Ants have been shown to experiment with tools and choose those that were easiest to handle and could soak up plenty of liquid, such as bits of sponge or paper, despite them not being found in the insects’ natural environment. This suggests that ants can take into account the properties of both the tool and the liquid they are transporting. It also indicates they can learn to use new tools. Some ant species are known to use tools, such as mud or sand grains, to collect and transport liquid to their nests. But this is the first time they are shown to select the most suitable ones.
Sunday, 8 January 2017
Friday, 30 December 2016
Thursday, 22 December 2016
Deep below our planet’s surface a molten jet of iron nearly as hot as the surface of the sun is picking up speed. This stream of liquid has been discovered for the first time by telltale magnetic field readings 3000 kilometres below North America and Russia taken from space.
Wednesday, 21 December 2016
Antihydrogen atoms are made of a positron (a positively charged version of the electron) orbiting a negatively charged antiproton. According to the standard model of particle physics, these anti-atoms should absorb and emit light at the same wavelengths as hydrogen. Now antihydrogen’s spectrum has been measured at last, and it confirms the prediction.
Thursday, 15 December 2016
A weather system — including strong winds and changing cloud cover — has been observed in the atmosphere of a giant gas planet outside our solar system for the first time. HAT-P-7b is 16 times the size of Earth and lies more than 1,000 light years away in the Cygnus constellation.
Wednesday, 14 December 2016
Exquisitely preserved bones and feathers from the tip of a dinosaur tail have been discovered in a piece of 99-million-year-old amber. The "astonishing" fossil contains the first skeletal remains of a dinosaur ever found preserved in amber.
Thursday, 8 December 2016
Wednesday, 7 December 2016
Wednesday, 9 November 2016
Oldest known evidence of Aboriginal settlement in arid Australia found in Flinders Ranges rock shelter
The chance discovery of a rock shelter in the Flinders Ranges has unearthed one of the most important prehistoric sites in Australia. The site, known as Warratyi, shows Aboriginal Australians settled the arid interior of the country around 49,000 years ago — some 10,000 years earlier than previously thought. The shelter, about 550 kilometres north of Adelaide, also contains the first reliably dated evidence of human interaction with megafauna. Artefacts excavated at the site also push back the earliest-known dates on the development of key bone and stone axe technologies and the use of ochre in Australia.
Thursday, 3 November 2016
A brown bit of rock picked up in the UK by a professional fossil hunter a decade ago is the first piece of fossilised dinosaur brain tissue ever to be found. The roughly 133-million-year-old tissue comes from a species of dinosaur known as Iguanodon, and comes from a brain that is similar in structure, although larger, to that of modern-day crocodiles and birds.
Wednesday, 2 November 2016
A group of MIT engineers has converted ordinary spinach plants into biological bomb detectors. The engineers implanted customised carbon nanotubes into the leaves of living plants to turn them into a real-time monitoring system for explosive molecules.
Wednesday, 26 October 2016
Wednesday, 19 October 2016
CAT scans of fossils from a bird called Vegavis iaai that lived in Antarctica 66 million years ago, reveal the presence of a syrinx, an organ unique to birds, which enables birds to produce their amazing array of sounds.
Thursday, 6 October 2016
The earliest seafaring ancestors of people living in South Pacific islands such as Vanuatu and Tonga arrived from Asia, an analysis of ancient DNA from four skeletons reveals.
Sunday, 2 October 2016
A fossilised bee’s nest provides an insight into the local habitat in which the 'Taung child' Australopithecus lived almost 3 million years ago – and hints that more fossils could be waiting to be discovered.
Thursday, 29 September 2016
The most comprehensive genomic study of Indigenous Australians to date has revealed modern humans are all descendants of a single wave of migrants who left Africa about 72,000 years ago. It confirms modern Aboriginal Australians are the descendants of the first people to inhabit Australia.
- Some modern humans never left Africa, so they are not descended from those who left.
- The humans that left Africa interbred with descendants of those humans who had left Africa earlier than them.
- Those descended from these latest emigrants are therefore also descended from the earlier waves of emigrants.
Wednesday, 28 September 2016
Saturday, 24 September 2016
Friday, 23 September 2016
Thursday, 22 September 2016
Wednesday, 21 September 2016
Wednesday, 14 September 2016
An unusual cluster of stars is a "living fossil" from the early Milky Way. The cluster, known as Terzan 5, contains two distinct types of stars with an age gap of up to 7 billion years. The discovery has important implications for our understanding of how galaxies formed in the early universe.
