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  • News

    A global survey finds that the Arctic Ocean is a hot spot for viruses

    Arctic waters turn out to be teeming with some of the world’s smallest entities — viruses.

    Water samples taken during a three-year expedition around the world’s oceans identified around 200,000 virus species, roughly 12 times the number found in a previous smaller survey. And 42 percent of those viruses were found exclusively in the Arctic, researchers report April 25 in Cell.

    The...

    04/25/2019 - 11:00 Microbes, Oceans, Ecology
  • News in Brief

    Tiny pumpkin toadlets have glowing bony plates on their backs

    When a group of biologists realized that pumpkin toadlets had no middle ear bone, the team was stumped. That meant that these tiny, toxic frogs couldn’t hear each other’s high-pitched chirps, which is how most frogs attract mates. 

    “We scratched our heads about how they could communicate by other means,” says Sandra Goutte, an evolutionary biologist at New York University Abu Dhabi in...

    04/03/2019 - 07:00 Animals, Ecology
  • Television

    ‘Epic Yellowstone’ captures the thriving ecosystem of the world-famous park

    “What you’re about to experience is Yellowstone as it’s rarely seen,” actor and Montana resident Bill Pullman says in the opening narration of a new documentary. Smithsonian Channel’s Epic Yellowstone, a four-part series that airs this month and will be available via several streaming services, puts Yellowstone National Park’s recovering ecosystem into the limelight. The park went nearly half...

    03/17/2019 - 07:00 Animals, Conservation, Ecology
  • News in Brief

    Tiny bits of iron may explain why some icebergs are green

    Scientists may have finally figured out why some icebergs are green. Iron oxides could create the emerald hue.

    Icebergs often appear mostly white because light bounces off air bubbles trapped inside the ice. But pure ice — ice without air bubbles that often forms on a berg’s underside — appears blue because it absorbs longer light wavelengths (warm colors like red and orange) and...

    03/06/2019 - 11:00 Oceans, Chemistry, Ecology
  • News

    What spiders eating weird stuff tell us about complex Amazon food webs

    Rudolf von May has seen some pretty wild things in Peru’s Amazon rainforest. But this took things to a whole new level. There, caught on a team member’s cell phone video, was a giant tarantula, about the size of a dinner plate, weeble-wobbling through the leaf litter with the body of what was later identified as a mouse opossum hanging from its fangs.

    “It was very surprising, to some...

    02/28/2019 - 11:09 Animals, Ecology
  • News

    Hermit crabs are drawn to the smell of their own dead

    The death of a millionaire with no heir draws an opportunistic crowd. So, too, does the demise of a land-dwelling hermit crab. Researchers working in Costa Rica found that the curious crabs are drawn to the smell of flesh torn from one of their own.

    Dartmouth College biologist Mark Laidre, along with undergraduate student Leah Valdes, set out 20 plastic tubes on a beach, each holding...

    02/25/2019 - 08:00 Animals, Ecology
  • News in Brief

    Floating seabirds provide a novel way to trace ocean currents

    Seabirds are like feathered buoys. Gently rafting on the ocean’s surface, these birds go with the flow, making them excellent proxies for tracking changes in a current’s speed and direction.

    Oceanographers traditionally use radar, floating buoys or autonomous underwater vehicles to measure ocean current velocities, which can affect the climate, ecosystems and the movement of important...

    01/10/2019 - 09:00 Oceans, Ecology
  • News in Brief

    Pea aphid youngsters use piggyback rides to escape a crisis

    First it’s mammal bad breath. Then it’s babies pestering for piggyback rides. A near-death experience is tough on pea aphids.

    When warm, moist breath signals that some cow or other giant is about to chomp into foliage, tiny green aphids feeding on that foliage drop toward the ground by the hundreds (SN Online: 8/10/10). “It literally rains aphids,” says ecologist Moshe Gish, who in 2010...

    12/05/2018 - 20:00 Animals, Ecology