Ancient filter-feeder was a “gentle giant”

Ancient filter-feeder was a "gentle giant"
Just 22 million years after the “Cambrian explosion,” a top predator had already evolved into a filter-feeder, able to sweep up food with sieves built into its front appendages. So what’s this got to do with the whale shark? More »

Whale “sonar” an ancient invention!

Whale "sonar" an ancient invention!
A whale fossil from 28 million years ago shows compelling evidence for echolocation — the ability to “see” objects by listening for the echoes of your own noise. The discovery traces deep roots for a talent that helps animals live in dark and murky conditions. More »

Menacing mating game: Frogs fear bats!

Menacing mating game: Frogs fear bats!
Mating displays attract females — and predators. A Panama bat listens for the túngara frog. If it “sees” ripples the frog makes on the pond, it swoops in for lunch! More »

Problems of the apes

Problems of the apes

Bad feet? Aching back? Impacted wisdom teeth? Blame balky designs inherited from your relatives. How has evolution equipped — or mal-equipped — us for modern life? How do big brains support culture that supports big brains? More »

Moles smell in stereo!

Moles smell in stereo!

A common mole never sees the light of day, but it can pinpoint the source of food in just a few seconds — thanks to its newfound stereo smelling ability. If two ears help you hear in stereo, what good are two nostrils? More »

Mapping evolution

Mapping evolution

Research in salty ponds shows how one species of pupfish becomes three — in a few cases. More important, it shows why this did not happen in thousands of other locations. Does an impenetrable “death valley” isolate viable species? More »

Counting bugs in Panama

Counting bugs in Panama

Life is biology is species: But how many species live on Earth? About six million arthropods (insects, spiders and crustaceans), says a new study. More »

Love life of the firefly

Love life of the firefly

An alluring flash pattern is only the first step in firefly reproduction. Females actually pay more attention to the “nuptial gift” that carries sperm. A new look at these popular creatures shows that the battle of the sexes is more subtle and complex than we thought. More »

Final score: Mustard-bomb plant 1, mouse 0

close-up photo of mouse face eating seeds

Plants and animals are in a constant struggle for survival and reproduction. Plant toxins prevent most animals from eating their seeds and destroying them. No kidding: A desert mouse is smart enough to eat edible fruit flesh without triggering the “mustard-oil bomb”! More »

First forest: New details emerge

First forest: New details emerge

Returning to the site of a classic “first forest” site, New York scientists have found extra complexity: three fossilized trees-like species aged almost 400 million years. One find, a vine-like monster, may be a direct descendant of all seed-bearing trees! More »

Biology: critters that should not exist!

Biology: critters that should not exist!

Lake Vostok could house ancient bacteria, but we already know that bacteria can live in boiling water or light up a glowing squid. Countless weird-and-weirdest critters live between grains of sand… Curious about biology’s strange shelf? More »

Flight without wings

Flight without wings

Scientists thought wings were the first evidence of flight. But plenty of falling ants can glide back to “their” tree to avoid being devoured on the forest floor. If an ant’s brain and body are able to detect its position and change its flight path, is gliding the first flight? More »

Live birth in ancient marine reptile!

Larger reptile bones, with spine snaking through image, laid out on stone background.

78 million years ago, a pregnant predator of the Cretaceous ocean died and sank to the sea floor. Today, her fossil gives the first proof that plesiosaurs, one of the commonest and baddest marine reptiles of the era, did not lay eggs. It gave birth. More »

Genetic solution to cancer, diabetes?

Genetic solution to cancer, diabetes?

People with a genetic case of dwarfism in Ecuador don’t get cancer or diabetes, and a new study links that benefit to the genetic changes we see when calories are severely restricted. Could blocking growth hormone in adulthood lead to serious health benefits? More »