tech and geek stuff
Mystery human hobbit ancestor may have been first out of Africa
The tiny Indonesian hominin may have descended from a species that left Africa 2 million years agoKatrina KennyBy Alice KleinThe identity of the mysterious Homo floresiensis, aka the hobbit, has once...
Pesticide maker Dow Chemical tries to kill risk study
WASHINGTON — Dow Chemical is pushing a Trump administration that’s open to scrapping regulations to ignore the findings of federal scientists who point to a family of widely used pesticides as harmful...
Bears breed across species borders
Scientists have sequenced the entire genomes of four bear species, making it now possible to analyze the evolutionary history of all bears at the genome level. It shows that gene flow, or gene exchange,...
Signs of trouble for birds in one very green state
MONTPELIER, Vt. — The bird population in Vermont’s forests has declined 14.2 percent over 25 years, largely due to several factors, including invasive species, climate change, and the natural cycle of...
The bright lights of big cities help blackbirds thrive
Cut out for city life?Arterra/UIG via GettyBy Julianna PhotopoulosLight pollution is a problem for many animals, but at least one bird seems to welcome it. European blackbirds choose to nest near street...
Three new species of extinct South American marsupials discovered
The discovery of three extinct species and new insights to a fourth indicates a little-known family of marsupials, the Palaeothentidae, was diverse and existed over a wide range of South America as recent...
Deep learning tells giraffes from gazelles in the Serengeti
Caught on camerahttps://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/By Matt ReynoldsComputers are playing spot the difference in the Serengeti. An image-recognition algorithm that can identify different...
World’s largest canary discovered on island of giants and dwarfs
Large beak led to confusionAlexandre VazBy Sandhya SekarSpecies: São Tomé grosbeak (Crithagra concolor) Habitat: Endemic to the rainforests of São Tomé island, Gulf of Guinea, West Africa Deep within...
New species evolve faster as mountains form
Mountains, like rainforests, are hotbeds of biodiversity. But scientists aren't sure why. For years, they've thought that it might be related to the new environments that arise when mountains form -- as...
Tyrannosaurs show their sensitive side
A team of researchers has found a new species of tyrannosaur dinosaur -- the most popular of the prehistoric creatures. After the fossils were pulled out of the muddy banks of a Montana river, the team...
Scientists investigate Tasmanian tiger sightings
Is Australia’s extinct thylacine — a striped, dog-like marsupial commonly known as the Tasmanian tiger — not extinct after all? Recent alleged thylacine sightings convinced scientists at James Cook University...
UK plans to bring 20 species back from brink of extinction
Chequered skipper butterfly is on the ‘to save’ listIain Leech/Heritage Lottery Fund/PA WireBy New Scientist staff and Press AssociationEfforts to save some of the UK’s rarest species from extinction...
Flying foxes are facing extinction on islands across the world
Hunted for foodClaude Balcaen/FLPABy Brian OwensFlying foxes are in deep trouble. Almost half the species of this type of fruit bat are now threatened with extinction. The bats face a variety of threats,...
Weird T. rex forerunner had small horns and crocodile-like snout
We weren’t kidding when we said the horns were smallDino PuleràBy Chelsea WhyteThere’s a new tyrannosaur on the block, and it seems it was quite sensitive. This predecessor of T. rex, Daspletosaurus horneri,...
Biologists find surprising variability in courtship behaviors of wolf spiders
Studies of wolf spiders found that courtship displays help preserve genetic isolation between closely related species. Another study found that the species Gladicosa bellamyi used multi-modal communication...
Bird-eating spiders?! New tarantula species found
Three new species of massive, furry “birdeater” spiders have been discovered, with dozens more stricken from the grouping.In a new paper published in the open-access journal ZooKeys, researchers cleaned...
Translucent helmeted cockroach looks like an alien with a halo
Slovak Academy of SciencesBy Karl Gruber Species: Helmablatta louisrothi Habitat: Lava caves in Vietnam Advertisement It’s one of the weirdest-looking cockroaches ever known, sporting a huge head with...
Neanderthal teeth tell tales of diet and medicine
Enlarge / The jaw of the El Sidron individual found to be consuming poplar and Penicillium-containing vegetation.Paleoanthropology Group MNCN-CSIC reader comments 2 Share this story Around 50,000 years...
Sociable woodpeckers that cooperate have evolved smaller brains
Cooperation may ease the strain on woodpeckers’ brainsWilliam Leaman/Alamy Stock PhotoBy Andy CoghlanIn primates such as humans, living in cooperative societies usually means having bigger brains — with...
Species appears to evolve quickly enough to endure city temperatures
Urban acorn ants collected in Cleveland appear to have taken no more than 100 years -- no more than 20 generations -- to evolve and thrive in their heat-trapping city home. The capability suggests the...
First underwater video footage of the True's beaked whale
The True's beaked whale is a deep-diving mammal so rarely seen that it often defies recognition at sea by researchers. As a result, we have little data about its distribution, abundance and calving rate...
