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  • News

    Gazing deeply into your dog’s eyes unleashes chemical attraction

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    Dogs and people have true chemistry. When staring deeply into each other’s eyes, each species experiences a rush of the cuddle-chemical oxytocin.

    In an experiment, people shared long mutual gazes with their beloved dogs, sometimes lasting more than a minute. Afterward, concentrations of oxytocin that the dogs released in their urine at least...

    04/16/2015 - 14:00 Animals, Physiology, Evolution
  • News

    Octopuses move with uncoordinated arms

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    Octopuses have no rhythm.

    Their legs can shimmy in any direction, without any clear pattern and regardless of which way their head is pointed. Other animals don’t move this way, suggesting that the octopus has a motion command center in its nervous system that is unlike any other, researchers...

    04/16/2015 - 12:26 Physiology, Animals, Robotics
  • Wild Things

    How many manatees live in Florida?

    The ability to blend in with the background is often a lifesaving quality for an animal. But when you’re looking for that creature, that ability can turn your search into a frustrating experience. That wasn’t a problem for me last week when I spent a day on a boat in Crystal River, Florida, hoping to find manatees to swim with; we...

    04/15/2015 - 16:30 Animals
  • Say What?

    ‘Geographic tongue’ creates unique topography

    Geographic tongue
    \JHEE-uh-gra-fik TUHNG\ n.

    A condition in which red splotches give the tongue a maplike appearance.

    Some people see Jesus on toast, others see maps on tongues. While the former can be chalked up to an illusion, the latter points to a real medical condition.

    Tiny bumps called papillae cover the tongue. Losing some of these bumps creates geographic...

    04/15/2015 - 15:00 Biophysics, Health
  • News in Brief

    Researchers pull fingers to solve why knuckles crack

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    Knuckles crack when a bubble forms in a joint, new high-speed images reveal.

    The finding, reported April 15 in PLOS ONE, may settle a decades-old debate about the source of the sound.

    In 1947, two researchers used a series of X-rays...

    04/15/2015 - 14:00 Physiology, Biophysics
  • News in Brief

    Shimmer and shine may help prey sabotage predators’ aim

    A peck-the-bug computer game for quail shows that some of nature’s most spectacular coloring might be peacock obvious to the eye but tricky for a predator to grab.

    In lab tests, it took birds almost four tries on average to nail an iridescent bug target (roughly inspired by the coloring of a greenbottle fly) as it moved across a gray screen, says Tom Pike of the University of Lincoln in...

    04/14/2015 - 19:05 Animals, Evolution
  • News

    From lemons to kumquats, roots of citrus variety dug up

    The mother of all citrus plants lived about 13 million years ago, scientists have learned by tracing the maternal side of the citrus family tree. Yet it is dad’s contribution that has revealed the growing family’s entire portrait.

    Starting about 7.5 million years ago, the citrus family tree began branching out. That’s when Australian limes and citrons split from the original Citrus...

    04/14/2015 - 17:00 Plants, Evolution, Genetics
  • Science Ticker

    Plants suck in nicotine from nearby smokers

    Plants turn out to be secondhand smokers, taking in nicotine from humankind’s tobacco and fumes. And lab tests suggest that slipping a cigarette butt into a plant’s pot sends a temporary surge of nicotine into its leaves.

    Researchers sprinkled 100 milligrams of American Spirit tobacco — about an eighth to a tenth of a cigarette — onto the soil of potted peppermint plants. Nine days later...

    04/13/2015 - 12:27 Plants, Science & Society
  • Science Ticker

    Mountain gorilla genome reveals inbreeding

    Mountain gorillas’ DNA reveals a long decline in numbers that has led to massive inbreeding.

    An international group of researchers examined the genomes of seven mountain gorillas and six eastern lowland gorillas. The two are genetically distinct subspecies, the team reports in the April 10 Science. Those...

    04/09/2015 - 17:26 Genetics, Evolution
  • News in Brief

    Fossil reveals terror bird’s power

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    With a swift hatchet of its beak, the terror bird Llallawavis scagliai could have whomped its prey, a new fossil find confirms.

    Terror birds were one of South America’s top predators from about 50 million to roughly 1.8 million years ago. Researchers from Argentina have discovered a nearly compete skeleton of a new species of...

    04/09/2015 - 16:00 Paleontology