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  • Whales and dolphins have rich 'human-like' cultures and societies
    Whales and dolphins (cetaceans) live in tightly-knit social groups, have complex relationships, talk to each other and even have regional dialects -- much like human societies. A major new study has linked the complexity of Cetacean culture and behavior to the size of their brains.
  • Bite on this: Alligators actually eat sharks
    Jaws, beware! Alligators may be coming for you. A new study documents American alligators on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts are eating small sharks and stingrays. This is the first scientific documentation of a widespread interaction between the two predators.
  • Hubble observes source of gravitational waves for the first time
    The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has observed for the first time the source of a gravitational wave, created by the merger of two neutron stars. This merger created a kilonova -- an object predicted by theory decades ago -- that ejects heavy elements such as gold and platinum into space. This event also provides the strongest evidence yet that short duration gamma-ray bursts are caused by mergers of neutron stars.
  • Radio 'eyes' unlocking secrets of neutron-star collision
    When a pair of superdense neutron stars collided and potentially formed a black hole in a galaxy 130 million light-years from Earth, they unleashed not only a train of gravitational waves but also an ongoing torrent of radio waves that are answering some of the biggest questions about the nature of such a cataclysmic event.
  • Astronomers strike cosmic gold, confirm origin of precious metals in neutron star mergers
    What many thought would be a long way off, the detection of gravitational waves from the merger of binary neutron stars, actually happened on Aug. 17. The observation of a blue and then red glow from the radioactive debris cloud left behind matched simulations of what the merger should look like, proving that such mergers are the source of most of the very heavy elements in the universe, including gold.
  • Harvey runoff menaces Texas' coral reefs
    The more than 13 trillion gallons of floodwater from Hurricane Harvey have created a massive plume of freshwater in the Gulf of Mexico that is threatening the coral reefs of the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary about 100 miles offshore of Galveston.
  • First observations of merging neutron stars mark a new era in astronomy
    After LIGO detected gravitational waves from the merger of two neutron stars, the race was on to detect a visible counterpart, because unlike the colliding black holes responsible for LIGO's four previous detections, this event was expected to produce an explosion of visible light. Researchers have now found the source of the gravitational waves, capturing the first images of the event with the Swope Telescope in Chile.
  • Fanged kangaroo research could shed light on extinction
    Fanged kangaroos -- an extinct family of small fanged Australian kangaroos -- might have survived at least five million years longer than previously thought. A new study has found the species might have competed for resources with ancestors of modern kangaroos.
  • Melting ice makes the sea around Greenland less saline
    For the first time, ocean data from Northeast Greenland reveals the long-term impact of the melting of the Greenland ice sheet. The observed increase in freshwater content will affect the conditions in all Greenland fjords and may ultimately affect the global ocean currents that keep Europe warm.
  • Star Dust Helps Explain Mysterious Dimming Star
    Astronomers are working to understand the mysterious dimming of Tabby's Star. The astronomers report that space dust orbiting the star -- not alien megastructures -- is the likely cause of the star's long-term dimming.
  • New insight into the limits of possible life on Mars
    Researchers investigating whether liquid water could exist on Mars have provided new insight into the limits of life on the red planet.
  • Learning and staying in shape key to longer lifespan, study finds
    People who are overweight cut their life expectancy by two months for every extra kilogram of weight they carry, research suggests. A major study has also found that education leads to a longer life, with almost a year added for each year spent studying beyond school.
  • Is it gonna blow? Measuring volcanic emissions from space
    Carbon dioxide measured by a NASA satellite pinpoints sources of the gas from human and volcanic activities, which may help monitor greenhouse gases responsible for climate change.
  • Intense storms batter Saturn’s largest moon, scientists report
    Titan, the largest of Saturn's more than 60 moons, has surprisingly intense rainstorms, according to research by a team of UCLA planetary scientists and geologists. Although the storms are relatively rare -- they occur less than once per Titan year, which is 29 and a half Earth years -- they occur much more frequently than the scientists expected.
  • Spotting the spin of the Majorana fermion under the microscope
    Using a new twist on a technique for imaging atomic structures, researchers have detected a unique quantum property of the Majorana fermion, an elusive particle with the potential for use in quantum information systems.
