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  • News

    Spraying bats with ‘good’ bacteria may combat deadly white nose syndrome

    A one-time spritz with a solution of beneficial bacteria may help bats infected with white nose syndrome survive the deadly disease.

    Boosting the amount of naturally antifungal Pseudomonas fluorescens bacteria that are already present on many bats’ skin allowed nearly half of the animals to live through winter, compared with only 8 percent surviving in an untreated group, a small study...

    07/15/2019 - 09:00 Conservation, Animals, Fungi
  • News in Brief

    Southern right whale moms and calves may whisper to evade orcas

    Whales are known for belting out sounds in the deep. But they may also whisper. 

    Southern right whale moms steer their calves to shallow waters, where newborns are less likely to be picked off by an orca. There, crashing waves mask the occasional quiet calls that the pairs make. That may help the whales stick together without broadcasting their location to predators, researchers report...

    07/11/2019 - 11:00 Animals, Evolution, Oceans
  • News in Brief

    An ancient bird found encased in amber had a bizarrely long toe

    There once was a little bird, smaller than a sparrow, that lived about 99 million years ago. And it had a freakishly long toe.

    Researchers found the ancient bird’s right leg and foot preserved in a chunk of amber. Its third digit is 9.8 millimeters long, about 41 percent longer than its second-longest digit — and 20 percent longer than its entire lower leg. This foot morphology is unique...

    07/11/2019 - 11:00 Paleontology
  • News

    Both fish and humans have REM-like sleep

    No one should have to sleep with the fishes, but new research on zebrafish suggests that we sleep like them.

    Sleeping zebrafish have brain activity similar to both deep slow-wave sleep and rapid eye movement, or REM, sleep that’s found in mammals, researchers report July 10 in Nature. And the team may have tracked down the cells that kick off REM sleep.

    The findings suggest that...

    07/10/2019 - 13:38 Neuroscience, Physiology, Animals
  • News

    Ground beetle genitals have the genetic ability to get strange. They don’t

    A new peek at the genetics of beetle genitals reveals the underpinnings of a battle of the sexes.

    When mating, males of Japan’s flightless Carabus beetles insert a chitin-covered appendage that, once inside a female, pops out a plump sperm-delivery tube as well as a side projection called a copulatory piece. That piece doesn’t deliver any sperm, but steadies the alignment by fitting just...

    07/08/2019 - 08:00 Animals, Evolution, Genetics
  • Feature

    Moonlight shapes how some animals move, grow and even sing

    Crowds of people gather to watch an evening spectacle on beaches in Southern California: Twice a month, typically from March through August, the sand becomes carpeted with hundreds or thousands of California grunion. Writhing, flopping, silvery sardine look-alikes lunge as far onto shore as possible. As the female fish dig their tails into the sand and release eggs, males wrap around females...

    07/08/2019 - 06:00 Ecology, Animals, Astronomy
  • News

    Here’s the science behind some of your favorite things to do in summer

    Summer brings the heat — and in some cases a lot of it, as those who suffered through record-breaking heat waves in Europe and South Asia in June can attest. But the season also ushers in long days filled with plenty of possibilities for outdoor fun. Parks fill with picnickers. Mountain trails fill with hikers. And beaches and pools swarm with swimmers trying to beat the heat.

    Here’s...

    07/05/2019 - 07:00 Health, Ecology
  • News

    Why some insect eggs are spherical while others look like hot dogs

    Look at the nail of your pinky finger. That’s about the width of the biggest known insect egg, which belongs to the earth-borer beetle Bolboleaus hiaticollis. The smallest egg, from the wasp Platygaster vernalis, is only half the width of the thinnest recorded human hair.

    Insect eggs range across eight orders of magnitude in size, and come in a stunning variety of shapes, a new database...

    07/03/2019 - 13:00 Ecology, Evolution
  • Reviews & Previews

    ‘Slime’ shows how algae have shaped our climate, evolution and daily lives

    SlimeRuth KassingerHoughton Mifflin Harcourt, $26

    A slew of popular-science books have set out to convince readers that some overlooked, obscure or generally disdained category of thing is actually wildly important, whether it’s salt, garbage or beavers (SN: 8/4/18, p. 28). Slime, all about algae, is one of those books.

    If you’re skeptical that algae can sustain such an...

    07/01/2019 - 07:00 Plants, Microbes, Science & Society
  • News

    Some ancient crocodiles may have chomped on plants instead of meat

    Some extinct crocs may have been keen to eat greens.

    An analysis of fossil teeth suggests that plant-eating relatives of modern crocodiles evolved at least three times during the Mesozoic Era, which stretched from roughly 252 million to about 66 million years ago, researchers report June 27 in Current Biology.

    Today’s crocodiles are predominantly carnivorous, and have the simple,...

    06/27/2019 - 11:02 Animals, Evolution, Paleontology