Neandertals, Stone Age people may have voyaged the Mediterranean
A decade ago, when excavators claimed to have found stone tools on the Greek island of Crete dating back at least 130,000 years, other archaeologists were stunned—and skeptical. But since then, at that site and others, researchers have quietly built up a convincing case for Stone Age seafarers—and for the even more remarkable possibility that they were Neandertals, the extinct cousins of modern humans.
How one cell gives rise to an entire body
One of biology’s great mysteries is how a single fertilized egg gives rise to the multitude of cell types, tissues, and organs that fit together to make a body. Now, a combination of single-cell sequencing technologies and computational tools is providing the most detailed picture yet of this process. In three papers online in Science this week, researchers report taking multiple snapshots of gene activity in most of the cells in developing zebrafish or frog embryos. They then assembled those data, taken at intervals of just minutes to hours, into coherent, cell-by-cell histories of how those embryos take shape.
Malaria infection creates a ‘human perfume’ that makes us more attractive to mosquitoes
The parasite that causes malaria can change the way you smell, making you more attractive to mosquitoes, according to a new study. The work may help explain why the disease is able to spread so effectively.
Could artificial intelligence get depressed and have hallucinations?
As artificial intelligence (AI) allows machines to become more like humans, will they experience similar psychological quirks such as hallucinations or depression? And might this be a good thing?
Atoms and antiatoms haven’t crashed Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity—yet
As any Star Trek fan knows, antimatter is supposed to be the exact opposite of matter—so that if the two touch they annihilate each other in a flash of pure energy. Now, after decades of trying, physicists have precisely compared atoms and antiatoms. The two appear to behave the same way to within a tiny uncertainty, and in a convoluted way the result supports the foundation of Albert Einstein’s theory of special relativity. It also opens the way to more stringent comparisons of matter-antimatter—and the possibility that the two aren’t exact opposites.
Interested in responsible gene editing? Join the (new) club
A group of European scientists has founded an international association to discuss and provide guidance on the ethical use of genome editing, a technique with the potential to transform everything from food production and human health to science itself. Organizers launched the new Association for Responsible Research and Innovation in Genome Editing (ARRIGE) at a kick-off meeting in Paris this past Friday.
Sea mammals are huge for a reason
In general, aquatic mammals tend to be larger than their closest land-bound relatives. The largest sea lions are twice as big as the largest bears, for example, and manatees outweigh their cat-size hyrax cousins by nearly 500 kilograms.
What does a scientist look like? Children are drawing women more than ever before
When asked to draw a scientist, school-age kids in the United States are increasingly sketching women. That’s the main conclusion of a new study that compiled information about 20,860 pictures drawn by students age 5 to 18 over 5 decades.
Chimpanzees, bonobos, and even humans may share ancient body language
Want to say “Hello,” but don’t know the local language? Try waving your hand. Such gestures, common among humans, are also surprisingly similar among chimpanzees and bonobos, our closest great ape relatives. Now, a new study has identified numerous gestures that mean the same thing to both species. That suggests these signals have biological underpinnings and could be inherited from our last common ancestor.
Most ankylosaurs were fossilized belly up. Now, scientists think they know why
Ankylosaurs are odd-looking, even by dinosaur standards: They’re squat and fat, with armored backs and, usually, tail clubs. But for many scientists, there’s another reason these creatures stand out—most are fossilized upside-down. The reason for this strange orientation was a mystery for decades, but thanks to an unusual collaboration between paleontologists and armadillo experts, we may finally have an answer—and it all comes down to bloated, floating dinosaur carcasses.