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  • News

    Orangutans take motherhood to extremes, nursing young for more than eight years

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    The supermoms of the mammal world are big, shy redheads. Studying growth layers in orangutan teeth shows that mothers can nurse their youngsters for eight-plus years, a record for wild mammals.  

    Teeth from a museum specimen of a young Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) don’t show signs of weaning until 8.1 years of age. And a Sumatran orangutan (P. abelii) was still...

    05/17/2017 - 14:46 Animals, Anthropology
  • Feature

    Chaco Canyon’s ancient civilization continues to puzzle

    Chaco Canyon is a land of extremes. Summer heat scorches the desert canyon, which is sandwiched between sandstone cliffs nearly two kilometers above sea level in New Mexico’s northwestern corner. Bitter cold sweeps in for winter. Temperatures can swing as many as 28 degrees Celsius during the course of a day. Through it all, Chaco Canyon maintains a desolate beauty and a craggy pride as home...

    05/17/2017 - 07:00 Archaeology, Anthropology
  • Science Ticker

    Higher temperatures could trigger an uptick in damselfly cannibalism

    A warmer climate could put some damselflies in distress, as others get bigger and hungrier.

    Because of differences in hatching time, nymphs — the immature form of the insects — vary in size. Sometimes when ponds are overcrowded, other food options are scarce or size differences are significant, bigger, older nymphs nosh on the little nymphs. While temperature doesn’t typically affect...

    05/16/2017 - 19:05 Climate, Animals, Ecology
  • News

    Where you live can affect your blood pressure, study suggests

    For black adults, moving out of a racially segregated neighborhood is linked to a drop in blood pressure, according to a new study. The finding adds to growing evidence of an association between a lack of resources in many predominately black neighborhoods and adverse health conditions among their residents, such as diabetes and obesity.

    Systolic blood pressure — the pressure in blood...

    05/15/2017 - 19:21 Biomedicine, Health, Science & Society
  • News

    Selfish genes hide for decades in plain sight of worm geneticists

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    A strain of wild Hawaiian worms has helped unmask long-studied genes as just plain selfish. The scammers beat the usual odds of inheritance and spread extra fast by making mother worms poison some of their offspring.

    Biologists have for decades discussed how two genes in the familiar lab nematode Caenorhabditis elegans might help embryos build their organs. Working...

    05/11/2017 - 15:13 Genetics, Evolution, Animals
  • News

    Ancient whale tells tale of when baleen whales had teeth

    A 36-million-year-old fossil skeleton is revealing a critical moment in the history of baleen whales: what happened when the ancestors of these modern-day filter feeders first began to distinguish themselves from their toothy, predatory predecessors. The fossil is the oldest known mysticete, a group that includes baleen whales, such as humpbacks, researchers report in the May 22 Current...

    05/11/2017 - 12:10 Paleontology, Animals, Evolution
  • News

    Seabirds use preening to decide how to divvy up parenting duties

    Seabirds called common murres appear to use preening as a way to negotiate whose turn it is to watch their chick and who must find food. And when one parent is feeling foul, irregularities in this grooming ritual may send the other a signal that all is not well, researchers report in the July issue of The Auk: Ornithological Advances.

    “The fascinating part of this study is the inference...

    05/09/2017 - 07:00 Animals, Ecology
  • News

    Sea creatures’ sticky ‘mucus houses’ catch ocean carbon really fast

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    Never underestimate the value of a disposable mucus house.

    Filmy, see-through envelopes of mucus, called “houses,” get discarded daily by the largest of the sea creatures that exude them. The old houses, often more than a meter across, sink toward the ocean bottom carrying with them plankton and other biological tidbits snagged in their goo.

    Now, scientists...

    05/04/2017 - 13:28 Animals, Oceans, Climate
  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers concerned about cancer’s sugary disguise

    Sugarcoated

    A new wave of potential immune therapies aims to target the network of complex sugars that coat cancer cells, Esther Landhuis reported in “Cancer’s sweet cloak” (SN: 4/1/17, p. 24). Some of these sugars, called sialic acids, help tumors hide from the immune system.

    “Are the offending sugars referred to in this article the ones we are eating or are they the result of...

    05/03/2017 - 11:20 Cancer, Technology, Animals
  • Soapbox

    Radical idea could restore ice in the Arctic Ocean

    Leave it to a researcher who studies icy moons in the outer solar system to come up with an out-there scheme to restore vanishing sea ice in the Arctic.

    Ice is a good insulator, says Steven Desch, a planetary scientist at Arizona State University in Tempe. That’s why moons such as Jupiter’s Europa and Saturn’s Enceladus, among others, may be able to maintain liquid oceans beneath their...

    05/02/2017 - 10:00 Climate, Earth, Oceans