“Armchair anthropologist” takes on new meaning at FossilFinder.org. The citizen science website is seeking volunteers to look for fossils and stone tools and to classify rocks captured in aerial photos of Kenya’s Lake Turkana Basin. The basin has been home to important discoveries in human evolution, including many hominid fossils and the earliest known...
Reviews & Previews
The Last Volcano
Pegasus Books, $28.95
Since prehistoric times, erupting volcanoes have been both awesome and mysterious. But these days...
News in Brief
The mother of all snakes got its start underground.
X-ray images of snake and lizard skulls suggest that modern snakes’ ancestors burrowed rather than swam, scientists report November 27 in Science Advances.
The study is the latest to suggest that snakes evolved...
The Martian atmosphere’s not what it used to be. Solar winds bombard the planet, taking gas molecules (represented by colored streaks in the image above) with them. New measurements of atmospheric loss by NASA’s MAVEN probe should help scientists determine how a planet with rushing water and a temperate climate a few billion years ago transformed...
50 Years Ago
Past, Modern Man Linked — Neanderthal man may have built structures, indicating that he was far more advanced than formerly believed and implying that he may have evolved into Cromagnon man. Evidence uncovered at the Molodova site in the Ukraine … is a circle of...
News in Brief
It’s not water into wine, but close enough. By stimulating certain nerve cells in the brains of mice, scientists made plain water taste sweet or bitter. The results show that the brain — not the tongue — is the ultimate tastemaker...
Certain species of the crawling lumps of mollusk called chitons polka-dot their armor-plated backs with hundreds of tiny black eyes. But mixing protection and vision can come at a price.
The lenses are rocky nuggets formed mostly of aragonite, the same mineral that pearls and abalone shells are made of. New analyses of these eyes support previous evidence that they form rough images...
Blue-capped cordon-bleu songbirds (Uraeginthus cyanocephalus) know how to bust a move like Fred Astaire. The birds belt out some dulcet tones, stick some nesting material in their beak, bob up and down — and rhythmically tap their feet.
Researchers summarize the first evidence of...
In a pasture outside Edmonton, Canada, you’ll find a few dozen cows doing what cows do: mostly eating. The average animal spends eight-plus hours a day filling its belly, or as is the case with cows, bellies. Along with that enormous appetite, cows are born with the ability to digest almost any plant they can chew, thanks to a multichambered stomach...
Speaking. Breathing. Eating. The da-dum, da-dum, da-dum of your heart. The vagus nerve (aka Cranial Nerve X or, more poetically, the Wandering Nerve) plays a crucial role in all of these essential functions, linking brain and organs in what’s called the nervous system’s...