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  • Scicurious

    Most Americans like science — and are willing to pay for it

    Americans don’t hate science. Quite the contrary. In fact, 79 percent of Americans think science has made their lives easier, a 2014 Pew Research Center survey found. More than 60 percent of people also believe that government funding for science is essential to its success.

    But should the United States spend more money on scientific research than it already does? A layperson’s answer to...

    03/24/2017 - 13:00 Science & Society
  • News

    Ancient Romans may have been cozier with Huns than they let on

    Nomadic warriors and herders known as the Huns are described in historical accounts as having instigated the fifth century fall of the Roman Empire under Attila’s leadership. But the invaders weren’t always so fierce. Sometimes they shared rather than fought with the Romans, new evidence suggests.

    Huns and farmers living around the Roman Empire’s eastern border, where the Danube River...

    03/24/2017 - 11:38 Archaeology, Anthropology
  • It's Alive

    How one enslaving wasp eats through another

    Parasites can drive their hosts to do weird, dumb things. But in certain oak trees, the parasites themselves get played.

    “Creepy and awesome,” says Kelly Weinersmith of Rice University in Houston, who has helped reveal a Russian doll of nested parasitisms.

    The saga begins when two majestic live oak species in the southeastern United States send out new shoots, and female crypt gall...

    03/16/2017 - 12:00 Animals, Ecology, Plants
  • It's Alive

    Coconut crab pinches like a lion, eats like a dumpster diver

    A big coconut crab snaps its outsized left claw as hard as a lion can bite, new measurements suggest. So what does a land crab the size of a small house cat do with all that pinch power?

    For starters, it protests having its claw-force measured, says Shin-ichiro Oka of the Okinawa Churashima Foundation in Motobu, Japan. “The coconut crab is very shy,” he says. It doesn’t attack people...

    02/21/2017 - 07:00 Animals, Ecology, Biophysics
  • Reviews & Previews

    ‘Cannibalism’ chronicles grisly science of eating your own

    CannibalismBill SchuttAlgonquin Books, $26.95

    Until recently, researchers thought cannibalism took place only among a few species in the animal kingdom and only under extraordinary circumstances. But as zoologist Bill Schutt chronicles in Cannibalism, plenty of creatures inhabit their own version of a dog-eat-dog world.

    Over the last few decades, scientists have observed...

    02/05/2017 - 08:00 Animals, Anthropology
  • News

    Red Planet’s interior may not churn much

    An enduring source of magma on Mars fueled volcanic eruptions for billions of years, clues inside a rock flung from the Red Planet reveal.

    The newfound rock belongs to a batch of meteorites called shergottites that originated from the same Martian volcanic system, researchers report February 1 in Science Advances. But the new rock is considerably older than its counterparts. While...

    02/01/2017 - 14:00 Planetary Science
  • 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
  • Feature

    Better batteries charge forward

    Everybody wants more juice from their batteries. Smartphones and laptops always need recharging. Electric car drivers must carefully plan their routes to avoid being stranded far from a charging station. Anyone who struggles with a tangle of chargers every night would prefer a battery that can last for weeks or months.

    For researchers who specialize in batteries, though, the drive for a...

    01/09/2017 - 17:50 Chemistry
  • 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