disk of infalling material, long suspected but never before seen.

    “I was very surprised that we actually saw it,” says astrophysicist...

    06/05/2019 - 13:02 Astronomy
  • News in Brief

    Tiny structures in dragonfish teeth turn them into invisible daggers

    In the deep sea, dragonfish lure smaller fish near their gaping jaws with beardlike attachments capped with a light. But the teeth of the pencil-sized predators don’t gleam in that glow.

    Instead, dragonfish teeth are transparent and hard to see, thanks to nanoscale structures that reduce the amount of light scattered by the teeth, researchers report June 5 in Matter.

    The clear...

    06/05/2019 - 11:00 Animals, Biophysics, Evolution
  • News

    Chemicals in biodegradable food containers can leach into compost

    Composting biodegradable food containers cuts the amount of trash that gets sent to a landfill. But the practice may serve up some unintended consequences for human health.

    That’s because the items often contain perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, to help repel water and oil. These persistent chemicals can leach out of the packaging and end up in compost, researchers...

    06/04/2019 - 14:00 Sustainability, Toxicology, Ecosystems
  • Exhibit

    The Smithsonian’s ‘Deep Time’ exhibit gives dinosaurs new life

    After five years, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., is finally reopening its dinosaur hall on June 8. Visitors may come for fan favorites like Tyrannosaurus rex and Stegosaurus — and these fossils are gorgeously presented. But the new, permanent exhibition, the “David H. Koch Hall of Fossils — Deep Time,” has a much grander story to tell about the history...

    06/04/2019 - 12:17 Science & Society, Paleontology, Climate
  • News in Brief

    How one fern hoards toxic arsenic in its fronds and doesn’t die

    The Chinese brake fern looks unassuming. But Pteris vittata has a superpower: It sucks up arsenic, tucks the toxic metal away in its fronds and lives to tell the tale.

    No other plants or animals are known to match its ability to hoard the heavy metal. Now researchers have identified three genes essential to how the fern accumulates arsenic, according to a study in the May 20 Current...

    06/04/2019 - 09:00 Pollution, Ecosystems, Plants