A reconstruction of Anchiornus, based on the new data. (Credit: Julius T. Csotonyi)
Firing lasers at fossils continues to be a winning strategy for paleontologists.
The new technique brings hidden details in fossils to the forefront, including remnants of soft tissue invisible to the naked eye. And a team of researchers from China is using the laser-assisted images to help piece together the evolutionary process that turned dinosaurs into the birds we know today.
In a paper published Tues ...read more
Humans have been fighting our internal clocks ever since we invented sitting around a campfire. We have powerful natural rhythms that keep us on a 24-hour cycle; if you’ve ever been steamrollered by jet lag after an intercontinental flight, you know how powerful those rhythms are. But we muffle them with caffeine, alarm clocks, and electric lights. It’s easy to undo the damage, though. One weekend of camping can do the trick—and it’ll even cure y ...read more
Which microbes could be helping this mountain gorilla digest its food? (Image: Jeffrey Marlow)
Over the last few years, the range of known organisms living in the human gut – that complex milieu of microbes known as the microbiome – has expanded dramatically. They influence your health, your appearance, and your behavior in largely unknown ways, and yet, despite the thousands of studies that have been published on the subject, the microbiome census may be woefully incomplete.
Most ...read more
Who are you more likely to find striking a sexy pose on the cover of a magazine: Gus or Tanner? Sophia or Bertha?
It’s a silly question given all we’re working with is names, but names are powerful social tags that influence how people interact with and perceive each other—for good or for bad. A name reflects race, age, religion and nationality. A name affects the number of callbacks jobseekers receive from employers. A name can influence expectations set by a child&rsquo ...read more
Chased fanatically but realized rarely, a truly viral story seems to happen purely by chance — a fortuitous alignment of trending topic, clever headline, compelling copy and maybe a witty GIF.
Now, a team of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania has built a model for “virality” by identifying neural mechanisms at work when people decide to share an article or not. In two studies, of 41 and 39 people each, they used fMRI to monitor ...read more
Many island nations have deep water within an hour’s boat ride from shore; here, a view of Gatokae Island in the Solomon Islands is taken over water that is at least 1000 meters deep and known to be volcanically active. (Image: Alex DeCiccio)
Most countries on Earth have no way to access vast portions of their sovereign territory. In a time when you can read street signs half a world a way on Google Earth, this fact may seem surprising, but these unreachable territories all have one thin ...read more
Last week, I wrote about a social psychology paper which was retracted after the data turned out to be fraudulent. The sole author on that paper, William Hart, blamed an unnamed graduate student for the misconduct.
Now, more details have emerged about the case. On Tuesday, psychologist Rolf Zwaan blogged about how he was the one who first discovered a problem with Hart’s data, in relation to a different paper. Back in 2015, Zwaan had co-authored a paper reporting a failure to replicate a 2 ...read more
A World War II-era contamination suit. (Credit: Shutterstock)
In January 1958, two medical officers at Porton Down, Britain’s military science facility, exposed their forearms to 50-microgram droplets of a substance called VX, which was a new, fast-acting nerve agent that could kill by seeping through the skin.
VX, short for “venomous agent X,” is tasteless, odorless and causes uncontrollable muscle contractions that eventually stop a person’s breathing within minu ...read more
(Credit: Gregg Lab)
We’re all the product of genes from both parents. But in the brain, neurons may favor genes from mom or dad far more than previously thought, which is an effect that could impact one’s risk for mental disorders.
Everybody generally receives two versions, or alleles, of each gene, one from each parent. The fact that each person has a spare copy of a gene in case the other is defective is one reason why scientists think sex evolved in the first place, says study s ...read more
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