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  • Science Stats

    Earth’s dry zones support a surprising number of trees

    Earth’s dry regions have more trees than once thought — a hopeful note in the fight against climate change.

    An analysis of high-resolution satellite imagery reveals that drylands globally have 40 to 47 percent more tree cover (an extra 467 million hectares) than reported in earlier estimates. An international team of researchers used Google Earth and Collect Earth, a program developed by...

    06/26/2017 - 07:00 Ecology
  • Introducing

    This glass frog wears its heart for all to see

    A newly discovered glass frog from Ecuador’s Amazon lowlands is giving researchers a window into its heart.

    Hyalinobatrachium yaku has a belly so transparent that the heart, kidneys and urine bladder are clearly visible, an international team of researchers reports May 12 in ZooKeys. Researchers identified H. yaku as a new species using field observations, recordings of its distinct call...

    06/23/2017 - 07:00 Animals
  • News

    Flight demands may have steered the evolution of bird egg shape

    The mystery of why birds’ eggs come in so many shapes has long been up in the air. Now new research suggests adaptations for flight may have helped shape the orbs.  

    Stronger fliers tend to lay more elongated eggs, researchers report in the June 23 Science. The finding comes from the first large analysis of the way egg shape varies across bird species, from the almost perfectly spherical...

    06/22/2017 - 14:00 Evolution, Animals
  • News

    DNA reveals how cats achieved world domination

    The cat is starting to come out of the bag when it comes to revealing when and how wild felines became couch kitties.

    A tale hidden in ancient cat DNA suggests cats were probably first domesticated in the Middle East. They later spread, first by land, then by sea, to the rest of the world, researchers report June 19 in Nature Ecology & Evolution.

    Early farmers brought...

    06/19/2017 - 17:01 Genetics, Archaeology, Animals
  • Science Ticker

    New fossils shake up history of amphibians with no legs

    Newly named fossils suggest that a weird and varied chapter in amphibian deep history isn’t totally over.

    Small fossils about 220 million years old found along steep red slopes in Colorado represent a near-relative of modern animals called caecilians, says vertebrate paleontologist Adam Huttenlocker of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

    Caecilians today have long...

    06/19/2017 - 15:30 Paleontology, Animals, Evolution
  • News

    Ancient attack marks show ocean predators got scarier

    In pumped-up sequels for scary beach movies, each predator is bigger than the last. Turns out that predators in real-world oceans may have upsized over time, too.

    Attack holes in nearly 7,000 fossil shells suggest that drilling predators have outpaced their prey in evolving ever larger bodies and weapons, says paleontologist Adiël Klompmaker of the University of California, Berkeley. The...

    06/15/2017 - 16:12 Paleontology, Evolution
  • Science Ticker

    Facial recognition changes a wasp’s brain

    Paper wasps have a knack for recognizing faces, and a new study adds to our understanding of what that means in a wasp’s brain.

    Most wasps of a given species look the same, but some species of paper wasp (Polistes sp.) display varied colors and markings. Recognizing these patterns is at the core of the wasps’ social interactions.

    One species, Polistes fuscatus, is especially good...

    06/14/2017 - 18:00 Animals, Genetics
  • News

    How bearded dragons switch their sex

    When things get hot, embryonic bearded dragon lizards turn female — and now scientists might know why. New analyses, reported online June 14 in Science Advances, reveal that temperature-induced changes in RNA’s protein-making instructions might set off this sex switch. The findings might also apply to other reptile species whose sex is influenced by temperature.

    Unlike most mammals, many...

    06/14/2017 - 14:07 Development, Animals, Genetics, Epigenetics
  • News

    Ancient DNA shakes up the elephant family tree

    Fossil DNA may be rewriting the history of elephant evolution.

    The first genetic analysis of DNA from fossils of straight-tusked elephants reveals that the extinct animals most closely resembled modern African forest elephants. This suggests that straight-tusked elephants were part of the African, not Asian, elephant lineage, scientists report online June 6 in eLife.

    Straight-...

    06/13/2017 - 15:08 Evolution, Genetics, Animals
  • Teaser

    Ladybugs fold their wings like origami masters

    View the video

    Those who struggle to fit a vacation wardrobe into a carry-on might learn from ladybugs. The flying beetles neatly fold up their wings when they land, stashing the delicate appendages underneath their protective red and black forewings.

    To learn how one species of ladybug (Coccinella septempunctata) achieves such efficient packing, scientists needed to see under the...

    06/13/2017 - 11:30 Biophysics, Animals