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  • News

    How allergens in pollen help plants do more than make you sneeze

    “Are plants trying to kill us?” allergy sufferers often ask Deborah Devis.

    A plant molecular geneticist at the University of Adelaide’s Waite campus in Australia, Devis should know the answer better than most. She is chugging through the last few months of a Ph.D. that involves predicting how grasses use pollen proteins that make people sneeze, wheeze and weep for days on end.

    What...

    05/19/2019 - 08:00 Health, Plants, Immune Science
  • News

    Vaccines may help bats fight white nose syndrome

    Oral vaccines could give wild bats a better chance at surviving white nose syndrome, the fungal disease that has ravaged bat colonies in North America. In lab tests conducted on captured little brown bats, vaccination led to fewer infected bats developing lesions and more of the bats surviving, researchers report May 1 in Scientific Reports.

    White nose syndrome, caused by the fungus...

    05/17/2019 - 07:00 Animals, Biomedicine
  • News in Brief

    Some dog breeds may have trouble breathing because of a mutated gene

    Dogs with flat faces aren’t alone in their struggle to breathe. It turns out that Norwich terriers can develop the same wheezing — caused not by the shape of their snouts, but possibly by a wayward gene. 

    DNA from 401 Norwich terriers revealed that those suffering a respiratory tract disorder shared the same variant of gene ADAMTS3 that’s associated with swelling around airways. Nearly a...

    05/16/2019 - 14:00 Animals, Genetics
  • News

    Bloodthirsty bedbugs have feasted on prey for 100 million years

    The first bedbug infestations may have occurred in the beds of Cretaceous critters.

    Scientists previously assumed the bloodsuckers’ first hosts were bats. But a new genetic analysis of 34 bedbug species reveals that bedbugs appeared 30 million to 50 million years before the nocturnal mammals, says Michael Siva-Jothy, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Sheffield in England,...

    05/16/2019 - 13:47 Molecular Evolution, Animals
  • News

    Fossil teeth push the human-Neandertal split back to about 1 million years ago

    People and Neandertals separated from a common ancestor more than 800,000 years ago — much earlier than many researchers had thought.

    That conclusion, published online May 15 in Science Advances, stems from an analysis of early fossilized Neandertal teeth found at a Spanish site called Sima de los Huesos. During hominid evolution, tooth crowns changed in size and shape at a steady rate,...

    05/15/2019 - 14:00 Anthropology, Human Evolution
  • News

    China’s lunar rover may have found minerals from the moon’s mantle

    The first mission to the farside of the moon may have found bits of the moon’s interior on its surface.

    The Yutu-2 rover, deployed by the Chinese Chang’e-4 spacecraft that landed on the moon in January, detected soil that appears rich in minerals thought to make up the lunar mantle, researchers report in the May 16 Nature. Those origins, if confirmed, could offer insight into the moon’s...

    05/15/2019 - 13:00 Planetary Science
  • Science Visualized

    Peacock spiders’ superblack spots reflect just 0.5 percent of light

    Male peacock spiders know how to put on a show for potential mates, with dancing and a bit of optical trickery.

    Microscopic bumps on the arachnids’ exoskeletons make velvety black areas look darker than a typical black by manipulating light. This architecture reflects less than 0.5 percent of light, researchers report May 15 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

    The ultradark...

    05/14/2019 - 19:05 Animals, Evolution
  • News

    A new AI acquired humanlike ‘number sense’ on its own

    Artificial intelligence can share our natural ability to make numeric snap judgments.

    Researchers observed this knack for numbers in a computer model composed of virtual brain cells, or neurons, called an artificial neural network. After being trained merely to identify objects in images — a common task for AI — the network developed virtual neurons that respond to specific quantities....

    05/13/2019 - 07:00 Artificial Intelligence, Neuroscience
  • News in Brief

    Only a third of Earth’s longest rivers still run free

    Free-flowing rivers are an endangered species on Earth. Only about a third of the world’s longest rivers still flow freely along their entire lengths, unchained by dams or reservoirs, scientists report in the May 9 Nature.

    The study is the first global map of river “connectivity,” the ability of river water to move freely downstream, across floodplains and into and out of aquifers...

    05/10/2019 - 07:00 Earth, Climate
  • 50 years ago, scientists tried to transplant part of a human eye

    Transplants: Part of a whole eye —

    After an attempted cornea transplant failed, ophthalmologists in Houston, Tex., tried a more daring experiment to restore the vision of 54-year-old John Madden…. They transplanted an entire eye from a donor who had died of a brain tumor.… [Later, the doctor who did the surgery] announced that only the front part of the donor’s eye had been...

    05/09/2019 - 07:00 Biomedicine