Spadefoot toads break the rules in dry weather
Desert-dwelling animals have all kinds of clever tricks for surviving in their dry environments. This includes the spadefoot toad, which is named for the hard, pointy "spade" on its hind feet, which is used for digging.
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They don't fly, they aren't lemurs, but colugos are our closest relative
Researchers have determined that colugos are the closest relative to primates, according to a Science research article. Humans belong to the biological order of primates along with apes, monkeys and lemurs. Knowing who we are related to allows researchers the opportunity to study how we primates evolved from our nearest relative.
Neanderthals may have been redheads
Some Neanderthals -- relatives to modern humans, who lived in Europe and Central Asia approximately 230,000 to 30,000 years ago -- may have had genetic variations that hypothetically could have produced pale skin and red hair, a European research team has found.
A mutation in a dog gene opens new research into the defensin protein
Researchers who were trying to find the mutated gene that controls coat color in dogs now report that they found the gene, and have also discovered that it has an unexpected additional role. The gene also sends a signal to a member of a protein family that is responsible for defending the body against infection. The proteins are called defensins, because their job is to defend the body.
Titan's morning weather forecast: Widespread drizzle
Mornings on Saturn's moon Titan are often cloudy and drizzly over a wide area, according to a new astronomy/weather report by astronomers using giant telescopes on Earth.
Wild crows are crafty with tools
Recording themselves on tiny video cameras attached to their tailfeathers, New Caledonian crows have revealed themselves to be resourceful tool-users in the wild.
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Research supports oral histories of distant marine travel across the Pacific
Stories passed down for generations in the Pacific islands tell of regular maritime travel over several thousands of kilometers while most people were still traveling only in sight of land and long before Europeans began their world travels. Two Australian scientists reported this week that they found evidence to support these oral histories.
Keeping it clean at Mars' South Pole
Though we can't say you'd want to drink it, the water frozen in Mars' south polar ice cap is pretty pure, a new study suggests. Scientists have known that both poles of Mars are hidden beneath caps of layered ice. But they're only just learning how much ice there is and what it's made of.
Searching by starlight for the universe's mysterious dark matter
The objects that we can see in the universe, from the smallest speck of sand to the largest planet, are made up of protons, electrons and neutrons. But, most of the universe's matter is "dark matter." We can't see it, because it doesn't interact with light, and we don't even know what kind of particles it's made up of. Now, researchers think they know a way to learn more about this mysterious type of matter.
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Higher social skills are distinctly human, toddler and ape study reveals
You may wonder about your younger sibling's social abilities, but new research reveals that while they may sometimes act ape-like, they are really showing their higher social skills by the time they are 18-months-old.
Some early urban cities grew from the outside-in
Rising out of a field in northeastern Syria is an archaeological site that tells a slightly different story about the evolution of early urban centers from what researchers have previously believed. The city grew with an unusual "outside-in" growth pattern, according to a study in Science.
Dark side of Uranus' rings provides new view
The first images of the rings of the planet Uranus from a ground telescope show a system of rings that have changed since the first pictures were taken 20 years ago, a new report states.
Mama bird benefits from help
When mother fairy wrens have helpers that share baby-feeding duties, they save their own strength and lay smaller eggs, researchers report.
Successful conservation stories from across the globe
A trio of new studies published in Science this week provides examples of successful conservation efforts on three continents.
If you know any toddlers, you've probably wondered what is going on in their heads as they put their (full) bowls on their head at mealtime or run around in circles, shrieking for no apparent reason.
Who's watching you?
Research shows that humans switch from selfish to unselfish behavior when they are watched. Do you?
Slow rise for the dinosaurs
The Jurassic period, about 200 to 150 million years ago, was the heyday for the dinosaurs, which were the most common land animals during this time. (Does the movie title Jurassic Park ring a bell?)
Male butterflies bounce back
About five years ago, on the islands of Samoa, most of the male Hypolimnas bolina butterflies, also known as the Eggfly or Blue Moon butterfly, disappeared. Now, scientists report that the males have made a comeback and are almost as common as females.
Frozen DNA tells Greenland's past
About 1,000 years ago the infamous Norseman Erik the Red gave Greenland its name, even though 85 percent of the country is covered in ice. And now, some of that ice is providing us with information about prehistoric life on the arctic island.
Kitty's family tree
Housecats around the world can now trace their ancestry back to the Near Eastern wildcat, which today lives in the remote deserts of Israel, Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East.
More icebergs are adrift in the Southern Ocean
One of the effects of global warming has been an increase in icebergs breaking off from the Antarctic ice sheet. Oceanographers studying this phenomenon learned that free-drifting Antarctic icebergs can make important positive contributions to the carbon cycle in the Southern Ocean that is so important to a balanced planet, according to a new report.
Arctic plants, frequent flyers?
If the climate gets too warm or cold, an animal can walk, fly or swim to a more comfortable habitat. But what about a plant?
Changes in logging changes life in Central Africa
Central Africa is known for its dense forests that are some of the most pristine on the planet. They are home to an amazing array of wildlife and even pygmies. But life in this remote area is changing, and not for the better.
Walking lessons from orangutans
In the typical picture of human evolution, a gorilla- or chimp-like ape, dragging its knuckles on the ground, gradually straightens up and turns into a modern human standing on two legs.
The amazing baby brain
If you were watching television with the sound turned off, do you think you could tell what language the actors were speaking in? Babies can, according to new research. At least, they can tell whether a face is speaking their native language or a foreign language.
Funding provided by the William T. Golden Endowment Fund for Program Innovation at AAAS.