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  • News

    Ancient Romans may have been cozier with Huns than they let on

    Nomadic warriors and herders known as the Huns are described in historical accounts as having instigated the fifth century fall of the Roman Empire under Attila’s leadership. But the invaders weren’t always so fierce. Sometimes they shared rather than fought with the Romans, new evidence suggests.

    Huns and farmers living around the Roman Empire’s eastern border, where the Danube River...

    03/24/2017 - 11:38 Archaeology, Anthropology
  • News

    Female guppies with bigger brains pick more attractive guys

    When choosing more attractive guys, girl guppies with larger brains have an advantage over their smaller-brained counterparts. But there’s a cost to such brainpower, and that might help explain one of the persistent mysteries of sex appeal, researchers report March 22 in Science Advances.

    One sex often shows a strong preference for some trait in the other, whether it’s a longer fish fin...

    03/22/2017 - 15:54 Animals, Evolution, Neuroscience
  • Editor's Note

    Lab tests aren’t the answer for every science question

    In the second half of the 17th century, the chemist and polymath Robert Boyle and philosopher Thomas Hobbes engaged in a divisive debate centered on a temperamental, mechanical contraption known as an air pump. In a series of famous experiments, Boyle used the air pump, which has been called “the cyclotron of its age,” to test basic scientific principles such as the relationship between a gas’...

    03/22/2017 - 12:15 Neuroscience, History of Science, Science & Society
  • Science Ticker

    Tool use in sea otters doesn't run in the family

    Aside from being adorable, sea otters and Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins share an ecological feat: Both species use tools. Otters crack open snails with rocks, and dolphins carry cone-shaped sponges to protect their snouts while scavenging for rock dwelling fish.

    Researchers have linked tool use in dolphins to a set of differences in mitochondrial DNA — which passes from mother to...

    03/21/2017 - 20:44 Animals, Ecology
  • Reviews & Previews

    Shocking stories tell tale of London Zoo’s founding

    The ZooIsobel CharmanPegasus$27.95

    When Tommy the chimpanzee first came to London’s zoo in the fall of 1835, he was dressed in an old white shirt.

    Keepers gave him a new frock and a sailor hat and set him up in a cozy spot in the kitchen to weather the winter. Visitors flocked to get a look at the little ape roaming around the keepers’ lodge, curled up in the cook’s lap or tugging...

    03/20/2017 - 07:00 Animals, History of Science
  • News

    A king snake’s strength is in its squeeze

    It’s not the size of a snake’s muscles that matter, but how it uses them. King snakes can defeat larger snakes in a wrestling match to the death because of how they coil around their prey, researchers report March 15 in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

    King snakes wrap around their food and squeeze with about twice as much pressure as rat snakes do, says David Penning, a functional...

    03/17/2017 - 14:47 Ecology, Animals
  • News

    White House budget plan would slash science

    Huge cuts could be in store for federal science spending if President Donald Trump’s vision for fiscal year 2018 becomes reality.

    Although details are skimpy, Trump’s $1.15 trillion budget proposal, released March 16, would make national security the top priority. The budget blueprint calls for a $54 billion increase in defense spending for 2018, offset by an equally big reduction in...

    03/16/2017 - 17:52 Science & Society
  • It's Alive

    How one enslaving wasp eats through another

    Parasites can drive their hosts to do weird, dumb things. But in certain oak trees, the parasites themselves get played.

    “Creepy and awesome,” says Kelly Weinersmith of Rice University in Houston, who has helped reveal a Russian doll of nested parasitisms.

    The saga begins when two majestic live oak species in the southeastern United States send out new shoots, and female crypt gall...

    03/16/2017 - 12:00 Animals, Ecology, Plants
  • Science & the Public

    Online reviews can make over-the-counter drugs look way too effective

    Here’s one good reason why people often take medications and use health products that don’t live up to expectations or just don’t work — digital word of mouth.

    The reviews can be glowing. Take this scuttlebutt about a cholesterol treatment: “I have been using this product for 2 years. Within the first 3 – 4 months my cholesterol was down 30 points. Just got cholesterol tested last week:...

    03/14/2017 - 14:48 Science & Society, Psychology
  • News

    Changing climate could worsen foods’ nutrition

    A dinner plate piled high with food from plants might not deliver the same nutrition toward the end of this century as it does today. Climate change could shrink the mineral and protein content of wheat, rice and other staple crops, mounting evidence suggests.

    Selenium, a trace element essential for human health, already falls short in diets of one in seven people worldwide. Studies link...

    03/13/2017 - 15:07 Climate, Nutrition, Agriculture