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  • 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

    When it comes to the flu, the nose has a long memory

    After an influenza infection, the nose recruits immune cells with long memories to keep watch for the virus, research with mice suggests.

    For the first time, this type of immune cell — known as tissue resident memory T cells — has been found in the nose, researchers report June 2 in Science Immunology. Such nasal resident memory T cells may prevent flu from recurring. Future nasal spray...

    06/02/2017 - 14:00 Immune Science
  • Feature

    For babies exposed to opioids in the womb, parents may be the best medicine

    The first thing you’ll notice is the noise. Monitors beep steadily, relentlessly, ready to sound a car-alarm blare if a baby is in trouble.

    The air has an astringent odor — not clean exactly, but reminiscent of an operating room (there’s one next door). Ceiling lights shine fluorescent white. Half are off, but glare from the monitors throws out extra light. It’s midday on a Friday, but...

    05/31/2017 - 15:30 Health, Science & Society, Biomedicine
  • News

    First settlers reached Americas 130,000 years ago, study claims

    The New World was a surprisingly old destination for humans or our evolutionary relatives, say investigators of a controversial set of bones and stones.

    An unidentified Homo species used stone tools to crack apart mastodon bones, teeth and tusks approximately 130,700 years ago at a site near what’s now San Diego. This unsettling claim upending the scientific debate over the settling of...

    04/26/2017 - 13:00 Archaeology, Anthropology
  • News

    People settled Australia’s rugged interior surprisingly early

    Australia’s early settlers hit the ground running, or least walking with swift determination. After arriving on the continent’s northwest coast by around 50,000 years ago, humans reached Australia’s southeastern interior within a thousand years or so, researchers find.

    This ancient trip covered more than 2,000 kilometers through terrain that, although stark and dry today, featured enough...

    11/02/2016 - 15:01 Archaeology, Anthropology
  • Feature

    Units of measure are getting a fundamental upgrade

    If scientists had sacred objects, this would be one of them: a single, closely guarded 137-year-old cylinder of metal, housed in a vault outside of Paris. It is a prototype that precisely defines a kilogram of mass everywhere in the universe.

    A kilogram of ground beef at the grocery store has the same mass as this one special hunk of metal, an alloy of platinum and iridium. A 60-kilogram...

    11/02/2016 - 12:00 Physics, Numbers
  • Feature

    Reef rehab could help threatened corals make a comeback

    Coral reefs are bustling cities beneath tropical, sunlit waves. Thousands of colorful creatures click, dash and dart, as loud and fast-paced as citizens of any metropolis.

    Built up in tissue-thin layers over millennia, corals are the high-rise apartments of underwater Gotham. Calcium carbonate skeletons represent generations of tiny invertebrate animals, covered in a living layer of...

    10/18/2016 - 05:30 Oceans, Conservation
  • News

    Single exodus from Africa gave rise to today’s non-Africans

    One wave of ancient human migrants out of Africa gave rise to all non-Africans alive today, three separate genetic studies conclude.

    Those human explorers left Africa about 50,000 to 72,000 years ago, mixed with Neandertals and spread across the world, researchers report online September 21 in Nature. The studies present data from genetically diverse and previously unrepresented...

    09/21/2016 - 15:28 Genetics, Ancestry, Climate
  • Feature

    Fish escapes from marine farms raise concerns about wildlife

    On the dock in Buenaventura, Colombia, the fisherman needed help identifying his catch. “I don’t have any clue what this is,” he said, holding a roughly 50-centimeter-long, grayish-brown fish. Gustavo Castellanos-Galindo, a fish ecologist, recalls the conversation from last October. “I said, ‘Well, this is a cobia, and it shouldn’t be here.’ ”

    The juvenile cobia had probably escaped from...

    09/07/2016 - 16:12 Oceans, Ecosystems, Agriculture
  • Wild Things

    Animals get struck by lightning, too

    Lightning strikes about 100 times every second of the day, mainly in warmer regions of the world. About 240,000 people are injured by lightning every year, and 24,000 die after being struck. But humans aren’t the only victims of lightning — animals are, too, though reports of such deaths are far rarer than the deaths themselves.

    The latest documented animal deaths come in the January...

    01/07/2016 - 08:10 Animals, Conservation