  • Newfoundland populated multiple times by distinct groups, DNA evidence shows
    Researchers who've examined genetic evidence from mitochondrial DNA provide evidence that two groups of indigenous people in Canada, known as the Maritime Archaic and Beothuk, brought different matrilines to the island, adding further support to the notion that those groups had distinct population histories.
  • Baby talk in any language: Shifting the timbre of our voices
    When talking with their young infants, parents instinctively use 'baby talk,' a unique form of speech including exaggerated pitch contours and short, repetitive phrases. Now, researchers have found another unique feature of the way mothers talk to their babies: they shift the timbre of their voice in a rather specific way. The findings hold true regardless of a mother's native language.
  • Genes responsible for diversity of human skin colors identified
    A study of diverse African groups by geneticists has identified new genetic variants associated with skin pigmentation. The findings help explain the vast range of skin color on the African continent, shed light on human evolution and inform an understanding of the genetic risk factors for conditions such as skin cancer.
  • Engineers develop a programmable 'camouflaging' material inspired by octopus skin
    Engineers have invented stretchable surfaces with programmable 3-D texture morphing, a synthetic 'camouflaging skin' inspired by studying and modeling the real thing in octopus and cuttlefish.
  • Paleogenomic analysis sheds light on Easter Island mysteries
    New paleogenomic research appears to rule out the likelihood that inhabitants of Easter Island intermixed with South Americans prior to the arrival of Europeans on the island in 1722.
  • Devourer of planets? Astronomers dub star 'Kronos'
    'Kronos' is enhanced in metals and other rock-forming elements but not in volatiles, prompting a team of researchers to conclude that it absorbed as much as 15 Earth masses worth of rocky planets. Its twin, 'Krios,' does not show this unusual pattern of enhancement.
  • Brain waves reflect different types of learning
    Researchers have, for the first time, identified neural signatures of explicit and implicit learning.
  • Geologic evidence is the forerunner of ominous prospects for a warming Earth
    While strong seasonal hurricanes have devastated many of the Caribbean and Bahamian islands this year, geologic studies on several of these islands illustrate that more extreme conditions existed in the past. A new analysis shows that the limestone islands of the Bahamas and Bermuda experienced climate changes that were even more extreme than historical events.
  • Scientists begin bold conservation effort to save the vaquita porpoise from extinction
    An international team of experts has gathered in San Felipe, Mexico at the request of the Mexican government (SEMARNAT) and has begun a bold, compassionate plan known as VaquitaCPR to save the endangered vaquita porpoise from extinction.
  • Pumas found to exhibit behaviors like social animals
    Pumas, long known as solitary carnivores, are more social than previously thought, according to a new study. The findings provide the first evidence of complex social strategies in any solitary carnivore -- and may have implications for multiple species, including other wild cats around the world.
  • Haumea, the most peculiar of Pluto companions, has a ring around it
    The trans-neptunian belt contains four dwarf planets, among which Haumea stands out for its extremely elongated shape and rapid rotation. A stellar occultation makes it possible to establish the main physical characteristics of this previously little known body -- among which most surprising was the presence of a ring.
  • New threat to the ozone layer
    'Ozone depletion is a well-known phenomenon and, thanks to the success of the Montreal Protocol, is widely perceived as a problem solved,' say some. But an international team of researchers, has now found an unexpected, growing danger to the ozone layer from substances not regulated by the treaty.
  • Last common ancestor of humans and apes weighed about five kilograms
    New research suggests that the last common ancestor of apes -- including great apes and humans -- was much smaller than previously thought, about the size of a gibbon. The findings, published today in the journal Nature Communications, are fundamental to understanding the evolution of the human family tree.
  • Experimental Ebola vaccines elicit year-long immune response
    Results from a large randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial in Liberia show that two candidate Ebola vaccines pose no major safety concerns and can elicit immune responses by one month after initial vaccination that last for at least one year. The findings are based on a study of 1,500 adults that began during the West Africa Ebola outbreak.
  • 'Killer' toothaches likely cause misery for captive orca: Whales chew concrete and steel tank surfaces
    An international research team has undertaken the first in-depth investigation of the teeth of captive orca (killer whales) and have found them a sorry state, which raises serious concerns for these majestic mammals' overall health and welfare.