Wednesday, 7 September 2016
Wednesday, 31 August 2016
Friday, 26 August 2016
Wednesday, 10 August 2016
Thursday, 4 August 2016
Wednesday, 3 August 2016
Saturday, 30 July 2016
Friday, 29 July 2016
Thursday, 28 July 2016
Wednesday, 27 July 2016
Researchers have developed hierarchical metallic metamaterial with multi-layered, fractal-like 3-D architectures to create structures at centimetre scales incorporating nanoscale features.
Tuesday, 26 July 2016
Monday, 25 July 2016
Sunday, 24 July 2016
When honeybee hives get too hot, thirsty bees beg their specialised, water-foraging sisters for more liquid, which ends up cooling the colony. Honeybees have a few strategies for chilling out: some fan the nest, others leave the hive to increase air flow, and a few zip off looking for ponds or puddles. These “water collector” bees fill their bellies with water, fly back home, then regurgitate the liquid. Other bees slurp it up and spit it out around the hive, allowing the colony to cool as the water evaporates.
Thursday, 21 July 2016
Wednesday, 20 July 2016
Wednesday, 6 July 2016
Early Polynesian sailors criss-crossed the Pacific for hundreds of years, travelling as far as 2,500 kilometres, according to a new chemical analysis of centuries-old stone tools. The findings suggest there was ongoing, post-colonisation contact between the communities of the eastern Pacific from about AD1300 to the 1600s.
Wednesday, 22 June 2016
Thursday, 16 June 2016
Wednesday, 15 June 2016
A 700,000-year-old hobbit has been discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores, shedding new light on human evolution. The dwarf-like ancient relative of modern man stood just one metre tall and has been dated at half a million years older than a hobbit found on the island a decade ago. The researchers argue their fossil find descended from Homo erectus, which would suggest an incredible case of evolutionary reversal where human bodies — including brains — actually shrunk.
The simplest explanation is that the "hobbits" are Australopithecines. The material evidence is consistent with this and inconsistent with both Homo habilis and Homo erectus. The view that they were later species that "shrunk" is not the simplest theory, and the proposition that smaller primate brains would be more adaptive than larger brains is exceedingly unlikely and needs plausible supporting argument. There are many examples of other primates (orang utans, gibbons, japanese macaques) migrating enormous distances from their place of speciation.
Thursday, 9 June 2016
A new look at ancient bones with the latest DNA technology has confirmed Aboriginal Australians as the continent's first people. Researchers say the findings overturn a 2001 paper that argued the oldest known Australian human remains found near Lake Mungo in New South Wales were from an extinct lineage of modern humans that occupied the continent before Aboriginal Australians.
Wednesday, 8 June 2016
Friday, 3 June 2016
Ancient charred grains of rice and mung beans excavated from Madagascar provide the first archaeological evidence that ancestors of people living on the East African island known as Malagasy came from South-East Asia.
Thursday, 2 June 2016
Wednesday, 1 June 2016
Thursday, 26 May 2016
Archæological evidence now suggests Neanderthals were capable of symbolic thought, had a basic knowledge of chemistry, medicine and cooking, and perhaps some capacity for speech. They may even have taught modern humans new artisanal skills when the two species met and interbred.
A reassessment of evidence from Bruniquel cave, near Toulouse in south-west France, suggests even more Neanderthal sophistication. In one chamber, 336 metres from the cave entrance, are enigmatic structures – including a ring 7 metres across – built from stalagmites snapped from the cave floor.
Wednesday, 25 May 2016
The alpha male of a group of snub-nosed monkeys and his dying partner spent a final, tender hour together beneath the tree from which she had fallen minutes earlier, cracking her head on a rock. Before she succumbed, he gently touched and groomed her. And after she was dead he remained by her side for 5 minutes, touching her and pulling gently at her hand, as if to try and revive her.
Friday, 20 May 2016
For the first time, trees have been shown to undergo physical changes at night that can be likened to sleep, or at least to day-night cycles that have been observed experimentally in smaller plants. Branches of birch trees have now been seen drooping by as much as 10 centimetres at the tips towards the end of the night.