Letters to the Editor
Eau de stinkbug04/19/2017 - 11:49 Animals
Stinkbugs accidentally harvested with grapes and fermented during the winemaking process release a pungent stress compound. It takes only three stinkbugs per grape cluster to ruin red wine’s taste, Elizabeth S. Eaton reported in “Red wine has stinkbug threshold” (SN: 3/18/17, p. 5).
“Does contamination of wine by the bugs’ stress compound pose any health risk to...
Kids can have virtual out-of-body experiences as early as age 6. Oddly enough, the ability to inhabit a virtual avatar signals a budding sense that one’s self is located in one’s own body, researchers say.
Grade-schoolers were stroked on their backs with a stick while viewing virtual versions of themselves undergoing the same touch. Just after the session ended, the children often...
For dinosaurs, the end of the world began in fire.
The space rock that stamped a Vermont-sized crater into the Earth 66 million years ago packed a powerful punch. Any animal living within about a thousand miles of the impact zone was probably vaporized, says paleontologist Stephen Brusatte of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.
“Everything would have been toast.”
NEW ORLEANS — A newfound way of delivering oxygen in animal circulatory systems depends mostly on food sloshing back and forth in the guts.
This discovery came in sea spiders, or pycnogonids, which can look like legs in search of a body. Their spookily long legs hold stretches of digestive tract, which wouldn’t fit inside the creatures’ scrap of an abdomen. Waves of contraction sweeping...
Tricking some bug into drowning takes finesse, especially for a hungry meat eater with no brain, eyes or moving parts. Yet California pitcher plants are very good at it.
Growing where deposits of the mineral serpentine would kill most other plants, Darlingtonia californica survives in low-nutrient soil by being “very meat dependent,” says David Armitage of the University of Notre Dame in...
Certain marine worms spend their larval phase as little more than a tiny, transparent “swimming head.” A new study explores the genes involved in that headfirst approach to life.
A mud flat in Morro Bay, Calif., is the only known place where this one species of acorn worm, Schizocardium californicum, is found. After digging up the creatures, Paul Gonzalez, an evolutionary developmental...
In a better world, it would be the big news of the year just to report that Arctic sea ice shrank to 4.14 million square kilometers this summer, well below the 1981–2010 average of 6.22 million square kilometers (SN Online: 9/19/16). But in this world of changing climate, extreme summer ice loss has become almost expected. More novel in 2016 were glimpses of the complex biological consequences...
Unseaonable shrinking of sea ice could be a trigger for another peril of climate change: increasing ice-overs that starve reindeer and threaten Siberian herders’ way of life.
The worst of these events in the memory of nomadic Nenets herders on Russia’s Yamal peninsula destroyed 61,000 of their 275,000 reindeer in 2013, a blow to the herders’ livelihood that will take years to recoup....
Accidental chair squeaks in a lab have tipped off researchers to a new world of eavesdroppers.
Spiders don’t have eardrums, though their exquisitely sensitive leg hairs pick up vibrations humming through solids like web silk and leaves. Biologists thought that any airborne sounds more than a few centimeters away would be inaudible. But the first recordings of auditory nerve cells firing...
Lawrence David, 33Computational biologistDuke University09/21/2016 - 11:06 Human Evolution, Microbes, Cells
A Jim Carrey movie inspired computational biologist Lawrence David to change the course of his research. As a graduate student, David saw Yes Man, a 2008 film in which Carrey’s character is forced to say yes to all propositions.
David thought the movie’s message about opening yourself to new experiences, even uncomfortable ones,...