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  • 50 Years Ago

    Fifty years ago, ethylene research ripened

    Fruits caused to ripen by volatile ethylene — Apples turn red, bananas turn yellow and honeydew an icy white because of the volatile substance, ethylene, present in the plant tissues. Recent studies using gas chromatography show that ethylene acts as a...

    05/28/2015 - 07:00 Plants, Chemistry
  • Wild Things

    Wild dogs cause problems for people in Nepal

    The dhole looks like a cross between a gray wolf and a red fox. Cuon alpinus, also known as the Indian or Asiatic wild dog, is a pack-living canid native that can be found in central and Southeast Asia, and it’s endangered. There are only about 2,500 dogs left in the wild...

    05/27/2015 - 11:20 Animals, Conservation
  • Wild Things

    These birds provide their own drum beat

    Listen closely to a Java sparrow sing: Interspersed among the notes will be clicks that the bird makes with its bill. All male birds use the clicking sounds in their songs — and the patterns appear to be passed from father to son, a new study reports.

    Masayo Soma and Chihiro Mori of the Hokkaido University in Japan analyzed recordings of 30 male birds. These were a domesticated version...

    05/22/2015 - 14:43 Animals
  • News

    Ancient DNA pushes back timing of the origin of dogs

    Some friendships go way back. New genetic evidence suggests that the relationship between humans and dogs may have been forged as long as 40,000 years ago.

    DNA analysis of an ancient wolf calibrates the split between dogs and wolves to 27,000 to 40,000 years ago. Researchers had previously calculated that the divergence happened about 11,000 to 16,000 years ago....

    05/21/2015 - 12:03 Genetics, Animals
  • News

    Octopuses can ‘see’ with their skin

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    Octopus skin can detect light and respond to it — no eyes or brain required.

    Tests of fresh skin samples from California two-spot octopuses (Octopus bimaculoides) show this ability clearly for the first time in any cephalopod, says Todd Oakley of the University of California, Santa Barbara. White or blue light prompts the pale skin’s...

    05/20/2015 - 18:00 Animals, Physiology
  • Wild Things

    Rising temperatures may cause problems for cold-blooded critters

    Last year in the pages of Science News, I tried to answer a question: Will the world’s plants, animals and other organisms be able to adapt to climate change? There wasn’t an easy answer to that question, in part because the effects of climate change are varied (they include rising...

    05/20/2015 - 15:00 Animals, Climate
  • Letters to the Editor

    Suds versus nanoparticles and more reader feedback

    The bipedal Butcher

     In “Fearsome croc dominated northern Pangaea” (SN: 4/18/15, p. 16), Ashley Yeager...

    05/20/2015 - 08:49 Paleontology, Materials
  • Science Ticker

    Crows safeguard sticks to speed future food-finding forays

    New Caledonian crows are protective of their tools. The birds safeguard the sticks they use to find food and become even more careful with the tools as the cost of losing them goes up.

    Researchers videotaped captive and wild Corvus moneduloides crows and tracked what the birds did with their sticks. In between eating, the birds tucked the tools under their toes or left them in...

    05/20/2015 - 08:00 Animals
  • How Bizarre

    Pandas’ gut bacteria resemble carnivores’

    A giant panda may look like a teddy bear, but it’s got the guts of a grizzly.

    Microbes living in the bamboo lovers’ intestines match those of meat eaters, researchers report May 19 in mBio. Panda poop lacks the useful plant-digesting bacteria typically found in the feces of other herbivores, an analysis of 45 giant pandas...

    05/19/2015 - 09:00 Animals, Microbes, Health
  • It's Alive

    Vampire squid take mommy breaks

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    Vampire squid live slow. Even their gonads, it turns out, take vacations.

    Any information about their reproduction is prized, because no one has seen the deep-sea dwellers even swim close enough to each other to flirt. Studies of fished-up specimens offer clues. But they can’t solve puzzles such as how sperm gets into female storage pouches, one...

    05/19/2015 - 07:00 Animals, Physiology