Anna Gibbs



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.

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