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The coral reef, once bustling with more than 5,000 long-spined sea urchins, became a ghost town in a matter of days. White skeletons with dangling spines dotted the reef near the Dutch Caribbean island of Saba, the water cloudy from the disintegrating corpses. In just a week last April, half of the urchins, Diadema antillarum, in a section of reef called “Diadema City” had died. In June, only 100 remained.
In Ipswich, when temperatures are well below freezing and the tidal flats are covered in ice, Paul Damon still digs for clams. Even when it dips to 11 or 12 degrees, he’ll take his boat to reach the flats — exposed expanses of mud that appear at low tide. Only when he tosses out the anchor and it bounces off the solid mud does he head home.
Short Form Reporting & News
A recent TV ad features three guys lost in the woods, debating whether they should’ve taken a turn at a pond, which one guy argues is a marsh. “Let’s not pretend you know what a marsh is,” the other snaps. “Could be a bog,” offers the third.
No ifs, ands or butts about it: A teeny roughly 530-million-year-old critter that lacks an anus is not, as previously thought, the oldest member of a wide-ranging animal group that includes everything from starfish to humans.
Turns out there is rest for the wicked: Sleepy mosquitoes are more likely to catch up on missed z’s than drink blood, a new study finds. Most people are familiar with the aftermath of a poor night’s sleep. Insects also suffer; for instance, drowsy honeybees struggle to perform their signature waggle dance, and weary fruit flies show signs of memory loss.
Four billion years ago, lava spilled onto the moon’s crust, etching the man in the moon we see today. But the volcanoes may have also left a much colder legacy: ice.
Cradled inside the hushed world of the womb, fetuses might be preparing to come out howling. In the same way newborn humans can cry as soon as they’re born, common marmoset monkeys (Callithrix jacchus) produce contact calls to seek attention from their caregivers.
No matter how you slice it, climate change will alter what we eat in the future. Today, just 13 crops provide 80 percent of people’s energy intake worldwide, and about half of our calories come from wheat, maize and rice. Yet some of these crops may not grow well in the higher temperatures, unpredictable rainfall and extreme weather events caused by climate change. Already, drought, heat waves and flash floods are damaging crops around the world.
Turns out we may be unfairly stereotyping dogs. Modern breeds are shaped around aesthetics: Chihuahuas’ batlike ears, poodles’ curly fur, dachshunds’ hot dog shape. But breeds are frequently associated with certain behaviors, too. For instance, the American Kennel Club describes border collies as “affectionate, smart, energetic” and beagles as “friendly, curious, merry.”
Ben Franklin had nothing on trilobites. Roughly 400 million years before the founding father invented bifocals, the now extinct trilobite Dalmanitina socialis already had a superior version (SN: 2/2/74). Not only could the sea critter see things both near and far, it could also see both distances in focus at the same time — an ability that eludes most eyes and cameras.
After two years of successfully evading getting COVID-19 — including a few brushes with close contacts, a couple of are-they-just-colds? scares and lots of negative tests — I recently tested positive.
A type of light commonly observed in astrophysics experiments and nuclear reactors can help detect cancer. In a clinical trial, a prototype of an imaging machine that relies on this usually bluish light, called Cerenkov radiation, successfully captured the presence and location of cancer patients’ tumors, researchers report April 11 in Nature Biomedical Engineering.
Buried within the Las Pinturas pyramid in San Bartolo, Guatemala, thousands of painted plaster mural fragments offer a window into ancient Maya civilization. Two of those fragments form the earliest known record of a Maya calendar, created between 300 and 200 B.C.
A gaping hole in the bony frill of a Triceratops dubbed “Big John” may be a battle scar from one of his peers.
The frill that haloes the head of Triceratops is an iconic part of its look. Equally iconic, at least to paleontologists, are the holes that mar the headgear. For over a century, researchers have debated various explanations for the holes, called fenestrae — from battle scars to natural aging processes.
Julius Nziza still remembers the moment vividly. Just before dawn on a chilly January morning in 2019, he and his team gently extracted a tiny brown bat from a net purposely strung to catch the nocturnal fliers. A moment later, the researchers’ whoops and hollers pierced the heavy mist blanketing Rwanda’s Nyungwe National Park.
You can never have too much ice cream, but you can have too much ice in your ice cream. Adding plant-based nanocrystals to the frozen treat could help solve that problem, researchers reported March 20 at the American Chemical Society spring meeting in San Diego.
The verdict is, once again, in: Masking in schools is effective.
During the COVID-19 pandemic’s delta variant wave, schools that required masking had approximately one-fourth the rates of in-school coronavirus transmission than schools with optional or partial masking policies, researchers report online March 9 in Pediatrics.
Before the early 1900s, if it walked like a Christmas Island rat and talked like a Christmas Island rat, it probably was a Christmas Island rat. But if one of these now-extinct rats ever walks the Earth again, it will most likely be a genetically modified Norway brown rat. And the rodent won’t be as similar to the Christmas Island rat as some would hope, a new study finds.
Ask bacteria where they’d like to live, and they’ll answer: a kitchen sponge, please.
Sponges are microbe paradises, capable of housing 54 billion bacteria per cubic centimeter. In addition to being damp, airy and loaded with food scraps, sponges provide an optimal physical environment for bacteria, researchers report February 10 in Nature Chemical Biology.
Lizards are famous for losing their tails, but perhaps the bigger question should be: How do their tails stay on? The answer may lie in the appendage’s internal design. A structure of prongs, micropillars and nanopores holds a lizard’s tail on tight enough to handle most jarring while remaining primed to drop the tail in case of emergency, researchers report in the Feb. 18 Science.
If you’re an athlete—even a very occasional one—odds are you’ve dealt with a muscle injury at some point. After all, muscle injuries account for 10 to 55 percent of sports traumas. https://nautil.us/blog/torn-muscle-hold-the-drugs-or-surgerymassage-may-be-the-best-medicine
The national trend to shop locally has skyrocketed in recent years. And thanks to a couple global crises – a warming climate and a raging pandemic – it’s a trend that is here to stay. Increasingly, consumers want to buy ethically and closer to home; shopping locally achieves both. New research shows that 41% of consumers intend to buy more locally going forward.
On a humid Tuesday morning, while volunteering at a reforestation nonprofit in Brazil, I trekked through the Atlantic Rainforest to the nonprofit’s office. The forest was already wide awake and noisy with insects and birds. Inside the office, one of the nonprofit coordinators, Virgilío Dornelas, was making coffee for the two of us.
Poetry and Personal Essay
In the woolen twilight, we walk home
the short way, through yards of dead grass,
careless stubble. we pass
peeling birch trees, their hollow sketch
draped with cliché leaves and dried originality.