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  • Wild Things

    Africa’s poison arrow beetles are key in traditional hunting method

    Humans started hunting with bows and arrows tens of thousands of years ago. Then, at some point, we realized that the arrows were even more effective at bringing down large game if tainted with poison. There were plenty of plant extracts that served as sources for deadly chemicals, such as...

    02/10/2016 - 12:30 Animals, Anthropology
  • Science Ticker

    Cyanobacteria use their whole bodies as eyeballs

    After all those years of people looking into microscopes at bacteria, it turns out that some of the bacteria are (sort of) looking back.

    Synechocystis bacteria focus light in a roughly eyeball-like process, says Conrad Mullineaux of Queen Mary University of London.  Light shining through their spherical cells focuses on the opposite side,...

    02/09/2016 - 18:40 Microbes, Physiology, Microbiology
  • Science Ticker

    This roach-inspired robot can wiggle through tight spaces

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    A new crevice-crawling robot takes after compressible cockroaches.

    Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley designed a palm-sized robot inspired by the American cockroach, Periplaneta americana. Thanks to the roach’s sturdy, segmented shell, a roughly 12 millimeter-tall roach can cruise through spaces only four millimeters...

    02/08/2016 - 15:00 Robotics, Animals
  • News

    White-tailed deer have their own form of malaria

    The white-tailed deer, maybe the best-studied wild animal in North America, turns out to carry a malaria parasite that science has overlooked for decades.

    The malaria parasite in deer is a completely different species from the ones that cause disease in humans. A report in 1967 based on one deer in Texas had claimed that the parasite existed and a 1980 paper had named it Plasmodium...

    02/05/2016 - 14:18 Animals
  • It's Alive

    Harvester ants are restless, enigmatic architects

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    Florida harvester ants “make a nest that is truly beautiful in its architecture,” says Walter Tschinkel. He has poured molten metal or plaster into the underground nests and dug up the hardened casts to reveal their multilevel shapes. Much about these ant nests, however, defies explanation.

    For reasons still unknown,...

    02/05/2016 - 13:30 Animals, Ecology
  • News in Brief

    Why some birds sing elaborate songs in the winter

    Male birds’ puzzling off-season singing in winter could be practice for flirting in spring.

    Europe’s great reed warblers (Acrocephalus arundinaceus) and some other male long-distance migrants sing extensively when overwintering in sub-Saharan Africa, says Marjorie Sorensen, now at Goethe University in Frankfurt. “Why are they doing this when they’re thousands of kilometers from...

    02/04/2016 - 17:00 Animals, Evolution
  • Introducing

    Meet the tarantula in black

    Near the grounds of Folsom Prison in California walks a male tarantula clad entirely in black.

    When Chris Hamilton, an arachnologist formerly at Auburn University in Alabama, discovered the spider in data from a big tarantula survey, he noticed it came from the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Country music legend...

    02/04/2016 - 16:26 Animals
  • News

    Forest management not so hot at fighting warming

    Environmentalists hoping that micromanaging Europe’s forests will help curb climate change may be barking up the wrong tree.

    Retracing changes in forestry since 1750, researchers report in the Feb. 5 Science that forest management in Europe has made climate change worse, not better. Despite an...

    02/04/2016 - 14:00 Climate, Plants
  • Wild Things

    Microbes may help bears stay healthy when fat for hibernation

    Brown bears have all the luck. They can eat and eat and eat all summer, gain lots of weight and then lose it all by the next year. And they don’t have to worry about type 2 diabetes or other conditions that can plague humans who get too fat.

    The big difference (one of them, anyway) between bears and people is that the bears...

    02/04/2016 - 12:00 Animals, Microbes, Physiology
  • Science Ticker

    Bedbug genome spills secrets of violence, weird sex

    In the bloody conflict between humans and bedbugs, humans have acquired unprecedented intelligence on the enemy. Researchers outline the genome sequence of the common bedbug (Cimex lectularius) in a pair of papers published February 2 in Nature Communications.

    A team led by Jeffery Rosenfeld at the American Museum of Natural History in New York...

    02/02/2016 - 13:30 Genetics, Animals