The Amazon forest is the result of an 8,000-year experiment
Brazil nuts scattered at the base of trees in the Amazon. These trees are so common in the Amazon today as a result of human cultivation that began over 8,000 years ago.Lior Golgner reader comments 10...
WW2 bomb craters are a home to rare and vulnerable animals
Useful microhabitatZsófia HorváthBy Kata KaráthSome bombs can help create life. A rich mix of rare saline water species have been found thriving in ponds formed in second world war bomb craters in Hungary....
Study sheds new light on how species extinction affects complex ecosystems
Research has found that methods used to predict the effect of species extinction on ecosystems could be producing inaccurate results. This is because current thinking assumes that when a species vanishes,...
De-extinction dilemma: reviving dead species may doom the living
The resurrection of extinct species may soon be feasible – but expensiveMoviestore Collection/REX/ShutterstockThe resurrection of extinct species, as depicted in the 1993 film Jurassic Park, was until...
New species of bushbaby found in disappearing forests of Angola
What big eyes you haveElena BersacolaBy Sam WongIt’s a dwarf with big eyes, big ears and a big voice. The newly discovered Angolan dwarf galago belongs to the bushbaby family, members of which are found...
Tiny new frog species found in India
Some of the smallest known frogs were recently discovered following a five-year survey in India. Seven new species of “night frogs,” in the Nyctibatrachus genus, include four species that are among the...
Harvard scientists aim to bring back the woolly mammoth
The woolly mammoth went extinct thousands of years ago, but Harvard scientists say they may be inching closer to bringing the beast back to earth — or at least a genetically altered hybrid version.Speaking...
Ant odd couple work together to build and keep a healthy nest
Strange nest-matesPatrick Landmann/GettyBy Karl GruberOne is a massive black ant, the other is a tiny, only distantly related, brown ant. But together they form a perfect team to build and guard a shared...
New Mosquito Trap Smart Enough to Keep Just the Bad Bugs
A smart trap for mosquitoes? A new high-tech version is promising to catch the bloodsuckers while letting friendlier insects escape — and even record the exact weather conditions when different species...
These tiny beetles have evolved to ride ants like horses
reader comments 5 Share this story When army ants stream into the jungles of Costa Rica, they leave death and destruction in their wake. These nomadic group predators eat everything from millipedes to...
Climate threat to wildlife may have been underreported
More than 700 of the world’s threatened and endangered animal species may be directly affected by climate change, according to a new study — vastly more than the number of animal species scientists initially...
Climate change is already battering hundreds of animal species
Under pressureBy Anita MakriClimate change is already harming around 700 species of mammals and birds. That means that warming is not just a theoretical future threat, and conservation work must focus...
Trump admin delays protection for "endangered" bees
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – The Trump administration on Thursday delayed what would be the first endangered designation for a bee species in the continental U.S., one day before it was to take effect.The U.S....
New beetle species bites army ant’s butt and hitches a ride
Secret hitcherD. KronauerBy Sean MowbraySpecies: Nymphister kronaueri beetle Habitat: Army ant abdomens and nests in rainforests of Costa Rica Moving around the rainforest floor can be tough if you’re...
A new species of gecko with massive scales and tear-away skin
Many lizards can drop their tails when grabbed, but one group of geckos has gone to particularly extreme lengths to escape predation. Fish-scale geckos in the genus Geckolepis have large scales that tear...
How carnivorous plants developed their taste for prey
A new study sheds a bit more light on the unusual, and a bit bizarre, species of carnivorous plants that trap and kill food, instead of drawing their nutrition from sunlight and soil. A large team of...
Crab species gets magical name inspired by "Harry Potter"
A new crab species has been named after two “Harry Potter” characters, and its discovery is an interesting tale in the search for fantastic beasts.Harryplax severus, as the crab has been dubbed, was actually...
Small honor: Tiny moth named for Trump
A miniscule moth with a wingspan of just 0.4 inches is the first species to be named for the soon-to-be president of the United States, Donald Trump.Yellow and white scales topping the moth’s head resemble Trump’s...
Majority of primate species may vanish in next 25 to 50 years
All apes are under threatConservation International/photo by Russell A. MittermeierBy Andy CoghlanThe majority of the world’s primates are in deep trouble. There are as few as 20 or 30 Hainan gibbons...
Does it fart? There’s now a database—and a hashtag—for that
Enlarge / GREAT BRITAIN - JUNE 16: Cows feeding in a cattle pen, Dorset, United Kingdom. (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)Getty | Tim Graham reader comments 0 Share this story There are loads of interesting...
New global evidence of the role of humans, urbanization in rapid evolution
A new study that examines 1,600 global instances of phenotypic change -- alterations to species' observable traits such as size, development or behavior -- shows more clearly than ever that urbanization...
New species of fish in Hawaii's waters named after Obama
HONOLULU -- When scientists discovered a new species of fish in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, they noticed a distinctive, colorful spot near the tail that bore a striking resemblance...
