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  • News

    Rising dolphin deaths linked to Deepwater Horizon spill

    The April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill helped spark a massive, ongoing die-off of dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico, a new study suggests.

    Dead common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) examined in the region had lung lesions and adrenal gland damage, injuries previously linked to oil exposure,...

    05/21/2015 - 18:14 Pollution, Toxicology, Oceans
  • News

    Tranquil ecosystems may explain wild swings in carbon dioxide stashing

    Placid prairies and austere scrublands may be key ecosystems for explaining mysterious year-to-year swings in the amount of carbon dioxide sucked out of the atmosphere.

    The unassuming landscapes are responsible for up to 50 percent of the yearly variation in how much of the greenhouse gas is stashed on land, ...

    05/21/2015 - 15:02 Climate, Ecosystems
  • News

    Mutations that drive cancer lurk in healthy skin

    By late middle age, about a quarter of skin cells carry cancer-driving mutations caused by exposure to sunlight — and it’s perfectly normal.

    Researchers had previously thought that the types of mutations that fuel tumor growth were rare and happened just before a cell becomes cancerous. But a study of the eyelids of four people who don’t have cancer reveals that such mutations “are...

    05/21/2015 - 14:11 Genetics, Cancer
  • Science Ticker

    Once-stable Antarctic glaciers are now melting rapidly

    A once-steadfast group of Antarctic glaciers has nosedived into rapid decline.

    Glaciers along the Southern Antarctic Peninsula remained roughly stable between 2003 and 2009. New satellite observations reveal that the region suddenly destabilized in 2009 and is now shedding around 56 billion metric tons of ice each year, enough water to raise sea levels by roughly 0.16 millimeters.

    ...

    05/21/2015 - 14:00 Climate, Earth
  • News

    Brain implants let paralyzed man move robotic arm

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    A paralyzed man can now make a robotic arm do some smooth moves. Tiny silicon chips embedded in an action-planning part of his brain let the man control the arm easily and fluidly with his thoughts, scientists report in the May 22 Science.

    “This is groundbreaking...

    05/21/2015 - 14:00 Neuroscience, Robotics, Technology
  • News

    Ancient DNA pushes back timing of the origin of dogs

    Some friendships go way back. New genetic evidence suggests that the relationship between humans and dogs may have been forged as long as 40,000 years ago.

    DNA analysis of an ancient wolf calibrates the split between dogs and wolves to 27,000 to 40,000 years ago. Researchers had previously calculated that the divergence happened about 11,000 to 16,000 years ago....

    05/21/2015 - 12:03 Genetics, Animals
  • News

    Octopuses can ‘see’ with their skin

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    Octopus skin can detect light and respond to it — no eyes or brain required.

    Tests of fresh skin samples from California two-spot octopuses (Octopus bimaculoides) show this ability clearly for the first time in any cephalopod, says Todd Oakley of the University of California, Santa Barbara. White or blue light prompts the pale skin’s...

    05/20/2015 - 18:00 Animals, Physiology
  • News

    Like a balloon, peculiar magnet grows and shrinks

    An unusual magnet expands and contracts when exposed to a magnetic field. While scientists have long known that fields can subtly change magnets’ shape, the alloy described in the May 21 Nature is a rare specimen that experiences significant changes in volume. This material or similar ones could be used to produce actuators that push...

    05/20/2015 - 15:32 Materials
  • Wild Things

    Rising temperatures may cause problems for cold-blooded critters

    Last year in the pages of Science News, I tried to answer a question: Will the world’s plants, animals and other organisms be able to adapt to climate change? There wasn’t an easy answer to that question, in part because the effects of climate change are varied (they include rising...

    05/20/2015 - 15:00 Animals, Climate
  • News

    Earliest known stone tools unearthed in Kenya

    Excavations in an arid, hilly part of East Africa have uncovered 3.3-million-year-old stone tools, by far the oldest such implements found to date.

    The tools’ age indicates that members of the human evolutionary family understood how to break stones into usable forms long before the emergence of the Homo genus, say archaeologist Sonia Harmand of Stony Brook University in New...

    05/20/2015 - 13:00 Archaeology, Anthropology, Human Evolution