  • Engineers identify key to albatross' marathon flight
    Engineers have developed a new model to simulate dynamic soaring, and have used it to identify the optimal flight pattern that an albatross should take in order to harvest the most wind and energy. They found that as an albatross banks or turns to dive down and soar up, it should do so in shallow arcs, keeping almost to a straight, forward trajectory.
  • Giant exoplanet hunters: Look for debris disks
    There's no map showing all the billions of exoplanets hiding in our galaxy -- they're so distant and faint compared to their stars, it's hard to find them. Now, astronomers hunting for new worlds have established a possible signpost for giant exoplanets.
  • New type of stem cell line produced offers expanded potential for research and treatments
    Researchers have created expanded potential stem cells (EPSCs) in mice, for the first time, that have a greater potential for development than current stem cell lines. These stem cells have the features of the very first cells in the developing embryo, and can develop into any type of cell.
  • Bycatch responsible for decline of endangered New Zealand sea lion
    Getting caught in fishing nets is a major cause of death for the increasingly endangered New Zealand sea lion, according to new research.
  • 'Ridiculously healthy' elderly have the same gut microbiome as healthy 30-year-olds
    In one of the largest microbiota studies conducted in humans, researchers have shown a potential link between healthy aging and a healthy gut.
  • Kune Kune piglets possess social learning skills and have an astonishingly good memory
    Pigs are socially competent and capable of learning. But the combination of these skills, learning by observing others, has been insufficiently studied so far. Exact copying and understanding of demonstrated actions -- highly developed learning abilities -- could not be proven. A new study with Kune Kune pigs, has now shown for the first time that pigs do learn from each other. The intelligent animals also possess remarkable long-term memory after internalizing a technique.
  • Scientists discover one of the most luminous 'new stars' ever
    Astronomers have discovered possibly the most luminous 'new star' ever -- a nova discovered in the direction of one of our closest neighboring galaxies: The Small Magellanic Cloud.
  • One of planet's largest volcanic eruptions
    Researchers have determined that the Pacific Northwest was home to one of the Earth's largest known volcanic eruptions, a millennia-long spewing of sulfuric gas that blocked out the sun and cooled the planet. Only two other eruptions -- the basalt floods of the Siberian Traps and the Deccan Traps -- were larger, and they led to two of the Earth's great extinctions.
  • Anticipated social media buzz can drive tourism
    How much positive feedback travelers think they’ll get on social media can predict whether they intend to visit a tourism destination, a new study has found.
  • World will have more obese children and adolescents than underweight by 2022
    The number of obese children and adolescents (aged 5 to 19 years) worldwide has risen tenfold in the past four decades, according to a new study. If current trends continue, more children and adolescents will be obese than moderately or severely underweight by 2022.
  • Better mini brains could help scientists identify treatments for Zika-related brain damage
    Researchers have developed an improved technique for creating simplified human brain tissue from stem cells. Because these so-called 'mini brain organoids' mimic human brains in how they grow and develop, they're vital to studying complex neurological diseases.
  • How fever in early pregnancy causes heart, facial birth defects
    Researchers have known for decades that fevers in the first trimester of pregnancy increase risk for some heart defects and facial deformities such as cleft lip or palate. Exactly how this happens is unclear. Scientists have debated whether a virus or other infection source causes the defects, or if fever alone is the underlying problem.
  • Humpback whale blow microbiome described
    For the first time, scientists have identified an extensive conserved group of bacteria within healthy humpback whales' blow -- the moist breath that whales spray out of their blowholes when they exhale.
  • Breath instead of a blood test
    Blow into the tube, please. In the future, the procedure will not just be used by police checking for alcohol intoxication, but also for testing the condition of athletes and for people who want to lose that extra bit of weight. A new sensor makes it possible to measure when the body starts burning fat with a convenient breathalyser.
  • Mass extinctions led to low species diversity, dinosaur rule
    Two of Earth's five mass extinction events -- times when more than half of the world's species died -- resulted in the survival of a low number of so-called 'weedy' species that spread their sameness across the world as the Earth recovered from these dramatic upheavals. The findings could shed light on modern high extinction rates and how biological communities may change in the future.
  • Diversity of large animals plays an important role in carbon cycle
    With abundant data on plants, large animals and their activity, and carbon soil levels in the Amazon, research suggests that large animal diversity influences carbon stocks and contributes to climate change mitigation.
