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  • Reviews & Previews

    Shocking stories tell tale of London Zoo’s founding

    The ZooIsobel CharmanPegasus$27.95

    When Tommy the chimpanzee first came to London’s zoo in the fall of 1835, he was dressed in an old white shirt.

    Keepers gave him a new frock and a sailor hat and set him up in a cozy spot in the kitchen to weather the winter. Visitors flocked to get a look at the little ape roaming around the keepers’ lodge, curled up in the cook’s lap or tugging...

    03/20/2017 - 07:00 Animals, History of Science
  • Editor's Note

    Science’s questions rarely have clear, easy answers

    There are few simple answers in science. Even seemingly straightforward questions, when probed by people in search of proof, lead to more questions. Those questions lead to nuances, layers of complexity and, more often than we might expect, conclusions that contradict initial intuition.

    In the 1990s, researchers asking “How do we fight oxygen-hungry cancer cells?” offered an obvious...

    02/22/2017 - 12:47 Science & Society
  • Awards

    20172017  Imagination AwardContent, Gravitational Waves Special ReportGravity waves from black holes verify Einstein’s predictionThe long road to detecting gravity waves Gravitational waves explained Video: What are gravitational waves?Continuing coverage of gravitational waves20162016 Folio: AwardsBest single article, Consumer, Science, Gene Drives Unleashed, Tina Hesman Saey (Dec. 12, 2015...
    01/30/2017 - 18:54
  • Feature

    Tales of creatures large and small made news this year

    Scientists filled in the details of some famous evolutionary tales in 2016 — and discovered a few surprises about creatures large and small.

    Venom repertoire

    By studying a gene family important for toxin production, researchers found that modern rattlesnakes have pared down their venom arsenal over time (SN: 10/15/16, p. 9). Rattlers now have a smaller repertoire of toxins, perhaps more...

    12/22/2016 - 07:00 Animals, Evolution, Genetics
  • Context

    Tom Wolfe’s denial of language evolution stumbles over his own words

    Language is a tricky thing to write about. You’re using it while dissecting it. That sort of recursion can trip you up. As a philosopher friend of mine once said, a zoologist studying tigers, while riding on the back of a tiger, should be very careful.

    Of all the writers who’ve ever taken on the task of writing about language, nobody of any consequence has ever tripped himself up quite...

    10/19/2016 - 08:00 Language, Science & Society
  • Wild Things

    Kauai’s native forest birds are headed toward extinction

    Hawaiian honeycreepers are a marvel of evolution. Millions of years ago, some finches arrived on the Hawaiian Islands and began to diversify. As the Pacific Plate moved over the Hawaiian hotspot and new islands formed and others shriveled away, these colorful songbirds evolved into more than 50 species that differed so much in what they ate, where they lived and how they looked that it took...

    09/13/2016 - 15:00 Animals, Evolution, Conservation
  • Experiences

    Darwin’s Dogs wants your dog’s DNA

    Going for walks, playing fetch and now participating in genetic research are just a few things people and their dogs can do together.

    Darwin’s Dogs, a citizen science project headquartered at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, is looking for good — and bad — dogs to donate DNA. The project aims to uncover genes that govern behavior, including those involved in...

    08/21/2016 - 08:00 Genetics, Animals
  • Wild Things

    Sneaky male fiddler crabs entrap their mates

    Among people, a man stepping aside to let a woman pass through a door first is seen as a gentlemanly — if a bit old-fashioned — act. Among banana fiddler crabs, though, this behavior is a trap — one that lets a male crab coerce a female into a mating she may not have preferred.

    To catch the attention of a female and lure her into his burrow, a male banana fiddler crab stands outside the...

    06/30/2016 - 07:59 Animals
  • Wild Things

    Three-toed sloths are even more slothful than two-toed sloths

    There are degrees of slothfulness, it turns out, even when it comes to sloths. And three-toed sloths may be the most slothful of them all: A species of the animal has a field metabolic rate that is the lowest ever recorded for any mammal in the world.

    Jonathan Pauli, an ecologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, got interested in sloths not because they’re adorable but because “...

    06/20/2016 - 09:00 Animals, Evolution
  • Feature

    Some animals ‘see’ the world through oddball eyes

    It sounds like a riddling trick: How can an animal with no eyes still see? But it’s a serious scientific question — the trickiest kind of riddle.

    Sea urchins don’t have anything that people recognize as an eye, says Sönke Johnsen of Duke University. Urchin bodies are mobile pincushions in purples and pinks to browns and blacks, bristling with a mix of spiky spines and soft, stretchy tube...

    05/18/2016 - 07:00 Animals, Evolution