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Environmental oxygen triggers loss of webbed digits

African clawed frog (stock image). Credit: © Nathan / Adobe Stock Free fingers have many obvious advantages on land, such as in locomotion and grasping, while webbed fingers are typical of aquatic or gliding animals. But both amphibians and amniotes -- which include mammals, reptiles, and birds -- can have webbed digits. In new research…

Combination of wood fibers and spider silk could rival plastic

Spider web (stock image). Credit: © otaraev74 / Adobe Stock Achieving strength and extensibility at the same time has so far been a great challenge in material engineering: increasing strength has meant losing extensibility and vice versa. Now Aalto University and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland researchers have succeeded in overcoming this challenge, inspired…

Most massive neutron star ever detected, almost too massive to exist

Neutron star illustration (stock image). Credit: © Peter Jurik / Adobe Stock Neutron stars -- the compressed remains of massive stars gone supernova -- are the densest "normal" objects in the known universe. (Black holes are technically denser, but far from normal.) Just a single sugar-cube worth of neutron-star material would weigh 100 million tons…

New observations help explain the dimming of Tabby’s Star

Comet illustration (stock image). Credit: © James Thew / Adobe Stock For years, astronomers have looked up at the sky and speculated about the strange dimming behavior of Tabby's Star. First identified more than a century ago, the star dips in brightness over days or weeks before recovering to its previous luminosity. At the same…

Controversial insecticides shown to threaten survival of wild birds

Sparrows in a field (stock image). Credit: © Ingo Bartussek / Adobe Stock New research at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) shows how the world's most widely used insecticides could be partly responsible for a dramatic decline in songbird populations. A study published in the journal Science on Sept. 13 is the first experiment to…

Controversial insecticides shown to threaten survival of wild birds

Sparrows in a field (stock image). Credit: © Ingo Bartussek / Adobe Stock New research at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) shows how the world's most widely used insecticides could be partly responsible for a dramatic decline in songbird populations. A study published in the journal Science on Sept. 13 is the first experiment to…

Novel atomic clock design offers ‘tweezer’ control

Strontium element symbol (stock image). Credit: © andriano_cz / Adobe Stock JILA physicists have demonstrated a novel atomic clock design that combines near-continuous operation with strong signals and high stability, features not previously found together in a single type of next-generation atomic clock. The new clock, which uses laser "tweezers" to trap, control and isolate…

Why is Earth so biologically diverse? Mountains hold the answer

Mount Chimborazo volcano, Ecuador (stock image). Credit: © alanfalcony / Adobe Stock What determines global patterns of biodiversity has been a puzzle for scientists since the days of von Humboldt, Darwin, and Wallace. Yet, despite two centuries of research, this question remains unanswered. The global pattern of mountain biodiversity, and the extraordinarily high richness in…

New route to carbon-neutral fuels from carbon dioxide

Cerium oxide (stock image). Credit: © monamakela.com / Adobe Stock If the idea of flying on battery-powered commercial jets makes you nervous, you can relax a little. Researchers have discovered a practical starting point for converting carbon dioxide into sustainable liquid fuels, including fuels for heavier modes of transportation that may prove very difficult to…

The rare molecule weighing in on the birth of planets

Protoplanetary disk illustration (stock image). Credit: © Peter Jurik / Adobe Stock Astronomers using one of the most advanced radio telescopes have discovered a rare molecule in the dust and gas disc around a young star -- and it may provide an answer to one of the conundrums facing astronomers. The star, named HD 163296,…

The enigma of Bronze Age tin

Illustration of Bronze Age jewelry and vessels (stock image). Credit: © Juulijs / Adobe Stock The origin of the tin used in the Bronze Age has long been one of the greatest enigmas in archaeological research. Now researchers from Heidelberg University and the Curt Engelhorn Centre for Archaeometry in Mannheim have solved part of the…

Shorter people are at higher risk of type 2 diabetes, study shows

Type 2 diabetes medical concept (stock image). Credit: © adiruch na chiangmai / Adobe Stock Short stature is associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, according to a new study in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes).Tall stature is associated with a lower risk, with each 10cm…

Extinction of Icelandic walrus coincides with Norse settlement

Modern-day walrus (stock image). Credit: © Chris / Adobe Stock An international collaboration of scientists in Iceland, Denmark and the Netherlands has for the first time used ancient DNA analyses and C14-dating to demonstrate the past existence of a unique population of Icelandic walrus that went extinct shortly after Norse settlement some 1100 years ago.…

Transplanted brain stem cells survive without anti-rejection drugs in mice

Neurons illustration (stock image). Credit: © peterschreiber.media / Adobe Stock In experiments in mice, Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers say they have developed a way to successfully transplant certain protective brain cells without the need for lifelong anti-rejection drugs. A report on the research, published Sept. 16 in the journal Brain, details the new approach, which…

Carp aquaculture in Neolithic China dating back 8,000 years

Carp (stock image). Credit: © thornchai / Adobe Stock In a recent study, an international team of researchers analyzed fish bones excavated from the Early Neolithic Jiahu site in Henan Province, China. By comparing the body-length distributions and species-composition ratios of the bones with findings from East Asian sites with present aquaculture, the researchers provide…

Elaborate Komodo dragon armor defends against other dragons

Komodo dragon (stock image). Credit: © Anna Kucherova / Adobe Stock Just beneath their scales, Komodo dragons wear a suit of armor made of tiny bones. These bones cover the dragons from head to tail, creating a "chain mail" that protects the giant predators. However, the armor raises a question: What does the world's largest…

Slower growth in working memory linked to teen driving crashes

Car after accident (stock image). Credit: © Halfpoint / Adobe Stock Research into why adolescent drivers are involved in motor vehicle crashes, the leading cause of injury and death among 16- to 19-year-olds in the United States, has often focused on driving experience and skills. But a new study suggests that development of the adolescent…

Antibiotic resistance surges in dolphins, mirroring humans

Dolphin swimming. Credit: Copyright Michele Hogan Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest public health challenges in the world today since many common bacterial infections are developing resistance to the drugs once used to treat them, and new antibiotics aren't being developed fast enough to combat the problem. Once primarily confined to health care settings,…

Newly discovered comet is likely interstellar visitor

Comet C/2019 Q4 as imaged by the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope on Hawaii's Big Island on Sept. 10, 2019. Credit: Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope A newly discovered comet has excited the astronomical community this week because it appears to have originated from outside the solar system. The object -- designated C/2019 Q4 (Borisov) -- was discovered on Aug. 30,…

Saturn’s rings shine in Hubble’s latest portrait

The latest view of Saturn from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captures exquisite details of the ring system -- which looks like a phonograph record with grooves that represent detailed structure within the rings -- and atmospheric details that once could only be captured by spacecraft visiting the distant world. Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 observed…

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