  • Size doesn't matter, at least for hammerheads and swimming performance
    Different head shapes and different body sizes of hammerhead sharks should result in differences in their swimming performance right? Researchers have conducted the first study to examine the whole body shape and swimming kinematics of two closely related yet very different hammerhead sharks, with some unexpected results.
  • Best way to recognize emotions in others: Listen
    If you want to know how someone is feeling, it might be better to close your eyes and use your ears: People tend to read others' emotions more accurately when they listen and don't look, according to research.
  • 'Fake fin' discovery reveals new ichthyosaur species
    An ichthyosaur first discovered in the 1970s but then dismissed and consigned to museum storerooms across the country has been re-examined and found to be a new species.
  • Genetically boosting the nutritional value of corn could benefit millions
    Scientists have found an efficient way to enhance the nutritional value of corn -- the world's largest commodity crop -- by inserting a bacterial gene that causes it to produce a key nutrient called methionine, according to a new study.
  • Huge energy potential in open ocean wind farms in the North Atlantic
    Because wind speeds are higher on average over ocean than over land, wind turbines in the open ocean could in theory intercept more than five times as much energy as wind turbines over land. This presents an enticing opportunity for generating renewable energy through wind turbines. But it was unknown whether the faster ocean winds could actually be converted to increased amounts of electricity.
  • Human brain recalls visual features in reverse order than it detects them
    New research has contributed to solving a paradox of perception, literally upending models of how the brain constructs interpretations of the outside world. When observing a scene, the brain first processes details -- spots, lines and simple shapes -- and uses that information to build internal representations of more complex objects, like cars and people. But during recall, the brain remembers those larger concepts first. This could shed light on concepts such as eyewitness testimony to autism.
  • 'Turbo charge' for your brain?
    Two brain regions -- the medial frontal and lateral prefrontal cortices -- control most executive function. Researchers used high-definition transcranial alternating current stimulation (HD-tACS) to synchronize oscillations between them, improving brain processing. De-synchronizing did the opposite.
  • Amazon farmers discovered the secret of domesticating wild rice 4,000 years ago
    Amazonian farmers discovered how to manipulate wild rice so the plants could provide more food 4,000 years ago, long before Europeans colonized America, archaeologists have discovered.
  • Farsighted children struggle with attention, study finds
    Farsighted preschoolers and kindergartners have a harder time paying attention and that could put them at risk of slipping behind in school, a new study suggests.
  • The female brain reacts more strongly to prosocial behavior than the male brain, study finds
    Women are more generous than men, behavioral experiments show. Now, researchers have been able to demonstrate that female and male brains process prosocial and selfish behavior differently. For women, prosocial behavior triggers a stronger reward signal, while male reward systems respond more strongly to selfish behavior.
  • Bacteria self-organize to build working sensors
    By programming bacteria with a synthetic gene circuit that can recruit gold nanoparticles to the surface of their colony, researchers can build functional devices. A proof-of-concept study uses this technique to build dome-shaped pressure sensors with the help of living bacteria.
  • Solar energy: Prototype shows how tiny photodetectors can double their efficiency
    Physicists have developed a photodetector -- a device that converts light into electrons -- by combining two distinct inorganic materials and producing quantum mechanical processes that could revolutionize the way solar energy is collected. The researchers stacked two atomic layers of tungsten diselenide on a single atomic layer of molybdenum diselenide. Such stacking results in properties vastly different from those of the parent layers, allowing for customized electronic engineering at the tiniest possible scale.
  • Droughts and wildfires: How global warming is drying up the North American monsoon
    Previous researchers had concluded that global warming was simply delaying the North American monsoon, which brings summer rains to the southwestern US and northwestern Mexico. But a new, high-resolution climate model that corrects for persistent sea surface temperature (SST) biases now accurately reflects current rainfall conditions and demonstrates that the monsoon is not simply delayed, but that the region's total rainfall is facing a dramatic reduction.
  • Novel circuit design boosts wearable thermoelectric generators
    Using flexible conducting polymers and novel circuitry patterns printed on paper, researchers have demonstrated proof-of-concept wearable thermoelectric generators that can harvest energy from body heat to power simple biosensors for measuring heart rate, respiration or other factors.
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