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  • News

    To make female pill bugs, just add bacterial genes

    ORLANDO, Fla. — When sex chromosomes among common pill bugs go bad from disuse, borrowed bacterial DNA comes to the rescue. Certain pill bugs grow up female because of sex chromosomes cobbled together with genes that jumped from the bacteria.

    Genetic analysis traces this female-maker DNA to Wolbachia bacteria, Richard Cordaux, based at the University of Poitiers with France’s scientific...

    09/30/2016 - 16:51 Genetics, Animals, Evolution
  • Wild Things

    Nature has a dog problem

    Man’s best friend can sometimes be wildlife’s worst enemy. Free-roaming dogs, both feral and owned animals that run loose, spread rabies and other diseases, kill wild animals and have caused extinctions. They’re even to blame for thousands of human deaths every year. And yet dogs get little of the hatred aimed at feral cats — and only a fraction of the attention from scientists.

    Perhaps...

    09/30/2016 - 11:00 Animals, Conservation
  • Science Ticker

    Rosetta spacecraft lands on comet, ends mission

    Rosetta is no more. The comet orbiter touched down on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko at 7:19 a.m. Eastern and immediately shut down, bringing to an end a nearly 26-month mission in orbit around the comet.

    “I hereby declare mission operations ended,” said Rosetta mission manager Patrick Martin. The landing site has been dubbed Sais, the ancient Egyptian town believed to be...

    09/30/2016 - 08:19 Planetary Science
  • News

    After Big Bang, shock waves rocked newborn universe

    View the video

    Shock waves may have jolted the infant cosmos. Clumpiness in the density of the early universe piled up into traveling waves of abrupt density spikes, or shocks, like those that create a sonic boom, scientists say.

    Although a subtle effect, the shock waves could help scientists explain how matter came to dominate antimatter in the universe. They also could reveal the...

    09/30/2016 - 07:00 Cosmology
  • Growth Curve

    Don’t cocoon a kid who has a concussion

    Concussions, particularly those among children playing sports, are on parents’ minds. The fervor over NFL players’ brains and those of other elite athletes has trickled all the way down to mini-kicker soccer teams and peewee football leagues. And parents are right to be worried. Concussions seem to be on the rise. From 1990 to 2014, the rate of concussions in youth soccer players jumped by...

    09/29/2016 - 15:00 Health
  • News

    Primitive signs of emotions spotted in sugar-buzzed bumblebees

    To human observers, bumblebees sipping nectar from flowers appear cheerful. It turns out that the insects may actually enjoy their work. A new study suggests that bees experience a “happy” buzz after receiving a sugary snack, although it’s probably not the same joy that humans experience chomping on a candy bar.

    Scientists can’t ask bees or other animals how they feel. Instead,...

    09/29/2016 - 14:00 Animals, Neuroscience
  • Science Ticker

    Zika virus infects cells that make bone, muscle in lab tests

    Zika virus can infiltrate the cells that give rise to bone, cartilage and muscles in the head, researchers report September 29 in Cell Host & Microbe.

    In utero infection of these cells, called cranial neural crest cells, could improperly mold babies’ facial features, the authors suggest. The findings — so far observed only in cells and minibrains grown in the lab — offer a possible...

    09/29/2016 - 12:00 Health
  • News

    Gene linked to autism in people may influence dog sociability

    Dogs may look to humans for help in solving impossible tasks thanks to some genes previously linked to social disorders in people.

    Beagles with particular variants in a gene associated with autism were more likely to sidle up to and make physical contact with a human stranger, researchers report September 29 in Scientific Reports.

    That gene, SEZ6L, is one of five genes in a...

    09/29/2016 - 09:00 Genetics, Animals
  • News

    So long, Rosetta: End is near for comet orbiter

    Rosetta is about to take its final bow.

    On September 30, the comet orbiter will wrap up its nearly 26-month visit to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko by touching down on the surface and then shutting down. Before sending its last signal to Earth, Rosetta will snap pictures and gather data all the way to the end, collecting some of the most detailed looks ever at a comet.

    “Every time...

    09/29/2016 - 05:30 Planetary Science
  • News

    Glass bits, charcoal hint at 56-million-year-old space rock impact

    DENVER — A period of skyrocketing global temperatures started with a bang, new research suggests.

    Impact debris and evidence of widespread wildfires around eastern North America suggest that a large space rock whacked Earth around 56 million years ago at the beginning of the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, also known as the PETM, a period of rapid warming and huge increases in carbon...

    09/28/2016 - 17:31 Earth, Climate