Klingon newt and Ziggy Stardust snake species discovered
A newt that resembles a Klingon from “Star Trek” and a snake with iridescent rainbow scales that calls to mind David Bowie’s colorful extraterrestrial alter ego Ziggy Stardust are two of 163 new species...
New prehistoric bird species discovered
A new species of bird has been discovered in the Canadian Arctic. At approximately 90 million years old, the bird fossils are among the oldest avian records found in the northernmost latitude, and offer...
Bloody great: Evolution: Climate is a board game “red in tooth and claw”
EnlargeNorth Star Games reader comments 1 Share this story Welcome to Ars Cardboard, our weekend look at tabletop games. Check out our complete board gaming coverage at cardboard.arstechnica.com. Evolution:...
New spider species' name inspired by "Harry Potter"
A new spider species has just been discovered, but it already has a doppelganger — the sorting hat from the “Harry Potter” series.Three scientists in India discovered the new spider species and named it...
Giraffes at risk of "silent extinction," biologists warn
WASHINGTON — The giraffe, the tallest land animal, is now at risk of extinction, biologists say.Because the giraffe population has shrunk nearly 40 percent in just 30 years, scientists put it on the official...
Intensification of land use leads to the same species everywhere
In places where humans use grasslands more intensively, it is not only the species diversity that decreases -- the landscape also becomes more monotonous, and ultimately only the same species remain everywhere....
Polar species spotted in the deep seas of the Mediterranean
Might have hitched a ride through the Suez canalOceanaBy Laura HamptonInvasive species and those normally found in the Atlantic and polar regions have been spotted in the deep seas of the eastern Mediterranean....
Biologists watch speciation in a laboratory flask
The evolution of a new species can occur rapidly enough for them to observe the process in a simple laboratory flask, biologists have discovered. In a month-long experiment using a virus harmless to humans,...
On Fiji, ants have learned to grow plants to house their massive colonies
reader comments 0 Share this story Enlarge / A tree full of Squamellaria plants in Fiji. Each one has been carefully grown by ants, who live inside the plants' fleshy interior. It's like James and the...
Poisonous amphibian defenses are linked to higher extinction risk
Amphibians which have a toxic defense against predators - such as the iconic poison dart frogs - have a much higher risk of extinction than species which use other types of defense mechanisms, research...
New dominant ant species discovered in Ethiopia shows potential for global invasion
A team of scientists conducting a recent biodiversity survey in the ancient church forests of Ethiopia made an unexpected discovery -- a rather infamous ant species (Lepisiota canescens) displaying signs...
Narwhal echolocation beams may be the most directional of any species
Analysis of some of the first recordings of wintering narwhals showed that they may have the most directional sonar of any species. Understanding how these whales use sound could help predict impacts of...
Test Tube Wildlife Could Save Nearly Extinct Species
The tiger, the rhinoceros, the gorilla; the list of animals that have been pushed to the brink of extinction is long and getting longer. But scientists in Limpopo, South Africa, have used in-vitro fertilization...
The mass extinction event going unnoticed
Elephants trooping to a water hole at the Amboseli national reserve. Nearly three-fifths of all animals with a backbone have been wiped out since 1970 by human appetites and activity, according to a grim...
Wildlife populations down by half since the 1970s
LONDON -- Global wildlife populations have fallen an average of 58 percent from 1970 levels, with human activity reducing the numbers of elephants in Tanzania, maned wolves in Brazil, salamanders in the...
Plant discovered that neither photosynthesizes nor blooms
A new species of plant has been discovered on the subtropical Japanese island of Kuroshima (located off the southern coast of Kyushu in Kagoshima prefecture) and named it Gastrodia kuroshimensis. The new...
Heat-Generated Thermal Imaging Tracks Endangered Bats
Bats make up almost one quarter of all mammals species on earth. While many of the more than 1,300 species are thriving, others are endangered and facing extinction. In Britain, for example, several of...
Why better technology won’t stop violent videos going viral
Will technology help to combat violent videos on Facebook?Reuters/Dado RuvicBy Chelsea WhyteOn Easter Sunday, a man chose 74-year old Robert Godwin Sr at random on a street in Cleveland, Ohio, shot him,...
Facebook and Apple have spent more on lobbying than they ever have this year
As Facebook has been tinkering with brain-computer interfaces and an augmented reality camera platform, it's also been cultivating some good old fashioned Washington influence. According to federal lobbying...
Facebook is looking to hire a head of news products to combat fake news
Facebook is looking to hire someone to head up its news products, a significant new role charged with helping to combat the proliferation of so-called fake news on its service. Facebook is talking to...
Facebook's moonshots: Making brains type and skin hear
It looks like just another beige office park building next to a dental office in Menlo Park, California. Yet Building 8, across the street from Facebook’s main campus, houses the social network’s biggest...
I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its component fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken-down computers. That is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark