Vampire bats have long been suspected of passing on rabies to humans and livestock in Latin America, but up until now solid statistics have been hard to come by. A new study gives us some idea of the problem – and it’s not looking good. The study, carried out in Peru, estimates that more
Somewhere in Eastern Tennessee the ground seems to quiver ever so gently, only to swiftly pass and leave those who felt it to question if it even happened. Seismologists record it, noting once again – far from the boundary of any tectonic plate – the soft rumble of an earthquake where none should be.
The Arctic skies light up in a blaze of blue and green when solar wind blasts the atmosphere with charged particles. Storms and wildfires leave debris and ash in their trails. And ecosystems and fellow animals are increasingly transformed by human activity. Looking at the world through the lens of science brings into focus
A dinosaur footprint that has managed to remain on Earth 115 million years has been attacked and damaged by vandals. The three-toed theropod footprint, discovered in 2006 in Bunurong Marine Park in the Australian state of Victoria, was found damaged by a school tour group last week. Parks Victoria rangers said it would have been
We like to say we know less about the ocean here on Earth than we do about the surface of Mars, because while we have a vague idea of its overall structure, we’ve only properly seen less than 0.05 percent of our oceans. Imagine we discover an alien planet that’s teeming with life, and
Each year between February and June, the fish gather to spawn in Mexico’s Colorado River Delta. The fish, a type of croaker called the Gulf corvina, meet in water as cloudy as chocolate milk. It’s a reunion for the entire species, all members of which reproduce within a dozen-mile stretch of the delta. When
Long before we were bipedal mammals with skeletons and brains, we were primitive, sack-like sea creatures with no internal organs, no central nervous systems and no butt – and, somehow, there are still creatures like that living today. They belong to the mysterious Xenoturbella genus, and now researchers have discovered a sixth species of
Bird spikes on buildings make sense. They prevent noise, mess, and the spread of lice and disease around human spaces – without harming the animals. But now one of the wealthiest suburbs in Bristol, England has caused an uproar by fixing bird spikes to a tree. This, according to one resident, is to prevent
Without plants, Earth would never have developed a breathable atmosphere for us all to thrive in. But now it turns out that plants got there with a little help from some of our planet’s most peculiar lifeforms – fungi. According to new research by scientists at the University of Leeds, fungi bridged a very
At the start of this year, the world was left baffled when evidence emerged of a male snow monkey unsuccessfully getting it on with a female Sika deer on Japan’s Yakushima Island. Now another research team has recorded female monkeys humping male deer, and these romps happened in an entirely different group of animals,
A small, adorable-but-deadly carnivorous marsupial thought extinct in the Australian state of New South Wales has been unexpectedly rediscovered. The crest-tailed mulgara, one of two species of mulgara, still lives in the desert of Central Australia in other states, but now it’s been found living in the Sturt National Park, right in the northwest corner
The Sumatran rhino is one of the most threatened species on the face of the planet, but until now we never knew how bad things really were for the smallest, hairiest rhinoceros. Scientists in the US have sequenced the genome of Dicerorhinus sumatrensis for the first time, and the results tells us not only
A new species of prehistoric penguin has been found in New Zealand, and it’s so big that the researcher who found its bones initially couldn’t figure out what kind of animal it was. Dating back to the late Paleocene 60-56 million years ago, the newly named Kumimanu biceae was so big it stood 1.65
When somebody mentions anaesthetics, we probably think straight away of pain relief, but there’s a lot more going on in these complex chemical compounds than the simple negation of discomfort. While there’s a range of chemicals that can induce anaesthesia in humans, just how these unrelated compounds trigger a lack of consciousness remains somewhat
We now have some solid evidence that ticks really did suck the blood of dinosaurs – something scientists and sci-fi writers have previously suspected – thanks to the discovery of a 99 million-year-old piece of Burmese amber. Inside the amber, researchers found a hard tick grasping a feather, thought to be from one of
Australia’s extinct carnivorous marsupial, the thylacine, has long been held up as a tragic symbol of humanity’s lack of care for the other creatures that share our world, excessive hunting thought to be the leading cause of its demise. Scientists have now sequenced the animal’s genome, and we finally have some answers about the
US officials have warned that, unless we take immediate action, it’s highly possible that rare North Atlantic right whales could become extinct. 2017 has been a deadly year for the already endangered species – according to estimates there were only 450 individuals remaining, and 17 of them died over the past 12 months. Scientists aren’t
A video of a starving wild polar bear roaming around dry land looking for food has gone viral. In the heartbreaking footage, taken in Canada’s northerly Baffin Islands, the bony male polar bear slowly ambles along dry land. Head down, he rummages in a nearby rubbish bin looking for food. When he finds nothing,
Researchers have shown that the health of red-bellied lemurs could be improved by close contact and huddling, a finding that might have something to say about the health benefits of physical touching in humans as well. While scientists already knew there were benefits to sharing germs among group members, this study looked into the
They are cute. They are fluffy (mostly). They are great fun and make perfect family pets. Right? Well, not entirely. With Christmas fast approaching, and despite campaigns urging people to be more cautious, many are still buying puppies as presents. Last year, it was reported that the Dogs Trust saw a 54 percent increase (on
Palaeontologists have found what could well be the oldest example of a fossilised eye the world has ever seen, preserved for over half a billion years. It belongs to a trilobite – a class of once-abundant early arthropods that peaked in the Cambrian Period and thrived in the world’s oceans for over 270 million years.
For the past few decades, something has been becoming increasingly clear: Earth constantly hums, even though we can’t hear it. The first attempt to detect this hum was made in 1959, but it wasn’t until 1998 that a paper was finally published proving it. Earth expands and contracts constantly, ever so slightly. This is
More than 17 feet (5.2 metres) long and weighing more than 130 pounds (60 kg), with more rows of sharp teeth than you ever cared to imagine – a Burmese python has been captured and killed in the Florida Everglades. Officials said the hunter, Jason Leon, set a record late last week for bringing
Scientists have discovered a new type of bacterium, that most hardy of organisms, which can survive solely off the chemicals in air – and the discovery could change the way we think about life living on other planets. The microbes have been found in Antarctica and can exist off a diet of hydrogen, carbon
While on a walk over the weekend, Pamela Wang, a resident of Kealakekua, Hawaii, found something miraculous: a 5.23-pound (2.37kg) avocado the size of her head. Guinness World Records is now determining whether it’s the heaviest avocado ever, according to West Hawaii Today. The avocado is not of the Hass variety, which is what
Technically, most species of jumping spider could probably be accused of having eyes bigger than their stomach. But scientists have copped a pretty massive surprise in the shape of this newly discovered species, found in the Kumbharli Ghat mountain pass in western India. Unlike any jumping spider seen before, it’s been caught eating whole tadpoles.
When it struck, the contagion spread fiercely. The deadly severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in South China in 2002 infected thousands, and ultimately killed nearly 800 people. But where did this lethal strain come from? We may now have our answer, with a study showing bats living in a single cave in China possess
“The oceans cover 70 percent of the surface of our planet, and yet they are still the least explored,” says Sir David Attenborough in the opening sequence of the recent BBC documentary series Blue Planet II. “Hidden beneath the waves, there are creatures beyond our imagination.” Yet while the programme reveals the wonders of many of these species,
“Extraordinary.” “Stellar.” “Truly awesome.” “A world-class find.” That’s how palaeontologists are reacting to the discovery of several hundred ridiculously well-preserved pterosaur eggs in China, some of them still containing the remains of embryos. “My first thought was extreme jealousy,” said David Unwin, a pterosaur expert and palaeobiologist at the University of Leicester. “Really.” To
Ever since humanity split into dog and cat people, we’ve been arguing over which one of our beloved companions is a smarter species. This latest study mightn’t be the last word on the matter, but for those who think more neurons means more intelligence, it looks as if dogs stand out among carnivores for having
Scientists have expanded the building blocks of DNA to create a stable semi-synthetic organism that can produce biological compounds entirely new to nature. The DNA that makes up essentially all living things on Earth consists of arrangements of four basic amino acids, but the new life-form developed by researchers in the US makes use of
The Yeti of the mountains of Asia, hairy like a white ape, yet bipedal and standing taller than a man, is numbered among the world’s most beloved cryptids. Yet, for all the eyewitness accounts, physical evidence of the beast is proving tricky to pin down. Nary a fossil, nor a corpse. But, like its American
Wasps build their homes out of chewed-up vegetable fibre, painstakingly glued together until it resembles a papery stack of recycled carton. You’d think there’s only so much fibre they can chew and stitch together with their tiny mouthparts. Wrong. According to a video recently uploaded by a brave exterminator in Louisiana, wasp-cities can grow to
Australia’s Taronga Western Plains Zoo has a new resident – a new baby black rhino, born to mum Bakhita and dad Kwanzaa. Born on Halloween, the new calf is yet to be named, but he’s the second black rhino calf the zoo has welcomed this year as part of its concerted black rhino breeding program.
To breathe or not to breathe, that is the question. What would happen if you were submerged in a pond where the water temperature hovered just above freezing and the surface was capped by a lid of ice for 100 days? Well, obviously you’d die. And that’s because you’re not as cool as a turtle.
There seems to be significant confusion about what happened in the British parliament when MPs discussed a proposed amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill to formally recognise animal sentience. But where science is concerned, animal sentience is in no doubt. The definition of sentient is simply “able to perceive or feel things”. Today most of
The gnashers inside your mouth may well have originated as fish scales, according to new research that found the same type of cells that human teeth have in the thorny scales of the little skate fish. These neural crest cells were spotted using fluorescent markers to track cells inside the embryo of a little skate,
For the first time, scientists have been able to observe something amazing: the evolution of a completely new species, in the wild, in real-time. And it took just two generations. Now, genomic sequencing and the analysis of physical characteristics have confirmed the new species of Darwin’s finch, endemic to a small island called Daphne Major