More than a million wildebeests migrate each year from Tanzania to Kenya and back again, following the rains and abundant grass that springs up afterward. Their path takes them across the Mara River, and some of the crossings are so dangerous that hundreds or thousands of wildebeests drown as they try to traverse the waterway.
Those animals provide a brief, free buffet for crocodiles and...
When we brought our first baby home from the hospital, our pediatrician advised us to have her sleep in our room. We put our tiny new roommate in a crib near our bed (though other containers that were flat, firm and free of blankets, pillows or stuffed animals would have worked, too).
The advice aims to reduce the risk of sleep-related deaths, including sudden infant death syndrome, or...
Long typecast as the strong silent type, bones are speaking up.
In addition to providing structural support, the skeleton is a versatile conversationalist. Bones make hormones that chat with other organs and tissues, including the brain, kidneys and pancreas, experiments in mice have shown.
“The bone, which was considered a dead organ, has really become a gland almost,” says Beate...
Letters to the Editor
Water woes06/14/2017 - 10:47 Climate, Genetics
A recent survey of lakes around the globe found that from 1985 to 2009, most warmed while only several cooled, Alexandra Witze reported in “In hot water” (SN: 5/13/17, p. 18). Rising temperatures have consequences for every part of a lake’s food web, from algae to walleye to freshwater seals.
“This article indicates that no pattern could be found to predict which lakes would...
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Tubelip wrasses eat dangerously, daring to dine on sharp corals lined with stinging cells. New images reveal the fish’s secret to safe eating: lubing up and planting a big one on their dinner.
“It is like sucking dew off a stinging nettle. A thick layer of grease may help,” says David Bellwood, a marine biologist at James Cook University in Townsville, Australia, who...
Letters to the Editor
Proton puzzler05/31/2017 - 15:45 Particle Physics, Climate, Planetary Science
Uncertainty over the proton’s size, spin and life span could have physicists rethinking standard notions about matter and the universe, Emily Conover reported in “The proton puzzle” (SN: 4/29/17, p. 22).
Readers wondered about the diameter (or size) of the proton, which has three fundamental particles called quarks rattling around inside. “Still scratching my head over how...
The first thing you’ll notice is the noise. Monitors beep steadily, relentlessly, ready to sound a car-alarm blare if a baby is in trouble.
The air has an astringent odor — not clean exactly, but reminiscent of an operating room (there’s one next door). Ceiling lights shine fluorescent white. Half are off, but glare from the monitors throws out extra light. It’s midday on a Friday, but...
Science & the Public
Tornadoes in the southeast, Earth’s magnetic field and obesity might not seem to have much in common. Well, now they do.
Under President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget proposal, federal research spending into all three areas — and many others — would decline abruptly. The president delivered his budget request to Congress on May 23, presenting the sharpest picture yet of his administration’s...
Nerve cells in a poorly understood part of the brain have the power to prompt voracious eating in already well-fed mice.
Two to three seconds after blue light activated cells in the zona incerta, a patch of neurons just underneath the thalamus and above the hypothalamus, mice dropped everything and began shoveling food into their mouths. This dramatic response, described May 26 in...
A question flamingo researchers get asked all the time — why the birds stand on one leg — may need rethinking. The bigger puzzle may be why flamingos bother standing on two.
Balance aids built into the birds’ basic anatomy allow for a one-legged stance that demands little muscular effort, tests find. This stance is so exquisitely stable that a bird sways less to keep itself upright when...