Newly identified brain structure may explain why parrots are such good copycats
Scientists say they have pinpointed the neurons that turn these birds into copycats. The discovery could not only illuminate the origins of bird-speak, but might shed light on how new areas of the brain arise during evolution.
Huge study links wastewater injection wells to earthquakes
Before 2008, Oklahoma experienced roughly one noticeable earthquake per year. By 2014, that number had soared to almost one a day, and the state is not alone. Scientists have documented an astronomical rise in seismic activity across the central and eastern United States, linking it to wastewater pumped into the ground from burgeoning oil and gas production. Now, new research suggests that high rates of fluid injection—rather than other factors such as volume or depth—may be the root of the problem.
Chimps caught drinking after hours
Alcoholic beverages are imbibed in nearly every human society across the world—sometimes, alas, to excess. Although recent evidence suggests that tippling might have deep roots in our primate past, nonhuman primates are only rarely spotted in the act of indulgence. A new study of chimpanzees with easy access to palm wine shows that some drink it enthusiastically, fashioning leaves as makeshift cups with which to lap it up. The findings could provide new insights into why humans evolved a craving for alcohol, with all its pleasures and pains.
Comet impacts may explain mysterious swirls on moon
Light-colored swaths of terrain may be a side effect of comets striking the moon
Some chimpanzees infected with AIDS virus may harbor protective, humanlike gene
A gene has been found for what’s known as the major histocompatibility complex (MHC)—cell surface molecules that help the immune system recognize foreigners—that was remarkably similar to one in humans that allows infected people to keep the virus in check for decades. And it seemed to be doing the same thing in SIVcpz-infected Gombe chimps.
Electron microscopes close to imaging individual atoms
Researchers report that they’ve created the highest ever resolution cryo-EM image, revealing a druglike molecule bound to its protein target at near atomic resolution.
What your smile says about where you’re from
A new study finds that your use of facial expressions, such as smiles, is related to the migratory history of where you’re from.
Ancient megadrought entombed dodos in poisonous fecal cocktail
Nine hundred kilometers off the east coast of Madagascar lies the tiny island paradise of Mauritius. The waters are pristine, the beaches bright white, and the average temperature hovers between 22°C and 28°C (72°F to 82°F) year-round. But conditions there may not have always been so idyllic. A new study suggests that about 4000 years ago, a prolonged drought on the island left many of the native species, such as dodo birds and giant tortoises, dead in a soup of poisonous algae and their own feces.
Resistance to antibiotics found in isolated Amazonian tribe
The find suggests that microbes have long evolved the capability to fight toxins, including antibiotics, and that preventing drug resistance may be harder than scientists thought.
Plaque-busting nanoparticles could help fight tooth decay
Nanotechnology might soon save you a trip to the dentist. Researchers have developed tiny sphere-shaped particles that ferry a payload of bacteria-slaying drugs to the surface of the teeth, where they fight plaque and tooth decay on the spot. The approach could also be adapted to combat other plaquelike substances, known as biofilms, such as those that form on medical devices like orthopedic implants.