Neuroscientist Barbara Bendlin studies the brain as Alzheimer’s disease develops. When she goes home, she tries to leave her work in the lab. But one recent research project has crossed into her personal life: She now takes sleep much more seriously.
Bendlin works at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, home to the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention, a study of more than 1,500...
Behavioral ecologist Anna Holzner recalls first seeing a southern pig-tail macaque munching on a headless rat. These monkeys were known to eat fruits, insects and even dirt, but nobody had reported them eating rats. “It was funny,” says Holzner, “and disgusting.”
This unexpected act occurred dozens of times from March to August 2016 as Holzner, of the University of Leipzig in Germany,...
The nearly extinct northern white rhino may not be completely lost.
For the first time, white rhinoceros embryos have been made in the lab. Scientists injected preserved sperm from a male northern white rhino into eggs of female southern white rhinos, a closely related subspecies. The embryos were incubated until the cells began to differentiate, a stage at which they can be implanted...
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Spying on WhalesNick PyensonViking, $27
Just before humans evolved, whales and dolphins were, pound for pound, the brainiest creatures on Earth. Another cetacean superlative: Today’s biggest whales are heftier than the largest dinosaurs that ever lived. The evolutionary trends that produced big, brainy marine animals are just a few of the fascinating tales told in Spying on Whales...
Domestic rabbits have smaller brains relative to their body size than wild rabbits do, a new study determined. And that’s not the only change getting tamed by humans wrought on bunny brains.
Two “fear centers” are the most altered brain regions between wild and domestic rabbits. Domestic rabbits have smaller amygdalae (emotion-processing centers that play a key role in the fight-or-...
Move over, monarchs. The painted lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui) now boasts the farthest known butterfly migration.
Though found across the world, the orange-and-brown beauties that live in Southern Europe migrate into Africa each fall, crossing the Sahara on their journey (SN Online: 10/12/16). But what happened after was a mystery because the butterflies disappeared. Researchers...
At some point eight to 10 years ago, some toads stowed away on a ship in Asia, possibly Ho Chi Minh City, and hitched a ride to Madagascar. Those invaders, Asian common toads, have been slowly spreading across the large island ever since.
The toad’s skin contains a toxin that kills nearly anything that tries to eat the amphibian. Scientists have been warning of the toad’s danger to...
On a warm summer evening, a visitor to 1920s Göttingen, Germany, might have heard the hubbub of a party from an apartment on Friedländer Way. A glimpse through the window would reveal a gathering of scholars. The wine would be flowing and the air buzzing with conversations centered on mathematical problems of the day. The eavesdropper might eventually pick up a woman’s laugh cutting through...
Conservationists are stuck in a catch-22: In trying to save some species, the would-be protectors may be giving the animals an evolutionary disadvantage. A new study describes how efforts to protect the endangered northern quoll, a spotted, kitten-sized marsupial native to Australia, by placing a population on a threat-free island may have actually undermined a key survival instinct.
Science & the Public
For a few hundred dollars and a spit sample, you too could take a journey of genetic self-discovery. You may learn some things, but what are you giving away?
Today, hundreds of companies offer to analyze your DNA, or parts of it, to let you in on everything from your health risks and ancestry to more dubious traits like intelligence or athletic ability (SN: 5/26/18, p. 20). The direct-to...