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E.g., 11/21/2017
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  • Growth Curve

    Six-month-old babies know words for common things, but struggle with similar nouns

    Around the six-month mark, babies start to get really fun. They’re not walking or talking, but they are probably babbling, grabbing and gumming, and teaching us about their likes and dislikes. I remember this as the time when my girls’ personalities really started making themselves known, which, really, is one of the best parts of raising a kid. After months of staring at those beautiful, bald...

    11/20/2017 - 16:30 Child Development, Parenting
  • Reviews & Previews

    Invasive species are a growing global threat

    The Aliens Among UsLeslie AnthonyYale Univ. Press, $30

    Remote Bouvet Island, a tiny, glacier-smothered landmass in the South Atlantic rimmed by 500-meter-tall cliffs, has a notable distinction: It’s the only known spot on Earth, scientists say, that has zero invasive species. Every other place, and every person, on the planet is at least indirectly affected by one or more species...

    11/05/2017 - 07:00 Ecology, Animals, Plants
  • Essay

    Defining ‘species’ is a fuzzy art

    The funniest thing I’ve ever said to any botanist was, “What is a species?” Well, it certainly got the most spontaneous laugh. I don’t think Barbara Ertter, who doesn’t remember the long-ago moment, was being mean. Her laugh was more of a “where do I even start” response to an almost impossible question.

    At first glance, “species” is a basic vocabulary word schoolchildren can ace on a...

    11/01/2017 - 09:00 Evolution, Conservation
  • Feature

    Scary as they are, few vampires have a backbone

    Halloween horror aside, vampires are really pretty spineless.

    Most have no backbone at all. By one count, some 14,000 kinds of arthropods, including ticks and mosquitoes, are blood feeders. Yet very few vertebrates are clear-cut, all-blood specialists: just some fishes and three bats. Why hasn’t evolution produced more vertebrate vampires?

    The question intrigues herpetologist Harry...

    10/30/2017 - 16:00 Animals, Physiology, Evolution
  • Reviews & Previews

    Here’s the real story on jellyfish taking over the world

    SpinelessJuli BerwaldRiverhead Books, $27

    Jellyfish have gotten a bad rap. In recent years, concerns about rising jellyfish populations in some parts of the world have mushroomed into headlines like “Meet your new jellyfish overlords.” These floating menaces are taking over the world’s oceans thanks to climate change and ocean acidification, the thinking goes, and soon waters will...

    10/30/2017 - 12:18 Animals, Ecology, Oceans
  • News

    New CRISPR gene editors can fix RNA and DNA one typo at a time

    New gene-editing tools can correct typos that account for about half of disease-causing genetic spelling errors.

    Researchers have revamped the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editor so that it converts the DNA base adenine to guanine, biological chemist David Liu and colleagues report October 25 in Nature. In a separate study, published October 25 in Science, other researchers led by CRISPR pioneer...

    10/25/2017 - 13:00 Genetics, Health
  • News

    Scientists battle over whether violence has declined over time

    Contrary to a popular idea among researchers, modern states haven’t dulled people’s long-standing taste for killing each other in battle, a controversial new study concludes. But living in a heavily populated society may up one’s odds of surviving a war, two anthropologists propose.

    As a population grows, larger numbers of combatants die in wars, but those slain represent a smaller...

    10/20/2017 - 09:00 Anthropology, Human Evolution
  • Reviews & Previews

    Resurrecting extinct species raises ethical questions

    Rise of the NecrofaunaBritt WrayGreystone Books, $26.95

    A theme park populated with re-created dinosaurs is fiction. But if a handful of dedicated scientists have their way, a park with woolly mammoths, passenger pigeons and other “de-extincted” animals could become reality.

    In Rise of the Necrofauna, writer and radio broadcaster Britt Wray presents a comprehensive look at...

    10/20/2017 - 07:00 Genetics, Animals, Science & Society
  • News in Brief

    Laws to protect athletes’ brains do reduce concussions — eventually

    To guard against the dangers of concussions, by 2014, all 50 states and the District of Columbia had enacted laws to protect young athletes. More than 2½ years after these laws went on the books, repeat concussions began to decline among high school athletes, researchers report online October 19 in the American Journal of Public Health.

    Researchers reviewed concussion data from 2005 to...

    10/19/2017 - 17:11 Health, Mental Health
  • Feature

    Being a vampire can be brutal. Here’s how bloodsuckers get by.

    Jennifer Zaspel can’t explain why she stuck her thumb in the vial with the moth. Just an after-dark, out-in-the-woods zing of curiosity.

    She was catching moths on a July night in the Russian Far East and had just eased a Calyptra, with brownish forewings like a dried leaf, into a plastic collecting vial. Of the 17 or so largely tropical Calyptra species, eight were known vampires. Males...

    10/18/2017 - 12:00 Animals, Physiology