Reviews & Previews
The Future Is Here Festival May 16–18Cosmologist Brian Greene and actor Patrick Stewart are among the headliners at this event, themed “science meets science fiction.”Ronald Reagan Building, Washington, D.C.World Science FestivalMay 28–June 1...
04/17/2014 - 18:23
Technology, Science & Society, Animals
Note: The following scene is fiction (probably). Stay tuned for the real story below.Two chimps, a mother and daughter, are touring a mattress store. They’re looking for beds to sleep in for the night. Actually, they’re looking for materials to make their beds — or nests, as they’re properly called. This is something chimps do every night for their entire lives after they’re weaned. ...
04/17/2014 - 16:49
The newly identified Eocasea martini didn’t inspire the adult beverage that shares its name, but the small barrel-bodied creature may have set the stage for later, much larger animals to become plant-eaters.A roughly 300 million-year-old fossil of E. martini found in Kansas suggests that the early proto-mammal munched on meat. But species similar in body structure that came...
04/17/2014 - 15:06
The most dramatic genital-shape reversal known — females with long, insertable organs and males with corresponding pouches — has turned up in bark lice living in Brazilian caves.A female in each of the four Neotrogla species extends a skinny structure up to 15 percent the length of her body into a genital pocket in the male’s body, reports entomologist Kazunori Yoshizawa of Hokkaido...
04/17/2014 - 13:17
News in Brief
Fruit fly larvae’s alluring and socially important odor turns out not to come from the flies at all, but from their gut microbes.Scent is a big deal to Drosophila melanogaster fruit flies. Both adults and larvae tend to shun untouched food in favor of clustering where larvae have already fed, researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada,...
04/16/2014 - 18:00
Around 7,000 years ago, a bacterium that lives on humans and causes acne leaped to a very different host: domesticated grapevines. Since then, an essential DNA-repair gene in the microbe, Propionibacterium acnes, has mutated and no longer functions. Without the gene, the microbe is unable to function on its own and appears to rely on the grapevine for these DNA repairs. This is...
04/16/2014 - 15:30
Microbes, Genetics, Animals
Bony fishes, not modern sharks, may provide a better understanding of the earliest jawed animals and the evolution of the jaw itself.Fossils of a 325-million-year-old sharklike creature show that the newly named Ozarcus mapesae had a gill structure more similar to bony fishes, such as sunfish, than to modern sharks, rays and other non-...
04/16/2014 - 13:45
One question fascinates people like no other: Where did we come from? In a new PBS series, Your Inner Fish, paleobiologist Neil Shubin hosts a journey through time that answers the question in evolutionary terms. The six-hour, three-part documentary shows how the human body came to be the way it is today, starting with the first fish...
04/15/2014 - 17:24
News in Brief
Sneezing out antimicrobial snot may sound like a superpower, but it actually could be a handicap.Triclosan, an omnipresent antimicrobial compound found in products ranging from soaps and toothpaste to medical equipment, is already known to show up in people’s urine, serum and breast milk. It seeps in through ingestion or skin exposure. Now, researchers have found that it gets into snot, too. And...
04/15/2014 - 14:46
Health, Microbes, Toxicology
Carbon dioxide can really mess with fishes’ heads. Dissolved in ocean water, the acidic chemical turns timid young reef fish into tipsy little daredevils, researchers report April 13 in Nature Climate Change.The findings are the first to show that carbon dioxide makes fish in the wild act just as crazy as fish dosed with the greenhouse...
04/14/2014 - 16:17
Climate, Oceans, Animals