Archivo: Science News

Out of the millions of species of insects, only about a hundred suck human blood. Now, scientists say they’ve figured out how one mosquito became a vampire: a gene that makes it particularly sensitive to human odor.

A mysterious astronomical object known simply as G2 has intrigued and confounded researchers ever since it was found to be on a near-collision course with the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy. When it failed to produce the predicted celestial fireworks over the past few months, astronomers were left scratching their heads. Now, one team thinks it has figured out why nothing happened: G2 is not a gas cloud but a strange, more stable object formed from a pair of recently merged stars.

Once a year, after the summer monsoon rains, two species of harvester ants (Pogonomyrmex) join in a mad mating frenzy, as in the photo above. The queens aren’t making a mistake by hooking up with the wrong species, scientists report in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Instead, they use the sperm from the foreign males to produce sterile worker ants. And they use the sperm from their own species to produce their daughter queens—which the sterile workers then care for.

A deadly winter cold wave settled over Europe at the end of January 2012, blanketing much of the continent with snow and ultimately causing more than 800 deaths. Such severe winters are becoming more common across Eurasia—and some scientists contend that sea ice loss, by altering circulation patterns, is ultimately to blame for these frequent deep chills.

Scientists have found a nearly square peg underneath a round hole—on the moon. Several kilometers below Oceanus Procellarum, the largest dark spot on the moon’s near side, scientists have discovered a giant rectangle thought to be the remnants of a geological plumbing system that spilled lava across the moon about 3.5 billion years ago. The features are similar to rift valleys on Earth—regions where the crust is cooling, contracting, and ripping apart. Their existence shows that the moon, early in its history, experienced tectonic and volcanic activity normally associated with much bigger planets.

Australia has suffered through two back-to-back sweltering summers, with a record-setting heat wave sweeping across the country at the end of 2013 and into 2014. Now, five separate studies published today conclude that the blazing summer was linked to human-caused climate change.