An evolutionary 'cradle' for ice-age giants
The frosty highlands of the Tibetan Plateau may have been an evolutionary "cradle" for the woolly rhinos and other shaggy, cold-hardy creatures that roamed North America and Eurasia during the last ice age, a new study suggests.
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Earth-bound meteorites come from stony asteroids
Thanks to the Hayabusa space mission, researchers have gotten their first up-close look at dust from the surface of an asteroid. The unmanned Japanese spacecraft was launched in 2003 and sent to the stony, or S-type, asteroid known as 25143 Itokawa. In 2005, it landed on the surface of that asteroid and scooped up some loose dust. Hayabusa returned to Earth in 2010 and researchers from all over the world have been analyzing the asteroid dust ever since.
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Good teachers need more than facts
What makes a good teacher? When adults answer this question, they often talk about how well the teacher understands his or her subject and can explain it to students. But, if you're a student reading this, you might be thinking, well, OK, but there's more to it than that...
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By sticking with the group, wasps help themselves
What makes animals and insects like Polistes dominulus, commonly known as the European paper wasp, work together and help each other out? What benefits do these wasps receive from building their nests with strangers and serving the queen wasp? Until now, researchers have believed that the wasps are somehow benefiting their relatives by helping out around the nest.
Female frogs limit the length of male mating calls
Male tungara frogs are known for their long mating calls, which they use in hopes of attracting a female. But, a new study shows that a long-winded frog song doesn't necessarily guarantee the males a mate. Instead, it seems that the female tungara frog's perception -- or what she hears from her environment -- is just as important as what the males are singing to her.
Hear my nectar: How dish-shaped leaves attract pollinating bats
Bats use high pitched sounds to locate food and navigate. Humans generally can't hear these high pitched sounds. When these sounds bounce off of objects, bats are capable of listening to the returning echoes, which gives bats a sense about the distance, movement and size of all objects in their path -- this is called "echolocation."
A gene to help the butterfly's disguise
Heliconius butterflies include more than 40 different species of butterfly, and they are famous for their strikingly unique and colorful wing patterns. They have evolved their current wing colors by mimicking, or copying, the warning signals of other species of butterfly.
Being the boss baboon is stressful
Boss baboons, the alpha males at the very top of wild baboon society, have higher stress hormone levels than second high ranking males, a new study in the journal Science reports. The findings hint that being the boss isn't always fun, and can sometimes be tiring and hard.
A new player in spinal cord injuries?
Scars are made of connective tissue that replaces normal skin after a wound -- and even though most people don't like the way they look, they play a valuable role in the healing process.
Planes punch holes in the clouds, making it snow
Many clouds in the sky contain water that is "supercooled," or able to stay in liquid form at temperatures below zero degrees Celsius. In fact, supercooled water can remain as a liquid all the way down to -40 degrees Celsius. However, when planes fly through clouds that hold supercooled water, they often punch holes right through them. And researchers now say that this phenomenon can lead to increased rain and snowfall on the ground below.
Static electricity revamped: A new take on bad hair days
Everyone is familiar with pulling off a wool hat or rubbing a balloon on your head, only to find your hair sticking up like a porcupine. But the age-old explanation for this bad hair day phenomenon, caused by static electricity (which is generated by what scientists call "contact electrification"), turns out be inaccurate, a new study in the June 23 issue of Science Express shows.
Hartley 2, a tiny, hyperactive comet
A little comet called Hartley 2 has an unusually small, active center that is spewing out water vapor and ice chunks, researchers report.
A water source in the western US running dry?
The layers of snow, or the snowpack, covering the northern Rocky Mountains has been growing and shrinking, depending on the climate, for centuries. And when that snowpack melts, the runoff feeds into the Colorado, Columbia and Missouri Rivers -- the primary water sources for more than 70 million people.
Where do dark spots on the sun come from?
Dark spots on the sun are created by the movement of gases, a new study in the journal Science reports. Sunspots are dark regions of the sun that appear black because they are cooler than the rest of the sun's visible surface.
Gross, explosive and beautiful -- videos show the fun side of chemistry
What happens when a cheeseburger is dunked in hydrochloric acid? Or when cotton is doused with liquid oxygen and set on fire? How do you make a fire with pink and purple flames? You can find the answers in a set of short, chemistry-themed videos produced by University of Nottingham professor Martyn Poliakoff, journalist Brady Haran, and the rest of their merry cast of characters.
Sniff sniff: Smelling led to smarter mammals, researchers say
Paleontologists have now discovered that an improved sense of smell jumpstarted brain evolution in the ancestral cousins of present-day mammals. The findings may help explain why mammals evolved such large and complex brains, which in some cases ballooned 10 times larger than relative body size.
The last of the Neandertals?
Among the Ural Mountains in Russia, researchers have discovered hundreds of ancient tools that were made by primitive humans who once lived in the region. The funny thing about these tools, however, is that they appear to be just 33,000 years old -- yet they resemble tools made by much earlier cultures, such as Neandertals.
Spikemoss genome hints at ancient plant transitions
Spikemoss, club moss and quillworts -- this may sound like vocabulary list from a Herbology class at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. But, it's actually an important group of plants whose genomic information is shedding light on plant evolution.
Ocean eddies' roots churn up deep sea
Swirling currents called eddies can reach deep below the ocean's surface, where they stir up heat, larvae and chemicals from deep fissures in the sea floor and spread them across hundreds of kilometers, new findings suggest.
From the mouths of manatees
The Eocene epoch is the period of time in Earth's history that lasted from about 56 million years ago to 34 million years ago -- and researchers say that our planet was a much wetter place then, especially in the tropics.
Some dinosaurs loved the nightlife
Some dinosaurs and other reptiles from the Mesozoic era (about 250 to 65 million years ago) could see in dim light and were likely active at night, according to a study of these animals' eye shapes.
The Kepler spacecraft's stellar photo shoot
In 2009, NASA launched the Kepler spacecraft to look for Earth-like planets orbiting around distant stars that resemble our sun. Cameras on board Kepler analyze the vibrations -- or oscillations -- of stars, and transmit data back to astronomers on Earth. By analyzing how a star oscillates, researchers can learn a lot about the mass and radius of that star.
Declining bat populations could spell trouble for agriculture
Insect-eating bats are worth billions of dollars to the agricultural industry in North America. But, numbers are falling due to the mysterious "white-nose disease," which has already killed more than one million bats, and wind turbines that are being built to harvest energy.
My, what new teeth you have!
Chewing an apple -- or if you're unlucky, a Brussels sprout -- is trickier than it looks. To crunch up a tough fruit or vegetable like that, your top teeth and your bottom teeth need to fit together when you bite down. Scientists have now discovered a 260 million-year-old fossil that may have been one of the first of its kind to have this type of special bite.
In evolution, the tortoise beats the hare
A new study of E. coli bacteria shows that, even during evolution, a slow and steady pace can win the race. Robert Woods and colleagues performed an experiment in which a sub-population of slowly mutating bacteria eventually took over an entire colony of more rapidly mutating bacteria -- the same way the tortoise beat the hare in Aesop's fable.
Funding provided by the William T. Golden Endowment Fund for Program Innovation at AAAS.