Vander Leest

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New Candidate for World's First Bird

Discovery of the feathered Aurornis stokes the debate over the first avian.<p><b>For over a century and a half, the prehistoric Archaeopteryx has been celebrated as nature's earliest bird.</b><p>The iconic Jurassic creature was covered in feathers yet retained the teeth, claws, and bony tail from its …

Dinosaurs

American Dog Breeds Hail From Pre-Columbian Times

Researchers find limited European influence on dog breeds native to America.<p><b>The tangle of questions regarding the ancestry of dog breeds indigenous to the Americas is slowly unraveling.</b><p><b>Unlike the poodles that populate many a household, native American dog breed lineages originated from East Asian</b> …

Anthropology

Wolves Identified by Unique Howls, May Help Rare Species

New method lets scientists ID howling wolves with total accuracy.<p><b>If any gray wolves are howling their discontent with a recent proposal to remove what remains of their U.S. federal protection, scientists can now identify the outspoken.</b><p>A new, more sophisticated method for analyzing sound recordings …

Wildlife

Newly Discovered Carnivore Looks Like Teddy Bear

In "incredibly rare" find, scientists discover animal in Andean cloud forests.<p><b>A fuzzy fog-dweller with a face like a teddy bear is the first carnivore found in the Western Hemisphere in more than three decades, a new study says.</b><p>The 2-pound (0.9-kilogram) creature, called an olinguito, didn't make …

Zoology

Huge Molasses Spill Off Hawaii: A Diver's Report

What's it like to dive into molasses-clogged Honolulu Harbor?<p><b>Hawaii's Honolulu Harbor has been inundated this week with 230,000 gallons—1,400 tons—of thick, sticky molasses from a pipeline spill. It may sound like a sweet problem, but the molasses is killing fragile coral reefs, endangered marine</b> …

Scuba Diving

Monkeys Whisper, Study Says—But Why?

<b>Here’s a little secret: Humans aren’t the only animals who know how to speak softly.</b><p>Gophers sometimes whisper. There are bats that do it to avoid detection by moth prey. A certain fish does it to initiate sex (whispering sweet nothings into her mate’s ear canal?). (See “‘Whispering’ Bat Evolved to …

Rachel Morrison

Why Do Mysterious Lizards Have Green Blood?

<b>Roses are red, violets are blue … and these lizards’ blood is green.</b><p>It’s not a trick of the imagination or a penchant for food coloring—<i>Prasinohaema</i> skinks living on the island of New Guinea actually have green blood, bones, and tissue—and one scientist is trying to figure out why.<p>Louisiana State …

Zoology

Were the First Artists Mostly Women?

Three-quarters of handprints in ancient cave art were left by women, study finds.<p><b>Women made most of the oldest-known cave art paintings, suggests a new analysis of ancient handprints. Most scholars had assumed these ancient artists were predominantly men, so the finding overturns decades of</b> …

Anthropology

Did a Mega-Flood Doom Ancient American City of Cahokia?

Sediments reveal evidence of massive Mississippian flood around 1200 C.E.<p><b>One thousand years ago, on a floodplain of the Mississippi River near modern-day St. Louis, the massive Native American city known today as Cahokia sprang suddenly into existence. Three hundred years later it was virtually</b> …

Anthropology

Mystery of King Tut's Death Solved? Maybe Not

King Tut's chariot crashed and later his mummy burned, says an upcoming TV show.<p><b>King Tutankhamun was just a teenager when he died. For an ancient Egyptian pharaoh, presumably well fed and fiercely protected, this was a premature demise.</b><p>It was also momentous, for his death meant the beginning of the …

Ancient History

Looking Nature in the Mouth

Spotted hyenas seem to be the perfect archetypes of dirty scavengers. They’re smelly, not quite so charismatic as the big cats they compete with, and, most importantly, have bone-crunching jaws capable of dismantling most any carcass left to rot among the African grasslands. In the impression of …

Dinosaurs

Fossil Find Clears Up Big Cat Origins

Asian bones fill a big gap in the fossil record.<p><b>Don't miss our Google+ Hangout to Cause an Uproar with big cat experts, conservationists, and photographers on Tuesday, December 3 at 12:30 p.m. ET.</b><p><b>Paleontologists have long sought the answer to where and when big cats—mighty predators like lions,</b> …

Paleontology

Opinion: U.S. Ivory Crush Should Be Just a First Step

Trade in ivory was banned in 1989 but continues all over the world.<p><b>This Thursday, the United States government will destroy nearly six tons of ivory, which represents a good portion of the ivory the U.S. has seized since the late 1980s, when a national ban on commercial African ivory imports went</b> …

Extinction

The 20 big questions in science

From the nature of the universe (that's if there is only one) to the purpose of dreams, there are lots of things we still don't know – but we might do soon. A new book seeks some answers<p>1 What is the universe made of?<p>Astronomers face an embarrassing conundrum: they don't know what 95% of the …

This Is What Happens To Your Brain When You Get A Concussion

For years the NFL claimed that concussions and the resulting neurological conditions of its players were rare. But an investigation into the dark history of concussions in the NFL published by PBS Frontline and new scientific studies show multiple blows to the head cause serious permanent brain …

Concussion

Fractal Biology

A fractal can be described as a pattern that contains itself on smaller and larger scales. One simple example of a fractal is a tree; it contains the same pattern in the trunk, branches, and leaves. Each time the tree branches it forms a new iteration of its fractal shape.<p>Systems form patterns which act as a components on a higher scale. When the type of interaction between components is the same on multiple scales, a fractal emerges.<p>Biological systems appear to have a fractal property, …

Why Leaves Change Color

Charles Rennie Mackintosh observed that, “Art is the flower, Life is the Green Leaf,” but I would very humbly add that after the green leaf dies, all those red, orange, and yellow leaves become nature’s most magnificent work of art.<p>For the past two weeks I’ve enjoyed autumn’s splendor, from the …

National Parks

Life in close-up: photomicrography competition winners - in pictures

Nikon has announced the winners of its 2013 Small World Photomicrography Competition. Winning images were selected for displaying both artistic quality and scientific technique. Eric Flem at Nikon said: "After 39 years we are proud to watch the competition continue to grow, allowing us to honor …

10 Famous People Killed By Bad Medicine

Science warns against drilling the most biodiverse rainforest on Earth

The Ecuadorian government is currently racing ahead with plans to drill for oil in the core of what is arguably the most biodiverse corner of the planet: Blocks 31 and ITT of the famed Yasuní National Park. This new aggressive push for oil drilling comes as a stunning backlash to the failure of a …

Ecology

Remote Rain Forest Expedition Finds 60 New Species

Scientists exploring Suriname's rain forests, some of the most remote on Earth, discovered 60 new species and a pristine region in need of protection.

Zoology

African Elephants Understand Human Gestures

African elephants correctly interpret human pointing cues to find hidden food, without being trained to do so.<p><b>It turns out African elephants really do get the point. New research suggests these gray pachyderms can follow human gestures—like pointing—just as dogs are able to follow when we point to</b> …

Wildlife