Earliest evidence for dog breeding found on remote Siberian island
The hunter-gatherers of Zhokhov Island were a hardy folk. Nine thousand years ago, they survived frigid year-round temperatures in animal-skin tents some 500 kilometers north of what is now the Russian mainland, and they were the only people ever known to hunt large numbers of polar bears without firearms. Now it appears these ancient Arctic dwellers did something even more remarkable: They may have been among the first humans to breed dogs for a particular purpose.
Rice plant engineered with a ‘tunable’ immune system could fight multiple diseases at once
A strain of rice that can rapidly and reversibly ramp up its immune system in bursts that are strong enough to fend off offending pathogens but short enough to avoid the stunted growth seen in previously engineered crops.
There’s no such thing as a ‘pure’ European—or anyone else
Using revolutionary new methods to analyze DNA and the isotopes found in bones and teeth, scientists are exposing the tangled roots of peoples around the world, as varied as Germans, ancient Philistines, and Kashmiris. Few of us are actually the direct descendants of the ancient skeletons found in our backyards or historic homelands. Only a handful of groups today, such as Australian Aborigines, have deep bloodlines untainted by mixing with immigrants.
Earth’s forests just grew 9% in a new satellite survey
Using satellite imagery, a new study has found hidden forests all over the world—almost enough for a second Amazon—in areas with little moisture known as drylands.
This mysterious human species lived alongside our ancestors, newly dated fossils suggest
A creature reminiscent of much earlier human ancestors such as H. habilis lived at the same time as modern humans were emerging in Africa and Neandertals were evolving in Europe.
Was the Amazon once an ocean?
The Amazon rainforest is a treasure trove of biodiversity, containing 10% of the planet’s species in its 6.7 million square kilometers. How it got to be that way has been fiercely disputed for decades. Now, a new study suggests that a large section of the forest was twice flooded by the Caribbean Sea more than 10 million years ago, creating a short-lived inland sea that jump-started the evolution of new species. But the new evidence still hasn’t convinced scientists on the other side of the debate.
Artificial intelligence prevails at predicting Supreme Court decisions
“See you in the Supreme Court!” President Donald Trump tweeted last week, responding to lower court holds on his national security policies. But is taking cases all the way to the highest court in the land a good idea? Artificial intelligence may soon have the answer. A new study shows that computers can do a better job than legal scholars at predicting Supreme Court decisions, even with less information.
This new battery could save your cellphone from going up in smoke
Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are everywhere these days: laptops, cars, power tools, and cellphones, including Samsung’s infamous smoldering Galaxy Note 7. Now, researchers have come up with a new way to prevent these rechargeables from going haywire—a zinc-nickel battery that provides nearly the same electrical jolt, but not the fire risk of Li-ion cells. The new batteries—still in development—could one day power devices as varied as consumer electronics and hybrid cars.
A famous “ancestor” may be ousted from the human family
A remarkably complete skeleton that was introduced in 2010 as “the best candidate” for the immediate ancestor of our genus Homo may just be a pretender. Instead of belonging to the human lineage, the new species of Australopithecus sediba is more closely related to other hominins from South Africa that are on a side branch of the human family tree
Buried lasers will sense Earth’s spin and quakes doing the twist
The aluminum hatches are the only clue to what lies beneath. Buried amid the corn and wheat fields of Fürstenfeldbruck, a sleepy monastery village 20 kilometers from Munich, Germany, is an inverted pyramid of concrete, steel pipes, and precision sensors, as deep as a three-story building. Last month, when lasers began coursing around the edges of the tetrahedron, Rotational Motions in Seismology (ROMY), as it is called, began its reign as the most sophisticated ring laser in the world, capable of sensing how Earth itself twists and turns.