Limiting global warming this century to just 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial temperatures would be a boon to the planet’s biodiversity. This lower warming threshold, compared with warming of 2 degrees C, will preserve much larger swaths of the geographic ranges of tens of thousands of land-based species of plants, vertebrates and insects living on the planet, a new study suggests....
The dwindling dusky
In the marshes around America’s spaceport, Kennedy Space Center, live the last few specimens of a bird that may be closer to extinction than even the much-mourned whooping crane. While the whooper might make a gradual comeback if protected and left alone, the dusky seaside sparrow is as good as dead unless man steps in to lend an active hand. — Science News, May...
Green blood is weird enough. But now the first genealogical tree tracing green blood in New Guinea’s Prasinohaema lizards is suggesting something even odder.
These skinks have been lumped into one genus just because of blood color, says biologist Christopher Austin of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Yet they don’t all turn out to be close relatives. Green blood looks as if it...
Somewhere in the wetlands of South Carolina, a buzzing fly alights on a rosy-pink surface. As the fly explores the strange scenery, it unknowingly brushes a small hair sticking up like a slender sword. Strolling along, the fly accidentally grazes another hair. Suddenly, the pink surface closes in from both sides, snapping shut like a pair of ravenous jaws. The blur of movement lasts only a...
Brooding birds from chickadees to ostriches sit squarely on their eggs. But scientists thought some of the heftier dinosaur ancestors of birds might not be able to do that without crushing the clutches. Now, a new study finds that certain dinos with a little extra junk in the trunk also had a clever brooding strategy: They sat within an open space at the center of a ring of eggs, rather than...
A geology voyage to study fluid discharge from a rocky outcrop deep below the ocean’s surface turned up something else: A population of brooding purple octopuses. The colony is probably doomed due to the warm, low-oxygen water coming out of the rock, but those ill-fated cephalopods may be an indicator that a healthy population is hiding out nearby, a new study contends.
The Science Life
What do land mines and tuberculosis have in common? Both kill people in developing countries — and both can be sniffed out by rodents that grow up to 3 feet, head to tail.
Since 2000, the international nonprofit APOPO has partnered with Tanzania’s Sokoine University of Agriculture to train African giant pouched rats (Cricetomys ansorgei) to pick up the scent of TNT in land mines. By 2016...
Of course the guy’s wearing a full-body protective suit with face mask and goggles good and snug. He’s about to confront a nest of little fluffy caterpillars.
Insect control can get surreal in the London area’s springtime battle against the young of oak processionary moths (Thaumetopoea processionea). The species, native to southern Europe, probably hitchhiked into England as eggs on...
The biggest genetic study yet of a notorious frog-killing fungus says it probably originated in East Asia in the 20th century.
The chytrid fungus nicknamed Bd, which attacks the skin, has astonished biologists in the last several decades by causing sudden, mass die-offs among frogs and other amphibians in Australia, Panama and other places worldwide. But where and when the killer emerged...
News in Brief
Pulling DNA out of bottles of seawater collected from reefs has revealed some of what biologists are calling the “dark diversity” of sharks.
Physicists have their dark matter, known from indirect evidence since humans can’t see it. Dark diversity for biologists means species they don’t see in some reef, forest or other habitat, though predictions or older records say the creatures could...