Why migrating birds go the distance
Arctic shorebirds travel grueling distances each year as they migrate to their breeding grounds in the harsh, remote Arctic, but they do get a payoff, scientists report in a new study. The birds' eggs are less like to be eaten by foxes and other predators.
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Cleaner fish and third-party punishment
Recently, a study of cleaner fish revealed how males will punish females for bad behavior -- even when they seem to be bystanders, and are not personally affected by the females.
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Masquerading animals aim to fool
Many birds enjoy snacking on caterpillars, but the caterpillars of Brimstone and Early Thorn moths have a handy defense. Instead of looking like juicy, green treats, they resemble brown, knobby twigs.
Science announces the Breakthrough of the Year
At the end of each year, the writers and editors of Science reflect upon all the major scientific discoveries of the previous 12 months. They look for research that has answered major questions about how the universe works -- research that has paved the way for future discoveries -- and then they pick a "winner."
Triassic dinosaur illuminates early dino evolution
A newly discovered, early dinosaur from New Mexico -- a two-legged carnivore that belongs to the same lineage that later produced T. rex -- suggests that the first dinosaurs spread widely around the world, perhaps originating from South America.
A deep-earth plumbing system beneath Hawaii
The Hawaiian islands have formed as the Earth's crust moves over a "hotspot" where magma is rising up to the surface. Scientists have debated over how this hotspot works and how deep into the Earth it reaches, but a new study may help clear things up.
Detecting gamma-rays from a microquasar
A microquasar happens when a normal star begins shedding its matter onto either a neutron star or a black hole. This phenomenon produces large amounts of radiation and "jets" of material moving at relativistic speeds -- more than 10 percent the speed of light -- away from the star.
The disappearance of mammoths and mastodons
For years, researchers have believed that large prehistoric creatures like mammoths and mastodons went extinct due to human hunters and changes in their environment. Some researchers also proposed that a meteor could have contributed to their extinction as well. But, new research published in the journal Science shows that those large prehistoric creatures disappeared from the Earth several thousands of years before all of that happened.
Measuring Greenland's ice loss
Greenland has tons of ice. The Greenland ice sheet covers about 80 percent of the country, and it's the second largest ice sheet in the world, after the Antarctic ice sheet.
Handling the horse genome
Researchers have successfully sequenced the horse genome, and they say it sheds light on how the creatures were domesticated long ago. They also say the newly sequenced genome shows many similarities to the genomes of other mammals, like cows. It even has some things in common with the human genome!
Preventing an electronic wasteland
The toxic waste created from discarded electronic devices, like old cell phones and mp3 players, can be very harmful to people and to the environment -- and the United States need to take action now in order to prevent the problem from getting out of hand, researchers say.
For some algae, it pays to be little
Climate-driven changes to the Arctic Ocean are making "ecological winners" out of the small guys in the region, the tiny, marine algae called picoplankton, scientists have found. These itsy bitsy organisms are less than 2 micrometers across, smaller than the naked eye can see.
From thought to speech in 600 milliseconds
If a biologist wants to know how something in the human body works, one of the best ways to do this is to study the same process in other animals. But, what about language? We're the only animals who talk!
Asteroid 2 Pallas, a wannabe planet
One of the largest members of the main asteroid belt, a grapefruit-shaped rock called 2 Pallas, has more in common with planets than asteroids, researchers report.
Algae was quick to recover
About 65 million years ago, an asteroid struck the Earth and disrupted ecosystems around the world. Many of the creatures on the planet then died off and went extinct. This traumatic event is known as the K-T boundary or the K-T extinction event.
Watching eels cross the ocean
It is extremely difficult to track the movements of individual fish in the ocean -- but it seems that scientists are getting closer to that goal. This week in the journal Science, a team of researchers report that they have successfully followed a group of European eels during the first 800 miles of a long, 3,100-mile migration.
A tiny T. Rex with typical traits
When you think of Tyrannosaurus rex, you probably imagine a fearsome predator with a large skull and tiny forearms attached to a tremendous body. But, researchers have just unearthed a much smaller version of this prehistoric dinosaur in China, and it's no more than three meters tall.
Constant climate change in the Arctic
The region of Earth surrounding the North Pole is known as the Arctic, and researchers say that rapid climate change is disturbing the ecosystems there at a very rapid pace. Across all kinds of ecosystems in the Arctic -- on land, in fresh water, and in salt water -- life is changing dramatically.
A very recent break from a long, cool trend
About 2,000 years ago, researchers say that the Arctic began cooling off -- and that cooling trend lasted all the way up to the 20th century. But, recently, the pattern of cooling in the Arctic has reversed, they say.
Dog coats shed genetic secrets
The differences between the silky curls of a cocker spaniel and the shaggy mop of a sheepdog are the result of a mere three genes, researchers report in a new study.
Bombs away! A deep sea worm's defense
Researchers have discovered several new species of deep-sea worms that let loose tiny balloon-like structures, which start to glow a brilliant green as soon as they detach from the worms' bodies.
Following the leader -- to friendship
For years, researchers have associated imitation among human beings -- copying another's actions -- with positive social behavior, like cooperation and friendship. Imitating others' actions is a way to connect with them, and to communicate our likeness to or affection for that person. Now, researchers have found that capuchin monkeys, a highly social species of monkey, often repay imitation with friendship as well.
DNA does yoga
Researchers have figured out how to make DNA bend and twist into a variety of new shapes. These curvy new molecules could someday be used to build nanoscale devices -- smaller than the width of a human hair -- for delivering drugs inside the body, growing new tissues or studying single proteins.
Native oysters, back in the Chesapeake
After many years of effort, a team of researchers has finally been able to restore native oysters to their home in the Chesapeake Bay, Va.
Who can figure out the toucan? You can!
The toco toucan's bill occupies a special place in the hall of animal oddities. Making up about one-third of the bird's total body length, it's the largest bill of any bird, compared to its owner's body size. Scientists have puzzled for centuries over the bill's possible purpose. Might be used for attracting mates? Maybe for manipulating fruit?
Funding provided by the William T. Golden Endowment Fund for Program Innovation at AAAS.