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Your search has returned 163 articles:
  • On the Scene

    The stories of supernova 1987A, as told by Science News

    The planning for our supernova special issue began months ago. In one early meeting, astronomy writer Christopher Crockett lit up as he told the story of the night supernova 1987A was discovered. The account has all the ingredients of a blockbuster. There’s a struggle (with an observatory door), the element of surprise (an unexpected burst on a photographic plate), disbelief (by our...

    02/24/2017 - 11:51
  • News

    Oxygen flooded Earth’s atmosphere earlier than thought

    The breath of oxygen that enabled the emergence of complex life kicked off around 100 million years earlier than previously thought, new dating suggests.

    Previous studies pegged the first appearance of relatively abundant oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere, known as the Great Oxidation Event, or GOE, at a little over 2.3 billion years ago. New dating of ancient volcanic outpourings, however,...

    02/06/2017 - 15:45 Earth, Evolution, Chemistry
  • Feature

    Some lucky birds escaped dino doomsday

    The asteroid strike (or was it the roiling volcanoes?) that triggered dino doomsday 66 million years ago also brought an avian apocalypse. Birds had evolved by then, but only some had what it took to survive.

    Biologists now generally accept birds as a kind of dinosaur, just as people are a kind of mammal. Much of what we think of as birdlike traits — bipedal stance, feathers, wishbones...

    01/25/2017 - 14:30 Evolution, Animals
  • Feature

    Devastation detectives try to solve dinosaur disappearance

    Below the shimmering turquoise waters of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula lies the scene of a prehistoric mass murder. In a geologic instant, most animal and plant species perished. Drilling through hundreds of meters of rock, investigators have finally reached the footprint left by the accused: Earth’s most notorious space rock impact, Chicxulub. The dinosaur killer.

    Sleuthing scientists are...

    01/25/2017 - 14:30 Earth, Paleontology
  • Feature

    Evidence falls into place for once and future supercontinents

    Look at any map of the Atlantic Ocean, and you might feel the urge to slide South America and Africa together. The two continents just beg to nestle next to each other, with Brazil’s bulge locking into West Africa’s dimple. That visible clue, along with several others, prompted Alfred Wegener to propose over a century ago that the continents had once been joined in a single enormous landmass....

    01/11/2017 - 08:38 Earth
  • The –est

    Tomatillo fossil is oldest nightshade plant

    Two tiny tomatillo fossils have kicked the origin of nightshade plants back to the age of dinosaurs.

    The fossils, pressed into 52-million-year-old rock, suggest that the nightshade family originated millions of years earlier than scientists had suspected, researchers report in the Jan. 6 Science.

    Nightshades include roughly 2,500 species of plants, from tomatoes to eggplants to...

    01/05/2017 - 14:14 Paleontology, Plants
  • The –est

    Oldest traces of smallpox virus found in child mummy

    A child mummy buried in a church crypt in Lithuania could hold the oldest genetic evidence of smallpox.

    Traces of the disease-causing variola virus linger in the mummy, which dates to about 1654, evolutionary geneticist Ana Duggan and colleagues report December 8 in Current Biology. Previously, a team of researchers had reported variola DNA in a roughly 300-year-old Siberian mummy.

    ...
    12/08/2016 - 12:00 Health, Anthropology
  • News

    HIV came to NYC at least a decade before virus ID’d

    A genetic study of HIV viruses from the 1970s may finally clear the name of a man long identified as the source of the AIDS epidemic in the United States. HIV came to New York City between 1969 and 1973, long before the man known as Patient Zero became infected, researchers report October 26 in Nature.

    Using techniques developed to decipher badly degraded ancient DNA from fossils,...

    10/26/2016 - 13:06 Genetics, Microbiology, Science & Society
  • News in Brief

    Barnacles track whale migration

    DENVER — Barnacles can tell a whale of a tale. Chemical clues inside barnacles that hitched rides on baleen whales millions of years ago could divulge ancient whale migration routes, new research suggests.

    Modern baleen whales migrate thousands of kilometers annually between breeding and feeding grounds, but almost nothing is known about how these epic journeys have changed over time....

    09/27/2016 - 12:01 Animals, Paleontology, Oceans
  • News

    Nuclear blasts, other human activity signal new epoch, group argues

    Humankind’s bombs, plastics, chickens and more have altered the planet enough to usher in a new chapter in Earth’s geologic history. That’s the majority opinion of a group of 35 experts tasked with evaluating whether the current human-dominated time span, unofficially dubbed the Anthropocene, deserves a formal place in Earth’s geologic timeline alongside the Eocene and the Pliocene.

    In a...

    09/25/2016 - 06:00 Earth, Climate, Science & Society