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  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers question hominid family tree

    Hominid hubbub

    In “Hominid roots may go back to Europe” (SN: 6/24/17, p. 9), Bruce Bower reported that the teeth of Graecopithecus, a chimp-sized primate that lived in southeastern Europe 7 million years ago, suggest it was a member of the human evolutionary family.

    “Is it appropriate to use the terms ‘hominid’ and ‘ape’ as if the two are mutually exclusive categories?” asked online...

    07/26/2017 - 13:04 Anthropology, Physics, Animals
  • News

    More hints of Martian hot springs may hold promise for Mars 2020 mission

    Ancient hot springs may have bubbled up at a spot just south of the Martian equator. Left-behind mineral deposits described in a new study are not the first evidence of such features on Mars. But if confirmed, the discovery could affect where NASA’s Mars 2020 mission rover lands to start its hunt for signs of life.

    The spot scrutinized in the new study is called Margaritifer Terra. This...

    07/26/2017 - 11:10 Planetary Science
  • News

    Most football players who donated their brains to science had traumatic injury

    A majority of football players whose brains were donated for research suffered a degenerative brain disease during their lives, according to the largest sample of players ever studied. The finding provides more evidence that the repetitive injuries to the brain sustained while playing American football are associated with the disease, researchers say.

    Of 202 deceased former football...

    07/25/2017 - 16:28 Mental Health, Neuroscience
  • Feature

    How earthquake scientists eavesdrop on North Korea’s nuclear blasts

    On September 9 of last year, in the middle of the morning, seismometers began lighting up around East Asia. From South Korea to Russia to Japan, geophysical instruments recorded squiggles as seismic waves passed through and shook the ground. It looked as if an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.2 had just happened. But the ground shaking had originated at North Korea’s nuclear weapons test site...

    07/25/2017 - 12:00 Earth
  • News

    Resistance to CRISPR gene drives may arise easily

    A genetic-engineering tool designed to spread through a population like wildfire — eradicating disease and even whole invasive species — might be more easily thwarted than thought.

    Resistance to the tools, called CRISPR gene drives, arose at high rates in experiments with Drosophila melanogaster fruit flies, researchers at Cornell University report July 20 in PLOS Genetics. Rates of...

    07/20/2017 - 16:35 Genetics, Science & Society, Animals
  • News

    Humans first settled in Australia as early as 65,000 years ago

    Tools, paints and other artifacts excavated from an ancient rock-shelter in northern Australia are giving new glimpses into early life Down Under. The first humans may have arrived on the continent 65,000 years ago — 5,000 years earlier than previously thought — and they were sophisticated craftspeople, researchers report July 19 in Nature.

    Archaeologists unearthed three distinct layers...

    07/19/2017 - 13:00 Archaeology, Anthropology
  • News

    Dog domestication happened just once, ancient DNA study suggests

    People and pooches may have struck up a lasting friendship after just one try, a new genetic study suggests.

    New data from ancient dogs indicates that dogs became distinct from wolves between 20,000 and 40,000 years ago, researchers report July 18 in Nature Communications. Dogs then formed genetically distinct eastern and western groups 17,000 to 24,000 years ago, the researchers...

    07/18/2017 - 11:18 Genetics, Animals, Archaeology
  • News

    Giant mud balls roamed the early solar system

    The earliest asteroids were probably made of mud, not rock.

    Radioactive heat in the early solar system could have melted globs of dust and ice before they had a chance to turn to rock, a new simulation published July 14 in Science Advances shows. The results could solve several puzzles about the composition of meteorites found on Earth and may explain why asteroids are different from...

    07/14/2017 - 14:00 Planetary Science, Astronomy
  • News in Brief

    GM moth trial gets a green light from USDA

    Cabbage-chomping moths genetically modified to be real lady-killers may soon take flight in upstate New York. On July 6, the U.S. Department of Agriculture OK’d a small open-air trial of GM diamondback moths (Plutella xylostella), which the agency says do not pose a threat to human or environmental health.

    These male moths carry a gene that kills female offspring before they mature....

    07/14/2017 - 13:11 Agriculture, Genetics
  • News

    Water bears will survive the end of the world as we know it

    Water bears may be Earth’s last animal standing.

    These tough little buggers, also known as tardigrades, could keep calm and carry on until the sun boils Earth’s oceans away billions of years from now, according to a new study that examined water bears’ resistance to various astronomical disasters. This finding, published July 14 in Scientific Reports, suggests that complex life can be...

    07/14/2017 - 11:40 Animals, Astronomy, Astrobiology