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  • Feature

    With dinosaurs out of the way, mammals had a chance to thrive

    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.”

    But...

    01/25/2017 - 14:30 Paleontology, Evolution, Animals
  • News

    It takes guts for a sea spider to pump blood

    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...

    01/11/2017 - 16:46 Animals, Physiology
  • It's Alive

    Meat-eating pitcher plants raise deathtraps to an art

    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...

    01/06/2017 - 07:00 Plants, Ecology, Evolution
  • How Bizarre

    These acorn worms have a head for swimming

    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...

    01/03/2017 - 10:00 Animals
  • Feature

    Year in review: Sea ice loss will shake up ecosystems

    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...

    12/14/2016 - 07:37 Climate, Animals, Plants
  • Science Ticker

    Skimpy sea ice linked to reindeer starvation on land

    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....

    11/15/2016 - 19:23 Climate, Animals
  • News

    Be careful what you say around jumping spiders

    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...

    10/15/2016 - 08:00 Animals, Neuroscience
  • Feature

    Lawrence David’s gut check gets personal

    Lawrence David, 33Computational biologistDuke University

    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,...

    09/21/2016 - 11:06 Human Evolution, Microbes, Cells
  • Feature

    Jeremy Freeman seeks to simplify complex brain science

    Jeremy Freeman, 30NeuroscientistHoward Hughes Medical Institute, Janelia Research Campus

    Jeremy Freeman loves clean, simple lines. To see his bent toward aesthetic minimalism, you need look no further than his spare, calm website that slowly shifts colors.

    In the past, this fixation with style has occasionally veered toward the extreme. In graduate school at New York University, “...

    09/21/2016 - 11:05 Neuroscience, Cells, Computing
  • News

    See where Clinton and Trump stand on science

    Hillary Clinton’s “I believe in science” declaration aside, science has not played a starring role in the 2016 presidential election. Far from it. For the most part, the candidates’ science policies have trickled out in dribs and drabs, and in varying degrees of detail — talking points on a website here, a passing comment in response to a spur-of-the-moment question there.

    Yet science...

    09/13/2016 - 12:25 Science & Society